Houston-Florida Get Grants. Puerto Rico Gets Loans. More on the Shameful US Response

Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman expose Trump’s shameful response to Puerto Rico’s hurricane crisis. Plus Retake examines one action of US colonial oppression of Puerto Rico that borders on genocide.

Screenshot 2017-10-11 08.19.18Sunday Oct. 29, 3-5pm, 1420 Cerrillos. America Divided. Episode 1 and 2: From America Divided – Legendary TV producer Norman Lear investigates homelessness and gentrification in New York City and goes undercover to expose racial discrimination in housing. In the second episode, actress Rosario Dawson reveals new information on the Flint water crisis and its impact on tens of thousands of Flint residents.  After the two documentaries, we will host a community conversation facilitated by Miguel Angel Acosta Muñoz, a community educator/Organizer and and Kathy Sanchez, Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager of Tewa Women United. Click here to RSVP and for more information.

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Monday, Oct. 30, 9AM-11AM at the New Mexico Supreme Court. ORAL ARGUMENT BEFORE THE NM SUPREME COURT!  New Energy Economy has been battling PNM’s attempt to offload their toxic coal and nuclear assets onto NM. Show your support by attending this key moment in NEE’s battle with PNM.  They’ve heroically been fighting for our planet, our present, and our future and it makes an impression of the judges to see a packed courthouse. I’ll be there and I hope to see you too. And then join us for a celebration lunch immediately after the hearing. For the hearing, just show up. For the lunch, please RSVP & DIRECTIONS HERE

Click here for more information on many more events and opportunities over the next 7-10 days.

Puerto Rico: The Response that Wasn’t

Like no other modern policy analyst, Naomi Klein can examine an issue and zero in on the heart of the matter. Her book, Shock Doctrine, described the way in which our capitalist corporatocracy utilizes disasters (environmental, political, economic) to take advantage of the situation to advance corporate goals. Witness New Orleans after Katrina, where tens of thousands of low-income people of color were first ignored and then forced to move to other states, never to return to New Orleans so that the private sector could gentrify New Orleans.

Now, Klein and co-author Elizabeth Yeampierre have written a remarkable report that applies that lens to Puerto Rico. They also lay out what a just aid effort would look like if Puerto Rico had crafted its own relief. At the end of this blog is an old video developed by U-2 in the aftermath of the shameless non-response of the Bush administration. It shows what a response we could be proud of would have looked like. It is a striking contrast to the actual response, but points to what our country could be if it lived up to its aspirations.

From Klien and Yeampierre: “IT’S TOUGH TO SHOCK Puerto Ricans. Not after the presidential paper-towel toss. Not after Donald Trump repeatedly attacked San Juan’s mayor for daring to fight for her people’s lives. Not after he threatened to skip out on the island in its hour of need at the earliest excuse. Still, the fact that the House-approved relief package contains $5 billion in loans for the island, rather than grants, is a special kind of cruelty. Because on an island already suffering under an un-payable $74 billion debt (and another $49 billion in unfunded pension obligations), Puerto Ricans understand all too well that debt is not relief.” It is hard to imagine what Puerto Ricans think when they see the swift and significant response to Houston, Florida and Las Vegas and then experience the heartless, tentative, and conditional response to their crisis. A month after the disaster, most of the island is without water and power with ‘housing’ that looks like the photo at left.

Klein and Yeampierre note: “The underlying reason behind all of Puerto Rico’s intersecting crises is the fact that the island’s people and land have been treated like a bottomless raw resource for the mainland to mine for over a century, never mind the devastating economic consequences.”

But as bad as the present is, as Klein and Yeampierre point out, from past experience they anticipate that the future may have even worse consequences for Puerto Rico:  “Puerto Ricans are wise to shock doctrine tactics. They know all too well that their island’s debt crisis, fueled by Wall Street’s hunger for tax-exempt bonds, was systematically exploited to extract brutal “reforms” from workers and students who played no part in driving up the debt. They know that the debt crisis was used to strip Puerto Ricans of their most basic democratic rights.’ To understand what kind of exploration might be in store for Puerto Rico, click here to view this excellent Democracy Now! report.

While the Trump administration and his corporate colleagues may have plans to further exploit Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans have other ideas:  From Klein and Yeampierre, “Under the banner of a “just recovery” for Puerto Rico, thousands have come together to design a bold and holistic plan for the island to be rebuilt as a beacon for a safe, resilient, and thriving society in the era of accelerating climate chaos, spiraling economic inequality, and rising white nationalism.”

And more from the Klein-Yeampierre report: “Before Irma and Maria knocked out the vast majority of its electricity, Puerto Rico was getting 98 percent of its power from fossil fuels. A just transition would replace that extractive model with a system based on micro-grids of renewable energy generation, a decentralized network that would be more resilient in the face of inevitable weather shocks, while reducing the pollution making our climate go haywire in the first place.”

A Shocking Truth from the Puerto Rican Past:  Every time I hear someone say something about how great our country is, I realize how so many of us live in an entirely different reality, feeding on entirely different media and having entirely different conversations with friends and family.  How do you ponder indigenous genocide, slavery, Jim Crow lynchings, and colonization of half the world and still feel proud.  But while I am a pretty voracious reader of history, somehow I hadn’t ever heard of this. It is one thing to neglect Puerto rico in this time of urgent crisis, but we have far more to apologize for including the forced sterilization of 37% of child-bearing age Puerto Rican women and the conducting of ongoing medical experiments on Puerto Ricans. Click here to read more on this.

So, above we have laid out the ways in which the US treats every shock as an opportunity for expanded exploitation, but check out the video for an inspiring version of what could and should have happened after Katrina. Whenever I view this, I am both ashamed of what we have been and inspired by what we could be.

 

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