Many thanks to Rod Fusco for sharing this item. Puerto Rico’s René Pérez (Calle 13’s “Residente”) and Rosario Dawson (whose mother is of Puerto Rican-Cuban origins) joined Spike Lee at the Bernie Sanders rally St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx. Before introducing the presidential candidate, he delivered a speech about the recent trajectory of Puerto Rico, calling attention to the island’s status, biological and chemical experimentation, the history of Puerto Rican’s military service, and the case of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, “who has been incarcerated for over 34 years–longer than Nelson Mandela.”
Remezcla’s Yara Simón recaps:
“Tonight, I’m not here to talk about economic issues, because I’m not an economist,” he began. “I’m not here to talk about our right to free, quality education or our right to free and accessible health care… I could speak of the racial injustices that people are suffering in this country and in the rest of the world, and of the need for comprehensive immigration reform. All of these are serious issues in America, but today, I came to speak briefly about the history of Puerto Rico and a little bit about the history of Latin America and why I’m here tonight in support of Bernie Sanders.”
Residente jumped straight into the history of his native land, explaining that as a colony of the United States, the island has suffered many injustices. He said that doctors subjected Puerto Ricans to medical experiments, and that the island’s land didn’t fare better.
“From 1941 until 2003, on the island of Vieques, the United States Navy undertook a series of experiments on different biological and chemical weapons while using the island as a bombing range,” he said. “To this day, the land and people of Vieques have not fully recovered from this devastation. There’s a Puerto Rican, a political prisoner, who has been encarcerated [sic] for over 34 years – longer than Nelson Mandela. His name Oscar Lopez Rivera, and he deserves to be free today.”
Then, Residente spoke out about the unfairness of the electoral system. Even though Puerto Ricans have served in the United States’ military, their votes do not count when it comes to the presidency – meaning that when it comes to the current economic crisis, they don’t get a say in what happens.
“We are currently living an unprecedented economic crisis and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment of any other place in the U.S., yet the U.S. government does not even allow us to restructure our debt,” he said. [. . .]
Also see http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rosario-dawson-slams-clinton-bashing-sanders-article-1.2584754, http://www.latintimes.com/bernie-sanders-bronx-rally-rosario-dawson-residente-calle-13-join-candidate-new-york-377851 and http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/latin/7317975/calle-13s-residente-bernie-sanders-during-rally-bronx