Puerto Rico’s urgency, the cruelty of Donald Trump and colonial history.

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.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Puerto Rico’s urgency, the cruelty of Donald Trump and colonial history.

  1. What really bothers me is that tRump spent his time creating chaos by Twittering rants against the NFL players. He missed being concerned about the destruction US citizens in Puerto Rico are facing. Where is his compassion for people who are suffering? Once again he has demonstrated that he has none.

    He is a vile, narcissistic ignoramus. Let’s send him to Nambia and build a high see-through wall to keep him in place. Hope there is no golfing in Nambia.

  2. He kept mentioning broken infrastructure. I remember reading a book called “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins. In the book he talked about how he (Perkins) would go into small Central American Countries and chum with the leaders as he promised to take them into modern times with newer, beefed up infrastructure. Very often, the countries would not be able to financially afford the transition. No problem. Perkins would be the set up man to help procure a loan for the smaller countries. He would tell them that the new infrastructure would take them into modern times and the new infrastructure would basically pay for the loan procured, in due time. The cost of the transition was always underestimated. So if (for example) a new hydroelectric dam was being constructed, additional loans would be needed to complete the almost finished project. Eventually these smaller countries were up to their ears in debt. No problem. If the debt could not be paid in cash, the US would just get it in resources that existed in those smaller countries…..oil, rubber, minerals, precious metals, etc. Basically what ended being created was a form of financial slavery. Sounds to me like Trump may be trying to set up Puerto Rico for the old Perkins trick.

  3. Yet another reason for climate change denial; in addition to the military-indu$trial complex & the education-indu$trial complex, we now have the un-natural-indu$trial complex.
    Waiting for Arne Duncan & Paul Vallas to carpetbag in Puerto Rico, as they did after the Haitian earthquake.
    Oh…I forgot…Arne is back, & his “mission” is to “save Chicago” (Chicago Magazine, November 2016), & Paul is going to “save” Chicago State University.
    Perhaps Betsy DeVil will jet in w/her bodyguards & introduce the oh-so-successful Michigan plan (or K12 Virtual Charters).

  4. Video: Puerto Ricans Call for Aid Amid Catastrophe: “We’re American Citizens. We Can’t Be Left to Die”

    Six days after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, 3.4 million U.S. citizens in the territory remain without adequate food, water and fuel. But as the massive crisis became clear over the weekend, President Trump failed to weigh in, instead lashing out at sports players who joined in protest against racial injustice. It took the president five full days to respond, with comments that appeared to blame the island for its own misfortune. We examine the dire situation in Puerto Rico with Yarimar Bonilla, Puerto Rican scholar, who wrote in The Washington Post, “Why would anyone in Puerto Rico want a hurricane? Because someone will get rich.” And we speak with Puerto Ricans in New York who have been unable to reach loved ones after nearly a week.


  5. For many families in Puerto Rico, there is nothing left, and they have no choice but to leave Puerto Rico and the homes that they have been in their families for generations. If Trump would send significant help, families could stay and rebuild. Trump and the Republicans don’t care.

  6. Trump’s daily antics make headlines every day, people quickly forget about the destruction in Puerto Rico, and Trump’s inadequate response. Large amounts of Puerto Rico are STILL without power, almost 6 months after the lights went out. Desperate people are doing desperate things. Several months ago, one of my friends sent a couple thousand down to his wife’s elderly parents in PR so they could get a generator and other critical supplies. Their generator has now been stolen, in the middle of the night. They woke up when their fan and night light went off. They did not realize they were being robbed. They thought the circuit breaker on the generator had tripped, because it sounded like the generator engine was running. In the few minutes it took to wake up, get up and go outside, thieves got away with the generator. When they went out to re-set the generator, the generator was gone and a worn out junk lawnmower with it’s engine running was left in it’s place, sounded like the generator. Probably better that the thieves left before the elderly couple got outside, who knows what would have happened to them if they had confronted the thieves.
    Meanwhile the power line repairs are crawling along, problems with lack of supplies are slowing things down. Some areas they have poles, but no hardware, no insulators. Other areas, no poles. Frustrated linemen end up sitting in their trucks, unable to proceed. Billionaires are waiting to privatize the public power agency buying it for a few cents on the dollar. They then will drastically raise the rates for electricity, de-unionize the workers, and drastically lower wages.

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