Naomi Klein

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The Battle for Paradise
Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists

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The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
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There’s Nothing Natural About Puerto Rico’s Disaster

Published in The Intercept

I've been digging into disaster capitalism for a couple of decades now. For those of you who are new to the term, disaster capitalism is about how the already rich and powerful systematically exploit the pain and the trauma of collective shocks — like superstorms or economic crisis — in order to build an even more unequal and undemocratic society.

Long before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was a textbook example. Before those fierce winds came, the debt — illegitimate and much of it illegal — was the excuse used to ram through a brutal program of economic suffering, what the great Argentine author Rodolfo Walsh, writing about four decades earlier, famously called miseria planificada, planned misery.

This program systematically attacked the very glue that holds a society together: all levels of education, health care, the electricity and water systems, transit systems, communication networks, and more.

It was a plan so widely rejected that no elected representatives could be trusted to carry it out. Which is why in 2016 the U.S. Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, known as PROMESA. That law amounted to a financial coup d’etat that put Puerto Rico’s economy directly in the hands of the unelected Financial Oversight and Management Board. In Puerto Rico, they call it La Junta.

The term fits. As Greece’s former Foreign Minister Yanis Varoufakis puts it, governments used to be overthrown with tanks — now it’s with banks.

Read the rest of the article in The Intercept




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