Successful Puerto Rico Benefit Concert in Haybarn Theatre

A star-cast benefit performance was held at the Goddard College Haybarn Theater on November 10. Performers included a number of local groups and individuals, as well as musicians from Puerto Rico and Central America. Also showcased was an original operatic composition by Goddard UGP2 faculty members Antonio Gonzales Walker and Otto Mueller. The benefit was organized by Goddard faculty Sara Norton and Mark Greenberg, Goddard alum Myrna Miranda O’Neill, lifelong peace and justice activist, Joseph Gainza, with musical technical assistance from Goddard alum Bennet Shapiro. Logistical support was provided by the Goddard Help Desk as well as maintenance and grounds staff.

The benefit was successful in raising approximately $4,000, which was divided equally between Finca Conciencia in Vieques, PR, and la Finca Morcillio-Noriegua in Aibonito, PR. Both of these farms are at the forefront of the emerging sustainable farm and food sovereignty movements, and both experienced extensive damage during October 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid and roads and left many residents without access to water, electricity, safe housing or means of transportation. Recovery efforts have been hampered by delays on the part of the Trump administration, as well as by the massive debt repayment owed to Puerto Rico’s creditors.

This is not the first time that Goddard has shown solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico. During the Vieques civil disobedience campaign against the US Navy’s 60-year bombing of the island, Goddard students were successful in obtaining the support of the Vermont Congressional delegation for ending the use of Vieques as a targeting range. In addition to occupying the firing range, Goddard students produced a national award-winning documentary that chronicled the destruction of the island by the navy bombing, as well as the successful peaceful resistance of the people Vieques and the Puerto Rican diaspora, and other international supporters. The firing range was ordered closed by former President GW Bush in 2003. Despite the closing of the firing range in 2003, the US government has not decontaminated the island, returned the former firing range land to the municipality of Vieques, or provided funding for the sustainable development of the island. The US navy continues to explode unexploded ordnances via open-air detonation, and rid contaminated vegetation and materials via open pit fires.

The Vermont-Puerto Rico Solidarity Group — which was founded in 1989  and includes Goddard students, faculty, and staff, as well as local Vermont residents — has been active in meeting with senior staff of the Vermont Congressional delegation on matters related to the PR debt crisis, Puerto Rico colonial status, the pardoning of PR political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera, the decontamination and sustainable development of Vieques, and post-Hurricane relief and reconstruction efforts that guarantee Puerto Rico autonomy and control, and that map a just, equitable, and democratic future for Puerto Rico.

In the near future, with the shared leadership of Karla Haas Moskowitz, Sharon Cronin, and Seattle and UGP students, Goddard we will be holding a silent auction to benefit the work of local artist in Puerto Rico. We encourage Goddard community members to contribute works of art for the auction. Contact Manuel O’Neill for more information.

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