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“The Spark Is Already There & the Flame is Catching On”: Between the Shell of the State & the Growth of Autonomy in Puerto Rico

On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we spoke with an organizer from El Grito de Sunset Park and Asamblea de Pueblo NYC about the evolving situation on the ground in Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria.

We discuss the collapse of the State following the impact of the storms as well as the growth of mutual aid organizing and autonomous disaster relief efforts. This organizing grew through the Centers for Mutual Aid and the creation and appropriation of autonomous infrastructure. We then discuss the insurrection that arose in the summer of 2019 which was followed by the formation of popular assemblies that carried with them the same spirit of self-organization that evolved out of disasters of 2017.

Now, with a new wave of street protests and riots kicking off and people also mobilizing to deal with a devastating round of earthquakes, the spirit of revolt and autonomy is only continuing. We talk about where these politics are going amidst the increasing collapse of the colonial State and the growing popularity of autonomous forms of organization.

In this context, our guest argues that we are on the verge of seeing a “new model” of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist revolution emerge and just as in Chiapas and in Rojava, it will be based around not the quest for gaining State power, but instead creating autonomy and self-management.

Popular assembly meeting

Throughout our talk we also address the impact of nationalist politics on the current movement, a brief history of colonialism on the island, and what remains of the State government on Puerto Rico.

More Info: Brigada Solidaria del Oeste, Centro de Apoyo Mutuo, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.

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