To 18-year-old Nyiesha Mallett, a youth organizer with the Brooklyn climate justice organization Uprose, the climate strike participants who have experienced the impacts of the crisis firsthand hold the knowledge essential to navigating the emergencies ahead. She’s involved in organizing a Frontline Climate Strike that will include representatives from numerous communities impacted by climate disasters, including Puerto Rico and New Orleans.
IT’S TOUGH TO shock Puerto Ricans. Not after the presidential paper-towel toss. Not after Donald Trump repeatedly attacked San Juan’s mayor for daring to fight for her people’s lives. Not after he threatened to skip out on the island in its hour of need at the earliest excuse.
Still, the fact that the House-approved relief package contains $5 billion in loans for the island, rather than grants, is a special kind of cruelty. Because on an island already suffering under an un-payable $74 billion debt (and another $49 billion in unfunded pension obligations), Puerto Ricans understand all too well that debt is not relief. On the contrary, it is a potent tool of perpetual impoverishment and control from which relief is urgently needed.