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 The Roots of Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis—and Why Austerity Will Not Solve It


 The Roots of Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis—and Why Austerity Will Not Solve It

Ed Morales

Riding through the hills of Canóvanas last weekend with Prima, a vacationing 65-year-old Brooklynite who was born and raised in the Puerto Rican countryside, I got a brief lesson on the island’s history and political economy. “This land was all cañaverales,” she said, meaning rough acres of sugarcane, which has now been replaced by mile after mile of suburban tract housing. “When that ended, some people worked in factories and construction.


Puerto Rico, “American” Samoa, etc.: out of sight, out of mind, and out of rights…


Puerto Rico is just the latest example of the failure of neoliberal policies benefiting Corporations and plutocrats and the failure to deal with the realities of Limits to growth.
This article gives short shrift to the huge tax breaks provided to multinational Corporations who like the vulture Capitalists they are, made their profits and ran.
The fact that agriculturally productive sugarcane fields were plowed over for Auto addicted sprawl shows the folly of the US Auto Addiction model of development.
Puerto Rico should have a lot of potential for solar energy, wind energy and growing its own food. It is interesting the contrast with Cuba which faced a major crisis when the collapsing Soviet Union could not longer provide oil subsidies. Cuba embarked in a short few years to convert to non-petroleum agricultural production, community farms and has since recovered and allowed its people a decent lifestyle of food, education and healthcare. Of course Cuba never suffered the ravages of Auto Addiction since it was never allowed to import US cars which actually was a benefit in the long run. Puerto Rico is the leading edge of the issues of Peak Oil and Limits to Growth which are striking people and communities throughout the world.
A decent life with community shared resources and renewable energy and Green Transit is possible if Puerto Rico embraces it.


“The economy of Puerto Rico is mainly controlled by US corporations. It’s a cycle of dependency that reproduces itself.” —Rafael Bernabe

Though I know what is meant by this, ‘a cycle of dependency’ describes the reproduction of a consequence of highly manipulated institutionalized creation of cycles. Perhaps the wording ‘generation of dependency’ would be more accurate. The history from sugar export to military suppression and outright murder of leaders clearly unveils the informed desire for autonomy.

Twenty five years tax free for corporations, during which time the massive profits usurped by suppression and slick ‘promises’ is on the back of the first generation having been subjected to colonizing invasion by sugar companies and usurpation of land, dispossession and impoverishment to insure expansion of the same.
Notable in the video clip linked is the industrialization taking people dispossessed of their lands and being ‘trained’ for factory work but not ‘educated’. Certainly looks an awful lot like the school to prison pipeline model.

The ‘transition’ from centuries of accumulated knowledge on the land, first subjected to sugar monoculture for export - a guarantee for continued impoverishment without ‘education’ - yet the wise struggle against usury can never be destroyed. Maybe that’s because a system that demands destruction of integrity and the constant presence of the means to inflict immediate destruction (military and private militias) in order to survive will in the end produce precisely that: destruction. Notable is that all the ‘developments’ shown could and no doubt would have been evolved taking the best from shared knowledge without the ‘cycles’ imposed.
Gee… Why would people want to tease apart the nasty self-serving web woven by colonization by capital?


My first visit to Puerto Rico occurred in l975 and I’ve had a bond with the island since then. It became obvious to me that farming was being undervalued so that citizens would become dependent upon store bought produce and other items… those preferred by our corporate overlords.

This article does a good job of explaining the structural problems that led to Puerto Rico’s present financially untenable situation.

Regarding this quote, one can see that Mr. Morales is astute enough to see through (and work to deconstruct) that nifty WE–we’re all in this together–theme that purposely takes what is done by elite groups who pocket vast sums of money and attributes it to the great homogenous human mass/es.

“With an overly moralistic tone directed at the island’s mostly Catholic residents, Governor García Padilla spoke of “shared sacrifices,” in which the community, supposedly complicit in the actions of an irresponsible government, would share the pain with the bondholders. But many Puerto Ricans I’ve spoken with, from academia to the working class, agree that they’ve sacrificed enough, and that it’s time for those most responsible for creating this mess to own up to their transgressions.”



So, they owe 72 billion; they must have borrowed 72 billion. Who got the 72 billion?


Given the current rate of exodus from that island they will all be continental in 5 years anyway. US should have cut them loose into a separate country 100 years ago.