Mexico & The Caribbean
The Autogestión of Puerto Rico
By Mireya Navarro
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A new consciousness, based on “autogestión” (self-reliance), has taken hold in Puerto Rico, where grass-roots movements are looking not just to rebuild, but to shape a more resilient future.

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Rómulo Burgos Jr. Ortiz, a former electrician with the public power company, now belongs to a group of neighbors seeking to form a cooperative to install solar panels on rooftops and set up their own energy microgrid.

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Within days of the hurricane, a dozen members of Agua, Sol y Sereno (Water, Sun and Evening Mist), an arts group known for its stilt-walkers and life-size puppets, fanned out to shelters around the island.

Pedro Adorno Irizarry

They had lost everything, and they were in shock, but they started smiling. We laughed together, and we cried together.

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Yareli Manning (right) owns the gourmet food truck The Meatball Company and her sister, Xoimar (left), operates Yummy Dumplings. They joined the post-hurricane food-relief efforts lead by chef José Andrés- a fleet of 10 sturdy kitchens on wheels.

Yareli Manning

José Andrés told us, ‘We’re going to give out a million meals.’ I thought, ‘This guy is crazy!

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Elena Biamón sees an opportunity to advance agroecological farming — sustainable, ecologically sound crops that currently are just a fraction of the local output.

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The prominent painter and graphic artist Antonio “Toño” Martorell chose to commemorate the dead — 2,975 fatalities, according to researchers at George Washington University — in the powerful exhibit “In Memoriam.”

Antonio “Toño” Martorell

The first step to make a change is to confront reality. We are becoming more aware that we have to solve our own problems. People here are responding.

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