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The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Ricans and Ultrarich "Puertopians" are Locked in a Pitched Struggle Over How to Remake the Island


The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Ricans and Ultrarich "Puertopians" are Locked in a Pitched Struggle Over How to Remake the Island

Naomi Klein, Lauren Feeney

Like everywhere else in Puerto Rico, the small mountain city of Adjuntas was plunged into total darkness by Hurricane Maria. When residents left their homes to take stock of the damage, they found themselves not only without power and water, but also totally cut off from the rest of the island. Every single road was blocked, either by mounds of mud washed down from the surrounding peaks, or by fallen trees and branches. Yet amid this devastation, there was one bright spot.


A born skeptic, I rapidly matured into a learned cynic. Many elements in our society criticize cynicism to no end–labeling it as a moral failing. Naomi Klein has done the world a great service by showing that cynicism is in fact a proper lens by which to view the effects of opportunism writ large. Keep up the good work Naomi; the world needs your message, as unpleasant as it may be. Knowledge is Power.


The shining example of sun power presents a bright future!


Interesting. From their website: “Casa Pueblo también cuenta con un Sistema de Energía Solar. Este nuevo sistema, ‘medición neta’ no requiere baterías de almacenaje y el excedente de energía se le suple a la Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica.” (“Casa Pueblo also has a Solar Energy System . This new system, ‘net metering’ does not require storage batteries and surplus energy is supplied to the Electric Power Authority.”)

So a net-metered building without storage batteries had light shining through every window like a beacon in the terrifying darkness, and it had sustained power in a sea of darkness–all because it had solar panels on the roof.

I would definitely be interested to hear more particulars of how that worked.


Got net metering myself, didn’t pay my utility since 2014. Net metering does not mean you have power when the utility power is down. Net metering means the utility pays you a certain amount for the power you feed back into the system. (as described in your translation)

The solar system has to be installed a certain way in order for you to have power during an outage. Batteries are not really a good option unless you are some eco nut with extra money to spend. Not that i really need it but but i went for gasoline/propane generator option.


In the news yesterday was a piece on how successful the US Virgin Islands (a mostly rich white playground), hit by the same hurricanes as Puerto Rico ( a mostly poor Latin island), has been in restoring their tourist trade and normality. The difference between the two victims is immediately obvious - the Virgin Islands has many wealthy American residents and a tourist trade, while Puerto Rico does not, quite the contrary, it has mostly poorer and older citizens - US citizens that are being ignored, short-changed, “privatized” de-funded, and are still suffering! All the while wealth moves-in to buy-up distressed PR property…


This is a bit of a tangent - but the dynamics are mutually informative. The financialization of life, otherwise known as predatory capitalism, and what I refer to as economic ‘cannibalism’ has been gnawing on science since the 70s in a major way.
Agriculture, one of the few TRUE elements of economics, has been the target ever since and extrapolated into the ‘futures market’ and low and behold, now the entire global market for stocks is being driven by algorithms kicked around for the sake of the traders maximizing their profits.
The chemical companies draw a big X on any science proving negative results and “externalizes” the reality to a “fine”.
This is simply another version of what is being done in Puerto Rico. It might be worth comparing the experience of one scientist and his decision to speak out:

Also never heard in mainstream media is the wealth of minds and efforts working to correct the destruction wrought by predatory capitalism. This one is specific to Puerto Rico:
Multi-disciplinary lessons learned from low-tech coral farming and reef rehabilitation practices. I. Best management practices.


Once again, Naomi Klein nails it! Disaster Capitalism–it couldn’t be clearer! I worry about what that collision will look like when rich developers and poor citizens finally meet face to face. I want the world that is sustainable and natural. No money in that though is there? Civilization is on a precipice. People or Money…which will it be?


“Those that have the privilege to know have a duty to act” Excellent presentation. Thanks.


Excellent video! Thanks for this!


How do solar panels have to be installed in order to supply power in darkness, when the grid is down and the system has no storage?


Read his response. He uses a gasoline/propane generator. So much for being green…

Where I live, outages longer than a few minutes are so rare that I don’t even think about needing it, but if I needed to I could, with the proper inverter, power the essential things in my house for about 48 hours with the 4.8 kwh battery pack in my electric motor scooter.


Learning is not a privilege. It is a human way of being for anyone who lives with an open heart and mind.


Take an island, any island with birth control taboos, high population growth, and depleting natural resources, introduce a system of growing wealth and power inequality and you will have an Easter Island, or Puerto Rico.

Extrapolate that to continents and you can see our future.


What an absolutely greta piece. Klein and Feeney actually commit the crime of real journalism and get down on the ground with the people to learn what they need to. This is reporting of the highest order that has become almost non-existent in these times of “social media” vomiting and diarrhea that passes for journalism. It’s too bad that you have to be connected to a billionaire to get the resources to do this kind of thing, but Klein and Feeney certainly do well with it.


His response, in theory, pertained to my interest in hearing more about how the solar panels on the roof of Casa Pueblo could sustain power during a blackout and keep the lights on in the dark, when they used the grid for backup instead of storage. I know backup can be supplied with a fossil fuel generator, but that isn’t what Klein described. She is hailing it as a triumph for solar panels that they were able to sustain power in darkness. To me, that seems like a pretty remarkable claim. And nearly as curious is that it doesn’t seem to strike anyone else as remarkable.


You might want to become an eco nut, the power co.'s are taking down net metering. It won’t be long before it gets to where you live.


A lot of people have no idea how stuff works. If your translation is correct it makes it sound that “net metering” makes the system supply power in the dark, which is a totally incorrect statement.

That is exactly what net metering is. You push extra power into the grid during the day, and use it free at night.

As i mentioned in my previous post, the current level of technology does not allow for financially efficient use of batteries. While solar power provided by panels s about 1/3 of the price the utility charges, the price and lifetime of batteries offsets any savings. Hence, the separate fossil fuel generator if one needs it. When batteries are gonna become cost efficient i’m gonna be the first one to get them installed. Just like the panels i have been using for the last last 6 years to cover 100% of my home electricity.


Meh, my system will have paid for itself in the next 2 years. Hopefully i can get some cost efficient batteries by then to store my production and not feed it back into the system.


Presumably they did have a battery they could switch to that the article did not mention. With modern LED bulbs, it does not take much energy storage to keep a house lit. It is not like the house uses air conditioning and all the electricity guzzling stuff a Anglo-US home has.