“Amandla Awethu” is a popular variation of the cultural expression “power to the people” that comes from South Africa and literally means, “The Power is ours!” It is a statement of empowerment and an affirmation to, for, and by the People. Nowhere is the sentiment of this expression more evident right now than on the small island of Puerto Rico. Since so many seem to forget, it must be restated again and again that Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth of the United States of America in 1952 thereby making Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens. In 1953, U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, in a memorandum sent to the United Nations, recognized that “the people” of Puerto Rico continue to be citizens of the United States as well as of Puerto Rico. This duo citizenship does prohibit Puerto Ricans from being allowed to vote in U.S. federal elections for president. However, they are afforded all other rights and privileges as citizens of the United States. They have a representative government and a democratically elected governor who are beholden to the people they serve as is common in any democratic representative system of governance.
It is a fact that the leaders “we the people” elect and install into their respective offices are, and should be, beholden to the people who elected them. One of the more famous expressions of the “people’s right to dissolve political brands” in holding their elected representatives accountable was penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve political brands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and the Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation…” Additionally, “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government…”
On July 26, at a massive gathering in Puerto Rico called the “There’s More of US” rally, the People celebrated an historic victory one day after they forced the resignation of their corrupt Governor Ricardo Rosselló. The corruption was not new to the people, however, after leaked personal messages from an online chat room were published, it was the final tipping point in the long list of corruption, mismanagement and impeachable offenses committed by the governor and his administration. The People took to the streets for days and the protests swelled to hundreds of thousands to force out a leader and leadership that no longer had the confidence of the constituents it was elected to serve. WOW! The governor was held accountable for his administration’s corruption and malfeasance. The People stood up against misconduct, lies, misogyny, massive abuse of public resources, and the type of intolerable bullying from the elected official in the highest office of the land. They threw him out because he was unfit to serve in the office to which he had been elected.
It is the right of the people to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive to the people and to the rights and liberties afforded to the people by the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. “Power to the People” WORKS, but only if the People seize the Power they have been given! Thank you Puerto Rico for showing us the way!