Ya no se deja: the evolution of Puerto Rican sociopolitical solidarity
Ya no se deja represents the culmination of Puerto Rico’s 500 year colonial history. I utilize historiographical texts and ethnographic works to chronicle the development of insular solidarity. This narrative project focuses on proletarian lives spanning from the early days of Spanish Empire up to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of a government deemed “genocidal” in its apathy (Bonilla, 2020 (3), 2), a new generation of Puerto Rican proletariat rose up in the summer of 2019 and declared “ya no se deja” (no more). This meant the rejection of the government’s elitist rhetoric exposed in the Rickyleaks scandal, of the increasing privatization of education on the island, the continued relegation of the island to a colonial state, and a unilateral declaration that, in the words of poet Raquel Salas Rivera, “[Puerto Ricans] owe no one shame [nor] smallness”.
I created this research-based narrative as a part of my honors thesis, which focuses on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Puerto Rico’s tourism industry. The creative research done here helped me to understand the infrastructural, social, and economic damage done unto Puerto Rico. In the last forty years, increasing neoliberal policy and privatization has led to an already extant apathy increase in toxicity. In the aftermath of Hurricane María, many Puerto Rican communities in the interior of the island were left stranded by the government. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its own effects, with the continued pro-business government mindset focused on the provision of opportunity zones to foreign investors. Through this project, I demonstrate how the populous has historically reacted to that mindset, with a particular focus on the protests seen in the summer of 2019. I also speculate on how Puerto Ricans could rise up once more. Continued governmental incompetence could very well reactualize an indigenous, autonomous, and revolutionary spirit akin to that of their jíbaro ancestors.
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