GMS GirdYourLoins / YouTube People of Puerto Rico Carry GUILLOTINE 1591224225.jpg...
GMS GirdYourLoins / YouTube

Though Puerto Ricans still face a triple whammy from the ravages of hurricanes, earthquakes, and COVID-19, the island’s intrepid citizens refuse to be suppressed when it comes to injustice. Puerto Ricans are marching for #BlackLivesMatter this week, honoring George Floyd and other victims of racism and police brutality while also protesting the suppression of their own civil rights. The island’s unelected governor, Republican Wanda Vázquez Garced, just signed oppressive, dangerous civil code changes into law, and now people on the island have taken to the streets.

At Tuesday’s demonstration in front of the governor’s mansion in San Juan, protestors brought out a guillotine, which was also done for the #WandaRenuncia protests in January, which demanded that Vázquez step down.

Footage of Wednesday’s protests was posted to social media.

Here are a series of tweets that help paint a visual image of what’s been happening on the ground.

It is important to note that Puerto Rico has a large population with African ancestry thanks to a long history of enslavement.

Puerto Rico (like Cuba), was one of the last territories in the Caribbean to continue importing large numbers of enslaved Africans and became the Spanish Crown’s other leading producer and exporter of sugar, coffee, cotton and tobacco; all mostly produced with enslaved African labour.

The Royal census of Puerto Rico in 1834 established that the island’s population as 42,000 enslaved Africans, 25,000 coloured freemen, 189,000 people who identified themselves as whites and 101,000 who were described as being of mixed ethnicity.

Emancipation on the island didn’t take place until 1873, and even then slavery wasn’t completely abolished.

On March 22, 1873, the Spanish National Assembly finally abolished slavery in Puerto Rico.  The owners were compensated with 35 million pesetas per slave, and slaves were required to continue working for three more years.

Though Loiza is one of the areas that is always pointed to as having a large Afro-Puerto Rican population and is considered to be “the African heart” of Puerto Rico, Afro-Boricuas are everywhere, both on the island and in the diaspora of the mainland.

I have written about the importance of bomba in Puerto Rican culture in the past, so it is no surprise that we see bomba danced as part of the protests and memorials.

Notice the depth of these tributes to George Floyd: Here they printed a photograph of him and framed it.

Puerto Rico, like many places in the Caribbean—and like the U.S. mainland—is no stranger to systemic racism. The elite who rule Puerto Rico are almost all “white.”

Like everywhere else, there is also denial of racism.

I’m also following the responses to the oppressive Civil Code changes, which ironically took effect at the start of Pride Month.

In closing, here’s a reminder about people power in Puerto Rico.

Thank you, Puerto Rico.

#BlackLivesMatter #LasVidasNegrasImportan

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. The masses have finally had enough of the ruling and upper elite classes, you best get your houses in order and change your ways…..

  2. AS$HOLES even live on the Beautiful Island of Puerto Rico. Vote them OUT along with their leader tRUMP, the biggest AS$HOLE of all!


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