BRUISE is an online publication providing visibility for ideas, conversations, experiments, and projects generated outside of traditional exhibition spaces by artists and their associates in dialogue with Triangle - Astérides, centre d’art contemporain in Marseille.


It's not the wind's fault

Essays   •   More of US

For the last contribution of the collective More Of Us, Carolina Campuzano proposes a reflection on the energy sovereignty from the environmental and social catastrophe generated by the hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. "It's not the wind's fault" highlights the human responsibility of these disasters called, often wrongly, "natural", and alarms on the necessity of a collective awareness and a change of our current production modes (Camille Ramanana Rahary for Triangle-Astérides)  

                          It's not the wind's fault

The wind blows, then it roars, then the palm trees begin to lean, the clouds move in disorder and in the sky not only birds appear, but also roofs and pieces of the things that make our life on earth. It is no longer just wind, it is a hurricane, one with a woman's name: Maria.

It was 2017 and Puerto Rico, a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States, was about to experience a catastrophe of incalculable dimensions; for the chronicle of this disaster not only stops at the nearly 3,000 deaths caused by this hurricane, according to the government; or the more than 4,600 dead bodies reported by Harvard University. The consequences of Maria were underestimated; moreover, because there were not only victims due to the wind, but also because food and electricity insecurity were evidenced.

Food shortages and a blackout that lasted six months were other consequences of this event that affected one hundred percent of Puerto Rico: food did not arrive and there was no way to operate respirators. Maria allowed people to see the fragility of the island. But here nobody can blame natural phenomena, because as several experts say: "disasters are not natural, they are the responsibility of human beings". It is necessary to evaluate how human beings influence these events to achieve such devastation.

For the Puerto Rican Larissa González Nieves, master in Development, everything that happened in her country has a deep relationship with all the years of colonialism that the island has lived since, in situations like this, it was shown that they depended absolutely on the United States and therefore, this event, as well as Hurricane Irma, activated the awareness of many of the inhabitants of the territory regarding the importance of reclaiming sovereignty, which although it had already gained strength before 2017, it increased and reached more sectors of society after those events, by which they began to think about how to carry out a decolonization process.

Thus, Puerto Rico, thanks to the struggles of grassroots organizations, has become a reference, especially in Latin America, in the search for energy sovereignty, understood as the possibility for communities to decide autonomously on the generation, distribution and consumption of energy; and also food sovereignty, which is related to the right of territories to define and regulate their food systems, which has to do with production and consumption, according to the needs of the people.

According to the report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2021, between 702 and 828 million people would suffer from hunger in the world. However, the problem is not only to make up for this deficit, but also to do so without causing further damage to the planet, since the Industrial Agri-Food System is currently responsible for the emission of more than 50% of all greenhouse gases. Thus, the extensive production of grains and livestock, the transportation of these products from one point to another and the production of pesticides also speak of the need to transform the current model.

On the other hand, we cannot underestimate the importance of the search for energy sovereignty, one that does not depend on fossil fuels, which are one of the main causes of the climate collapse the planet is facing. However, it is not only intended to rethink the forms of production, but seeks to reconfigure the scale, ownership, use and management of energy, so that it is truly a common good.

Finally, although many territories may not have the characteristics of Puerto Rico, the struggle for these sovereignties is not only about alleviating disasters after a hurricane, an earthquake or a flood, but also about understanding the vulnerability to which we are

all exposed by the climate crisis, extreme events are becoming more intense and can trigger catastrophes that cause alterations in human-built environments, but also in natural ones, which affect livelihood activities and deepen inequalities, as these consequences can be even more severe for people in difficult social conditions due to structural or income inequalities.

Carolina Campuzano 

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