A Very Different Vegan Thanksgiving – #NoALasCenizas

Cops dragging the injured activist. The cops created a formation to block those taking video and taking pictures.

Yesterday was an intense day full of adrenaline as I saw friends and "compañeros de Lucha" get arrested in Tallaboa.

I made the 2-hour drive from my apartment to Tallaboa in Peñuelas and got there early. Friend and Human Rights Activist Pedro Julio and I left San Juan at about 3:30 am. We wanted to support those who had been in a stand-off for over 24 hours. The stand-off was with truckers who wanted to deposit the ashes as they have been doing for years.

After getting some rest last night,  I realized how my decision to become vegan makes me feel more connected to these causes.

My Thanksgivings are Not Your Normal Thanksgivings

As a vegan, my Thanksgivings is usually a lot more different than the traditional one celebrated. I have more than a decade of Thanksgiving holidays which I have pardoned many turkeys.

Being a vegan has made me conscious not only about what I eat but what life means to me because I'm not taking an animal's life to get the nutrition I need.

I first started as a vegetarian and did it for health reasons and the fact that I am an animal lover. In my tenth year as a vegan, I understand a bit more of how our food is produced, and that helped me see things that as a meat eater I ignored.

The main reason I am a Vegan is that I believe that it will bring a healthy balance to the environment. Eating meat consumes a lot of our resources.

So what does my Veganism have to do with what is happening in Tallaboa

Since I am vegan, I want to protect the environment and understand the detriment we cause to the environment. Veganism has brought me closer and opened my eyes to issues that are caused by industries.

As I delve more into the environmental issues created by a company like AES, I see how I have to do my part in creating awareness.

My Ties with Peñuelas

When I was 12 years old, my family decided to move from Connecticut back to Puerto Rico. A decision that would pretty much nurture the love I have for our Island. At that moment we lived in Ponce, and my Maternal Grandfather lived in Peñuelas.

As a kid, I use to visit Peñuelas and its many communities since my grandfather was a social butterfly. Also, the mayor of Peñuelas of that time was a friend of my grandfather. Years later, my younger brother attended the school in Tallaboa just before my parents decided to return to Connecticut and I stayed on the Island.

Thinking of the fact that my brother suffered from Asthma as a kid and if he were in school right now, he would be affected from the ashes. So there is probably a child right now going to that same school which is close by to where they deposit the ashes.

I wonder how many communities and families are affected by the dumping of the ashes?

Who will be affected?

After 40 people had been arrested, I went to pick up my friend and humans rights activist Pedro Julio who at one of the precincts. I chatted with local Guayanilla artists Walter E about the communities that were affected.

Many of the communities near Peñuelas are affected by the fact that these ashes that are toxic will seep into the underground rivers that are known to run through the southern region. These "Aquifers" take water to Guayanilla and Ponce; the activist and community leaders are also standing up for their rights.

Do Guayanilla, Ponce, and the rest of Peñuelas know?

Today and tomorrow people will be distracted with the latest gossip. It's ok to entertain yourself, but I can't understand why the towns next to each other aren't protesting. They will probably receive toxic residue either by the wind or underground water.
On a day like today, families are giving thanks for what they have. Many focus it on pure materialism and buying stuff they don't need. But I wonder how many families will be affected in the next decade or more because of the Toxic Ashes.

For those BlackFriday shoppers, how valuable is to get that TV with a great deal when many of these folks ignoring the issue might be cutting their lifespan short because they decided to allow a corporation to profit from their health.

They allowed a corporation to poison them.

I am grateful every day for what I have. I am not a fan of celebrating holidays, and for me, it's more of a corporate hoax on most people than the real meaning of what Thanksgiving should be. Even more importantly if you research Thanksgiving, you can see that those who came to North America started the extermination of Native Americans. So the Pilgrims inviting the Natives for a meal story might not be as accurate as you think.

In the U.S. we have the North Dakota Access Pipeline issue which is targeting aboriginals. In Puerto Rico, we have the Toxic Cenizas of Peñuelas; some people have seen similarities between the two issues.

What are we doing so the lives of our brothers and sisters near us and abroad is a priority over the profit of a corporation?

What can we do?

I have received many questions on what we need to do to get up to date on the issue in Tallaboa. So I decided to compile a guide that will help others educate themselves and create awareness.

The guide will include Infographics, ways to tweet local politicians to take action, and research from other sources.