Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Protests Erupt in Puerto Rico to Fight a Worsening Energy Crisis

San Juan residents are taking to the streets in response to massive power shortages exacerbated by a private electrical company, U.S. colonial policies, and a worsening climate crisis. Workers and environmental activists in the United States should show solidarity.

Sam Carliner

October 17, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Protester wearin a mask in front of two signs.

This weekend, more than 4,000 Puerto Ricans marched down the main highway in San Juan, blocking traffic to protest ongoing power outages. The lack of electricity in Puerto Rico’s capital city is threatening residents’ health; they are overheating in their homes and are forced to throw out food and even insulin that has gone bad due to lack of consistent refrigeration.

Power outages have occurred frequently since 2017 when Hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, knocking out power for 1.5 million people on the island and triggering the world’s second longest blackout. But the outages have worsened over time, occurring more frequently and lasting longer since the private company, Luma Energy, took control of the power grid in June this year. At one point, after a fire at a Luma substation, 800,000 Puerto Ricans were without power. Residents already pay twice as much as mainland U.S. customers for unreliable service, and now they will be paying an additional 1 cent per kilowatt of power they use. Between January and September of 2021, as a result of three separate price increases, the price of electricity went up by nearly 33 percent. The protest this weekend clearly denounced Luma’s role in the island’s worsening energy crisis, with many protesters demanding that the government’s 15-year contract with the company be terminated. 

Puerto Ricans have long suffered due to the colonial control that the United States holds over the “territory.” U.S. rule has only exacerbated the effects of the worsening climate crisis in Puerto Rico that is making conditions unbearable for millions of people. As natural disasters occur more frequently, the extraction, military presence, and austerity that the United States forces on Puerto Rico has intensified and become even more difficult for the people to endure. Meanwhile, private capitalists like those at Luma use the disasters as an opportunity to reap greater profits by increasing prices while providing worse services.

Just like the private energy grid that left millions of Texans without power in the middle of freezing temperatures last year, the increasing privatization of essential services in Puerto Rico is devastating the island and its inhabitants. The working class and activists in the environmental movement in the United States must stand in solidarity with the protests taking place in Puerto Rico and fight together for an end to the commodification of basic services.

Facebook Twitter Share

Sam Carliner

Sam Carliner is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about US imperialism. He also tweets about imperialism as @saminthecan.

Latin America

The Far Right and the Reformist Left Will Face Off in Chile’s Presidential Elections

In the first round of presidential elections in Chile, the far-right politician José Antonio Kast won 28 percent. The 35-year-old former student leader Gabriel Boric reached 25 percent. The two main traditional parties did not reach a runoff. Trotskyists got 50,000 votes.

Nathaniel Flakin

November 22, 2021

Cuba: With Repression and Intimidation, the Government of Díaz-Canel Discourages the “Civic March for Change”

In response to a protest called by a broad coalition of groups and individuals opposing the Cuban regime, the government issued a series of repressive measures to stop the demonstration, including prohibiting the protest and arresting its organizers. Against both the pro-imperialist far right and the disastrous policies of the government, we call for the freedom of organization and protest for the working and poor of Cuba.

Pablo Oprinari

November 17, 2021

Meet Alejandro Vilca, the First Indigenous Worker Elected to Argentina’s Congress

The Indigenous sanitation worker Alejandro Vilca is set to enter Congress for the Workers Left Front — Unity (FIT-U). A militant campaign by thousands of workers, young people, and Indigenous communities made history.

Nathaniel Flakin

November 16, 2021
Pictures of Nicolás del Caño (PTS) and Romina del Plá (PO) (standing together in the same photo, Myriam Bregman (PTS) in a separate photo, smiling and with her fist in the air, with a green bandana for the abortion movement wrapped around her wrist, and Alejandro Vilca (PTS) in another separate photo

A Historic Result for the Left Front in Argentina: Almost 1.3 Million Votes and Four Seats in Congress

At the midterm elections on Sunday, the center-left government of Alberto Fernández suffered a defeat. The Left Front, a coalition of working-class socialist groups, had its best result ever, with 1,270,540 votes across the country. This is an inspiration for socialists around the world.

Nathaniel Flakin

November 15, 2021


France’s Openly Racist Presidential Candidate Makes It Official

Éric Zemmour officially declared his candidacy in next spring’s French presidential elections, in an online video replete with open racism and xenophobia aimed at “saving France.”

Scott Cooper

November 30, 2021

The IMF Is a Weapon Against Women — They Have the Power to Fight Against It

The International Monetary Fund, based in Washington, has a very particular gender perspective. The adjustment plans it negotiates with the governments of debtor countries fall on the backs of working people, and it is women from the poorest households who are most affected. These effects are universal across the globe. This article uses Argentina to make the case.

Andrea D'Atri

November 30, 2021
Three French soldiers deployed to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel

Another Attack on Protesters by French Troops in Africa, This Time Killing Three

Demonstrators demanding the departure of French troops from Operation Barkhane in the African Sahel region blocked a French army convoy last Saturday, and the soldiers and Nigerian police opened fire, killing three and injuring 17, 10 of them seriously.

Augustin Tagèl

November 30, 2021

Help Left Voice Get Louder: Support Independent Revolutionary Socialist Journalism

This Giving Tuesday, donate to Left Voice!

Left Voice

November 30, 2021