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  • A member of a labor union shouts slogans while holding a Puerto Rico flag during a protest against austerity plans.

    A member of a labor union shouts slogans while holding a Puerto Rico flag during a protest against austerity plans. | Photo: Reuters

Organizers of the event state that the time has come for the banks “to feel the heat of a people tired of abuses.”

Activists in Puerto Rico launched the first National Day Against the Bank on Friday, protesting U.S.-imposed neoliberal reforms promoting austerity.

A poster promoting the national holiday reads: “Close your account, make repetitive transactions, inform yourself, call customer service and complain: Who pays the rich?”

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Details promoting the event emphasized that prominent banks operating in Puerto Rico, particularly Santander and Banco Popular, have been complicit in advancing economic reforms which have bankrupt the island nation.

These banks, according to protesters, have actively taken full advantage of the nation's volatile economic situation. Not only have they issued unwarranted “fines, charges and perverted tricks" on working class residents. They have also collaborated with the U.S.-imposed fiscal control board set up last year through the contentious PROMESA law.

The legislation gained bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress as a plan to allegedly "save" Puerto Rico from its nearly US$73 billion debt crisis. Its implementation, however, has resulted in massive social cuts for thousands of Puerto Ricans.

Organizers of the National Day Against the Bank event stated that the time has come for the banks “to feel the heat of a people tired of abuses.” They also emphasized that they understand that the condition of each person is very particular so a variety of actions are proposed that would suit each person.

Hence, a five-point program was devised: 

1. Organize or join activities in your village, or in another, to go with large groups to close accounts collectively. The thousands of village accounts are the basis of the banking business. They feel that our money escapes us. When closing the account takes photo when breaking your card and upload it with the hashtags: #RecortaLaBanca, #DesangraLaBanca, #BPPR #Santander

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2. You don't necessarily have to close your account. The operation of a bank branch itself generates the possibilities of its disuse. By collectively generating a repetitive transaction that does not generate new money, the bank will feel the effect of organized people. For example, withdraw a certain amount of money and deposit it, withdraw a certain amount of money and deposit it, and keep repeating this process.

3. Enter a bank and perform a theatrical piece or do art that denounce and expose the perverse role of banking during Puerto Rico's economic crisis.

4. Enter as a group and denounce bank practices and their responsibility in the crisis. Not everyone knows the bank's embarrassing role in this whole crisis. Let's explain the banks' fault in chorus.

5. Call Customer Service and complain about the bad practices, abuses, irresponsibility of banks. Be sure to denounce their greed at the expense of the people.

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