Newsweek

Puerto Ricans Took Back Power After Hurricane Maria

When the government failed to bring electricity to Puerto Rican communities, activists stepped in with anarchistic flair.
Downtown San Juan is cast in darkness on September 28, 2017. Any building with light was running off a generator, as there was no public electricity working on the whole island.
PER_PuertoRicoPower_01_855279192 Source: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty

In August, nearly one year after Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and plunged its 3.4 million residents into darkness, island officials heralded a milestone: The lights were back on. The state-owned electric company even tweeted a photo of a smiling family it said was the last to receive power.

But Christine Nieves, an activist in Mariana, didn’t celebrate. She and her small mountain community near the southeastern coast had already restored electricity—on their own. Tired of waiting on the government’s halting repairs, she worked with a band of self-described

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