Being Embedded and Participating in Revolution in Puerto Rico

Today marks one week since I started staying at the Campamento Contra La Junta. It has been challenging and empowering. Being embedded with highly motivated, loving , passionate radical people that organize and work collectively is delightful. It is hot, the feds have gas powered lighting towers pointed toward the camp, they come out and patrol with dogs sniffing around the tents. There is no internet and charging your phone requires luck and coordination. Even with all those challenges the camp works and does what it was meant to do. The camp creates space for people to discuss not just the fiscal board but the colonial relationship Puerto Rico has with the U.S.

Youth in revolt while on summer break.
The camp has been a staging ground for projects and actions such as:

  • The march in the capital against Naled.

  • In Plaza Las Americas,the largest mall in the Caribbean,  fliers were handed out and activist held space and gave speeches about PROMESA and its impact on Puerto Rico.

  • Mobilization to support actions against Energy Answers from burning of trash near rural towns like Arecibo.

  • The camp has also provided food services, entertainment, educational activities and creative projects for the youth.

It has been interesting living in the space between activist and journalist, not that I have been either for very long. Luckily there is a label for my style. I am apparently doing Gonzo journalism, much like the Algerians during the revolution or Hunter Thompson. I am not as good as any of those but considering I am in the shit and have limited resources I should embrace that style. Mainstream journalism is biased in favor of capitalism and neoliberalism why can't I do the same thing against the current?

Revolutionary work is sometimes organizing the pantry.
It's is frustrating to be working with limited resources knowing that in a few months you will have resources that would benefit your host. Even though you are  operating far from home on a very small and tight budget and embedded,dealing with some of the same pain as your host, working with your host, building relationships, even becoming comrades but in a few months, bam! You find yourself 3000 miles away from all their troubles.

My presence has been received with gratitude but I feel like a burden most of the time. Maybe it is my internalized capitalist thinking, maybe it's that European settler imported guilt, maybe journalist are just remora. Not that there is anything wrong with a remora. A remora and its host benefit from their relationship greatly without the host feeling any effects. That should be my goal as a journalist, be beneficial without being an expense. Not easy and probably impossible.

The best I can hope for is that this experience makes my skin thicker, my brain sharper and my entire self more motivated. My body feels beaten down and tired and I am always sticky but my heart beats with love. Never before in Puerto Rico was I ever told I was this cool. It's like I went into a spaceship and traveled near the speed of light for a minute then came back to five years into the future. On the other hand, my time in Portland gave me the resources and experience be useful and motivated here in Puerto Rico.
More of us than there are of them.

No one is a perfect revolutionary. Fame,sainthood, martyrdom and medals should never be your goal. I would say sometimes assholes, pirates and trolls are needed on the radical left. As long as you're using those impulses to destroy capitalism without being shit to your fellow working poor or marginalized people then have at it. There are times I really want a monster on my side working with me to defeat the bourgeois and elite. Sometimes that is what it takes. Rebel scum and scoundrels.

No matter how I perceive I myself, the important thing is if my actions are hurting the very people I am supposed to be helping. Am I serving the people? Am I fighting against capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism and queerphobia? Am I working for an oppressive system or am I building revolution. I don't have to feel good about myself I need to do the work and be open to fuck off when asked to.
Why even have a caption?

I am interested to see what Portland will be after Trump wins and how I will engage with Portland in the fall. Will I see myself differently? I don't know but I hope my time here will do more for the people I am embedded with than what they have all done for me.



If you enjoyed this article check out Through Our Own Eyes at KBOO 90.7 FM and get a post card from Puerto Rico when you make a donation to our project before the 1st of November 2016.

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