Below is a message delivered by Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, at the Sept. 23 Grito de Lares celebration in Lares, Puerto Rico, in support of independence from U.S. colonial rule. Kennedy led a nine-day SWP fact-finding and solidarity visit to the island.
It is an honor to join you here today for the Grito de Lares. The Socialist Workers Party in the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with you and extends our solidarity to all those fighting for an end to U.S. colonial domination and for the independence of Puerto Rico.
The economic crisis that is battering Puerto Rican working people today is not of your making. It is part of something much larger, a world economic situation unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. The disaster of unknown proportions that is looming over us all has come crashing down on you before many others, however, because of the colonial bondage in which you are held by the ruling families of U.S. capital.
Across the United States, as we go door to door talking with working people about this crisis, my party is urging everyone we talk with to join the campaign that is gaining strength every day to tell the US government: Free Oscar López now! Because of their own experiences with the capitalist “justice” system, many workers in the United States can identify with Oscar and his fight for freedom. And today we are working with others to organize as many people as possible to go to Washington, D.C., Oct. 9 to demand the release of our brother Oscar.
On our return from Puerto Rico, we will tell workers and farmers in the United States what we have learned from your experiences and struggles. The fight to end Washington’s colonial domination of Puerto Rico is also in the interests of working people in the United States because we face a common enemy — the imperialist ruling class and its government.
For example, two weeks ago I was part of a rally of 5,000 coal miners in Washington, D.C., demanding the U.S. government live up to its commitments to guarantee miners’ pensions and health care benefits. As you here in Puerto Rico will understand well from your own experiences with similar multinational corporations, many coal companies in the U.S. have declared bankruptcy precisely to get rid of their health care and pension obligations to tens of thousands of retired miners, many of whom face serious illnesses like black lung because of their years of work in the mines.
We embrace the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have been forced to migrate to the United States because of the devastating crisis here. We will find ourselves fighting side by side, and they will help strengthen the solidarity between workers in both countries.
Unlike the Democratic and Republican candidates, the parties of the U.S. capitalist class, I am not here in Puerto Rico to seek votes in a U.S. election. We are here to offer solidarity. We are here to support your right to self-determination. We are here to join your protests against the U.S. fiscal control board and other struggles by workers and youth to defend jobs, wages, health care, education, and living standards.
We oppose efforts to make the Puerto Rican people pay the billions in debt to the wealthy bondholders. As the independence movement explains so well, the board shows the real face of colonial domination.
Revolutionary Cuba, which for more than half a century has defended its sovereignty and freedom in face of the mightiest empire in history, is a powerful example for us. It shows that when workers and farmers take political power out of the hands of the capitalist minority, we can use it to reorganize society in the interests of the vast majority, and against all odds, we can win.
We add our voices to yours in saying: Free Oscar López now! End U.S. colonial domination! Independence for Puerto Rico!
Free Oscar López! Independence for Puerto Rico!
Widespread support for López in Puerto Rico
Oscar López: Join fight for Puerto Rican independence!
Picket hits Washington's takeover of Puerto Rico's budget
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