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Sun, sand and truth

Mariana Betancourt, student of double Degree in Philosophy and Journalism, analyses the importance of the role of journalism in a crisis of power as happened on the island of Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican summer lost its everydayness in 2019. There was no salsa in the streets, the smell of the sea vanished and the warm breeze of the Caribbean summer disappeared. Amidst the crowds and complaints, one could only breathe struggle, a new dignity that is strange to any Puerto Rican. Hurricane Maria that swept over the island of Puerto Rico in 2017 made the political mediocrity evident to us. However, journalistic work made that an undeniable fact. Journalism was the protagonist. It exposed the most trite truth and confirmed that political categories are not equivalent to ethical categories.

Political instability and economic conditions had set the stage for these non-partisan protests. board President Barack Obama installed in 2014 the Fiscal Control Board (JCF), board of members elected by the president, whose function was, and still is, to restructure the island's Economics to pay creditors. However, the Puerto Rican government officially declared bankruptcy in 2017 under then governor-elect Ricardo Rosselló. The handling of public funds during Hurricane Maria proved to be disastrous and was accompanied by the closure of more than four hundred educational institutions. administrative assistant Months later, Education, Julia Keleher, was arrested and indicted on nine criminal charges, including conspiracy and fraud. A sleeping people needs a wake-up call, and ours was the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) leaked a Telegram chat in which high-ranking executives of the Puerto Rican government had participated. Among them were current governor Ricardo Rosselló and Treasury Secretary Christian Sobrino. Also participating were publicist Edwin Miranda and senior executive branch officials who shared privileged information. The eight hundred and eighty-nine page document talked about everything from memes, women and even the weight of political opponents and then Senate President Jhonny Méndez. "Ha! Great work guys! We fuck assholes even our own", that was one of the phrases typed by the governor in the Telegram chat. " We don't have any corpses to feed our crows," Sobrino asked, referring to the corpses left behind by Hurricane Maria and branding the protesters as crows.

Journalism gave us a strange sensation, like when you take a piece of chewing gum almost automatically. Hours go by without you realising that you have been chewing a hard, tasteless gum for half of workshop. The disappointment of chewing so much and so hard led to a fury that did not look back. The people of Puerto Rico came to a standstill for twelve consecutive days of national protests. Citizens shouted "Ricky Withdrawal and take the board!", demanding a cabinet reshuffle and Structures of democratic power. Constitutional powers were challenged until the night of 24 July when Ricardo Rosselló resigned from his position.

Every citizen is a potential journalist. With the agile evolution of the media, everyone becomes capable of informing, educating and entertaining. Citizen Lorenzo Delgado Torres became one when he found a storeroom full of wasted food and supplies a year after that summer. Supplies such as water, canned food and basic necessities had been gathering dust and sitting in ashes for nearly four years. Harvard College estimated that 4,645 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, both from the natural disaster and from the lack of essential services, care and food. That storeroom was not the only one, one after another kept appearing. Negligence after negligence and oversight after oversight.

The future of the Caribbean island is as uncertain as its political status. We are floating in a sea where the historical and collective report fails. A salty sea where promises never materialise. Even so, in the face of this scenario of uncertainty, there will never be a lack of salsa, beach or sun. And after the 'summer of 2019' there will be no shortage of truth in affirming that in the face of a dissolute state, the power of oversight lies in the task of journalism and documentation. To do good journalism is to serve others, it is to extend the truth. Good journalism dignifies the democratic order of society, it elevates it. As long as there is good journalism, there will be no tomorrow in which a country wakes up without hearing the alarm clock rooster.

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