What is Boricua Empowerment?
Boricua Empowerment is a movement designed to get the people of Puerto Rico believing we can empower ourselves toward independence.
Boricua Empowerment is a speaker series taking place all over the island of Puerto Rico. Each event can be attended on its own and yet to get the full benefit, it's recommended you attend more than one.
As Alva Cardona, a resident of Puerto Rico and someone who's been freelancing for the last seven years summarized: "We need to discuss the issues we're facing as a country, and we need to be empowered if we want to face them. We're not all out of options or ideas, so our Island's problems can be solved! We just have to unite with like-minded people with the same goal: working for a better Puerto Rico, and for our common good. We all need Boricua Empowerment!"
Why Do Puerto Ricans Need Advocacy? Aren't They Citizens of the United States?
It's estimated that 43 percent of Americans don't realize that Puerto Rico is a colony of the United Sates. Yes it's true that Puerto Ricans are citizens of the U.S. but Puerto Rico is colony and not its own country. I think this came to light in the last two plebiscites. All have been a joke because the U.S. Congress would never approve Puerto Rico becoming a state, even though 75 percent of 23 percent of registered voters chose to become a state in the most recent plebiscite. I also wrote about it in Spanish.
As a colony of the United States since 1898 when the U.S. took it from Spain (who colonized Puerto Rico from 1511 to 1898), Puerto Rico has been subject to the following:
- The Jones Act of 1917 that granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans so the island’s young men could be sent off to die on the battlefields of World War I
- The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which made it impossible for Puerto Rico to carry out free and open trade with any nation besides the United States
- The bank foreclosure conspiracies of the early 20th century that drove local farmers off the land and allowed the sugar syndicates to sweep in and control everything
- Dr. Cornelius Rhoads’ (1931) extermination plan, in which he purposely infected Puerto Rican patients at San Juan’s Presbyterian Hospital with cancer cells
- Ley (Law) 53, the so-called “Gag Law” of 1948 that made it illegal for Puerto Ricans to protest our ongoing repression and exercise our First Amendment rights
- The October 30, 1950 simultaneous uprisings in Utuado, Jayuya, San Juan, Mayagüez, Arecibo and Naranjito that brought in the National Guard, P-47 Thunderbolt bomber planes, and resulted in many in the nationalist party dead, with many more arrested.
- Governor Emmet Montgomery Reily’s 1921 English-language enforcement edict, which tried to prevent Puerto Ricans from learning or speaking the Spanish language
- The Rio Piedras Massacre of 1935
- The Ponce Massacre of 1937
- The 1941 seizure of the island of Vieques, which was used as a bombing range by the U.S. military for 60 years
- The 1978 Cerro Maravilla police ambush, massacre and FBI-led cover-up
- The 30-year torture, persecution and unjust imprisonment of legendary labor organizer and political leader Pedro Albizu Campos
- Operation Bootstrap, the forced industrialization campaign instituted in the 1950s
- The 40-year (1930-1970) eugenics / depopulation campaign that resulted in the sterilization of up to one-third of Puerto Rican women of childbearing age
- The secret spraying of Naled and BTi to eradicate the Zika virus, which we know was blown way out of porportion, for which the government was paid over $1 Million
All of these outrages* (and the dozens not listed) are deserving of exposure and if there were truly justice in this world, many would result in the payment of reparations to the families of the abused and to everyone else whose lives were forever affected by these shameful episodes. Collectively, they tell the tragic tale of a people whose basic freedoms and rights of self-determination have been spat upon and trampled in the dust in order to serve political, corporate, military and financial interests in the mainland U.S.
That's Why I Co-Founded Boricua Empowerment
Forget holding out for apologies and reparations that will never happen; the U.S. is having its own issues with Donald Trump, or as I like to refer to him, Agent Orange. What Puerto Rico needs is to stand on its own.
The island's best and brightest are moving to the U.S. to eek out a living. In fact, we're experiencing the largest diaspora since the 1950s. Sales tax is at 11.25 percent and it's rumored that it will go up to 14.5 percent. While many states are talking about raising the minimum wage to $15.00, the already low minimum wage on Puerto Rico is $7.25, and it's supposed to go down to $4.25 an hour. These are supposed to help pay off the debt that was incurred because Puerto Rico rescinded the tax breaks to American manufacturers (in particular in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries) so they could do "off-shore" manufacturing of their products.
When does it end? It ends when Puerto Ricans say enough.
So What is Boricua Empowerment Again?
Boricua Empowerment isn't some plot to overthrow the government. It's not a plot at all. It's a movement that offers long-term and sustainable solutions to our situation. It's founded by two people: Krystian Adriel (who is himself Boricua) and me.
How Can You Get Involved in Boricua Empowerment?
- If you live on the island of Puerto Rico—Boricua, American, whatever—and you're committed to seeing us being completely self-sustaining and independent
- If you are Boricua living on the island or in the U.S. and you're committed to seeing us being completely self-sustaining and independent
- If you live in the U.S. and you're considering moving to Puerto Rico—not to exploit us more than we've already been exploited, and you're committed to seeing us being completely self-sustaining and independent
To learn more about Boricua Empowerment, check out our website. We have our first workshop scheduled for September 30th in Aguadilla. Details are on the Boricua Empowerment website.
*For more information about Puerto Rico's brutal history at the hands of the United States government, the book The War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis documents it great detail.