via TRNN: ‘Wall Street Got a Bailout, Why Not Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico was in dire economic straits before Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit, and ongoing US-imposed restrictions will make recovery impossible, says labor leader Hector Figueroa
(the transcript)

Now remember, these are our fellow citizens, who are suffering in the most egregious ways post-Maria, without any electricity, most without water, and food, medicines and emergency supplies are scarce….but haven’t been allowed into the one open port.  Citizens have rallied, even a few airlines and a cruise ship, but there’s almost no way to distribute the needed ‘help’ around the island.  Folks are dying slowly, including in hospitals.  Yes, now if Puerto Rico were home to a military base, the ports and airports would have would have been opened and fixed, and aircraft carriers might have been dispatched to aid in a relief effort.  From his quotes, it’s not even clear that Herr Tee knew where the fuck Puerto Rico is, curse him.

Now this section in the interview is murky:

HÉCTOR FIGUEROA:The Fiscal Oversight Board was created to try to figure out what fiscal adjustments Puerto Rico could do to pay the debt and move on with its economy, but the problem is austerity in the function of the IMF Bank doesn’t work in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is actually contracting. The population can easily move to the mainland, which has been happening in large numbers. What we see now is the decline of the economy, a decline of the population, and now with these hurricanes, it’s quite apparent that there is absolutely no way that Puerto Rico can service its debt and be able to be back on its feet.

Many of us are actually saying that the Fiscal Oversight Board should recognize this situation, should be honest with the bondholders, Wall Street hedge funds who have acquired the debt hoping that they will make enormous profits. They should cut their losses and we should figure out a way to restart the economy of Puerto Rico. We’re going to have a lost generation in Puerto Rico, but if we don’t start now, this is going to be even much worse. We have to find a means for the island to be able to invest in education, on its roads. The electrical grid again has been destroyed. Its schools have been devastated. That should be the priority now.

“This Bankrupt Island:” Debt and Disaster in Puerto Rico’ by Puerto Rico-born María del Pilar Blanco, counterpunch;  she explains the evil ‘fiscal oversight board’ among other things.

“The specter of debt looms over the fragile landscape. On 30 June 2016, President Obama signed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) into law; the legislation aims to restructure Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt and ‘exercise federal oversight over the fiscal affairs of territories’. PROMESA is a response to bad financial management on the island, certainly, but that has been enabled by the colonial infrastructure in place since the US occupation in 1898.

Puerto Rican people still without aid a week after Hurricane Maria’, by Rafael Azul,

“As part of its response to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the Pentagon has announced that it is shifting to land-based operations on the island. In addition to sending 1,000 troops and 16 helicopters, the Defense Department plans to mobilize 5,000 active duty forces and 2,500 National Guard elements on the island.

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that the troops being sent to the US colonial territory “specialize in distribution of goods in hostile environments.” Some National Guard units, including from Iowa, have been sent with the specific mission of beefing up local security forces.

Undoubtedly there is another motive underlying this military response to the humanitarian crisis: the escalating social tension that is becoming evident every day. As Puerto Ricans regain their balance from the blows of Hurricane Maria, they begin to direct their anger against government inaction.

Puerto Rico is already under a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Increasingly, the question raised is whether the island will be placed under martial law.

While thousands of containers and planeloads of supplies have arrived in Puerto Rico in the last several days, they are still sitting in warehouses and in the Muñiz Air National Guard base. Agustín Arellano, an administrator of San Juan’s airport, reports that no one has picked them up.”

and yes, the fooking Jones Act has been waived by Orange Julius Cheezer….at fooking last, as in: today.  John Kelly swears he/they waived it as soon as the Gov of Puerto Rico requested it.  ‘We got rulez!!!’


#PuertoRicoPUR on twitter

#PuertoRico on twitter




12 responses to “via TRNN: ‘Wall Street Got a Bailout, Why Not Puerto Rico?

  1. dinnae sound like it. “heck of a job, brownie!”

  2. hardly unusual, but hideous, nonetheless. puerto rico has a 1% corruption caste at the top, so mebbe the gov really didn’t call john kelly, who can say? from wsws this a.m., although this piece is more about the us. military command takeover of agencies:

    “Puerto Rico ranks as one of the five most socially unequal societies on the planet. While less than one-third of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million inhabitants have formal jobs, there were more luxury Porsches than in any other country in the Americas, according to a United Nations study. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans participate in the informal job market (by some estimates the informal sector represents one-third of Puerto Rico’s economy) and depend on food stamps and other forms of welfare.

    Alongside destroyed homes and apartment buildings destroyed by the hurricane there are empty homes and luxury apartments owned by the very wealthy.” [snip]

    The hurricane wreaked its destruction on September 20 and 21, and in place of promised assistance from FEMA, the US Department of Defense is putting together an operational command center for General Kim in San Juan luxury hotels.

    In the manner of a banana republic, Puerto Rico’s political leaders responded almost in unison to praise President Trump for his decision to militarize the recovery effort. Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon, leader of the ruling New Progressive Party (pro-statehood) hailed the operation and assured her listeners that President Trump had pledged himself to the reconstruction of the island even before hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

    Gonzalez Colon, the current representative of the Rosselló administration in Washington, lavishly thanked Trump for his “support” during this crisis and for appointing General Kim.”

    gonna be a boatload of baksheesh spread around in the ‘reconstruction’ and privatization rebuilding, eh? yep, so much like haiti.

  3. from miguel cruz-diaz:
    “I’m crying as I write this.
    How can one put into words how it feels to be completely powerless as the world I’ve always known slowly turns into Hell for those that I love the most? How can one fully express in words that could convey, in any way, the overwhelming sense of constant pain, of horrible uncertainty, the fear of loss, and the fury over what is, in the end, an unnatural disaster? And how can I live with myself for not being there?
    How can I explain to people that Puerto Rico, my home, my island, my heart and soul, is dying?”
    “But Puerto Rico isn’t dead yet.
    In fact, something seems to be happening. The lack of governmental aid, the realization that American aid is essentially a fantasy, the uncalled-for curfew that’s tailor made to pacify anxious shareholders stateside and not help the citizenry, and the need to rediscover communal bonds of mutual aid have done something to Puerto Ricans. I confess to standing in awe of the newly found resilience, the furious indignation turned into action, and the unbreakable bonds of basic humanity that have returned with a vengeance. And with it comes a growing sense of indignation, of anger towards our colonial masters. Anger, blessed anger, the engine of political and social change par excellence.

    Puerto Rico is dying, but if it survives this and rises once again, it may do so inoculated from the diseased colonial mentality that has crushed its collective spirit for so long.
    As the white imperialist invader revels in his pettiness and apathy it becomes clear that the Puerto Rican people must resist and fight back in the best way possible: by surviving and thriving together. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll rid Puerto Rico of the American flag’s stagnating shadow over our island and reduce it to a simple funerary shroud wrapped around the corpse of American colonialism, breaking away from that dying empire once and for all.”

    amen, miguel.

  4. from DHS yesterday, bloody hell, and that’s just where herr Cheeto, should go. i’d heard this was so.

    WASHINGTON – Early this morning, in recognition of the severe impacts on Puerto Rico from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the federal Jones Act. The decision follows yesterday’s request from the governor of Puerto Rico and the Secretary of Defense’s determination that a waiver is in the interest of national defense. The waiver will be in effect for 10 days after signature and covers all products being shipped to Puerto Rico.

    “This waiver will ensure that over the next ten days, all options are available to move and distribute goods to the people of Puerto Rico. It is intended to ensure we have enough fuel and commodities to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of these devastating storms,” said Acting Secretary Duke.”
    MAGA! and how very white of them.

    And remember, far left forces on #PuertoRico forced the Navy to close its base there in 2004.

    and sadly, jason isn’t getting better very quickly; send him good vibes if you (or anyone does) read this.

  5. fuck you, trump.

    ‘Trump to Puerto Rico: Your lives don’t matter’, eric london, wsws, including a list of the most dangerous and terrifying conditions on the island.
    “Addressing the press yesterday, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said that she watched in horror as Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke called the government’s response to the hurricane a “good news story.”

    To the contrary, Cruz warned, “something close to a genocide” is unfolding in Puerto Rico due to the government’s failed response. She “begged” Trump to fix the botched relief effort, adding, “We are dying here.”

    “Never letting an opportunity go to waste, Trump shrugged off the growing death toll and threatened to withhold emergency funding as a bargaining chip to demand Puerto Rico pay a higher proportion of its debts to Wall Street creditors in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.
    In a speech held Friday before a room of corporate CEOs salivating over his proposed tax cuts, Trump said: “Ultimately the Puerto Rican government will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort will end up, being one of the biggest ever, will be funded and organized. And what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island.”

    “Up to 10,000 shipping crates full of food, fuel, water and medical aid have sat for days in Puerto Rico’s ports. The Department of Homeland Security—the agency responsible for dispersing the goods through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), had no plan to disburse these items. Local officials in rural towns complain that the government is not delivering necessary relief even where the roads are intact. Roberto Ramirez Kurtz, Mayor of Cabo Rojo, told NPR, “The Roads are open. I’ve been able to come here. So why haven’t we used this to [transport goods]?”

  6. again, fuzzy to me, from trnn:

    “AARON MATÉ: Right. Now, your piece for The Nation also calls foreign end to austerity, arguing that the economic conditions that Puerto Rico faced before the storm helped worsen its impact. Why does Puerto Rico now need an end to austerity?

    ED MORALES: Well, it could be argued that they needed an end to, I mean, people were arguing that they needed an end to austerity before the hurricane because this purported objective of the Fiscal Oversight And Management Board, which was enforced by the PROMESA Act that bipartisan effort of Congress people passed, that purported purpose was not only to restructure the debt but to get the economy going again.

    The idea of getting the economy going is not something that they tackle seriously and most of the measures for at least the first year and probably the years after that were more designed to just extract more from the populace through levying more taxes, privatizing more services, and that would result in less money going to the government coffers and cutting jobs. The island was going into a really bad situation economically regardless. I think that the hurricane, I mean, I don’t want to see it all as a good thing but it’s almost making PROMESA meaningless or obsolete. I mean, even today the head of the Fiscal Oversight And Management Board said that they had to have a meeting so that they can reassess exactly what they were doing.”

    good on the govt. rejecting the sham of (effectively) rate swaps (lower now, higher later) to get to the head of the payback line, but which govt? FOSA or the PROMESA board? or have they become synonymous?

  7. Fanon’s Knife and Puerto Rico’, by José Tirado, sept 29, counterpunch

    “Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.”
    –Frantz Fanon

    tirado narrates pre-colonial puerto rican history up to the present with mind-numbing stats:
    “But what are the options? A bit of historical context might illuminate the problem a bit.”…and finishes with:
    “Time to end the colonial relationship once and for all. ¡Viva Puerto Rico libre!

    reference points to the above courtesy of a commenter at naked capitalism:

    Goldman Sachs steals $1.25 BILLION from Puerto Rico…and uses two “governors” to cover it up’, dec. 2016, waragainstallpuertoricans

    Big Money Is Buying Up Puerto Rico’s Risky Real Estate’, july 14, 2007, bloomberg</


  8. ‘Puerto Rico faces health catastrophe as Trump tweets “We have done a great job”, Andrea Lobo 2 October 2017,
    just part of a long and hideous list:

    “The mosquito-borne diseases dengue and conjunctivitis are already showing outbreaks, according to a report Thursday by the Washington Post, which also indicated that thousands are not receiving urgent care and have had critical surgeries postponed.
    The warning of a cholera epidemic underscores the devastated state of the infrastructure, given that Puerto Rico hasn’t suffered such an outbreak since the 1850s.
    Guilarte also warned about the grave risks from the exposure to chemicals and pollutants, given the 18 open and six closed Superfund toxic sites in Puerto Rico, which he describes as areas where “mismanagement of contamination threatens human health and the environment.”

    the related twitter hashtags are mainly full of virtue signaling selfies, like “pastor franklin graham hands out tarps” and “greta van sustern distributes bottled water”.

  9. Thanks for this, wendye and sorry you justifiably cannot but feel its neglect. Issues such as these make me feel like way back when I was in high school and had to be iv-fed about a dozen pints of blood due to vomiting up my internal bleeding. Of course I’m exaggerating the current sensation, if for no other reason than to indicate what is my unjustifiable helplessness considering the state of Puerto Rico.

    • i sincerely appreciate your explanation, davidly, and yes, all of this is so very hard to witness w/ so little to do in the way of aid…except to bear witness to it. first irma, then maria…then orange julius and his abject fukkery blaming puerto rico for their hideous and continuing immiseration. the military and fema simply won’t distribute what supplies have come into island finally, clear roads, open ports. to see it get turned into another political football is even more blood-vomiting to me.

      added to which is a number of ‘well-meaning’ amerikans saying that ‘now is the time for puerto rico to rebuild their electric system with totally ‘renewable’ (not sustainable, as ever) energy sources’. and who will pay for all that, please amid this total devastation and debt? yanno, some capitalist privateers… ach, sorry, it’s just too hard not to be cynical.

      but speaking of which, it was cynical seeker who’d said that he’d always been here on his smart phone, and never seen the layout of the place until recently. i reckon that’s what caused juliania’s navigation failure that led to her commenting on your new diary, bless her heart for her messages. i also look forward to reading it as soon as i take care of some things here. thanks for bringing it.

      • Ah, I’m a bit enlightened by your comment, wendy e- Thanks and apologies to davidly. Things are SO tiny on this phone, and my eyes are not the best.

        I do have something to add here as I was over at just now, yesterday’s feed – don’t know how to link here, but it is “In Maria’s Wake, Could Puerto Rico Go TotallyGreen?”

        It was encouraging to note the wind farm and solar initiatives the island had already begun – and apologies if I’ve missed this link above, wendye- thanks for your kind words, witless in spades I be now!

        fixed it, ww, although i did kinda love ‘rabidly’, lol. yeah, i was snarling over who the hell was supposed to pay for all that ‘renewable’, not ‘sustainable’ stuff. harvey wasserstein was the author. but i have notes for a several-part series on the fictions of ‘total green now is possible!’ silliness. sugarcane biomass, harvey? when the island has been denuded of trees and yanno, agricultural food crops? brilliant.

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