A week after the destruction of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria I watched the news with Lester Holt last night as the first planes with bottles of water took off from the mainland for San Juan.
Trump’s description of the economic conditions of Puerto Rico are purposefully written in the passive form.
As if the economic conditions on the island just were. As if they were a natural thing no different than the hurricane itself.
Trump’s twisted tweets were intended to do two things.
Trump wants to cover his ass for the slow response to what now is turning into a major humanitarian disaster.
Trump wants to cover up the history of the U.S. colonial relationship towards Puerto Rico.
As if what Trump calls the aging infrastructure and debt has nothing to do with how the island has been used since it was seized by the United States in 1898.
U.S. imperial ambitions prompted politicians to position Puerto Rico as a showcase for capitalism in Latin America.
In the 1940s Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marín and U.S. government officials implemented a massive industrialization plan called Operation Bootstrap.
The program used tax breaks, duty-free trade, exploitable local labor, natural resources and cheap foreign crude oil and electricity prices to attract investors. Manufacturing, pharmaceutical and oil-based industries flocked to Puerto Rico.
Beginning in the 1970s, however, these incentives decreased. As tax exemptions expired and wage standards rose, numerous companies left Puerto Rico. The net effect of Operation Bootstrap was to aggravate economic inequality and unemployment and contribute to the territory’s debt and environmental crises.
Currently the territory’s unemployment rate fluctuates between 10 and 12 percent. The legacies of rapid industrialization include polluted landscapes and heavy reliance on oil.
Flights from San Juan to Chicago and New York have begun again and the one flight a day is filled those who have families here.
The Puerto Rican communities in the U.S. are sending help as fast as they can.
But Puerto Rico has always been viewed by Washington and Wall Street as a source of profit, investment or disinvestment, without concern for the welfare of those who live there.
Nothing has changed about that.
Except that Maria is the excuse for Wall Street and Washington to make another financial killing from one more disaster.