Letter from Puerto Rico: A workers' commune flourishes

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Dear friend,

A quick note to tell you about my recent trip to Puerto Rico. Great weather and an even better experience interacting with some fellow workers on the western coast of the island.

In the sleepy village where we stayed, we heard stories of a "fishing commune" nearby. That description demanded that we investigate.

Sure enough, it was as described. We came upon the long, low block building at the same time the old, wooden, heavy, brightly painted fishing boats came ashore with the day's catch. We spoke at length with one of the men who helped carry the red snapper, shark, and other fish from the boats to the building for processing.

His name was Angel. He was tall and thin, with thick, dark hair and expressive hands. He spoke in halting English, but his simple words carried profound truths and should be held up to others as the Way things should be done.

No slavery, he said first. Then, as he saw our interest grow, his bold words did too. No working for some wealthy and lazy owner's profit, he said. Instead, Angel explained, a person is happy to work because the labor comes from, as he put it, "a free place."

And, as he said this, the tanned worker grinned broadly and pointed to his chest.

We saw what he meant. We saw cheerful workers who take great pride in their labors, who share in the profits and in the work. Maintenance of building and boats, net fishing for bait, cleaning and selling are all parts of the labor that each man and boy does and does happily. To paraphrase Marx, there are no class differences because everybody works.

Amazing, isn't it? Who knew that such a flourishing community could and does exist in a land that flies the Stars and Stripes?

Wanted to share this with you.

Hope your struggle goes well.

In solidarity,

Charlie M.

Photo: A fishing boat on the beach at the fishing commune near Rincon, Puerto Rico. Charles Millson

 

 

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  • Thanks for this letter. I love Rincon and travel there every year. What I have seen in Puerto Rico is the free enterprise system at work and no government interference (yet?). At every stop light people are selling fruits, vegetables, water, soda, etc. The roadside food kiosks abound around the island. The people are friendly and happy and love to stop and chat!

    I am concerned that this may end, especially if plans for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state continue.

    It would be so sad to see some of the wonderful things that I love about the island to disappear due to governmental interference. I pray that it does not.

    Posted by Cathy, 05/15/2013 2:31pm (2 years ago)

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