Praise and Critique of Campamento Contra La Junta

French Toast for the prole.
The mobilization against PROMESA in Puerto Rico has been slow but steady and strong like a tortoise. And like a tortoise, Campamento Contra La Junta will become massive. The local media has tried to depict the participants as dirty, unemployed college students that are just hanging out. I would say the discipline and organization is superior to what I had observed in Occupy Portland although Portland had mobilized more people initially and did not obtain support from the mayor.

San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, of the Popular Democratic Party, has provided verbal and material support up to now for the protestors. The camp area receives regular visits from the cities sanitation department providing trash pickup and portable latrine maintenance. That does not mean that this has been an easy occupation.

Totem of  Devils
Most of the participants I have encountered have been staying at the camp and going off to their jobs then returning to continue working on the camp site. As I said in a past article Work and Resistance, capitalism does not accommodate organizing or resistance. The same still applies to colonialism. There are folks sacrificing personal time off and leisure time to stand up for the rights and emancipation of millions of people. The work to maintain themselves and donate their energy and labor to disrupt the operations of the federal government. All of this is happening in the heart of the financial district amidst the towers of Banco Popular, UBS, AIG and other devils.

The camp does not exist just to become contested space. This action has created an opportunity for dialogue between people that would never have met. One of the major topics is decolonization and independence. Can you have independence without decolonization? Is independence the same as decolonization? My own outsider opinion is that independence or autonomy is part of decolonization but independence itself does not equal decolonization. Hawaii on the other hand was “decolonized” in status and made a state but it still is very much colonized. So decolonization is not independence but independence would be a milestone for progress in that direction. Once you achieve independence you likely will have to deal with neo colonialism where a former occupying nation matins or strengthens political and economic control over a former colony nation. All that this can be another article for another time soon.

My critique of the Campamento Contra La Junta is the dominance of voice and space of European or White presenting individuals. There is an abundance of people of color but directing voices seem to come from folk with white privilege and people of color, especially women of color and queer folk get drowned out. To be clear I observe this not so much in the evening meetings but in conversations and discourse in the camp. It is not something that goes unnoticed but some folks may be tired of fighting for space. The fact that it is even discussed and acknowledged gives me hope. It has given me a chance to put into practice not taking space and making sure others are heard. I hope I can contribute to women of color and queer people going a voice. There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to our misogamy and the silencing of queer voices. We are getting there but more is needed. Too often ,as a collective,we put it off feminism and equity. 

Intersections at the Intersection
It is creating a space that educates and is now starting to agitate. Just the other night I had a conversation with a young person who felt awaken and empowered by this action. The impact does not look huge and glamorous but the impact is there and I hope it will have a lasting effect and increased momentum. I believe that the camp is serving as an incubator for some bad ass radical folks.
If you live in Amerikkkan and are anti-colonization then Boriken should be on your radar. What is happening on the island should not be ignored and needs the material support and advocacy of the very people that benefit from the subjugation of Borikuas.  Reach out to them on Facebook and follow this blog for further updates.

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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