Even in the midst of the difficult conditions in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Edwin González, representative of the Puerto Rican Mission to Havana, stressed that his country’s struggle for decolonization continues to be a priority for all those committed to social emancipation.
On the occasion of the commemorations of the Grito de Lares (the Lares uprising of September 23, 1868), which continues to inspire current generations to fight for national sovereignty, the Puerto Rican activist noted that the struggle for true independence endures. The country continues to be governed by the United States, currently exerting huge pressure on the island to pay off its massive debt, much of which is owed to U.S. investors.
González explained that Puerto Ricans are currently facing a very difficult situation, after being hit by two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, with the destruction yet to be fully quantified. This is aggravated by the complex economic crisis, including the impossibility of accessing funds to repair damages, and the population’s lack of material resources.
He noted that the Financial Oversight and Management Board, appointed by the U.S. government to impose austerity measures, with wide-ranging power over local authorities, has approved just 2 billion dollars to respond to the emergency, despite the widespread destruction.
González added, “The positive aspect of the moment is seeing our people united, helping each other to conduct self-evacuation during the hurricane and now cleaning up their areas and streets to try to restore normality in the shortest possible time. This attitude strengthens us as a nation, and we advance in our struggle to achieve the decolonization of Puerto Rico.”
He thanked Cuba for the offer of aid to help hurricane victims, still awaiting a response from the United States. “Unity among the Puerto Rican people and that vision of the country, far removed from the North American territory, will help us triumph against colonialism, beyond the decisions of the Financial Oversight Board, the annexationist government, and economic problems faced at this moment,” he stressed.
Since 1975, a day of support for the decolonization of Puerto Rico has been held every year in the Cuban capital, coordinated by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). The event recalls the Declaration of Independence pronounced with the Grito de Lares and pays tribute to the founding father of the Puerto Rican homeland, Ramón Emeterio Betances, and independence patriot Filiberto Ojeda, assassinated on September 23, 2005, by agents of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
During this year’s commemorations, ICAP President Fernando González Llort expressed his confidence that one day Puerto Rico will be free, and activities to mark this important date will be of a different character: “Perhaps at that time we will celebrate the national holiday, but keep in mind the commitment of Cubans to accompany the Puerto Rican people always.”
The decorated Hero of the Republic of Cuba recalled Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, an educator of the new generations on the subject of solidarity with this sister nation, and stated that Cubans today have the responsibility to support the independence struggles of the peoples of the world.
He also referred to Filiberto Ojeda, asserting that “One day there will be schools and streets with his name and the people of Puerto Rico will have him in their hearts as one of the unyielding fighters for the country’s independence. He was able, at over 70 years of age, to leave us an example of resistance, of struggle, of being willing to make the greatest sacrifices for the dream of a free and independent Puerto Rico.”
The event concluded with a performance by Puerto Rican trova singer-songwriter, Roy Brown, who emphasized the feeling of his people in his chorus: “Thus I shout at the villain: I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon…”