Mariposa Fernandez couldn’t walk her bride down the aisle, so she brought a Puerto Rican flag with her instead. It was the best symbol to represent the love of her life, and new esposa: the Caribbean island.
The Bronx, New York-based poeta tied the knot with Puerto Rico on Nov. 1 at a ceremony that helped raise support for islanders ravished by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“The wedding came out of the tragedy and the horror of Hurricane Irma and Maria,” Fernandez told News 12 The Bronx.
— Mariposa Fernandez (@LaPoetaMariposa) October 31, 2017
Since the storms struck two months ago, thousands of islanders still lack running water and more than half are without power. The latest reports note that at least 55 people died from the hurricanes, though other estimates place the number close to 1,000, and damages will cost the debt-ridden territory about $95 billion.
At the wedding, Fernandez made an enduring commitment to Puerto Rico, even promising to love and protect it for as long as she shall live and encouraging her 100 guests to take a similar oath.
“Our commitment to our homeland needs to be a lifelong commitment and so my guests are invited to, along with me, make a lifelong vow to love, honor and cherish Puerto Rico, mother earth and humanity, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer… and call for a free Puerto Rico,” she wrote in a note on her Amazon wedding registry.
While the ceremony included a traditional Puerto Rican dinner and three-layer wedding cake, the bride, dressed in an all-white gown and tiara, really brought attendees together to raise money and donations for the island.
Fernandez’s wedding registry only included items that will benefit Puerto Rico, supplies like batteries, water filters and solar light bulbs as well as goods like seeds to grow fruits and vegetables as well as medicine, mosquito repellant and diapers.
Most of the items on the registry are still available for purchase, and people on the Internet are buying up to help the island. The newlywed says she plans on taking the gifts with her on a trip to Puerto Rico next month.
While the focus was on relief, the wedding was also very political, with Fernandez making several demands in response to the humanitarian, education, debt and climate crises. Among them: A request to FEMA to release material aid currently sitting at ports on the island, a call on the media to report on and expose the injustices taking place, a plea for everyone to help protect the island from disaster exploitation and corporate vultures, and a demand for Washington to cancel the debt, repeal the Jones Act and free Puerto Rico.
This isn’t Fernandez’s first wedding. The poet-activist, who has been featured on HBO’s “Habla Ya!” as well as programs on BET and PBS, got hitched with herself in 2001, a ceremony she described as a “declaration of self-love.”
While both of her marriages are entirely symbolic with no legality, her latest “I do” certainly shows the wholehearted love Puerto Ricans of the diaspora have for their island and the responsibility and dedication they share in envisioning and creating a new sustainable, decolonized and just Puerto Rico.
“This has been an extremely difficult time, a scary time that has filled Puerto Ricans both aqui y allá with sadness, worry, rage and grief. Marrying the island and her diaspora is a poetic way to bring my family and community together, to celebrate how much we love Puerto Rico and to commit to the process of demanding a #JustRecovery and a sustainable future for a free Puerto Rico where we can all thrive together,” Fernandez said.