Puerto Rico: Freedom From Fantasy

Puerto Rico: Freedom From Fantasy


>>>YES, THIS IS THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO, A LAND OF SONG AND LAUGHTER, A TINY BIT OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE WARM SEAS OF THE ATLANTIC AND THE CARIBBEAN, THAT ALL ADDS UP TO THE KIND OF VACATION YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO END. [VINYL RECORD SCRATCHING]>>>IT’S BEEN TWO PAINFUL YEARS SINCE HURRICANE MARIA SWEPT THROUGH PUERTO RICO AND MUCH OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS. WHAT’S CHANGED AND WHAT HASN’T AND WHAT DO THE REST OF US HAVE TO LEARN FROM PUERTO RICO? HERE TO SORT ALL THAT OUT ARE ROSA CLEMENTE AND ED MORALES. IT’S ALL COMING UP ON THE LAURA FLANDERS SHOW, THE PLACE WHERE THE PEOPLE WHO SAY IT CAN’T BE DONE TAKE A BACK SEAT TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING IT. WELCOME. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪ ED MORALES, THE AUTHOR OF LATINX AND LIVING IN SPANGLISH, IS JUST OUT WITH A NEW BOOK THAT LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENCE ALL THIS HAS MADE, SPECIFICALLY, ON THE CHERISHED BELIEF THAT MANY PUERTO RICANS HAVE HELD, THAT BEING A U.S. TERRITORY WOULD BRING PROTECTION, DEVELOPMENT, AND A PIECE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM. THE REALITY BEHIND THAT FANTASY IS AT THE HEART OF ED MORALES’ VERY PERSONAL, AS WELL AS POLITICAL, NEW HISTORY BOOK, FANTASY ISLAND: COLONIALISM, EXPLOITATION, AND THE BETRAYAL OF PUERTO RICO. TODAY ON THE SHOW, ED’S JOINED BY ANOTHER RETURN GUEST TO THIS PROGRAM, PUERTO RICAN ACTIVIST, ROSA CLEMENTE. ROSA SPENT MUCH OF HER SUMMER IN SAN JUAN, AS THAT CITY ERUPTED INTO SUSTAINED PROTEST AGAINST CORRUPTION AND TO GENDER VIOLENCE. AND THIS AUGUST, THOSE PROTESTS RESULTED IN OUSTER OF GOVERNOR RICARDO ROSELLO AND HIS REPLACEMENT, AFTER THE INTERVENTION OF THE PUERTO RICAN SUPREME COURT, WITH WANDA VAZQUEZ GARCED, HIS FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER. WELCOME, THANK YOU FOR COMING BACK. ROSA, I GOT TO START WITH YOU BECAUSE THE LAST TIME I WAS LOOKING AT YOU IN A SORT OF SEMI STUDIO, WHERE WE WERE TALKING RIGHT AFTER HURRICANE MARIA, YOUR HAIR WAS ON FIRE. YOU WERE JUST BACK FROM THE ISLAND, YOU WERE SAYING, “WE’RE LOOKING AT A PUERTO RICO FOR FINANCE AND NOT FOR PEOPLE.” WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE NOW? >>>YEAH, I MEAN, I STILL BELIEVE THAT THE ULTIMATE GOAL WILL BE TO HAVE PUERTO RICO, BUT NO PUERTO RICANS IN IT. AND THE MORE THESE TWO YEARS HAVE PASSED, WITH THE WORK OF NAOMI KLEIN AND ED AND — REALLY KIND OF LAYING OUT WHAT WE THOUGHT WAS POTENTIALLY GOING TO HAPPEN, BUT WHEN YOU BEGIN TO READ IT AND HOW THEY’VE ALL CONTEXTUALIZED IT, IT’S VERY REAL. AND I THINK WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, MORE, THAT THERE ARE A GROUP OF PARTICULARLY YOUNG, WHITE, RICH MEN THAT WANT TO TRY OUT ALL THIS CRYPTOCURRENCY AND BITCOIN AND SEE PUERTO RICO IS THE STAGING GROUND FOR THAT. BUT WITH THAT, AS WELL, AND I DON’T THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL KNOW THIS, THAT IF YOU’RE IN PUERTO RICO SIX MONTHS PLUS ONE DAY, AS A U.S. CITIZEN, YOU DON’T PAY TAXES. AND IN FACT, YESTERDAY, I WAS READING A STORY ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN RINCÓN, WHICH IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PARTS OF THE ISLAND, BUT SURFERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD COME THERE TO CATCH WAVES AND HAVE THESE COMPETITIONS. AND I WAS JUST READING AN ARTICLE ABOUT HOW THE SEWER SYSTEM IN RINCÓN IS SO BACKED UP THAT IT’S NOW FLOWING INTO THE OCEAN. AND I MEAN, THAT GOES TO HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE CLEAN WATER? PENSIONS ARE ABOUT TO BE CUT AGAIN FOR THOSE THAT ARE RECEIVING PENSIONS. THE GENDER VIOLENCE KEEPS INCREASING, AND JUST TWO DAYS AGO, THERE WAS A HUGE DRUG DEAL THAT HAPPENED IN ONE OF THE HOUSING PROJECTS, WHERE HUNDREDS OF BULLETS WERE SHOT AND SIX PEOPLE WERE KILLED. SO YEAH, I THINK THIS IS PART OF WHAT I WOULD CONSIDER ETHNIC CLEANSING. >>>YEAH. IT ALSO SPEAKS TO THE FANTASY THAT YOUR WHOLE BOOK IS ABOUT, THAT ON THE ONE END, WE CAN HAVE THE SUNNY SURFING WHILE THE SEWAGE IS POURING OUT FROM A LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE AND INVESTMENT. TALK A BIT ABOUT WHAT THIS FANTASY HAS BEEN TO YOU BECAUSE THIS IS PERSONAL, THIS IS FAMILY FANTASY. >>>RIGHT. WELL, I MEAN, IN SOME WAYS, THE NARRATIVE IS DIVIDED BETWEEN THE LEFTIST, ACTIVIST PART OF ME… AND NATIONALISTS AND ACTIVISTS HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN THAT THE TITLE THAT WAS GIVEN TO PUERTO RICO, AS A COMMONWEALTH OR SEMI-AUTONOMOUS STATE THAT WAS A FUNCTIONING DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMY, WAS A FANTASY. THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO KNEW THAT WAS A FANTASY ALL ALONG. BUT WHEN YOU GET TO THE AVERAGE PUERTO RICAN, LIKE MY FAMILY AND SOME PEOPLE THAT I KNOW, THEY REALLY FELT LIKE THE STATUS WAS WORKING FOR THEM ON A CERTAIN LEVEL. THEY WERE ABLE TO HAVE A MIDDLE-CLASS HOME AND A CAR AND GO SHOPPING AT MALLS LIKE YOU HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES. BUT THE ECONOMY OF PUERTO RICO WAS NEVER SELF-SUSTAINING, AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN IN DEBT, GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE 70S, TO AMELIORATE THAT. AND THE GOVERNMENT HAD TO BECOME THE LARGEST EMPLOYER. AND SO WHEN THE BOTTOM FELL OUT OF THE DEALS THEY WERE MAKING THROUGH THE MUNICIPAL BOND MARKET, WHICH WAS A LOT OF TRICKY STUFF THAT WAS COMING OUT OF WALL STREET- >>>WHICH YOU GO INTO, IN THE BOOK. >>>THAT’S WHEN THE FANTASY STARTED FALLING APART AND THESE TWO TWIN CATASTROPHES THAT HAPPENED, THE CULMINATION OF THE DEBT AND DECLARING THAT IT WAS UNPAYABLE, AND THEN FOLLOWED BY MARIA AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE ELECTRICAL INFRASTRUCTURE, HAS HAD THE EFFECT OF… IT’S STARTING TO EMPTY THE POPULATION AS WELL, WHICH GOES TO ROSA’S POINT ABOUT EMPTYING THE ISLAND OF PUERTO RICANS.>>>WAS IT NEVER SELF-SUSTAINING? NEVER COULD’VE BEEN SELF-SUSTAINING, OR WAS IT CREATED NOT SELF-SUSTAINING, WHICH IS TO SAY DEPENDENT? >>>YES, IT WAS NEVER SELF-SUSTAINING BECAUSE, WELL FIRST OF ALL, PUERTO RICO WAS A COLONY OF SPAIN FOR 400 YEARS BEFORE THE UNITED STATES, AND THEY WERE COLLABORATORS WITH THE SPANISH COLONIALISM AS WELL AND THEY WERE THE ONES WHO HAD MOST OF THE PROPERTY IN THE SUGAR INDUSTRY. BUT WHEN THE U.S. CAME IN, THEY ADJUSTED THE TAX LAWS TO FAVOR OUTSIDE INTEREST, AND THE U.S. SUGAR COMPANIES WERE ABLE TO TAKE OVER MOST OF THE BEST LAND FOR SUGAR, AND THE U.S. ECONOMY STARTED TO DOMINATE THE PUERTO RICAN ECONOMY, AND IT WAS NEVER REALLY ALLOWED TO GROW ON ITS OWN. THE JONES ACT MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR TRADE TO HAPPEN. THE U.S. SET UP PUERTO RICO AS A FREE TRADE ZONE IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, AS A PRELUDE TO NAFTA IN A WAY, BY JUST… THERE WERE NO DUTIES CHARGED TO THE U.S. FOR IMPORTS FROM PUERTO RICO, AND THEN THE U.S. DUMPED ALL OF ITS CONSUMER STUFF, THAT IT WASN’T SELLING IN THE US, ON TO PUERTO RICO.>>>AND JUST TO DELVE INTO THE HISTORY TINY BIT MORE, AND THEN WE’LL COME BACK TO YOU, ROSA. A LOT OF AMERICANS PRETEND THEY UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE STATUS OF PUERTO RICO, BUT WE REALLY DON’T. SO, IT BELONGS TO, BUT IS REALLY NOT OF.>>>RIGHT. >>>IT’S A TERRITORY. THE HISTORY THAT YOU LAY OUT IS VERY CLEAR, I DON’T KNOW WHY IT’S SO POORLY UNDERSTOOD. TALK ABOUT THE… IS IT CALLED THE DOWNES BIDWELL CASE, THAT DETERMINED THE STATUS, AND CONTEXTUALIZE THAT A LITTLE BIT FOR US? >>>RIGHT. WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 19TH CENTURY, WITH A LOT OF TERRITORIES THAT THE U.S. ACQUIRED, WHICH WERE PUT ON THE ROAD TO STATEHOOD, LIKE A LOT OF THE PLACES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COUNTRY AND IN THE WEST, THOSE WERE THOUGHT OF AS INCORPORATED TERRITORIES, WHICH MEANT THAT THEY WERE ON THE PATHS TO THE STATEHOOD. BUT AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, WHEN THE U.S. DECIDED TO START THIS COLONIAL EMPIRE AND EXPAND BEYOND ITS BORDERS TO MAYBE CREATE A SECURITY ZONE IN THE CARIBBEAN AND TO THE SOUTH, THEY… FIGHTING THE WAR WITH SPAIN, THEY ACQUIRED THESE TERRITORIES FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO THEY MISTRUSTED OR WERE JUST OUTRIGHT RACIST TOWARDS, BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT WHITE, THEY WERE MIXED. THERE’S A LOT OF PREJUDICE AGAINST MIXED PEOPLE AS WELL. THEY WOULD SAY THINGS LIKE, “MIXED PEOPLE HAVE THE WORST ASPECTS OF BOTH WHITE AND BLACK,” SO THEY DID NOT CONSIDER PUERTO RICO, OR THE PHILIPPINES, AS CANDIDATES FOR STATEHOOD. AND THEY CREATED THIS NEW CATEGORY CALLED UNINCORPORATED TERRITORY. AND DOWNES V. BIDWELL, WHICH WAS DECIDED ON BY TWO OF THE SAME SUPREME COURT JUDGES THAT DECIDED ON PLESSY V. FERGUSON, WHICH ESTABLISHED SEPARATE BUT EQUAL, THEY SAID THAT PUERTO RICO WAS BELONGING TO, BUT NOT A PART OF, THE U.S. AND SO, WHAT THAT ALLOWED THEM TO DO WAS TREAT PUERTO RICO IN WAYS THAT WAS ADVANTAGE TO THE UNITED STATES. FOR INSTANCE, THEY GAVE PUERTO RICO THE TITLE OF STATE SO THAT IT COULDN’T DECLARE BANKRUPTCY. THEY DID IT THAT WAY, BUT WHEN IT WAS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE TO CONSIDER PUERTO RICO A FOREIGN AREA, THEN THEY CONSIDER IT AS FOREIGN AND THAT’S CONSTANTLY STILL BEING DONE. >>>HOW HAS THIS PLAYED OUT IN YOUR LIFE, ROSA? WE ALWAYS TALK POLITICS, BUT TALK PERSONAL A LITTLE BIT. WHAT HAS THIS SCENARIO MEANT FOR YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR LIFE? >>>WELL, I GREW UP IN THE BRONX, VERY PROUD TO BE PUERTO RICAN. I DIDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH UNTIL I WAS ALMOST NINE, ALWAYS WENT TO THE ISLAND TO SEE MY ABUELA, TIAS, AND TIOS. BUT, FOR ME, WHEN I FOUND OUT WHAT PUERTO RICO WAS REALLY ABOUT, WAS IN COLLEGE. IT WAS LIKE, MY PARENTS DEFINITELY UPLIFTED US CULTURALLY, IN EVERY WAY, AS BORICUA’S, PERIOD. BUT I LITERALLY HAD TO GO TO COLLEGE AND OPEN UP A BOOK IN INTRO TO PUERTO RICAN HISTORY AND ASK MY PARENTS LIKE, “WE’RE A COLONY OR POLITICAL PRISONERS.” AND MY FATHER WAS LIKE, “GROWING UP THERE, WE KNEW, BUT WE DIDN’T TALK ABOUT THAT.” BUT MY FATHER DID TELL ME THIS INTERESTING STORY THAT HE WAS PART OF A COMMUNITY THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF PUERTO RICO BUILT AROUND, SO MY FATHER ESSENTIALLY LIVED INSIDE THE UNIVERSITY RÍO PIEDRAS. THEY NEVER TOLD THE PEOPLE THEY WERE BUILDING IT, AND WHEN PEOPLE BEGAN TO PROTEST, THEY JUST SAID, “WELL, WE’LL JUST BUILD IT HERE AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO PAY RENT OR THINGS LIKE THAT.” SO, THE OLDER I’VE GOTTEN, AND ESPECIALLY IN THE LAST DECADE, MY FATHER’S TELLING ME EVERY STORY. AND EVEN MY MOM IS LIKE, “WELL YOU KNOW, YOU SAY YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENTISTA AT NIGHT, IN A BAR. YOU DON’T SAY THAT OUTSIDE, YOU DON’T REPRESENT THAT BECAUSE THE REPRESSION ON INDEPENDENTISTAS OR ANY LEADERS ON THAT FIGHT FOR FREEDOM IN PUERTO RICO WAS ALWAYS A DEADLY ONE. SO, I WOULD SAY WHEN THE HURRICANE HIT THOUGH, MY PARENTS CALLED AND WAS LIKE, “YOU’RE GOING, RIGHT?” AND I SAID, “YEAH, I GOT TO RAISE SOME MONEY, BUT I’M GOING.” IT WAS VERY PERSONAL WHEN I GOT THERE, FIRST, BECAUSE OUR HOUSE SURVIVED, AND MY UNCLE, I WAS ASKING ABOUT ELECTRICITY BECAUSE HE WORKED FOR CON EDISON HERE IN NEW YORK CITY, FOR 40 YEARS. AND HE SAID, “THEY’RE NEVER GOING TO FIX THIS GRID. IT’LL BE AT LEAST A YEAR BEFORE EVERYONE HAS POWER.” AND I WAS LIKE, “THAT’S CRAZY.” IF THERE’S NO POWER IN NEW YORK CITY FOR TWO DAYS, THE APOCALYPSE WILL… YOU KNOW? A YEAR, AND HE WAS COMPLETELY RIGHT BECAUSE HE SAID, “WE’VE ALREADY HAD THESE ROLLING BLACKOUTS. THE GRID IS HORRIBLE.” AND HE HIMSELF SAID, “WE CAN DO RENEWABLE ENERGY, WE’RE AN ISLAND, WE HAVE SUN, WE CAN DO THIS.” BUT THEN, WHEN I VISITED MY TITI IN THE HOSPITAL IN BAYAMÓN, AT FIRST, THEY WEREN’T LETTING ANYBODY GO IN, THEY WERE VERY AFRAID OF INFECTIONS. AND WHEN THEY LET ME GO IN, I HAD TO PUT ON A HAZMAT KIND OF SUIT, SO NOT TO GET OTHER PEOPLE SICK. AND SHE WAS IN SO MUCH PAIN BECAUSE SHE LOST EVERYTHING IN THE HOUSE AND HAD BROKEN HER LEG. SHE HAD AN INFECTION, AND THE NURSE SAID, “AT THIS TIME, WE’RE ONLY DOING SURGERIES TO SAVE PEOPLE’S LIVES RIGHT NOW.” SO THE PART THAT MY AUNT WAS IN WAS WHERE, EVENTUALLY, PEOPLE WOULD HAVE TO HAVE AMPUTATIONS BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE MEDICINE TO STOP THE INFECTION. SO, IT’S REAL, IT’S VISCERAL. THE OLDER I’VE GOTTEN, I UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT PUERTO RICO IS AND THE COLONIAL STATUS. ALSO BEEN VERY LUCKY THAT A LOT OF OUR PUERTO RICAN FORMER POLITICAL PRISONERS ARE HERE. OSCAR’S STILL HERE, RAFAEL CANCEL MIRANDA’S HERE AND SEEING HIM IN PUERTO RICO, RAFAEL WAS LIKE, “IT’S JUST THE NEXT STAGE OF STRUGGLE.” SO FOR ME, WHEN I GOT THERE IN JULY AND SAW THE UNITY OF VARIOUS, DIFFERENT PUERTO RICANS, YOU MIGHT BELIEVE IN STATEHOOD, INDEPENDENCE, COLONIAL, YOU MIGHT’VE BEEN GONE FROM THE ISLAND, YOU MIGHT BE COMING BACK TO THE ISLAND FROM HERE, THE UNITED STATES, IT WAS LIKE THAT MOMENT I ALWAYS PRAYED FOR, I WAS LIKE, “OH, THIS IS IT.” BECAUSE THE GOAL TO GET ROSELLO TO RESIGN WAS PRIMARY. IT REMINDED ME OF THE STRUGGLE AROUND VIEQUES. AT ONE POINT, EVERYBODY MIGHT’VE HAD A DIFFERENT POLITICAL SOLUTION, BUT WE KNEW, IMMEDIATELY, THAT VIEQUES HAS TO… WE HAVE TO STOP IT FROM BEING A BOMBING RANGE, AND THAT’S->>>THE U.S. BASE THAT THE NAVY WAS USING FOR WEAPONS TESTING. >>>RIGHT, AND ON MAY 1ST, 2003, THAT VICTORY HAPPENED, AND THE U.S. NAVY LEFT. NOW, TO THIS DAY, THEY’VE NEVER CLEANED IT UP. AND AT THE MOMENT VIEQUES DOESN’T HAVE A HOSPITAL, SO ANYBODY THAT GETS SICK IN VIEQUES HAVE TO GO TO FAJARDO. BUT WHEN I WAS AT THOSE PROTESTS, TO SEE THE AMOUNT OF YOUNG PEOPLE, TO SEE LGBTQ, TRANS PUERTO RICANS, TO SEE ANARCHISTS-LEANING YOUNG PEOPLE, TO SEE FEMINISTS. AND WHAT WAS REALLY AMAZING ABOUT THAT WHOLE TIME WAS, THERE WAS NEVER A POLITICIAN WHO SPOKE. HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, YOU GO TO THESE PRE-PLANNED EVENTS AND SEVEN PEOPLE SPEAK AND YOU MARCH WITH THE POLICE AND THEN YOU LEAVE. NO, I MEAN, EVEN WALKING THROUGH OLD SAN JUAN, THEY HAD CHANGED ALL THE NAMES OF THE STREETS, PUT TAGS OVER THEM, LIKE THIS IS NOT [SPANISH] NOW THIS IS [SPANISH].>>>IT WAS LIKE A NEW KIND OF NATIONALISM FOR ME. IT WAS LIKE AN INTERSECTIONAL NATIONALISM BECAUSE A LOT OF THE FAILINGS OF NATIONALISM, IN THE PAST, HAS BEEN THAT IT’S BEEN TOO PATRIARCHAL, MALE DOMINATED. AND SO, THIS INCLUSIVITY OF WOMEN WHO WERE AT THE FOREFRONT AND LGBTQ PEOPLE, I THOUGHT, WAS REALLY ENCOURAGING AND A MODEL FOR WHAT COULD HAPPEN IN THE U.S., OR WHAT IS SORT OF HAPPENING IN THE U.S., A LITTLE BIT. BUT EVERYONE WAS UNITED, AT THE SAME TIME, BY THIS PRIDE FOR PUERTO RICO. BUT ALSO, WITH THE FEELING THAT THEIR INDIVIDUAL MARGINALIZATION AND STRUGGLE WAS ALSO BEING RECOGNIZED, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS REALLY POSITIVE. BUT ONE THING THAT I FEEL DISAPPOINTED ABOUT IS THAT THE TEXT SCANDAL, WHICH IS ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THE WHOLE OUTBURST OF EMOTION, WHICH WAS VERY JUSTIFIED, DID NOT REVEAL ENOUGH… THERE WASN’T ENOUGH WORK SHOWN TO REVEAL THE CORRUPTION THAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THERE WAS ALL THIS EVIDENCE OF THE PEOPLE AROUND ROSELLO FIXING, RIGGING ALL THE CONTRACT, AND THE INVESTIGATION WAS NOT DONE. AND YOU HAVE WANDA VAZQUEZ, WHO HAS A VERY NEGATIVE RECORD ON A LOT OF ISSUES FOR PEOPLE IN PUERTO RICO, RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT. >>>I MEAN, THIS AGAIN, IS NOT UNIQUE TO PUERTO RICO, THAT WE SEE A SCANDAL AROUND AN IMPORTANT THING, GENDER VIOLENCE, THOSE TEXTS WERE HORRENDOUS, WHAT THE FORMER GOVERNOR ROSELLO HAD TO SAY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY GETTING TO THE SYSTEMIC ISSUES. IS THERE A CHANCE THAT THIS WHOLE RICKY RESIGN MOVEMENT COULD STAY FOCUSED ON THE SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT AND MAYBE THE DIRECTION OF DEVELOPMENT FOR THE ISLAND?>>>I THINK WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW IS THAT BEFORE THAT, FIVE DAYS BEFORE, THE FBI INDICTED JULIE KELLER, THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, AND HER ENTIRE STAFF, FOR CORRUPTION, FOR STEALING. JULIE KELLER’S THE ONE THAT GAVE THE GO AHEAD TO CLOSE OVER 200 SCHOOLS IN PUERTO RICO. SO, WHERE WAS ALL THAT MONEY GOING TO? WAS BEING FUNNELED THROUGH 11 DIFFERENT LLCS THAT SHE HAS. SHE ALSO HAS TIES TO BETSY DEVOS. SO, IT’S LIKE, YOU PEEL ONE LAYER AND YOU’RE LIKE, “OKAY, RIGHT.” AND THEN THIS AND DO WE WANT A GOVERNOR THAT’S GOING TO STILL REPRESENT THE SAME TYPE OF CORRUPTION? AND RECENTLY, ALSO, WANDA VAZQUEZ HAD TO DECLARE A NATIONAL EMERGENCY AROUND GENDER VIOLENCE BECAUSE IT’S THE HIGHEST IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE RIGHT NOW AND PUERTO RICO HAS THE HIGHEST RATES OF MURDER OF WOMEN, AND IT’S BEEN EXACERBATED POST THE HURRICANE. >>>AND SHE ALSO TALKED, AT LEAST, ABOUT A DEBT REDUCTION PLAN, BUT THAT SEEMS TO BE GOING NOWHERE.>>>WELL, I BELIEVE, MY LINE IS, “WE DON’T OWE A PENNY.”>>>THE CASE OF THE OVERSIGHT BOARD THAT IS ADMINISTERING, SO CALLED, THIS DEBT CAME BEFORE THE U.S. SUPREME COURT, AND THE DECISION WAS TO BASICALLY MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO?>>>WELL, THEY HAVEN’T MADE THE DECISION YET, BUT MOST OBSERVERS FEEL THAT THE WAY THAT THE ARGUMENTS WENT, THAT IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE THEY WERE GOING TO INVALIDATE THE APPOINTMENTS OF THE OVERSIGHT BOARD AND LEAVE IT THE WAY->>>AND WHY IS THIS SUCH A BIG DEAL? >>>BECAUSE THERE’S A LOT OF MONEY ON THE TABLE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO COLLECT THE DEBT. IN FACT, THIS WHOLE THING IS BEING RUSHED THROUGH. ONE OF THE THINGS I TALK ABOUT IN THE BOOK IS THAT PROMESA ITSELF, THE ACT ITSELF –>>>WHICH WAS THE DEBT DEAL.>>>FOR THE DEBT RESTRUCTURING, WAS RUSHED THROUGH IN RECORD TIME DURING WHAT MOST PEOPLE CONSIDER TO BE A NO ACTION CONGRESS. AND SUDDENLY, THERE WAS THIS BIPARTISAN BILL THAT WAS PUSHED THROUGH. THE RHETORIC WAS CONTINUALLY SAYING THAT THERE WAS NO TIME LEFT AND THIS HAD TO BE PUSHED THROUGH. AND THEN ALSO, WHEN THE FIRST CIRCUIT APPEALS COURT RULED THAT THE APPOINTMENTS OF THE OVERSIGHT BOARD MAY HAVE BEEN UNCONSTITUTIONAL, THEY ALSO RUSHED TO GET THIS NEW DEBT RESTRUCTURING DEAL DONE IN THE SUMMER, KNOWING THAT IT’S POSSIBLE THAT THE WORK OF THE BOARD WOULD BE INVALIDATED BY THE SUPREME COURT. I MEAN, WE SEE NOW, THAT IT SEEMS LIKE THEY NEVER REALLY WERE GOING TO DO THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE BUT THEY DID PUT TOGETHER THIS DEAL, AND IT DOES CUT PENSIONS, BY 15%, FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE GETTING OVER $1,200 A MONTH AND WILL PROBABLY INCUR MORE AUSTERITY MEASURES. SO, PEOPLE IN PUERTO RICO ARE CALLING FOR AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF THE DEBT. AS ROSA SAID, MOST OF THE DEBT COULD BE FOUND TO BE ILLEGAL. ALSO, THESE COLUMBIA ECONOMISTS SAY THAT FOR PUERTO RICO TO HAVE A FUNCTIONING ECONOMY, AT LEAST 85% OF THE DEBT SHOULD BE DISPENSED WITH OR FORGIVEN IN SOME WAY. SO, REALLY, PUERTO RICO IS DOOMED TO BE IN DEBT SLAVERY, REALLY, FOR THE NEXT 40 YEARS.>>>OH, BUT THAT’S SO NOT ON BRAND FOR THE LAURA FLANDERS SHOW, “PUERTO RICO IS DOOMED.” THE LAST TIME WHEN WE WERE ON, WE WERE SAYING, “OH, THERE ARE OTHER MODELS OF DEVELOPMENT, AND-” >>>UNLESS THE BOARD IS OVERTURNED BY A PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT OR THE- >>>WELL, SO OKAY, GRASPING AT STRAWS HERE. RICKY RESIGN, THAT MOVEMENT, INTERSECTIONAL, PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST TIME, AT LEAST IN CERTAIN WAYS, POWERFUL ENOUGH TO OUST THIS GOVERNOR, ALTHOUGH MAYBE NOT GET TO THE HEART OF EVERYTHING. WHAT HAPPENS TO IT NOW? >>>WELL, WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING, I THINK, ALSO THAT THE INTERSECTION OF PARTICULARLY, YOUNG, BLACK PUERTO RICANS TAKING LEADERSHIP, AFFIRMING WHO THEY ARE, I THINK THAT’S ALWAYS AN IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS LIBERATION AND WE’RE SEEING THAT REALLY PLAY OUT, CULTURALLY AND POLITICALLY, ON THE ISLAND, WHICH IS EXCITING. AND NOW, THEY HAVE BEEN HAVING PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLIES. THERE’S EVEN PEOPLE WHO ARE REWRITING WHAT A PUERTO RICAN CONSTITUTION CAN LOOK LIKE. FOR ME, THOSE ARE SIGNS OF EMPOWERMENT. THEY’RE SIGNS THAT SAY WE CAN NO LONGER DEPEND ON SOME GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE OR AN ELECTED OFFICIAL. >>>AND WE’VE DONE STORIES ABOUT THE FREE SCHOOLS THAT DEVELOPED IN THE COURSE OF THE CLOSING OF ALL THOSE SCHOOLS. WE TALKED, LAST TIME YOU WERE ON, ABOUT CASA PUEBLO, A SORT OF SELF-SUSTAINING GREEN POWER RUN COMMUNITY.>>>THINK OF VIEQUES. ALSO, COMERIO IS A PLACE THAT DEFEND PUERTO RICO HAS BEEN WORKING ON, JUST REBUILDING HOUSES ON THEIR OWN, FROM DONATIONS FROM PEOPLE, BUT REBUILDING HOUSE TO HOUSE. AND LOÍZA, RIGHT NOW, HAS REALLY, ACTUALLY, COME UP A LITTLE STRONGER. THEY WERE HIT WITH IRMA, THEN MARIA, BUT ALSO, LOÍZA, BEING PRIMARILY AFRICAN DESCENDANT, HAS ALWAYS BEEN NEGLECTED BY PUERTO RICAN LEADERS. SOMEBODY THAT’S KNOWN HERE IN NEW YORK, DR. MARTA MORENO VEGA, JUST OPENED UP A HUGE INSTITUTION THERE. AND AN ARTS PLACE –>>>ALL RIGHT GOOD, THANK YOU, ROSA, YOU’RE HELPING ME WITH THE MOOD HERE. >>>YEAH, YEAH. >>>BECAUSE I DO WANT TO BRING US BACK, ALSO, TO WHAT PUERTO RICO HAS TO TEACH HERE. I MEAN, I LOOK AT THIS AND I SAY THE FANTASY OF A DEMOCRACY TREATING PEOPLE EQUALLY. THE FANTASY THAT, KIND OF, COLONIAL DEVELOPMENT BY CORPORATIONS AND FINANCE WILL WORK. CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE MOVEMENT AGAINST CORRUPTION OUSTS THE GOVERNOR, PULLS TOGETHER A MOVEMENT. YOU WRITE REPEATEDLY, IN THE BOOK, THAT THERE ARE WAYS IN WHICH PUERTO RICO HAS BEEN A CANARY IN THE COAL MINE FOR PEOPLE IN THE U.S. WOULD YOU READ A LITTLE PART THAT SPEAKS TO THAT BECAUSE OVER AND OVER AGAIN, IN YOUR BOOK, THAT COMES ACROSS. I THINK THIS IS THE RIGHT PAGE. OH NO, IT’S NOT. PAGE 72, IT IS. THERE IT IS. >>>OKAY. >>>AND IT SPEAKS TO HOW MUCH BETTER WE WOULD BE OFF, HERE, IF WE KNEW MORE ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING THERE.>>>[FROM BOOK] EVEN AS THE REAL CRISIS BEGAN TO SNOWBALL IN PUERTO RICO, IT WOULD NOT BECOME APPARENT TO THE UNITED STATES LARGELY BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN TRADITIONALLY ALMOST NO MEDIA COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF THE LAURA FLANDERS SHOW, OF THE ISLAND, OUTSIDE OF THE OCCASIONAL CRIME WAVE OR HURRICANE. IN FACT, AWARENESS OF THE CRISIS WOULD BECOME WIDESPREAD AT FIRST ONLY THROUGH THE BUSINESS PRESS, WHICH I HAD TO SPEND HOURS GOING OVER. WE SAW A THREAT TO NOT ONLY AMERICAN INVESTORS, BUT ALSO THE MUNICIPAL DEBT MARKET ITSELF. BUT THE MAINSTREAM AWARENESS OF PUERTO RICANS AS A PEOPLE AND A NATION HAS CREATED A FORMIDABLE DISCOURSE, ONE THAT WOULD EMERGE SUDDENLY TO DISRUPT THE STARK SILENCES AND TO DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY REMIND AMERICA THAT THE LOSS WALL STREET AND CONGRESS HAD WORKED SO HARD TO EXTERNALIZE WILL NOT BE SHED SO EASILY WHEN THE PEOPLE WHO MUST PAY FOR IT ARE NOT AS SEPARATE AS HAD BEEN THOUGHT. THROUGH THE DEBT CRISIS, AS MUCH AS THE UNITED STATES TRIED TO MAINTAIN ITS DISTANCE, PUERTO RICO WOULD FINALLY BECOME A PERMANENT INTERNAL PROBLEM. [END OF READING] AND THAT REALLY SYMBOLIZES HOW PUERTO RICO IS A SYMBOL OF MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES ALL OVER THE U.S. AND THE WORLD, THAT THE DEBT CRISIS IN PUERTO RICO BEARS A LOT OF RESEMBLANCE TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 2008 WHERE THEY HAD ALL OF THESE BAD MORTGAGES THAT THEY GAVE TO PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T AFFORD TO PAY THEM BACK. IT’S A VERY SIMILAR MECHANISM.>>>SO, THEY REALLY ARE US?>>>YES. RIGHT. WELL, I’VE ALWAYS BEEN US. >>>AND HOW’S YOUR FAMILY?>>>I’M SORRY? >>>HOW’S YOUR FAMILY? >>>OH, WELL, MY DAD PASSED AWAY IN 2011. I HAVE A THING ABOUT THE BOOK, ABOUT HOW WE UNDERSTOOD HOW THE ELECTRICAL GRID WAS GOING TO AFFECT THINGS BECAUSE WE WERE ALWAYS HAVING BLACKOUTS UP IN THE MOUNTAINS AND THERE WERE TIMES MY DAD WAS AT HOME FOR ALMOST… OVER A YEAR, CONVALESCING, AND WE HAD HIM HOOKED UP TO MACHINES THAT WERE FEEDING HIM THROUGH TUBES. AND WE KNEW THAT WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT, MY MOM WOULD PANIC BECAUSE HIS RESPIRATOR… WE HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PLANT WE HAD TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY WAS WORKING. BUT MY MOM IS STILL THERE, SHE HAD TO MOVE TO THE U.S., AFTER THE HURRICANE, FOR A WHILE, COULDN’T STAND BEING IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, HAD TO GO BACK, DIDN’T LIKE THE COLD WEATHER. AND NOW SHE’S VERY HAPPY IN THE COMMUNITY WHERE ALL THE PEOPLE COME BY AND TAKE CARE OF HER. >>>I’VE GOT TO ASK YOU, ROSA, BEFORE WE GO, WE GOT 10 SECONDS, BUT WHY THE SHIRT?>>>THE SHIRT? OH, SHIRLEY CHISHOLM. YOU KNOW, I HAVE PRETTY MUCH LOST FAITH IN ALMOST EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL, EVEN ONES THAT ARE PUERTO RICAN. AND I JUST ALWAYS THINK IT’S IMPORTANT, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE, TO KNOW THEY’RE NOT THE FIRST ONES TO BLAZE A TRAIL OF BEING AN UNAPOLOGETIC ELECTED OFFICIAL. IT’S EMPOWERING.>>>AND SHIRLEY CHISHOLM WAS ONE.>>>YEAH. >>>FIRST BLACK WOMAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. >>>AND IF PEOPLE READ A LOT OF WHAT SHE SAID, EVERYTHING SHE SAID IS HAPPENING, WHICH USUALLY HAPPENS WITH OUR GREATEST LEADERS AND HISTORIANS. >>>ROSA CLEMENTE, THANK YOU FOR BRINGING SHIRLEY CHISHOLM INTO THIS CONVERSATION. BOTH OF YOU, THANK YOU FOR YOUR BOOK, ED, IT’S BEAUTIFUL, AND CONTINUE TO DO THE REPORTING YOU’RE DOING, ROSA, AND WE’LL CONTINUE TO PLAY IT. >>>THANK YOU LAURA FOR CONTINUING TO COVER PUERTO RICO.>>>THANK YOU. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

4 thoughts on “Puerto Rico: Freedom From Fantasy

  1. Important topic, thank you! More rotten fruit from the "Free Market" tree. A very tough problem to tackle, shining a light is a needed first step.

  2. WOMEN (MARY QUEEN:EGGS:JESUS): WO-WO-WO!
    KING $: KING ¢: KING €: KING £!

    1: AMERICAN (North: Latino-Mexican-USA-Canada-Greenland) (South: Columbia:::) $:

    2: AIOP (Arabic India Ocean Pacifist): (ARABIC-JEWISH: Turkey Iraq Iran Syria Lebanon Palestinian Israel Saudi Arabic Yemen UAE Omega): KAZAKHSTAN INDIA CHINESE JAPAN AUSTRALIAN: ¢:

    3: AFRICAN EUROPEAN (France German Ukrainian Italian Greek) €:

    4: BSR (BRITISH/SCAVENGERS/RUSSIAN): ( Greenland Iceland Sweden Norway Danish Finland – Scotland Ireland Wales English: BRITISH SCAVENGERS ISLES: Westminster PM – London) £!

    LABOUR (Marx-Greens: 33.33%): POLICE PIGS (JESUS 33.3333333 B.C.):

    JESUS (Fish: RC-P/B/S-JEWISH-ARABIC): KIRSTEN Veg BUDDHA – LABOUR (Marx-Greens: 33.33%) !!!

    VEGGIE FISH !!!!

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