BSR Magazine Show, episode #208
Time for Solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico
Hosted by James M. Branum
Welcome to the BSR Oklahoma Magazine Show, episode #208, first aired on KTLR 890 AM in Oklahoma City on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 11 am CDT.
For most of our program will be discussing the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and what everyone listening can do to help.
First though, I wanted to share some information about three of my favorite early November events:
Two big events are happening in Enid on the first weekend of November. The Oklahoma Mennonite Relief sale begins on Friday evening and runs through Saturday around lunch time. This huge event is held at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center. Both days feature food, craft and book sales, but Friday will have special entertainment from the legendary Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus, and Saturday will have the quilt auction. This event is put on through the cooperation of Oklahoma Mennonite, Amish, Mennonite Brethern and Brethern in Christ Churches, with all funds raised being used to fund the important international relief and peacemaking efforts of Mennonite Central Committee.
The best part of this event is of course the amazing Mennonite/Amish ethnic foods — vrenika, russian pancakes, borsht, etc, but also the fantastic homemade pies and kettle corn made by the Amish community. So definitely come early. Speaking of coming early… if you want peppernuts, it’s best to come on Friday night as they sell out fast!
More details on the event, including the full schedule can be found at OKReliefSale.com and to find out about the important work of Mennonite Central Committee, go to MCC.org.
Meanwhile, just a little southeast of the Expo Center, in the Hoover building of the Garfield County fairgrounds will the Enid HamFest… which sounds like a celebration of pork products, but actually is an event for Ham radio enthusiasts. They are expecting 100 tables of radio equipment (both new and used for sale), but they also will have some forums, licensing exams and food.
The cost is $3 for adults, free for children under age 12 if they come with a paying adult. More details can be found at www.enidarc.org/enidhamfest
And best of all it is happening next door to the Oklahoma Mennonite Relief Sale, so I plan to go both events.
Lastly, I want to invite all listeners to attend the Oklahoma Peace Festival, on Saturday, November 11 from 10 am- 4pm in Oklahoma City at the Hall of Mirrors in the Downtown Civic Center.
The event is free and open to the public, and will have more than more than 50 booths and tables of social justice organizations and individual artists will display materials and sales items for some early holiday shopping, including craft items made locally, fair trade coffee, books and much more. There will also be supervised children’s Activity Area all day.
The Peace Festival celebrates the efforts of Oklahoma groups working for social justice, human service, civil rights, environmental sustainability and peace.
And while you are there, be sure to look for the tables for the Center for Conscience and Joy Mennonite Church. I plan to be there most of the day at these tables, so please drop by and say howdy.
For the next part of our program, we will be discussing the situation in Puerto Rico and what WE in Oklahoma can do to help. And we’ll play a little bit of music from Puerto Rico.
First though, despite the media coverage, it is clear that our politicians and a good chunk of the US American public are woefully igorant about what is happening in Puerto Rico, so I want to start with a few basic facts, and then try to put them in context. — BTW, the music you’ll be hearing in the background is from the Puerto Rican band Calle 13, entitled Quierdo FBI, but with the bad words bleeped out (Hear the uncensored version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkEy_aeFcec)
Puerto Rico has an estimated population of 3.4 million people, just a little less than Oklahoma, which has a population of 3.9 million people.
Puerto Rico is composed of one big island and several smaller islands, with a total land area of 3,515 square miles. In comparison, Oklahoma has a total land area of 69,897 square miles, almost 20 times more land area. So this means that PR has a much higher population density – approx. 971 people per square mile, as compared to Oklahoma having about 55 people per square mile.
The people of Puerto Rico are full US citizens, however, they lack many of the basic elements of participation in the national democracy — PuertoRiquenos get no vote for President, have no representation in the US Senate, and only a single non-voting delegate to the US House.
If Puerto Rico was a US state, it would be the poorest, with 41% of its population being under the poverty line.
Currently, 7,349 Puerto Ricans are serving in the US military (and this number is likely lower than reality, as many people born in Puerto Rico choose to list a US state as their place of record when they enlist). – See https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/dwp/dwp_reports.jsp
Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since 1898. Over time, some degree of self-government has been granted to PR by the United States, but at the same time there has been an ongoing campaign of repression against Puertoriquenos who seek independence.
The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, most recently in 2011, passed a resolution calling on the United States to expedite a process “that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence”, to release all Puerto Rican political prisoners in U.S. prisons, to clean up, decontaminate and return the lands in the islands of Vieques and Culebra to the people of Puerto Rico, to perform a probe into U.S. human rights violations on the island and a probe into the killing by the FBI of pro-independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios.
These are the pre-hurricane facts.
Here are the facts about the current situation, one month after the hurricane:
One million people still do not have access to clean drinking water – http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/18/health/puerto-rico-one-month-without-water/index.html
75% of cell phone towers are still down.
As of this week, FEMA has 1700 personnel deployed to PR and the US Virgin Islands, while 2600 personnel are deployed to the Gulf Coast of the US, even though it has been almost 2 months since hurricane Harvey.
Only 13.7% of the population has access to working electricity.
Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief, says that the US “can’t stay in Puerto Rico forever” and has indicated that the amount of aid will be diminishing over time. He also has said as of the recording of this program, that he would rank his Puerto Rico relief efforts as being 10 out of 10.
Most of the hospitals in PR are depending on backup generators, which of course puts them in danger of running out of fuel as well as equipment breakdowns. –https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/9/26/16365994/hurricane-maria-2017-puerto-rico-san-juan-humanitarian-disaster-electricty-fuel-flights-facts
This is unacceptable and I think each person in this country has an obligation to ask what WE will do to help our hermanos y hermanas, our brothers and sisters, in Puerto Rico.
Many will say that to give to major aid agency like the Red Cross, but I’m not a fan of them. Their record in Haiti was abysmal and I’ve also seen more than a fair share of ineptitude in how they have functioned during tornados in Oklahoma. And of course there is also the issue of their executives making executive-sized salaries, as if they were working in the corporate sector.
So instead, I would suggest some alternatives…
1. The Unidos fund, which is being organized by the Hispanic Federation –https://hispanicfederation.org/media/press_releases/a_hurricane_relief_fund_for_hurricane_maria_victims_in_puerto_rico/
2. And then a very small thing… one of the things I’ve heard from friends who have family in Puerto Rico, is that it is hard to be cut off from the outside world. These are folks like you and I, who are plugged into the internet, social media, etc, but now are cut off. Obviously this isn’t as important as the basics of life — clean water, food, etc, but these kinds of small creature comforts can make life in crisis a little more bearable.
So, Broad Spectrum Radio is working with the Center for Conscience in Action, to send portable AM/FM/Shortwave radios to Puerto Rico, small battery-operated fans (because it is still really hot this time of year, and many folks have no A/C), along with 60 AA batteries. It is all being shipped to some folks in Juncos, Puerto Rico (family members of a friend), in the East Central part of the island, who will then pass them on to folks in need. The cost to do this isn’t bad — using Amazon Prime’s free shipping, we can get one set of these items to PR for around $42.
So… if you would like to help, please go to broadspectrumradio.com/pr and you’ll find out how to donate.
We’ll close out today’s show with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new song, ‘Almost Like Praying
Until next week, this is James Branum with BroadSpectrumradio.com.
NOTE: Background music heard in part of the latter segment of the program is creative commons licensed music by Chris Zabriskie. Thanks Chris for sharing your music!