HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Puerto Rico: a Junta By A...

Thu Apr 28, 2016, 11:02 PM

Puerto Rico: a Junta By Any Other Name

April 28, 2016
Puerto Rico: a Junta By Any Other Name

by Miguel A. Cruz Díaz

Empire is once again fashionable. The financial crisis that is presently gutting the island of Puerto Rico plays out like the world’s worst case of botched assisted suicide. The sell of its municipal funds and its constitutionally guaranteed promise of repayment to investors has plunged the island into a very precarious situation for its millions of citizens and the opportunity of a lifetime for hedge fund vultures. While it is laudable that the current economic meltdown on the island has made some headlines, including a mostly well-thought out piece by comedian John Oliver, the same cannot be said for the congressional knee-jerk legislative reaction to it. The bill, H.R. 4900, was designed to impose an oversight board meant to administer the fiscal responsibilities of the Puerto Rican people and has unleashed a firestorm of opposition that was glossed over by Oliver’s otherwise on-point observations. The controversy surrounding this bill has served as a catalyst underscoring the deep disregard bordering on contempt that frames the question of self-determination and complete lack of sovereignty afforded to islanders.

The attempted passage of this bill was a response by congress to the impending default by Puerto Rico on its loan payments, and the island’s current insolvency has attracted a modicum of national attention from a nation that is by and large oblivious to the fact that Puerto Rico is not only a part of the United States but that its inhabitants are actually U.S. citizens. Hedge funds, nothing more than vulture capitalists, finally sobered up after a decades-long bond-buying frenzy that enabled the Puerto Rican ruling class to forfeit the island’s already precarious economic situation for the foreseeable future. They are standing in the wings, ready to feast on the island’s financial carcass. The seeming inevitability of defaulting on the coming May 1st repayment and the inability of legally declaring bankruptcy due to the island’s colonial status are a veritable godsend to speculators and disaster capitalists.

Under this climate of uncertainty and the promise of benefits to disaster capitalists doesn’t it seem quite fitting that the bill came to be known as “PROMESA”, the Spanish word for promise? It should not be a surprise to anyone that the H. R. 4900 sponsored by a Republican hailing from the neoliberal stronghold of Wisconsin, Representative Sean P. Duffy. This bill has all the expected subtlety of a surgeon operating on a brain with a meat cleaver. Any neoliberal assault against the working class is capitalism’s promise and should, of course, be expected, but the naked aggression against Puerto Rican’s limited degrees of self-determination and its insistence of pillaging the island for the benefit of investors and speculators represents a blatant escalation of American colonialism not seen since the early years of its overseas imperial expansion at the turn of the twentieth century.

H.R. 4900’s description states that its goal is to “establish an Oversight Board to assist the Government of Puerto Rico, including instrumentalities, in managing its public finances, and for other purposes”. This bill is predicated on the need to regulate not just the finances of the debt-ridden island but also its economic policies. The specified arguments and noticeable silences found in this bill’s wording are key, as in all pieces of legislation, in understanding not only its stated goal but also its ultimate ideological and economic intent. In the case of H.R. 4900 the true intent of establishing an oversight board is to completely bypass all forms of autonomous political agency in Puerto Rico and to subject the island to the most dramatic historical reversal of its relationship with the federal government since the granting of Commonwealth status in 1952. This economic junta would in turn reduce its little over three million inhabitants to a voiceless source of cheap indentured labor.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/04/28/a-junta-by-any-other-name/

0 replies, 745 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Reply to this thread