EDITORS’ NOTE: This poem documents the protests that led to the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló in 2019. It is a collaboration between writer Jacqueline Jiang and photographer Héctor Gónzalez, who took to the streets to document those events, events which, in a way, turned out to be prescient given all that was to come in 2020.
People say it takes a village to raise a child.
In Puerto Rico,
It took years of abuse, of corruption,
La colonia y la destrucción,
más 889 pages of filth
To awaken Borikén.
One man, las huellas de papi como zapatos,
Transformed the sons & daughters of the sun
Into a force,
Into una obra de arte dedicated to his erasure,
Pero te doy las gracias, Ricky. No por tus actos, sino por motivarnos.
For being both the assassin & the martyr of us all,
For bringing together those who had never sweat tear gas before,
On el Expreso Las Américas we shut down with force,
Familias enteras walked in the rain,
Cantando victoria, porque un pueblo unido jamás será vencido,
And we have finally forged new paths for our children to walk across.
My generation has made history with its actions, Ricky.
¡Los cuatro gatos en la calle han logrado lo inconcebible!
I have seen fathers hold their children’s hands, smiling,
While the dealer del punto de La Perla smokes up a joint with the hippie-looking dude three times his age.
We have witnessed perreo intenso, mountain poses in meditation,
Cacerolas con hoyas de la bisabuela de la vecina de la esquina,
All in unity con la bandera más bella del mundo.
I have been behind the scenes of a stranger’s Facebook LIVE only to see her cousin
twice removed type “#RickyRenuncia” all the way from some quiet town in the
nation that divided us.
Today and after, we are no longer divided.
Escucho Albizu’s cries for freedom,
Veo Hostos with proud eyes, rejoicing;
Siento a Marqués sitting by his desk in the afterlife
Dándole gracias al pueblo porque ya no somos dóciles,
Cómo él decía (mind you, it was a wake-up call).
Porque estamos despiertos.
Porque no nos dejamos.
Porque desde hoy, esta generación tiene una nueva voz.
Y es gracias a ti.
Gracias a tus actos, tu corrupción, tu falta de respeto hacia esta isla del encanto.
Escúchame Ricky, your telegrams made this all possible,
Because a people united is the strongest weapon in the world.
You sit alone on an island that never belonged to you,
While we all celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in our history.
Celebramos el poder de un pueblo, exigiendo tu renuncia, exigiendo el cambio,
exigiendo la libertad.
You call it resignation.
We call it rebirth.
Jacqueline Jiang is a writer, educator, and student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. She also works as a poet mentor in high schools throughout the island and offers creative writing workshops to middle school students. Her academic and creative work are both written with the goal of educating outsiders about the current (and past) socio-political situation in Puerto Rico. She has served as a co-chairman of the Caribbean Without Borders conference at the University of Puerto Rico and was most recently published in The Acentos Review. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her Instagram at @microfonoabierto.
Héctor González Rivera is a professional director, videographer, and photographer from Puerto Rico. With over 10 years of experience working in locations like New York, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico; his photography is lively and colorful, yet minimalist and meticulous. His focus behind the lens varies from street to travel, from the small details to the documentation of island occurrences. You can reach him at his webpage http://www.hectorgonzalezrivera.com/ or via Instagram at @hgrmedia.