Independence for Puerto Rico!

August 5, 2019

Seth Galinsky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York City public advocate, issued the following statement July 24. 

Angry over capitalist politicians’ disregard for their lives in the wake of Hurricane Maria, decades of government attacks on their standard of living, widespread corruption and U.S. colonial contempt, working people in Puerto Rico have said, “Enough!”

In the face of the massive protests, the U.S. rulers and their junior partners on the island have come to the conclusion that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló must go — whether by resigning, impeachment or in handcuffs. 

Protesters chant “Ricky, resign, and take the board with you,” reflecting their hatred for the U.S.-imposed fiscal board that has inflicted deeper anti-working-class measures. The capitalist rulers hope that by replacing Rosselló, they can keep squeezing working people to pay the $74 billion debt to wealthy bondholders and raking in superprofits off Puerto Rico’s cheap labor and natural resources. 

But working people in Puerto Rico know that it will take more than changing the face in La Fortaleza — the governor’s house — to resolve the problems they face. They are beginning to see their own power. Many ask: Is it possible to stand up to the U.S. government? Can we be an independent nation? 

The Cuban Revolution shows it can be done. In 1959 working people overturned the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. At the time the corporations, utilities and best land were owned by U.S. capitalists. 

Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, knew they could never achieve the far-reaching political and economic changes working people needed simply by removing Batista. They’d just end up with a “kinder, gentler” U.S. puppet. For any lasting change, capitalist rule had to be replaced by a government of workers and farmers. The recent protests in Puerto Rico prove that working people there are entirely capable of a similar transformation.

The interests of workers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are intertwined. We have the same enemy — the big capitalist corporations and their governments in Washington and San Juan who push the deepening crisis of their system onto our backs. The U.S. working class is made stronger by the millions of Puerto Ricans here.

The U.S. government has no right to tell the people of Puerto Rico how to run their own affairs. Every advance by working people in defending their interests there strengthens the fight of working people in the U.S., and vice versa.

The Socialist Workers Party and our candidates join in solidarity with this struggle. We join with workers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. who say, Cancel the debt! Dissolve the fiscal board! Independence for Puerto Rico!