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Punitive Neoliberalism in Puerto Rico

Rafael Bernabe

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/11/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Book

Examines current debates in Puerto Rico using two concepts, punitive neoliberalism and financial melancholia.



The struggle against punitive neoliberalism and its ideology begins with the rejection of its myths. Unemployment is not the result of laziness, but an aspect of capitalism and of colonial and dependent capitalism. Debt and over-indebtedness are not caused by personal irresponsibility or over-generous public spending, but are inherent to capitalism, particularly in its most recent period, with its anti-labor policies, corporate tax cuts and bailouts.

People and states "owe" capital but only because capital owes all of society. In Puerto Rico this manifests itself in a paradox: a stagnant economy with a bankrupt government still generates massive profits for a handful of primarily U.S. corporations.

The fiscal and debt crisis is not a Puerto Rican particularity but a global process. Austerity is not inevitable, it is the policy that global capital seeks to impose to make us pay for its crisis. The extent to which it is imposed is not preordained, but rather depends on the outcome of the clash, or series of clashes, between its promoters and the resistance to it.

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