The Movement of Rank and File Educators supports the protests in Puerto Rico against the privatized electricity company LUMA. As our union siblings from the Teachers’ Federation of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, FMPR) have reported, since the hiring of the Canadian company in June 2021, there have been seven price increases in the past 14 months, despite constant power outages, exacerbated since the devastation of Hurricane Maria and the COVID pandemic. LUMA has made remote and in-person learning chaotic and unreliable for students, families, and school staff. When these frequent blackouts occur, students attending school in person go without sufficient ventilation or air conditioning - a near necessity in a tropical country like Puerto Rico - and students learning remotely lose Wi-Fi and computer access. These issues are especially disconcerting in light of the dangerous dual health crises that schools face this fall: COVID and MPX.These crises highlight fundamental contradictions confronting Puerto Ricans on the island. LUMA and Puerto Rico’s fiscal control board, La Junta, continue to show how the colonial system’s interests are firmly aligned with those of the imperialistic Wall Street powers that be and robs Puerto Ricans of their right to self-determination beyond the bondage of capitalist exploitation.
As members of a public school union in a state where StudentsFirst holds a tight grip on our politicians, we know the dangers of privatization of what should be a public good. Furthermore, as New York State residents, we reject the privatization of electricity in our respective communities: the Long Island Power Authority’s public-private relationship with Public Service Electric and Gas company, Rochester Gas and Electric, and Con Edison in New York City. Public goods such as education, housing, electricity, Wi-Fi, and healthcare should be dictated by public ownership and protected from for-profit interests.
We therefore denounce the attacks on the protesters by the militarized and overfunded police and support the demand: the people before the debt; for the cancellation of the contract with LUMA and the end of subcontracting companies that have been paid for with public funds. The people of Puerto Rico should not be subjected to inefficient, overpriced electrical services for the financial benefit of the imperialist Fiscal Control Board.
Long live a free and liberated Puerto Rico! ¡Viva Puerto Rico libre!