Op-Ed: House bill promises Puerto Rico humiliation and hardship
PROMESA. Even the acronym for the House bill aimed at dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt crisis sounds like Congress is mocking the island and the 3.5 million American citizens that inhabit it.
What the bi-partisan Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Security Act really promises is only more humiliation and greater hardship for the long-suffering Puerto Rican people.
It shouldn’t be surprising. After all, seldom has an imperial power treated a colony with respect, not to talk about justice. Call it what you will -- commonwealth, estado libre asociado or any other euphemism you can come up with--, a colony by any other name is still a colony. And in Puerto Rico’s case, it is the longest existing colony in the world.
Although it would seem logical to think that if Puerto Rico is a possession of the U.S., its $72 billion debt belongs to the master, Washington has no intention of acting in accordance.
The Puerto Rican crisis has made it even more obvious that, as long as the island remains a colony, Washington will not act to protect the interests of the Puerto Rican people, although they have been U.S. citizens by birth since 1917.
The legislation places the island under the control of a federally-appointed financial control board whose primary function, far from helping Puerto Rico, will be to serve as a collection agency for the vulture hedge funds.
The seven members of the Authority will be appointed by the president. Neither the chairperson nor any of the Authority members will be accountable to the government of Puerto Rico.
“The Financial Control Board, with such extraordinary powers, the only thing it does is reenact, in the economic theatre, the invasion of 1898…. They (Puerto Ricans) are millions of people floating in the sea without anyone to turn to or anyone to defend their interests as a people,” said editor and writer Marilyn Pérez-Cotto, a San Juan resident. “This is what happened with the Hispanic-American War.”
As someone commented in a Facebook post, “The PROMESA Authority will be the governor, banker, judge, jury, and pawnbroker of Puerto Rico. It will manage the entire Puerto Rican economy, and be accountable to no one on the island. It will tell the Puerto Rican government when to jump, and how high. It will issue debt, spend the money in any manner it sees fit, and leave Puerto Ricans to pay the bill.”
There is no way Puerto Ricans can –or should— “pay the bill.”
Almost unbelievably PROMESA will cut the minimum wage from $7.25 to $4.25 per hour. The reduction applies to newly hired young workers aged 20 to 24, whenever they start a new job. “Someone needs to explain to the House Committee on Natural Resources that this is not ‘economic development.’” has said Nelson Denis, the author of the excellent War Against All Puerto Ricans. “It is indentured servitude that smells of racism.”
“¿The solution? Independence has always been the only solution,” Pérez-Cotto said.
Absolutely, and it has never been so clear.