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FRSO Orlando hosts Young Lords speakers

By Tyler Register

FRSO event on Puerto Rican independence movement featuring speakers from the You

Orlando, FL – On Saturday February 18, the Orlando chapter of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) hosted a panel on the Puerto Rican independence movement featuring speakers from the Young Lords, a revolutionary organization dedicated to uplifting the Puerto Rican community and fighting for independence since 1968. The panel speakers included David Rivera, a founding member of the Young Lords, and Gabe Marcano, a Florida leader in the New-Era Young Lords, as well as Laura Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican member of FRSO. The event began with the speakers sharing their background in activism, explaining the history of the struggle for Puerto Rican Independence and offering lessons to further the movement. The event was attended by more than 20 people which filled the event space and led to an engaged audience question-and-answer session.

David Rivera spoke of his lifelong history in the struggle and his experience organizing in the Rainbow Coalition, a multicultural movement that linked the Black Panther Party and the Young Patriots with the Young Lords in their fight against police terrorism, poverty and corruption. David, alongside Cha Cha Jiménez and others, created the Young Lords when they were all very young as a response to the oppression and attacks they faced in the U.S. as Puerto Ricans. Once a street gang, David recalled how Cha Cha, after finally being released from a jail sentence, showed him a copy of Quotations From Chairman Mao Zedong, which precipitated their transformation into a revolutionary organization.

Gabe Marcano spoke of the hurricane relief visits to Puerto Rico organized by the New Era Young Lords to assist the people living on the island. Especially in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Maria and Fiona, where the United States would give little to no support as the power failed and people perished, the Young Lords would go to the island to give aid and help rebuild from the destruction.

On the question of statehood versus independence, they said that admitting Puerto Rico into the U.S. as a state would strip the island of its culture and remove their identity. “Puerto Rico does not need another referendum on statehood, Puerto Rico needs independence!” said Rodriquez, adding, “We must withdraw all U.S. military bases from the island,” noting the bases act as a recruitment tool to enroll Puerto Ricans to fight in wars that will only benefit the defense industry and the wealthy.

Parasites in the U.S. have been buying up industries, resources, land and beaches for their own profit. David led the chant “Jibaro sí, Yankee no,” which exemplifies the spirit of the independence movement, namely giving the land back to the Puerto Rican people and getting the Yankees out. The speakers discussed the immense sorrow and fear felt by the island's people as they witnessed more and more of their homeland being stolen from them.

Even though there is sorrow, there is also a great deal of hope and determination for an independent Puerto Rico. Rodriguez expressed this in their closing remarks: “The future is bright and filled with Boricua resistance! Join the struggle for liberation. Liberation won’t happen overnight, but make no mistake, it will happen. We must walk the freedom road, unite all who can be united, and fight back against all forms of Yankee imperialist oppression.”

As the United States causes the living conditions on the island to become increasingly brutal, the desire among the Puerto Rican people for independence grows larger every day. The necessity of a free Puerto Rico that is independent from the U.S. empire is ever more urgent. The Freedom Road Socialist Organization will continue demanding an independent Puerto Rico in particular and independence for all U.S. colonies in general.

To keep up-to-date on future events of the Young Lords, follow @new_era_young_lords on Instagram.

To keep up-to-date on future events of the Orlando chapter of FRSO, follow @FRSO_Orlando on Twitter.

#OrlandoFL #PuertoRico #YoungLordsParty