‘Thank You Fidel’: Puerto Rican Poet and Ex-Political Prisoner

Rafael Cancel Miranda was part of an assault on the U.S. capital building in 1954 demanding the independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule.

I give thanks to life
for my boricua skies,
my soul, nationalist
my belief, Fidelista.

I give thanks to life
for the courage to fight,
for the courage to confront
the imperialist beast.

I give thanks to life
for Isabel and Albizu
and for those friends
who served as guides.

I give thanks to life
for my brave people,
who have honorably
kept their soul alive.

I give thanks to life
for the light on my path,
and for marking my destiny
with that of my country.

Having just finished this poem, I learned of the physical death of compañero Fidel. In order to honor one who honored us so much, I gave the poem the title, “Thank You, Fidel” and in his honor, I changed one word in the poem.

This morning a journalist interviewed me about Fidel’s death, although he has not died in my mind. Fidel will keep on for a good while. The imperialist mafia did its best so he would not reach 50 years old, but being Fidel, his body decided which day he would pass away.

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Debt restructuring in Puerto Rico: US Senate

The PROMESA Bill plans to give a U.S. federal board control of Puerto Rico’s economy to pursue austerity and debt restructuring.

The United States Senate voted on Wednesday to advance a controversial bill to address Puerto Rico’s crippling US$70 billion debt crisis, just days before the Caribbean island is poised to default on a US$1.9 billion debt payment.

Senators voted 68-32 for cloture of the bill, setting up a vote on final passage no later than Thursday afternoon.

Lawmakers predicted that the vote will be tight as supporters scramble to get the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, also known as the PROMESA Bill, through Congress before Puerto Rico’s July 1 debt payment deadline.

PROMESA proposes to hand control of Puerto Rico’s economy, including debt restructuring, over to a Washington-appointed federal oversight board.

Both Republicans and Democrats back the bill. Though several Democrats have raised concerns about the structure of the legislation, many also argue that the consequences of a default without a plan in place are too serious to justify opposing the bill.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who has voiced criticisms of the bill, said a failure to pass PROMESA would mark “a tremendous win for the unscrupulous hedge funds that have held this bill up for six months demanding to be first in line over the needs of the people of Puerto Rico.”

Debt expert Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, argued in a letter to the Senate on Tuesday that the “very serious” impacts on Puerto Rico if the bill fails would include threats to social services and pension protections, as well as a swoop of predatory “vulture funds” looking to exploit the economic crisis on the island.

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