Toward Agroecological Transformation: Understanding Political Opportunities and Social Movements Puerto Rico

Authors: Thelma Velez*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Environment, Agricultural Geography, Planning Geography
Keywords: Agroecology, sovereignty, food system change, social movements
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the devastation left millions of people without food and water. When Puerto Rico’s people most needed assistance, the U.S. fell short. Though devastating, the storm brought international attention to a defunct colonial relationship between the U.S. and its island territory. Within days of the storm, grassroots mobilization for a sustainable and just recovery was (and still is) underway both on and off the island. Using political process theory, this work explores how a combination of historical disenfranchisement, natural disaster, and failed federal response led to collective action contesting colonial control and a capitalist food system. After the storm, new political opportunities emerged and highlighted the need to strategize across various organizations. The Our Power Puerto Rico #JustRecovery campaign seeks to collectively challenge food system failures stemming from a colonialism and capitalism. Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica has been working toward agroecology and sovereignty in Puerto Rico for 28 years, and are now making headway with the aid of organizations, such as Climate Justice Alliance, US Food Sovereignty, and UPROSE. This case study examines a set of social movement organizations that have united to support the transition toward agroecology and food sovereignty in Puerto Rico.

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