Implementation of ‘shock doctrine’ in Puerto Rico denounced
SAN JUAN – A group of local Puerto Rico leaders, joined by Canadian journalist and social activist Naomi Klein, concluded Friday that economic and political powers in Puerto Rico and the United States took advantage of the disaster caused by the passage of two hurricanes to push unpleasant decisions and projects on the population, so it is imperative to provide resistance using community-based mechanisms to achieve real recovery.
The consensus was expressed by the group of five female panelists who were in charge of the discussion at the forum, “From the Disasters of Capitalism to Disaster Capitalism: Resistance & Alternatives,” organized by the collective group of Self-Convoked Professors in Resistance & Solidarity (Profesorxs Autoconvocados en Resistencia Solidaria, or PAReS), with the collaboration of the campaign Our Power P.R. of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), online news outlet The Intercept and the General Studies Faculty of the Río Piedras Campus of University of Puerto Rico (UPR) .
As a special guest to the forum, Klein–who is on the island doing research for The Intercept, and who propelled the concept of “shock doctrine,” the term by which this political-economic scheme is known–was accompanied by Ruth “Tata” Santiago, spokeswoman for the Eco Development initiative of Jobos Bay (Idebajo by its Spanish acronym); Elizabeth Yeampierre, spokeswoman for Uprose and Climate Justice Alliance; Eva Prados of the Citizen Front for the Audit of the Debt; and Mariolga Reyes, spokeswoman for PAReS.
During her speech, Klein offered a global perspective of the experiences she has reported as a journalist that led her to construct the shock-doctrine concept of capitalism during disasters.
“The corporate and political elites from outside of Puerto Rico have not lost time exploiting Maria’s trauma to push forward false and ruinous solutions, from the privatization of essential services to attacks on education, with its privatization policy. In this context of the rampant disaster of capitalism, there is an urgent moral imperative to inform, leading people to know the real roots of the superimposed crisis that has fallen on these islands, with climate change, the racist system, brutal austerity, illegitimate and odious debt, and colonialism,” Klein said.
“With the vultures circulating, this is the critical moment for Puerto Ricans, on their own initiative, to organize themselves [through] grassroots movements, to design their own innovative and holistic solutions, ones that simultaneously lower greenhouse gas emissions while creating good unionized jobs and fight against all forms of injustice and inequity. Doing that visionary work in the middle of disaster development may feel…impossible, but if I have learned something during my time here, it’s that Puerto Ricans do the impossible every day of their lives,” she added.
For her part, the spokeswoman of Idebajo made several remarks about the topic from her experience as a community and environmental leader.
“We are in the most critical juncture. We Puerto Ricans must decide the future and the nature of our electrical system. We [must] decide on a system of community-based microgrids that add value to people or this is going to be another profit opportunity for large energy industries,” Santiago said.
“In the middle of this debacle, hundreds of thousands not only continue without electricity and access to other fundamental resources such as water, housing, healthy food, health services, income, education […] but they want to sell us the story that we will solve our collective problems selling everything that we have left, as if the private sector had the well-being of all as its highest priority,” said Reyes of PAReS.
The forum is part of the Our Power P.R. campaign of the JCA, Organización Boricuá, Uprose, Black Dirt Farm, Greenpeace, Leap, and 25 other organizations that have come with solidarity brigades to support projects led by Puerto Rican entities to strengthen Puerto Rico’s recovery and resilience.