Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Puerto Ricans Need to Support Obama

I am pro Puerto Rican independence. A number of family members still live on the island, including my father and my brother and sister, and as a Nuyorican I am keenly aware of the way that policy here affect the lives of those on the island. All Puerto Ricans on the island and in the diaspora are living under the effects of a neo-colonial system, and we need to deploy a variety of strategies to ensure that boricuas are able to fight for self-determination (however differently we might define that term). While we will always need los independistas and los macheteros, we also need to support Barack Obama as contradictory as that sounds.

While I have no illusions that a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for Puerto Rican independence, I feel that it is important for Puerto Ricans to vote for Obama to ensure that we are able to move forward and not backwards. Recently, the Puerto Rican community has suffered under the Bush administration’s “terrorist” witch-hunts. Anyone who speaks up against the inhumane conditions in Puerto Rico or in the Puerto Rican community in the states is branded a terrorist. The Bush Administration is trying to breed fear in our community and prevent us from mobilizing. The grand jury hearings this past year were reminiscent of the 1950s on the island, a time when even speaking about Puerto Rican independence would land you in jail, a time when the very notion of Puerto Rican pride was treasonous.

We need a change. We need Puerto Ricans to stop dying in Iraq (actually we need everyone to stop dying in Iraq). We need better conditions in barrios in the U.S. and on the island. We need the surveillance and COUNTERINTELPRO shit to stop. While Obama is no political savior (and I think we all need to recognize that he has steadily become more centrist in his rhetoric) he can provide the Puerto Rican community and People of Color more broadly with the political climate necessary to organize and mobilize our communities. McCain represents more of the same: war, repression, cronyism, and a disregard for queer communities and communities of color.

I recently came across this YouTube clip of Miguel Luciano endorsing Barack Obama in the primaries and I think he does a excellent job talking about the political contractions that U.S.-based Puerto Ricans face in this election.

video

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