The people of Puerto Rico have been fighting against the colonization of their country for 100 years. In 1898, in its war with Spain, the U.S. took over the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam, and turned Cuba into a dependency. It denied the people the independence for which they had been fighting. Even today, when Puerto Rico is a "Commonwealth," it can make no change to its status without the approval of the U.S. Congress - Puerto Rico is still a colony.
While colonialism has brought tremendous suffering to the people of Puerto Rico, it has brought huge super-profits to the wealthy U.S. exploiters - the monopoly corporations that control the economy of Puerto Rico. At first, large U.S. companies took over the sugar and tobacco plantations, forcing people off their small farms to become super-exploited agricultural workers. Later, big U.S. industries, such as pharmaceutical and petro-chemical companies, turned the majority of the people into low-paid manufacturing workers, also causing great damage to the environment. Wages are about one-half of what they are in the U.S., while prices are about 25% higher than in the U.S. Now many factories have closed (about 180 in the last two and a half years) to find even cheaper labor elsewhere. Not only has local agriculture been eliminated, but almost everything produced in Puerto Rico is exported to the U.S., while everything people need must be imported from the U.S. This has made the whole economy dependent on the U.S.
The Puerto Rican people have never accepted this colonial situation. From their fight against the Spanish and U.S. colonizers in 1898, to the uprising in Jayuya in 1950, to the current strike of the telephone workers and the general strike in their support, the people have always fought for their freedom. The U.S. colonial government, on the other hand, has always tried to repress the people, from the Ponce Massacre in 1937, to the jailing for decades of the leader of the Nationalist Party, Pedro Albizu Campos, to the current imprisonment of 14 independentistas for outrageous terms of an average of 70 years. But the struggle will continue until Puerto Rico is free!
The same system of imperialism (monopoly capitalism) that keeps Puerto Rico as a colony also holds down all oppressed and working people. It is the same capitalist police who kill innocent people, from the well-known murder of Anthony Baez in the Bronx, to the recent shooting of squeegee man Antoine Reid, to the killing of Christopher Malone on July 19, in Ossining, New York. It is the same capitalist government that crushed the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s, killing dozens of members and sending hundreds to jail. It is the same monopoly capitalists who close factories and lay off tens of thousands of workers in the U.S., and call out the police and obtain court injunctions against striking workers.
The living standards of all workers have been on a decline since 1973. More recently we have seen the erosion of affirmative action programs, the attack on trade union rights, increased discrimination against immigrant workers, the drastic reduction of the social "safety net," the establishment of slave-labor "workfare" programs, etc. The sharpening class divisions, the widening gap between rich and poor, is bound to lead to a heightened class struggle. This has already taken place in Puerto Rico and many other dependent countries, as well as in many of the developed capitalist countries. Remember, for example, the massive general strike that shook France in late 1995.
The whole multi-national U.S. working class must unite with the struggle of the people of the oppressed countries. This is the only way to reverse the attacks on all working people, and begin to pave the way for a socialist revolution which will do away with U.S. imperialism once and for all. As the great international working class leader Joseph Stalin said, in Foundations of Leninism: "the victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and the consolidation of a common revolutionary front" and this "is impossible unless the proletariat of the oppressor nations renders direct and determined support to the liberation movements of the oppressed peoples against the imperialism of its 'own country,' for 'no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations' (Engels)."
Independence for Puerto Rico!
Free All Puerto Rican Political Prisoners!
Workers and Oppressed Peoples of the World, Unite!
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