To date, we’ve had the privilege of carrying out four of these dialogues in Puerto Rico. The first one was with a group of young people from different organizations, who impressed us with their passion and determination to change the colonial reality they face. The second meeting brought together leaders of low-income communities, who share the desire to build a fair and equitable future. We have also held dialogues with groups of professionals in the areas of environment, climate justice, health and elder services. Their observations about the challenges and recommendations of strategies have been extremely enriching.
“Right to Democracy is an organization that aims to build a movement for democracy and self-determination in all territories of the United States. We want to confront and dismantle the colonial framework that impacts millions of people in those territories and its diaspora,” said Adi Martínez Román, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Right to Democracy.
“We take on this fight because we believe that the people of the territories should have power over the decisions that affect their lives. We firmly believe that there should be no colonies in the US,” said Neil Weare, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Right to Democracy.
During the dialogues we heard the shared concerns about the tangible consequences of colonialism on people's daily lives. The youth group highlighted the threat to public education and the lack of opportunities to support themselves while studying and upon graduation, forcing them to consider leaving. In addition, they mentioned the limitation in access to medical care, both physical and mental. It hurts young people not to be able to dream of a future in Puerto Rico because the high cost of living and daily uncertainty often prevent them from doing so.
Community leaders also recognized how the limitations of colonial governance causes displacement in their communities. They mentioned that by having to look for better opportunities or services, family and community ties that are key to the fight for common well-being are dismantled. For their part, professionals in the areas of environment and climate justice highlighted the discrimination in the operation of disaster recovery programs and how the lack of real participation means that the programs do not promote energy justice or food sustainability. Finally, the organizations that attend to the problems of elderly and vulnerable populations identified the lack of resources, lack of access to health and a programmatic vision for development as the main challenges faced by these populations.
We are pleased to hear that, despite acknowledging these realities, all four groups list a variety of strategies to advocate for change and are willing to engage in processes that could bring about positive transformation. Promoting education and awareness about the challenges of the undemocratic colonial framework is repeated, among others, as a necessary strategy. We look forward to continuing with the "Listening Tour" in Puerto Rico, and continuing on to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa over the course of the summer. We will also carry out several virtual dialogues that will bring together people from each of the territories along with the diaspora.
We invite you to stay tuned to our media channels so you can learn more about our organization and the stories that unite Puerto Ricans with people of the other territories who face very similar realities. We continue to walk steadily towards democracy!
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