Since 2006, Puerto Rico has suffered a $ 127 billion debt crisis and led to elevated poverty, mass migration and key public providers.
Explore what Puerto Ricans and different island residents and diaspora value and the present financial system can do to satisfy the wants of most people, artist Frances Negrón-Muntaner labored with Sarabel Santos Negrón to launch a group foreign money undertaking Valor y Cambio (Worth and Change).
Negrón-Muntaner, who can also be a curator, filmmaker and professor at Columbia University, explains the first part of the initiative, which started on Eight-17. February in Puerto Rico. (The venture is now on tour in New York in the autumn). An earlier Spanish model of the interview could be read at 80grados.internet.
What is Value and Change?
FNM: Worth and Change (valorycambio.org) is an interactive story-telling and group foreign money challenge aimed toward challenging neoliberal insurance policies in Puerto Rico, america and elsewhere, although it is investigating what members value and adopt a group foreign money, "Personas de Pesos Puerto Rico "or" peso "for a short while. economies that provide invaluable stories and exchanges of follow.
To launch the venture, we designed a collection of six "banknotes" ranging from one to 25 pesos and featuring Puerto Rico's historic figures and tradition. We now have additionally configured the ATM financial institution, which we referred to as VyC (Worth and Change), in order to retailer individuals's tales and hand over undertaking invoices. To get an invoice, VyC asked the members to tell us what they appreciated, how their communities can help what they worth, and what individuals or groups already keep those values. Members might then change invoices from a lot of businesses and organizations in suburbs and cities akin to San Juan, Caño Martín Peña, Bayamón, Rio Piedras, Cupey, Miramar, Humacao and later New York.
FNM: A group or complementary foreign money is one which communities, industries or teams create to satisfy their specific trade needs. Group currencies differ tremendously: they can be arranged as time banks, where the unit of worth and the trade price are topical or nationwide currencies are supported. Typically, they don’t exchange national or major foreign money, but provide ways to strengthen native action and build solidarity nations that aren’t based mostly on revenue and accumulation. There are numerous group currencies all over the world; solely Spain has tons of.
Our initiative additionally covers the challenge of utilizing Group currencies for the concept communities, groups or individuals with little entry to formal or dominant economies are naturally poor. Though they don’t have employment in this financial system, it might mean less access to primary services. Many communities, referred to as "poor", may be wealthy in constructing relationships, they usually even have the assets and expertise in quite a lot of areas, akin to know-how, healthcare, agriculture, and art. In this method, currencies can recognize and facilitate the change of those talents and expertise to help communities and areas
In a closed market reminiscent of Puerto Rico, the place america and worldwide profitable corporations dominate and dismantle monumental wealth, currencies in the group can have further results. Because the bills solely flow into in Puerto Rico and the diaspora, they will help the native financial system as an alternative of enriching giant corporations. For example, they’re used in Bristol, England and Fortaleza, Brazil. As well as, group currencies permit residents to develop their own financial coverage and thus determine and collectively determine what they value.
How does value and alter begin?
FNM: For me it was a mixture of bulletins, questions and discoveries. One of many occurred final yr when Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, a small shaft, the reporter interviewed me for the work I’ve achieved as part of the unpaid money owed international debt analysis staff, which can prolong together at Columbia College (New York). For 2 years, many members have dedicated themselves to exploring Puerto Rico's international and comparative monetary disaster. The process made me think of an idea that I had not beforehand owned a lot: money. What is money? How does it get worth? How can money be a technique for changing the present financial system? I noticed that while cash itself is "nothing", it could additionally tell stories, configure relationships, and be part of political change.
The second revelation was born by studying how in 2013 when Ireland continued its work. Within the 2008 monetary crisis, the government promoted a debate on what individuals recognize for creating new curricula and speaking coverage. I noticed that this public debate had not taken place in Puerto Rico, however it appeared very urgent there.
The third was dealing with artwork. From the outset, the working group outlined art as one of the key practices in imagining and sharing other methods of considering and appearing in the face of financial savings crises, and I additionally observed that artists typically initiate solidarity tasks. In view of this, final yr I organized an exhibition referred to as Puerto Rico Underneath Water, which introduced an art crisis in the gallery of the Middle for Ethnicity and Races in Columbia College. The curator process confirmed to me that artists did a big job of learning the consequences of debt, producing totally different subjectivity and challenging state and company courses. Equally essential, the method made me feel higher on the work of one exhibition artist Sarabel Santos Negrón, who produced a collection of pictures that document what I name the "debris" of the debt crisis. After the show I approached Sarabel and advised her concerning the foreign money concept. He instantly agreed to cooperate and started engaged on invoice design
The payments are lovely.
FNM: Sarabel and I studied nationwide, social and inventive currencies around the globe. On this process, we saw the good potential of the foreign money to inform totally different stories and unfold other values and methods of fascinated by what is effective. We additionally made an off-the-cuff survey of people dwelling in Puerto Rico and the Diaspora. We requested which figures, communities, or locations mirror the values that we had identified as elementary to the undertaking – equity, justice, solidarity and creativity – and in addition gave us the chance to discuss present important issues comparable to public schooling and access to health care, clean surroundings, self-government, food security, truthful Breakdown, Race and Gender Equality
It was troublesome to decide on solely six stories from the selected listing. In the long run, we chose the figures of the present and current communities that have acted on widespread values that have enriched the lives of others. They’re (often in order of start): siblings Gregoria, Celestina and Rafael Cordero; Ramón Emeterio Betances, Luisa Capetillo, Julia de Burgos, Roberto Clemente and Caño Martín Peña, eight communities, with 25,000 individuals subsequent to the San Juan Bank Area. One other part of the design was that a QR code was added to the back of the invoices. This factor is an integral a part of the venture's ongoing choices: In return for telling us what they worth, the code guides the individuals to our web site to get extra information about our tales, patterns, and communities of our values [19659002
FNM: Though in the period of digital and speculative foreign money like BitCoin, we have now chosen a paper foreign money that may be moved from hand handy. We thought that this might be used to start out discussions and create new collective visions. And it happened. Members in the challenge typically exchanged or in contrast notes whereas waiting for the line and shared concepts and hopes. This doesn’t mean that I consider that the currencies of the Group have to be on paper. It's virtual, just like the Andalusian Ossetana. Since the whole lot associated to the currencies of the Group, its design and distribution have to be tailor-made to the wants of customers.
How many invoices have been distributed?
FNM: In the nine-day venture in Puerto Rico, around 1600 invoices for all shops. To be able to avoid crossing small collaborating corporations, we limited the distribution of 21 and 25 invoices. But in the top we saw that this precaution was not crucial. We observed that most people needed to keep their invoices as an alternative of exchanging products or services. We immediately began asking about this apply and discovered that for many members, what the bill was much larger than its alternative value,
Why did this occur?
We’ll respond more in the coming months. But I feel to date is that folks stored their payments as a option to respect themselves and their communities. And we will contextualize this reply in some ways. One is that the foreign money used in Puerto Rico isn’t just a foreign money of one other nation, however a colonizing nation that additionally consists of only men who acknowledge themselves as white, state representatives and / or racist genocide, or heterosexual politics. The thought of a foreign money that spreads photographs and tales about ladies, blacks, Puerto Rican; youngsters of immigrants and immigrants; writers, docs, academics, athletes, thinkers, feminists, commerce union organizers; people and households and communities; confirmed that there are other ways to calculate and respect. And the challenge did it with one of many strongest markings of US colonialism in Puerto Rico: cash.
As well as, I consider that for some individuals, payments meant the chance for a fairer, more inclusive and fairer Puerto Rico at present. Subsequently, to the extent that this part of the venture lasted just a few days and was suspected to proceed, most individuals decided to keep the bills as a logo. If money is a "promise" of cost and the physique that puts financial savings in Puerto Rico underneath the PROMESA Act, the invoices represented a very totally different license.
What is the next worth and change? 19659002] The subsequent step describes the process and multiple thousand saved responses. We do this primarily in three ways: the content material of the recordings, the trajectory of the document video challenge, and other public actions, comparable to discussions or discussions in numerous boards. We’re also nicely aware that many people on the island have been unable to take part and need to take part, particularly outdoors the San Juan subway area. We’re presently occupied with find out how to obtain this aim.
How have you ever evaluated the success of the venture?
FNM: Talking of success is troublesome as a result of the consequences can occur lengthy and perhaps we will't think about or assume. But on the idea of the undertaking's values and quick objectives, it can be stated that Valor y Cambio was fruitful from the primary debate as a result of virtually everyone needed to participate, regardless that it meant the opportunity to lose money and "waste" time. And although the first part of the undertaking does not last long and has not been extensively promoted, hundreds of individuals took part immediately and on-line. In consequence, in the brief time period, we succeeded in increasing the talk on the nations of solidarity and presenting the thought of a Group foreign money and its potential makes use of in Puerto Rico.
In addition, in Might, simply three months later, Valor y Cambio moved to New York to participate in Puerto Rico and other communities. At present, we’re working with at the least four communities which are contemplating introducing their own foreign money and creating networked trade fee modifications for the island and the diaspora (and perhaps the whole).
The undertaking, respectively, unfold a sure joy or what I m calling for the longer term essay "decolonial joy", which I outline as a emotion with a variable period that leads individuals to have a look and feel for a special future in which colonialism or colonialism does not control their their lives. This means that in contrast to many people assume that Puerto Ricans and others are apathetic or haven’t any collective vision, there are numerous deeply hungry societies and methods in which people can face otherwise. On this approach, Valor y Cambio confirmed that solely other worlds are potential, however that we will reside them every single day, including with relatively small gestures, corresponding to imagining the foreign money, dividing the story and appreciating one another.
Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a filmmaker, author, curator, researcher and professor at Columbia College, the place he’s also the founding curator of the Latino Artwork and Exercise Archive. Among his books and publications are: Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and Latin American Gino (CHOICE Award, 2004), Latino Media Hole (2014) and Sovereign Laws: Contesting Colonialism in Indigenous and Latin American (2017). His newest films embrace Small Metropolis, Huge Change (2013), Conflict for Guam (2015) and Life Outdoors (2016). As a researcher and filmmaker for his work, Negrón-Muntaner has acquired Ford, Truman, Rockefeller and Pew grants. He is at present Head of Unpayable Debt, a working group at Columbia College, who is learning international debt settlement and a number one associate in his two major tasks, NoMoreDebt: Caribbean Curriculum (First and Second Version) and Valor y Cambio (Worth and Change), Story Collection and Group Foreign money Challenge in Puerto Rico.