Papel Machete Fights for Liberation Favorite 



May 1 2006


Puerto Rico

The work of a radical theater and puppetry collective, known as Papel Machete, produces and performs throughout Puerto Rico and the United States. Papel Machete was established on May 1, 2006 during protests responding to the government shutdown and political and economic crisis prompted by Puerto Rico’s status as a United States colony. The collective uses paper mache as a medium to produce a wide array of art forms including, toy theater, masks, performing objects, and most famously giant puppets. The workers, artists, musicians and students that compose Papel Machete are tasked to create these various works of art to denounce social injustices and support the struggles of the working class, students, and community.

Their art can be seen at the None Governor campaign for the 2008 elections, student strikes in Puerto Rico in 2010, where the collective collaborated with students to create the puppet. As José Jorge Díaz Ortiz said, the group emphasizes community which is evident through their puppet show En Mi Barrio Se Can (In My Neighborhood You Can). As an act of solidarity and support En Mi Barrio Se Can toured communities across the island in 2007 and 2008. The puppet show tells a story of a developer who plans to expropriate a neighborhood to build a housing complex for the rich. En Mi Barrio Se Can shows the community successfully organize and fight to save their neighborhood.

José Jorge Díaz Ortiz, the co-director of Papel Machete describes the role of art and culture to transform power, he says his main goal is to build an effective response to hegemony. The art of Papel Machete works against hegemony and aims for a culture that originates from radical perspectives. The collective uses their art to fight for revolutionary transformations and liberation from the capitalist, white-supremacist, imperialist patriarchy that has long wreaked havoc on their lives and communities.

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How does this project help?

Timeframe For change

The long-term goal of Papel Machete is revolutionary transformation and liberation from systems of oppression such as imperialism, patriarchy, capitalism, and white-supremacy.


Although they have not successfully dismantled the systems of oppression they have worked with community members to expand support and solidarity. They believe in long-term success, but in the mean time focus on working with artists of color, working class, artists of liberatory movements to create larger conversations, which they have been effective in doing. The collective has been around for 15 years, which a success in and of itself.