About the Project

Ever since hurricane María made landfall in Puerto Rico, the US Territory has come into the spotlight of the American mainstream media. Since September 2017, news outlets have broadcasted the faces of Puerto Ricans who’ve lost their homes, had no electricity and were dealing with shortages of water, food, and medicine. However, most of the coverage on Puerto Rico represented the people as passive victims, rather than active survivors. Also, it failed to show the most significant aspect of Puerto Rico’s story, one that started way before hurricane María. It’s a problem called: US Colonialism.

Promised Island(s) is a documentary that features the story of a new wave of Puerto Rican resistance that spurred in 2016, as an opposition to the approval of the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). This project was authored by the US Congress and signed into law by president Barack Obama in response to Puerto Rico’s economic recession, which began in 2006. The opponents of PROMESA claim that this law seeks to use Puerto Rico’s economic crisis as a scheme to advance a neoliberal agenda on the island(s). PROMESA constitutes an unelected Fiscal Control Board that is pushing austerity measures, which the majority of the Puerto Rican people disapprove.

The documentary focuses on three fronts of resistance and/or efforts of direct democracy: strikes, street protests, and self-sustaining projects. First, the student movements. University students nationwide were at the upfront of the resistance against PROMESA. In 2017, they went on strike and shut down the University of Puerto Rico’s campuses for weeks. The second focus is direct action and street protests. Under the hashtag #seacabaronlaspromesas, thousands of Puerto Ricans have taken to the streets since 2016 to protest austerity measures and US colonialism. These protests have often ended with repression and police violence, which have made the opposition against PROMESA even stronger. And in regard to the lack of emergency response in the aftermath hurricane María, many organizers established Centers of Mutual Aid to attend the shortages of water, food and medicine in the most vulnerable communities of Puerto Rico; this is the film’s third focus. The Centers of Mutual Aid, have evolved into an autonomous movement around the island(s) that seeks to develop projects of self-organization, self-management, and sustainability, hoping to shift away from Puerto Rico’s colonial dependency to the US.

The documentary film crew goes from the cities to the most remote places. It travels around Puerto Rico to document the new social movements, as the most underrepresented voices use our cameras to share their stories of surviving the economic crisis in the aftermath of hurricane María. These are the voices of the young and unemployed, the elderly without pensions, the peasants without land, the communities without schools, the survivors of more than 500 years of colonialism.

© 2019 by Patas Arriba Media Project