In 2020’s socioeconomic landscape, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for social justice and equity, two artists are using their creativity to commemorate lives lost during Hurricane Maria, while activating Latinos to vote this election day.
“Libertad Boricua” is one of the newest murals to go up the Miami neighborhood, once known as Little Puerto Rico. Created by German DuBois and Belkis “Yera” Gonzalez, the mural serves as an ode to commemorate the 4,645 victims killed by Hurricane Maria in September of 2017.
Imbued with multifaceted symbolism, the mural meshes themes of resiliency, Puerto Rican pride, equality, and a call to action for Puerto Ricans living in the mainland to turn out to vote on Election Day, all in a way that remembers the victims slain by the catastrophic hurricane.
“We paint to raise our voices for [the victims] in hope for change and respect for our beautiful island of Puerto Rico.” Dubois told the Caribbean American Web.
The focus point of the mural is the Taino woman draped in the Puerto Rican flag, a la Lady of Liberty, holding a sign that reads “Tu Voto Es Mi Voto,” or “your vote is my vote,” a call of solidarity for Puerto Ricans living in the mainland to vote with their compatriots on the island in mind, as they cannot vote on presidential elections. Most poignantly, the woman’s mouth is covered with the word “reclama,” or demand, covering her lips.
“Her mouth muffled with the word “reclama,” references a call to action to mobilize all Puerto Ricans, both on the island and throughout the U.S. mainland, to rally together and hold our government leadership accountable to serve all its citizens equally,” Gonzalez said.
The mural, in Wynwood, has served as a meeting point for Democrat Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s supporters to rally and motivate the local community to vote.
The “Libertad Boricua” image spurred the Twitter hashtag, #Mivotoestuvoto, sponsored by the official Joe Biden campaign.
“We are now the largest Hispanic minority in the state of Florida. We are over a million strong,” Millie Rapahel, a Puerto Rican and Hispanic outreach advisor with the Joe Biden Campaign, said. “The Puerto Rican vote is very important. You can’t ask a Puerto Rican in Florida how they are doing without them thinking about their family and friends on the island. On the island, we celebrate politics and voting. We come out to vote at about a 93% rate and that needs to be duplicated in the United States, and specifically in Florida.”