Puerto Rico faces many challenges, including corruption, a debt crisis, failing infrastructure, natural disasters, the pandemic, and colonial status.
Plena Combativa was founded after Adriana Santoni Rodriguez’s powerful YouTube video went viral. The lyrics protest the fugitive dust and negative impacts of coal ash generated by AES Puerto Rico, L.P., and police brutality in the municipality of Penuelos. Its popularity led to an invite to perform at a rally against the Jones Act. Santoni invited members of the all-female La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, an intersectional feminist organization on the island, to join her, and Plena Combativa was conceived.
After reading an article by journalist and human rights activist Maria Mari Narvaez, who condemned the Puerto Rican government for corruption after Hurricane Maria, Plena Combativa member Margarita Morales Marrero was inspired to compose “El Tumbe” and the melody was composed and arranged by the collective. The song is based on their personal experiences and the island’s plight.
According to PC member Angellie Gonzalez, “El Tumbe” declares our collective frustration and determination to fight for justice and a better life. Laura Rocío Freytes Rodríguez shares her passion for the song, saying, “Whenever we play ‘El Tumbe,’ Margarita’s tirade gives me goosebumps. It serves as a reminder of how we got here and why we must keep fighting for change.”
On International Worker’s Day, the group released a single called “El Tumbe” and used the hashtag #VivoenelPaísdelTumbe to create awareness, which became viral. They also paid tribute to Ramón López’s book, “Los Bembeteos de la Plena,” by launching a single called “Bembetea“. The song is a dedication to Plenera and Dancer Carola Clark’s memory. From the beginning, Clark’s contributions to Plena established Black women’s role as protagonists of the Afro-Rican genre. The lyrics emphasize that Plena was never the exclusive domain of men and that women, non-binary, and Trans Plena musicians rightfully belong in spaces where they play, dance, and sing.
Plena Combativa collaborates with other artists and inspires them to unify their message. Additionally, they hold workshops for children and adults, encouraging them to learn to play the pandereta and compose songs. Their plans include an island-wide tour, an album dedicated to the Senior National Women’s Basketball Team, and a video series highlighting the achievements of Puerto Rican women.
Plena Combativa often performs at political and cultural events across the island, and they are frequently the only all-female group present.
Plena Combativa is Adriana Santoni Rodríguez; Angellie González Jorge; Margarita Morales Marrero; Laura Rocío Freytes Rodríguez; Laura Luz Cintrón Carrion and Lourdes A. Torres Santos.