An environmental and economic justice brigade led by Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), Greenpeace USA, Organización Boricuá (Puerto Rico), Just Transition Alliance and their partners in the “Our Power Puerto Rico” campaign arrived on the island to join just recovery efforts and assess the impact of the Jones Act.
A just recovery is a frame promoted by labor and environmental justice groups for a just transition that guarantees regenerative economies that can create jobs, protect the environment and create resilient communities.
The brigade arrived on board the historic Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. A second vessel will arrive in Puerto Rico in the coming days with sustainable supplies collected across the United States, including solar panels, water filters, agricultural tools and bicycles.
The cargo could not come on board the Arctic Sunrise because the Jones Act does not allow for foreign flagged vessels to transport supplies between U.S. ports, group representatives said.
These efforts are part of a national campaign led by Climate Justice Alliance called #Our Power Puerto Rico, which pursues the objective of rebuilding Puerto Rico with a regenerative economy.
The goal is that Puerto Rico can recover through a just transition, centered on renewable energy, a green economy, food sovereignty and Puerto Rico’s self-sufficiency.
“This effort was born with the objective not only of collecting aid and sustainable materials but also to support Puerto Ricans so they can take charge of their own recovery with long-term benefits,” said Angela Adrar, executive director of Climate Justice Alliance, Our Power Puerto Rico.
“Without the participation of the people, equity or economic or economic justice will not be achieved and that is the need that we want to amplify at the level of the United States and on the island,” she said.
The brigade will meet with agroecologists and members of the labor movement in Puerto Rico to assess the impact of the Jones Act in the recovery efforts led by local communities. Furthermore, they will assess the needs of farmers that work for a just recovery and a just transition towards a sustainable future for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane María.
“Due to the Jones Act, we in Puerto Rico remain very vulnerable not only to climate change, but also to our agri-food system, since the United States regulates what enters and leaves from our archipelago,” said Jesús Vázquez, national coordinator of Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica of Puerto Rico.
“That is why the Boricuá Organization is given a great deal of effort to work to produce food from the people and for the people using agroecology that promotes sustainable practices, resilient and also allows us to organize and work to achieve food sovereignty,” Vázquez said.
The brigade of activists in favor of climate justice joined the crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise in Miami to come to San Juan. This ship will then continue with in its route to Antarctica for its next mission with the environmental organization. However, the campaign will send another two brigades and supplies to Puerto Rico using other means in the next six months.
“Greenpeace is proud to stand by the Climate Justice Alliance and contribute to just recovery efforts to make communities more resilient to climate change,” said Hannah Strange, Greenpeace’s Movement Support Hub Director.
“The most recent season of superstorms has made clear that the impacts of climate change are real, affecting communities from Texas to Puerto Rico, and around the globe. Climate change makes hurricanes like María even more powerful and destructive,” she added.
“We cannot let climate deniers and disaster capitalism deprive our communities from their right to a just recovery,” Strange noted.
Our Power PR was launched last month in New York by Climate Justice Alliance, Greenpeace USA and UPROSE in coordination with It Takes Roots, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, LEAP and Grassroots International.
To date, more than 25 organizations have joined the campaign representing communities in 30 States and 150 organizations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The long-term goal is to deliver resiliency tools for the people of Puerto Rico, so they recover without pollution, debt, dependency, or deteriorated infrastructure, and instead advance towards environmental justice, a democratic economy, self-determination and climate resiliency, organizers said.