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  • teleSur English Empire Files

    teleSur English Empire Files' Abby Martin | Photo: Archive

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Abby Martin explains who is really responsible for Puerto Rico’s so-called debt crisis.

The lastest episode of teleSUR’s The Empire Files details how Puerto Rico’s history as a colonial subject controlled by the U.S. has been left out of the debate over Puerto Rico’s massive debt to Wall Street.  

“Puerto Rico has been colonial property longer than any nation in the world and for over a century their economic path has been mandated by the very same government now demanding they pay for the problems they caused,” Martin explained.

Martin spoke to Luis Barrios, former chair of latin american studies at John Jay College. Barrios said that whilst Puerto Rican people are U.S. citizens, they are second-class citizens. Politically, they cannot vote for the U.S. president or elect representatives to the U.S. Congress. Economically “the U.S. makes all the decisions, with who, how and how much,” Barrios said.

During the 20th century, banking interests from the United States owned considerable parts of Puerto Rican industry. Tax incentives were then given to encourage U.S. investment, but it drastically changed Puerto Rican society, who were subjected to racism, fighting in U.S. conflicts and a eugenics program that sterilized one-third of Puerto Rican women.

5 Leftists Speak out Against 'Colonial' Puerto Rico Debt Bill

Danny Shaw a professor from CUNY, spoke about some of the difficulties faced by Puerto Rican communities living the U.S. and Puerto Rican revolutionaries, with the U.S. government constantly spying on Puerto Rican nationalist activists, and with U.S. corporations continuing to make huge profits from the colony.

In 2006, many corporations decided to the leave the island, causing a recession and unemployment. The debt was then bought by hedge funds and U.S. banks.

“When the United States gets the flu, Puerto Rico gets pneumonia … it’s very ironic that the very individuals responsible for the disease would claim to come with the cure,” said Shaw.

“Puerto Rico doesn’t have a $70 billion debt. It’s the U.S. government and U.S. policy makers and the explorers that have the $70 billion debt.”


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