Puerto Rico: The Movement That Changed an Island

Puerto Rico: The Movement That Changed an Island

Known for its history, colorful buildings, music, and people, Old San Juan witnessed something extraordinary this summer. Something so powerful that it became an example to the entire world of what happens when people stand and band together for what seems like an impossible cause.

When I landed in PR back in July, I knew the rumors of what was happening with the Governor’s cabinet from a recently published, extremely damaging group text.

This text ignited a movement of courage and determination like never seen before — one that would, for the first time in the history of PR, make a Governor and his cabinet accountable for years of corruption and, ultimately, force them to resign.

For two weeks, thanks to my camera and what I can see and understand through its lens, I had the privilege of witnessing the kind of protest that can only be seen in Puerto Rico — one filled with music, prayers, and peaceful sit-downs.

As a Puerto Rican, I grew up following the rule of our government, and accepting what they said and did. At that time, we were not a culture of protesting for a better future. But that has all changed. Today, everyone from children to “abuelitas” are questioning and demanding accountability from their leaders. This summer, they marched, sang, prayed, and banged pots and pans at 8 PM every night to let the world know they wanted change.

I realize now, this is a different Island than the one I grew up in the 70’s and 80s. I remember what was important to us back then... the beach, discos, partying, and basically having a good time. The changes being wrought by a new generation, a generation taking responsibility for their future and the future of generations to come, are something we at that same age never thought of or even imagined possible.

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

Photography © Carmen Gonzalez

About Me

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I have lived for many years in New York City. 

My life's work has been as a chef, leading me in front of the camera -- on The Today Show, Top Chef Masters, La Chispa --  but I have learned that I'm happiest on the other side.  

When I started photography five years ago, I felt my life change forever.  I began to see the world as a story which can be told through images.  I became a passionate street photographer.

My photos are candid, never posed, so I spend hours and hours walking the city, studying strangers.  I will follow someone for blocks until I can get the shot that most perfectly tells that person's story.

 Each photograph means much to me.  I remember the hunt  and the capture -- the moment I first spotted the person and the journey to the image I yearned to find.  

If my photographs make you feel, if they enrich your life, I will have accomplished what I set out to do -- tell stories through my pictures.  I will have my reason for making my way to the other side of the camera. 

See more of Carmen’s work online here. Don’t forget to follow Carmen on Instagram, too: @nycstreetcolor and @nycstreetbnw.