(TMU) — Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan has been awash in protests for well over a week now, and crowds are showing no sign of thinning out as the capital city rings with the persistent demand that Governor Ricardo Rosselló immediately resign. And, as of Tuesday night, it looks like Rosselló’s resignation is imminent.
The protests are fast shaping up to become the biggest mass demonstrations in the modern history of the U.S. colony, with over 3 million Puerto Ricans nearly unanimous in their assertion of dignity versus the insults piled upon them by the governor.
However, the governor’s refusal to step down immediately has merely fanned the flames of popular rage—a rage that has long been dormant in Boricua (Puerto Rican) society, and could grow to engulf the island in potentially revolutionary fervor in the weeks to come if he doesn’t follow through.
Here are five reasons why Puerto Rico’s mass protests absolutely cannot be f***** with.
1. The Governor Has Offended Everyone With His Tweets
The protests were mainly galvanized by a spectacular, nearly 900-page leak known as “RickyLeaks” containing text messages between Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his private circle that were sent in December 2018 and January 2019. The leaks were filled with vulgar, homophobic and misogynistic messages about other politicians, media members, celebrities, and a range of other Puerto Ricans. While some of the leaked chats read like drunken rambling, many of the messages have touched the sore nerves of various segments of the Puerto Rican population.
In one message, Rosselló calls Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Puerto Rico-born former speaker of the New York City Council, a “whore.”
In another exchange, government critic and popular San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also comes under harsh fire from Christian Sobrino Vega, then Puerto Rico’s chief fiscal officer, who says, “I am salivating to shoot her.” The governor responds: “You’d be doing me a grand favor.”
In other messages, the governor claims that the San Juan mayor is either “off her meds” for deciding to run against him, “or she’s a tremendous HP,”—the Spanish acronym for hijueputa, or “son/daughter of a b****.”
Openly gay “King of Latin Pop” Ricky Martin is also derided by Sobrino Vega as “such a male chauvinist that he f**** men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy.”
Most offensively, the former chief finance officer mocks the horrifying death toll following 2017’s monstrous Hurricane Maria during an exchange about the budget for forensic pathologists. In a hideous display of gallows humor, Sobrino Vega jokes about killing government critics:
“Now that we are on the subject, don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows? Clearly they need attention.”
The messages only rubbed further salt in the wound of Puerto Ricans, who have long been sour toward Rosselló’s corruption-riddled administration, which allegedly saw upwards of $15 million funneled toward consultants connected to top officials in the governor’s palace.
To put these messages in perspective, imagine if hundreds of pages of chat messages between President Trump and his officials revealed him spouting extreme vulgarities—beyond his typical Twitter feed—against women, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, and victims of natural disasters in the U.S.
2. The Rage Is Deeper Than Anyone Can Imagine, and Has a Very Long History
The history of the Puerto Rican people’s rage goes far beyond the recent “RickyLeaks” scandal, and beyond even Hurricane Maria. In fact, Boricua resistance extends as far back as 1492, when Christopher Columbus first encountered the indigenous Taíno population of the Caribbean island. Within about 50 years, colonizers had largely wiped the Taíno people out.
Puerto Rico, a nation of around 3.4 million which has the status of a “U.S. territory,” has been a U.S. colony since 1898, when Washington forced Spain to cede the island as a condition to end the Spanish-American War. And while the U.S. Congress granted U.S. citizenship to the Puerto Rican people in 1917 and commonwealth status since 1952, the country doesn’t even enjoy statehood or national independence. However, despite its second-class status as a “territory,” the country was forced to provide a steady supply of cannon fodder to U.S. wars under Washington’s strict draft laws.
In more recent years, the country has suffered under the yoke of foreign debt and harsh economic conditions driving people away from the island. The unemployment rate is at around 9 percent, over 40 percent of Puerto Rico’s population lives in poverty, and the government has enforced harsh austerity measures that have provoked large-scale protests on various occasions.
3. Puerto Rico Has Been Willing to Fight, Violently, to Secure Its Rights
The people of Puerto Rico have long fought for national sovereignty and independence, often violently, and have faced no shortage of repression from U.S. authorities.
Militant segments of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement have included such groups as the Ejercito Popular Boricua—Macheteros (Puerto Rican Popular Army – Machete Wielders), who carried out bank robberies and a string of attacks on U.S. military personnel and local police in the 1970s and ‘80s, and its predecessor, the underground Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (Armed Forces of National Liberation), which carried out terrorist bombings and expropriations across the U.S. during around the same period.
With the slow pace of hurricane recovery exacerbating the lingering mental health crisis of the island’s residents, anger at the local government, and fury toward the federal government adding to the island’s deep troubles—including over $70 billion in debt—the people of Puerto Rico have clearly had enough, and many are beginning to demand radical changes beyond the cry of “Ricky Renuncia,” or “Ricky Resign.”
One clear sign that the militant history of the Boricua people remains alive on the island came in the form of a police station robbery last week in the town of Guayama, when a savvy team of burglars managed to force open a storage room and take 30 pistols, 18 rifles, and 4,000 rounds of ammunition. According to Police Commissioner Henry Escalera Rivera, a message threatening the governor was also scrawled on a wall near the looted storage room.
The incident was a sharp reminder that some Puerto Ricans are willing to go beyond peaceful mobilizations to achieve their goals—a number that may grow given the governor’s refusal to step down.
4. Some of Latin America’s Biggest Pop Stars Back the Movement
El Comandante Ricky Martin en la rebelión puertoriqueña
Anyone who has ever visited Latin America, and especially the Caribbean, has no doubt been exposed to a steady playlist of popular music—and that list has surely included hits by such artists as reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny, hip hop artist Residente of the group Calle 13, and Ricky Martin, who dominated U.S. pop charts in the late 90s with his mega-hit Livin’ La Vida Loca.
The three Puerto Rican mega-stars, along with other artists, have played a major role in the latest protests in a way that goes far beyond the typical social media support one expects from artists. Indeed, the three have become the public face of the growing movement.
Martin, who was targeted in homophobic messages by the governor, is frequently seen at the lead of protests waving the LGBTQ Pride flag. Meanwhile, Bad Bunny himself has sworn to take a temporary break from his fast-rising music career, saying on Instagram last Friday:
“I am pausing my career … After [my concerts] my agenda was to fly back to Miami. But I’m canceling everything. I’m pausing my career because I don’t have the heart or mind to do music […] I’m going to Puerto Rico. I’m not going to turn my back on you. We have to continue taking the streets.”
Bad Bunny and Residente also released a blistering hip hop track titled “Afilando los cuchillos” (Sharpening the Knives) which makes clear, in explicit terms, their rage against the governor.
Their forceful message has helped to raise international awareness and solidarity for the Puerto Rican people’s struggle, with crowds at Bad Bunny’s concerts as far away as Spain chanting in support of the protester’s demands, while international media meticulously reports Residente’s social media posts.
5. Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Puerto Rican People
Let’s face it: while Donald Trump may incredulously claim that he’s “the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico,” he’s far from popular on the island.
Indeed, many Boricua residents are unlikely to be swayed by his personal hatred of Governor Rosselló, whom he has described as a “terrible governor,” given his frequent spats with key opposition figure and San Juan Mayor Yulín Cruz since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
And while Trump’s complaints about billions in aid to the island has been tempered by the rightful claim that it ended up “in the hands of incompetent people and very corrupt people,” his wild exaggerations of $92 billion in “squandered” aid—versus the actual $14 billion delivered and $42.5 billion held up in Washington gridlock—jar with the miserable reality of those living in the neglected U.S. colony, and depict a miserly head of state who begrudges offering any aid to the suffering people of Puerto Rico.
So we can bet that if anything, the U.S. president’s tweets will simply pour rocket fuel on the incendiary passions of Boricuas from all walks of life.
Tune-in to the Mind Unleashed on Facebook Wednesday, July 24th at 6:00 pm EST for a live interview with protesters on the ground in San Juan.
Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window
Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.
Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.
In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.
This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.
A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”
One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”
The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.
The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.
“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”
The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.
“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.
“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”
According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.
“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”
Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.
Scientists Prove What Causes Aurora Borealis for the First Time
Since the dawn of time, humans have been mystified by what causes the aurora borealis or northern lights. However, a group of scientists have finally uncovered what causes the dazzling lightshow that has captivated people for so long.
Researchers at the University of Iowa have proven that the shimmering auroras are the result of powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms, according to a newly published study.
According to the study, phenomena known as Alfven waves propel electrons toward Earth and cause the particles to produce the brilliant display of northern lights seen in the higher latitudes of our planet,
“Measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergoes ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave,” Prof. Greg Howes, a co-author of the study, told CNN.
Scientists have long understood that the aurora was the likely result of electrons surfing across the electric field, at least since the theory was introduced in 1946 by Soviet scientist Lev Landau.
However, the University of Iowa professors were able to finally put the theory to the test through a simulation at a lab at the Large Plasma Device (LPD) in the Basic Plasma Science Facility of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Using a 20-meter-long chamber to simulate the magnetic field of the Earth through state-of-the-art magnetic field coils, scientists were able to generate plasma similar to that which exists in spac.
“Using a specially designed antenna, we launched Alfven waves down the machine, much like shaking a garden hose up and down quickly, and watching the wave travel along the hose,” said Howes.
While this didn’t result in the type of auroras we might see in the sky, “our measurements in the laboratory clearly agreed with predictions from computer simulations and mathematical calculations, proving that electrons surfing on Alfven waves can accelerate the electrons (up to speeds of 45 million mph) that cause the aurora,” Howes noted.
Scientists across the country were elated by the results of the experiment.
“I was tremendously excited! It is a very rare thing to see a laboratory experiment that validates a theory or model concerning the space environment,” said Patrick Koehn, a scientist in the Heliophysics Division of NASA.
“Space is simply too big to easily simulate in the lab,” he added.
Researchers are hopeful that a greater understanding will allow forecasters to better understand weather conditions in space.
Arizona Restores Gas Chamber Where ‘Nazi-Era’ Gas Will be Used for Executions
Arizona has restored an old gas chamber retired during the 20th century in a bid to continue executing its inmates on death row, renewing criticisms about capital punishment and a method of execution the United States once rejected for being excessively cruel and unusual.
The gas chamber, which hasn’t been operated since it executed its last inmate 1999, has been refurbished to ensure that it can properly function as an option for death row prisoners to choose, reports Associated Press.
The move comes after the Grand Canyon State made a large purchase of ingredients to manufacture its own hydrogen cyanide gas.
The same chemicals Arizona plans on using were also used by the Nazis during the holocaust under the brand name Zyklon B. News articles about Arizona’s plans have provoked outrage among survivors of Nazi death camps in Germany and Israel.
“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” wrote the American Jewish Committee said in a statement.
The federal government has also used the gas in past executions of prisoners.
Arizona’s revival of the old execution method comes as prison authorities across the country continue to grapple with problems over another form of execution decried by critics as brutal, namely the use of lethal injection.
Once depicted as a more humane and painless form of killing prisoners, lethal injection has often led to slow, torturous and excruciating deaths. Additionally, many of the chemicals used in lethal injection drugs are impossible to attain due to the refusal of drug makers to continue manufacturing them – effectively cutting off the “choices” given to death row inmates about their preferred method of death.
In South Carolina, a recently-passed law would see inmates being forced to choose between firing squad and an electric chair, reports NPR.
In the waning days of the Trump administration, the outgoing president also vigorously pushed to fast-track the use of death by firing squad and death by electrocution.
At the time, former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, who also heads the Fair and Just Prosecution advocacy group, said:
“As we find itself in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and our history of racial violence, ending the death penalty must be part of our transformation … Abolishing the death penalty would be a signal that the Biden-Harris administration is committed to fairness, equity, and evidence-based justice — and the time for this definitive move is long overdue.”
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