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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  March 21, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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03/21/18 03/21/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> six months after hurricane rick, puerto rico's landscape is still shattered. lights are not working, thousands of people do not have electricity still and do not have water. but in addition, you have to think about the emotional landscape, the deep trauma society has suffered. first, the storm. within the trauma of the recovery. amy: six month after hurricane maria battered puerto rico, we will spend the hour looking at the future of the island. we will speak with yarimar
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bonilla and naomi klein. >> puerto rico is locked in a pitched struggle over who the recovery should be for. should do before puerto ricans who have suffered this terrible trauma, looking for ways to heal and also to protect themselves from future shock capital or should puerto rico be rebuilt in richnterest of ultra puertopians who see a blank slate on which to this trigger boldest libertarian fantasies? amy: all of that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in austin, texas, police say the suspect behind the series of bombings this month has died. authorities say he blew himself up in his car during a police chase earlier wednesday morning. authorities say the suspect is behind the string of bombings
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that have killed two people and wounded at least six more, in what authorities say may have been hate crimes. the two people killed in the bombings were both members of prominent african american families in austin. the first victim, 39-year-old anthony stephan house, was killed on march 2. he was a construction worker and the father of an eight-year-old daughter. his stepfather is freddie dixon, a powerful pastor in the city and the former reverend at wesley united methodist church. police triggered the explosion as an isolated incident until, on march 12, two more bombs exploded, killing 17-year-old draylen mason. he was a musician and a student at east austin college prep. like anthony stephan house, draylen mason was also a member of the wesley united methodist church, which was founded more than 150 years ago by blackfin and women newly freed men and women. police have not released the
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suspects then, but described them as a 24-year-old white male. they say the investigation is still underway and they do not know whether he was acting alone. president trump met with saudi arabia's crown prince, mohammed bin salman at the white house on tuesday, during which they finalized a $12.5 billion weapons deal. human rights groups warn the massive arms deal may make the united states complicit in war crimes committed in the saudi-led bombing campaign in yemen. this is president trump speaking about the weapons deal. pres. trump: some of the things that we are now working on -- thanks. and that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered, that system, $13 billion. , the hercules, great plane. 3.8 alien dollars. the bradley vehicles, that is
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the tanks, 1.2 billion dollars. billion.seidon's, $1.4 amy: the arms deal comes as the senate rejected a bipartisan resolution to end the u.s. military involvement in yemen within 30 days, unless congress formally authorizes the military action. the vote was 44 to 55, with 10 democrats joining the republican majority to block the legislation. arizona senator john mccain not casting a vote. in afghanistan, dozens of people have been killed in an explosion in the capital kabul today. the afghan outlet tolo news reports the attack was near a hospital and kabul university. the attack came as many afghans were celebrating nowruz, a national holiday marking the new year. in syria, the rescue volunteers known as the white helmets say at least 56 people have been killed in recent days by syrian and russian airstrikes against
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eastern ghouta, outside the capital damascus. among the reported victims were 16 children and four women who had taken shelter in a school, which was reportedly hit with an airstrike on monday night. in maryland, a teenager shot and critically wounded his girlfriend and another student in a shooting at great mills high school on tuesday. the shooter, austin rollins, was then killed during a confrontation with an armed school resource officer. news reports say its not clear whether the teenager was killed by the officer or whether he died from a self-inflicted gunshot. the shooting is the latest case highlighting the links between gun violence and domestic violence. last month, democracy now! spoke with journalist soraya chemaly about these connections. >> you see repeatedly in these cases of mass violence, particularly more people are killed, that the perpetrator had a history of attacking an intimate partner -- a parent. it happened in the boston
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massacre. it happened in sandy hook. for many of us, you kind of just wait for this information to come to the surface and we wonder why it is this kind of behavior is not seen as an essential element to understanding the fallacy of public violence. amy: in arizona, a rare murder trial has begun for border patrol agent lonnie swartz, who has been indicted on second-degree murder charges for the 2012 shooting of 16-year-old jose antonio rodriguez. agent lonnie swartz killed the unarmed mexican teenager by firing through the border fence from the u.s. side. the teen was walking unarmed on the sidewalk in nogales, sonora. an autopsy shows he was shot 10 times in his head and back. in minneapolis, police officer mohamed noor has been indicted on murder charges for fatally shooting the australian woman
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justine ruszczyk in july. she had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her home before she was shot dead by officer noor, who was responding to the emergency calls. this is hennepin county attorney mike freedman. >> in the short time between when she approached the squad car and the time that officer fired the fatal shot, there is oorevidence that officer n encountered a threat, investigated a threat, or confirmed a threat. that justified his decision to use deadly force. recklesslye officer and intentionally fired his handgun from the passenger seat. in disregard for human life. amy: the shooting is a rare case in which a black police officer killed a white woman. it sparked widespread protests and the resignation of minneapolis' police chief.
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in illinois, a holocaust denier and a former american nazi party member has won the republican primary in the third congressional district tuesday. republican candidate arthur jones is not expected to win the general election this november, as he's competing in a heavily democratic district that includes parts of chicago. his democratic challenger for the district will be the anti-abortion incumbent dan lipinski, who narrowly beat out his progressive challenger marie newman. lipinski also opposes the affordable care act and refused to endorse president obama in 2012. before he won the congressional billin 2004, his father lipinski held the seat for 11 terms. a former model has filed a lawsuit aimed at releasing herself from a hush agreement so she can speak publicly about her alleged affair with donald trump in 2006. karen mcdougal has sued the national enquirer's parent company, which paid her $150,000 to buy exclusive rights to her story, under a contract her lawyers say was misleading. the company's chief executive,
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david pecker, is a close personal friend of president trump. the tabloid company is known to buy and then bury stories that might damage pecker's allies. karen mcdougal's lawsuit comes after adult film star stephanie clifford, better known as stormy daniels, sued earlier this month to release herself from a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement paid by trump's personal lawyer, michel cohen, only days before the 2016 election. experts say this payment may have violated federal election law. a third woman, "apprentice contestant" is suing for defamation after trump called her a liar when she accused him of sexual assault. cambridge analytica has suspended its ceo alexander nix, amid revelations about how the company harvested the data of 50 million facebook users in order to launch targeted political ads to sway the 2016 election in
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president trump's favor. the suspension also comes after channel news 4 videos revealed executives from the company, including nix, boasting about entrapping politicians and launching fake news campaigns in order to sway elections around the world. a federal judge has temporarily blocked a highly restrictive anti-abortion law signed by mississippi republican governor phil bryant on monday. the law bans abortions after 15 weeks, even in the case of rape or incest. it is now blocked for 10 days while the judge considers full legal challenges. in his ruling, federal judge carlton reeves in jackson mississippi said -- "the supreme court says every woman has a constitutional right to 'personal privacy' regarding her body." and les payne, the pulitzer prize-winning journalist and assistant managing editor and columnist for newsday has died suddenly at the age of 76. payne was a champion for racial
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equality and a groundbreaking journalist who exposed racial injustice from long island, new york, to apartheid south africa. he won a pulitzer prize for his work on a 33-part series headlined "the heroin trail," in which he and other reporters traced the drug from the poppy fields of turkey to the streets of u.s. cities. les payne was a founding member and former president of the national association of black journalists. for years, he's been working on an unfinished biography of malcolm x. this is les payne reading his essay "the night i stopped being a negro" about his experience hearing malcolm x speak at bushnell memorial hall in hartford, connecticut, in june 1963. at the time, les payne was one of only 60 african american students at the university of connecticut out of 10,000 enrolled students. this isles payne. >> knew that something within me
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had changed. this time, irreversibly. whites, his floor, would no longer be superior, blacks, most important, i myself, would no longer be inferior. this cardinal message path laid delivered to millions would micmac a max a treasure for black liberation and a serious threat to white america. until this june night, i had been imprisoned but malcolm x. shook my dungeons and as a poet said, my chains fell off. i had entered bushnell hall as a and iwith a capital "n," wandered out into the parking lot as a black man. amy: groundbreaking journalist les payne died after suffering a heart attack in his home in harlem, new york, on monday.
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he was 76 years old. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i'm juan gonzalez. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. it has been six months since hurricane maria battered the island of puerto rico. it was the most catastrophic storm to hit the island in over a century. as many as 200,000 people remain without power in what is considered the longest blackout in. energy officials say some areas will not have power restored until may. on tuesday, san juan mayor carmen yulin cruz tweeted -- the devastating storm has reshaped puerto rico in countless ways. the official death toll remains at just 64.
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but independent counts but the total number of fertility's at over 1000. according to a recent study by the center for puerto ricans that he's at hunter college in new york, more than 135,000 word of reagan's have fled just puerto ricans have fled to the mainland since the storm but puerto rico's governors moving to privatize prepa, one of the largest power utilities in the united states. amy: the governor is also pushing for private school vouchers. on monday, teachers across puerto rico held a one-day strike to protest the privatization plan. meanwhile, displaced puerto ricans protested tuesday and washington, d.c., outside the headquarters of fema, the federal emergency management agency. today we spend the hour looking at the future of puerto rico, which was already facing a massive economic crisis before the storm hit six months ago. we are joined by two guests. from toronto, best-selling
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author and journalist naomi klein, author of many books including "the shock doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism." she has a piece titled "the battle for paradise: puerto ricans and ultrarich 'puertopians' are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island." and here in new york, puerto rican anthropologist yarimar bonilla who teaches that rutgers university. she is founder of the puerto rico syllabus. we welcome you both to democracy now! let's begin with naomi. you have just written this epic piece. explain what you found and what mean by your title "the battle for paradise, puerto ricans and ultrarich 'puertopians' are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island." >> good morning, amy and juan and yarimar.
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what i'm referring to is that in this moment when so much attention is focused on the failures of fema, the failures of the entire relief and reconstruction project -- as it rightly should be because this is an ongoing humanitarian emergency, we are seeing the strategy that we have seen in many other disaster zones that we have spoken about many times, which is exploiting that shock and distraction an emergency to push through a radical, corporate agenda. your for earlier to the plans to privatize prepa going to open up puerto rico's school system to charter schools and vouchers at the same time as radically downsizing and closing 300 schools on the backs of arnie having closed more than 340 schools by exploiting the economic crisis in the past decade. all in all, we would be talking about the closing of half a
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puerto rico's public schools. so a radical downsizing, deregulation, improvisation of the state. that is not dealing thing going on in puerto rico. there is also a powerful resistance movement that was really gaining ground before maria hit that was resisting this illegitimate debt, this previous shock doctrine strategy of exploiting the crisis to push these very same policies. but they're not just saying no, they're also proposing a people's recovery process that would rebuild puerto rico in the interest of puerto ricans. a very, very different visio that is grounded in food sovereignty, in growing much more of the food puerto ricans eat in puerto rico by small farmers using a graco logical methods, not privatizing the electricity system, but shifting to a decentralized community controlled model that is based on renewable energy. all caps of other deeply
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democratic changes. there is this struggle in a race against time over whose vision for the island is going to triumph in this window. juan: you began your piece talking about in town in the mountains of puerto rico and also about one of these grassroots organizations that even before the storm had already been high nearing -- pioneering electricity generation for their own center. could you talk about that some? >> sure. one of the things i found most striking when i was reporting in was we heard so much about what did not work and always everything did not work. the food system collapsed, the energy system completely collapsed and is was we heard sh about what did not still in a state of collapse. but there were a few things that did work. one of the things that worked in the community you are referring to is solar power. there is this community center
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in the town that has been around for decades. has been at the center of a lot of major fights in puerto rico against mining, against logging, against gas pipelines. but they have been building alternatives. they have had solar panels on the roofs for more than 20 years. after maria wiped out the electricity grid, it turned out panelssa pubela's solar survived the hurricane force winds and the falling debris. -- thehad this beacon director of the board of anectors described it as energy oasis. so in the midst of this sea of darkness, yet a community center that has light the day after maria because their solar panels survived. so people came there. it becomes this hub will stop people to people recovery. they start handing out solar
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lanterns. it becomes this kind of field hospital where people plug in their medical devices. practical.y we saw similar things happening on farms as well. juan: this was a town that not only had no electricity and no water, but was completely cut off from the rest of the island for quite a while because of the roads washed out, right? ,> as so many community's were outside of san juan, particularly in the mountains where roads were either obstructed by fallen trees and branches or by mudslides. so completely cut off. it is weeks before the received any substantial aid. amy: its founder got the goldman prize, is that right? the environmental prize in san francisco? him, his son, and the community building this place that became this sunny satellite, just
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shocking given what was around, the darkness around them. onlyd it is not the example of this that i saw. i also saw an amazing example of iess in the communit elsewhere where an amazing mutual aid center was constructed in the failure of fema, in the failure of the state to respond to this disaster. so people linked in with the puerto rican diaspora and got her own solar panels installed in this became -- while i was there, i witnessed an elderly man come in, plug in his oxygen machine because this was -- at this point, it was five months after hurricane maria -- deal source of electricity in the region. amy: so tell us about what you , who theyuertopians
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are. , as some ofopians them call themselves, are part of what theux puerto rican government refers to as high net worth individuals. they been trying to attract as a of thebackwards way out ongoing economic emergency in puerto rico. of laws wereuple passed to attract very wealthy people by giving them officially the most favorable tax system in the world. particularly favorable if you happen to be an american because americans who move to order ago are exempted from paying federal taxes. mean that if you relocate to puerto rico for just half the year -- seek and
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basically just skip enter, which i'm sure to new yorkers sounds very appealing just about now -- so you spend 183 days in puerto return, you don't pay federal taxes. you don't pay taxes on dividends. you don't pay capital gains taxes on interest. and if you change the address of your financial services company or your crypto currency company, then you pay a 4% corporate tax rate. if you think about what has just happened to u.s. tax law where taxp has offered this huge reduction that brings the corporate tax rate to 20%, puerto rico is besting that with 4% corporate tax rate. they're doing absolutely everything they can to lure high net worth individuals and is very mobile industries that basically can do what they do from wherever they have access to data. so now there's a big push to attract the crypto currency
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market to quarter ago. amy: we don't want to get into crypto currency, but if you could briefly explain, since you write about crypto currency, bitcoin, and block chain, just to give people a sense of what you mean. >> just last week, there was a major conference in san juan in one of the luxury hotels, the vanderbilt hotel, which is actually owned by one of these high net worth individuals who moved to puerto rico because of these favorable tax rates. so they had this conference would originally was called pue rto crypto but rename themselves a block chain and bound. essentially, it was a trade show for people who see the future of finance in currencies like they are attracted
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to puerto rico because it holds out the promise that they can convert the crypto currency into harder currencies while paying no taxes whatsoever. so it was a combination of a trade show for crypto currency and an advertisement for puerto rico put on by the department of economic development and commerce, pitching the island as this never-ending vacation or you can have this incredible tax holiday. part of the irony of this is that crypto currencies are one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. it is incredibly wasteful way to create money. uses -- right now bitcoin as much energy in the creation of this currency as the state of consumes energy.
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this is a huge amount of resources. your you puerto rico battered by climate change and also unable to provide power to its own people, pitching itself as a hub for the crypto currency market. amy: we're speaking to naomi klein them a senior correspondent for the intercept. her piece for the intercept, just back from puerto rico, "the battle for paradise: puerto ricans and ultrarich 'puertopians' are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island." when we come back, she will be joined by yarimar bonilla, associate professor of anthropology and caribbean studies at rutgers university . stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman and juan gonzalez. .ur guests are naomi klein
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her new piece for the intercept, "the battle for paradise: puerto ricans and ultrarich 'puertopians' are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island." we are also joined by yarimar bonilla, an associate professor of anthropology and caribbean studies at rutgers university and a visiting scholar at the russell sage foundation. she is the author of "non-sovereign futures: french caribbean politics in the wake of disenchantment" and a founder of the puerto rico syllabus. on this week, the six month anniversary of hurricane maria. , naomi wasar bonilla talking about this conference as more and more bitcoin people are trying to relocate to puerto rico. just yesterday, john paulson, the hedge fund guys, hosted, opened a new hotel. tother luxury hotel i guess
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lure more rich americans to relocate to puerto rico. you have been covering this whole development of thesevulture capitalist that are personally dissenting on puerto rico to try to see what they can pick out in terms of their future winnings are profits. can you talk about it? >> part of what is most troubling is these folks clearly have the air of the governor. as now he was talking about, the people who are doing this innovation around solar power and the different community groups in puerto rico that have taken on the recovery directly, those folks are not being turned to buy the governor to think about what puerto rico needs right now. instead, it is these block chain community's and crypto currency community's and ex-pats, if you will, that are really having a say in what is going to happen in puerto rico. it will roseau has said be central to the recovery in
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the conference he announced the creation of an advisory board. part of what excites this technology community is that relationship to the government, where the government has said, we are going to listen to you. we're going to let you set the terms. not just of how we are going to rebuild, but also the legislative framework that is going to be put into place for dealing with these technologies. at a different conference that occurred here in new york city, i was there and i was able to witness that kind of recruitment and the way in which the block chain leaders were saying, this is where we need to be because we can operate within ambiguous framework given their colonial relationship to the u.s. not all federal legislation applies. not only that, we can set the terms and create legislative presidents of how block chain and bitcoin and all of these new technologies are going to be applied. wonder i want to ask you in
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terms of that, one of the things people don't understand is the original tax exemptions that the 1950's, back in 1960's, 1970's to corporations, engines those federal tax as well as puerto rico tax, at least they provided jobs, supposedly, for puerto ricans. now you're getting the recruitment of individual rich people who maybe have a few office verse and no, but are not really producing anything other than financial management systems, not producing jobs, but now they are exempt not only from federal taxes, but from local taxes as well. >> when asked 2022 was originally passed by the previous administration, it did carry some requirements for job creation. with the current administration has lifted those. at the conference in new york, aey told folks to me you are farm. one individual can be a firm. now there are no employment requirements. can workfolks
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anywhere, all they need is their data, the laptop for some wireless -- although they're concerned about the wireless technology in puerto rico -- they can relocate half the year , notave huge tax breaks just at the federal level, but also at the local level. so they are not really in putting anything into the economy. amy: they have to live there 183 days a year? juan: half a year plus one day. said, this ishave also going to help bring back the diaspora. spent afalse because i lot of time in puerto rico. i looked into this. you cannot qualify for it unless you are a new resident. so all of the puerto ricans who have left and might want to return and be part of the recovery, there is no incentives for those folks to come. amy: the the aspera, the growth of this, 200,000 puerto ricans have left. i want to go to the american hedge fund billionaire john paulson talking about puerto rico.
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in 2016, 2 years before the storm. >> i'm optimistic about the long-term growth prospects for puerto rico. it is a perfect climate. a very beautiful island. you can essentially minimize your taxes in a way you cannot do anywhere else in the world. amy: and this is big one foundation chairman brock pierce talking about puerto rico last month. is thatnk puerto rico perfect situation where amazing things can happen. it is in these moments where we experience our greatest loss that we have our biggest opportunity to sort of restart an upgrade. and so it is in these moments that we can experience those huge sort of changes that would not be possible otherwise. puerto rico can become anything it wants. we are to help puerto rico, the people and the place, be as, you
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know, restart as well as it can. itrto rico will decide what wants to will itself to be. amy: that is big way foundation chairman brock pierce. the child star who grew up and now lives in puerto rico. before that, john paulson. yarimar bonilla, the significance, what they're saying? >> part of what is striking me about these folks is how they come from the outset in a puerto rico can will itself to be anything at once. they are not puerto rican. but the recruitment of these folks, the government represents it as the arrival of new stakeholders. so now you don't have to be puerto rican to be a stakeholder, to have a say in the future. the only points to this battle in her piece when she talks , theseho gets to decide new arrivals that are here to benefit and profit from the recovery or the folks who have been working in their communities tried to envision alternatives for the future?
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the other piece of the puzzle, while these never growth are being welcomed and sought after and given a lead role in the recovery, thousands of puerto ricans are being purged to leave because -- encouraged to leave because of the delays in fema the kind of programs they put in place are not helping puerto ricans rebuild. six months after maria, many folks are still waiting for tarps. for tarps. a scandal that is still to come and just turning to explode is homenew program, your resources or something, where the department of housing has given he's extremely the grid of contracts to contractors to do temporary repairs on homes. this is going to be like the fema trailers where people live in these trailers that were not fully habitable, much longer than they were meant to.
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i think a lot of folks in puerto rico were not getting sufficient funds from fema to fully rebuild, they're going to have these temporary fixes or they give them like little otelco as urnergerators and two-b stoves. it is meant to be temporary until they get fully rebuild their homes but these are folks who do not have the funds to fully rebuild their homes. juan: you are mentioning folks coming from the outside to determine the future. this has been happening now for some time, especially with his administration. you have the executive director of the control board, getting paid 600 $35,000 year, a ukrainian american who was brought into run the finances of puerto rico. there is an american running the school system, and your mentioning now also -- amy: not puerto rican american. juan: i think she is from chicago. >> philadelphia. juan: and now talks of a new
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prepa. >> there was julia keleher from philadelphia and now walter wiggins. i don't know what state he is from originally, but he is a retired navy captain who is going to command a salary of $450,000 to run the electricity company. with these nominees, people say, oh, but that is a salary that we have give someone with those kinds of credentials. but that argument is never made for puerto ricans who are haveienced -- who have to their pensions reduced, etc. there's another nominee that went under the radar, brad dean, appointed the head of this daily private,ublic -- nonprofit agency funded by the government, if you can figure that out. created through special legislation that transferred responsibilities and resources from the government, tourism industry to a private entity.
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that is going to be in charge of marketing puerto rico. it is interesting these are very central and important agencies. a vacation for the education department to not be in the hands of local puerto rican. and even the marketing and the definition themselves that is involved in the tourism campaign. for that to not be in the hands of puerto ricans. and now a critical aspect such as electricity, right? so we're seeing an almost return to colonial rule where you had foreign appointees sent to puerto rico, this is what were the rico looked like when it was still under military rule, basically. it is really troubling to see how the current administration is recruiting non-puerto ricans to leave the recovery through all aspects. juan: naomi, in terms of some of these cuts, i downloaded the most recent communication from the financial control board to the government of puerto rico. this was to the heads of the
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university of puerto rico about what it is demanding in terms of cuts. they sent this letter last week. basically,ying, there have to be major tuition increases at the university, consolidation of campuses, closing of campuses if necessary, reductions -- a system of attrition imposed on any staff at the university, pension reductions at the university. basically, it is a complete -- not dismantling, but certainly a program for the crown jewel of the education system up puerto rico, which is the university of puerto rico. >> right. and this was going on, once again, before maria, but it was running into a huge amount of resistance. i think this is the significance of the strategy we're seeing now is that all of these plans that
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they were trying to push through, including cutting the budget of the university of puerto rico, and half, while increasing tuition -- some people getting radically less, but having to pay more -- for significant educational institution in puerto rico in which there's a lot going on right now where faculty members are making the argument that the university of puerto rico represents an essential service thethat it is against mandate of promise of the cut essential services in a way that essentially dismantles them. that is going on in that challenge is going on in court. the significance is a few months before maria hit, there was this historic strike, still in strike at the university of puerto rico that lasted for two and a half thiss that really sparked wave of anti-austerity resistance that culminated in mass demonstrations on may 1,
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2017, just a few months before maria it. since september. 100,000 people on the streets saying no to austerity, demanding an audit of puerto rico is more than $70 billion debt missing in fact, upwards of 60% of that debt was accumulated under condition that violated puerto rico's constitution, therefore, illegal and should not be repaid. so if that is true, if this is in illegal debt, then promesa is also illegal because it was treated using the debt as an excuse to impose what yarimar bonilla is describing as unmasked colonial rule, just handing down fiat but his board, appointed by the u.s. president -- who is not elected by puerto ricans -- and six of the seven members of the war do not live in puerto rico, so that is another example of exactly what we have been talking about, of puerto rico being ruled by non-puerto ricans.
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the point is, before maria, this is being forcefully and militarily challenged through this anti-austerity, anti-debt movement. what is being seen -- what is going on right now isf maria, ts humanitarian emergency, is being explicitly exploited to try to push through these measures. having a lot of trouble getting through before maria. this is why, in my piece, i say this is a new strategy, sort of a shock after shock after shock doctrine. it is not just what i have talked about before. who do notou say elect the president of the united states, puerto ricans on the island cannot vote for president of the united states. but when they move to the mainland, hundreds of thousands of people who are moving, many of them to central florida for example, could change the voting patterns of florida. they then can vote for president, they are american citizens. >> yes, and the governor -- this
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particular governor has been banking on that. he has been encouraging the diaspora to get involved in local politics, you know, to vote out politicians that do not have favorable policies for puerto rico. there is a real interest for him to bring new stakeholders to puerto rico, while at the same time, increasing the diaspora and solidifying it as a kind of political force. amy: we will continue this discussion after break. we're talking to yarimar bonilla an associate professor of anthropology and caribbean studies at rutgers university and naomi klein, senior correspondent for the intercept, just back from puerto rico, wrote a major piece "the battle for paradise: puerto ricans and ultrarich 'puertopians' are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island." per latest book, "no is not enough: resisting trump's shock politics and winning the world we need." this is democracy now!
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back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman and juan gonzalez. our guests are yarimar bonilla them associate professor at rutgers university of caribbean studies and visiting fellow at the russell sage foundation. she is the author of "nonsovereign futures" and we're also joined by naomi klein. juan: yarimar bonilla i want to continue the discussion we were having about the impact of the puerto rican dias brett on this whole debate. i remember quite some time ago inn i was in the young lords 1971, we began organizing from .ew york city in puerto rico at the time, we always used to tout that one third of the
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puerto rican nation lived in the united states, but we were sort of rejected by the elite of puerto rico who called us yankees, that we were coming back to try to intervene in their social struggle. now 5/8 of the puerto rican people are living in the united states and a lee 3/8 in puerto rico. and that period of 40 years, there's been a huge shift of the population here in the united states. what is the impact with what is going on in puerto rico right now? >> it is interesting because there has been a shift. there was a time when the diaspora was discouraged from ,etting involved politically and the political status report regarding the future of puerto rico. and recrimination for not speaking of spanish and not being puerto rican enough in
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some sense or another. so there is a positive change in that sense where now there are people who don't even want to talk about diaspora, they just want to talk about puerto ricans here and there and everywhere. at the same time, it is troubling how now the government is mobilizing the diaspora, but not necessarily to the same kind of political ends of the original kind of movement of the 1960's and 1970's. so now the ideas the diaspora is more diverse economically and politically, and now in some withiny certain folks the party, use as an example the positive aspects of being part of the u.s. not look, you can retain your culture and your traditional ties while still speaking english and being a full citizen and voting. it actually has some positive aspects, but some troubling elements in terms of how the
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diaspora is being imagine. i think with maria, the diaspora has been such an important political force. so important in the recovery. many of the first to respond or folks from the diaspora who sent things directly to the family members and friends and got on planes themselves and took so much aid. so i do think there is going to be a rethinking of what the role of the diaspora will be. in some sense, there's also going to be a battle over what politically the diaspora will mean. amy: let's go back to this story that we started with. i want to go to a clip from it up coming video produced by the naomiept that follows klein, follows her on her recent trip to puerto rico. in the clip, we hear from from two environmental activists jesus vazquez and katia aviles. they're talking about food security. during the 1940's, there was a very strong push to get people
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out of poverty. poverty became directly equated a peasant, a former. the idea was to break down rural committees and get people into cities and into cement homes and at the same time, see how we could benefit or how the us give benefit from puerto rican production of goods that were consumed in the u.s.. they start pushing large-scale coffee plantations, sugar plantations. >> puerto rico has a situation in terms of food security, we are very insecure because we import a lot of food. more than 80% of our food comes from abroad. we have always been saying within our movement that that is a problem because of climate change. we can have something happen with that port and then we will be doomed. area highlighted that within a night. the next night we did not have food or water or electricity. we did not have anything.
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a lot of farmers right now are starving, even know they have amazing amount of land, they did not have anything to harvest because they had followed the department of agriculture instructions for monoculture such as coffee, whereas before, traditional forms, would be int ercrops bananas, plantains. that next to, ecological farmers were back to the lands. we have form is ready to salafi market. >> we can feed the people with sustainable practices that do not harm the environment, that promote resilience within the farm and within the community. we knew that was possible even before maria and this is also a moment for us to reflect and also make it more visible. juan: those words are metal activists -- environmental activists jesus vazquez and katia aviles. naomi, talk more about what you learned about the battle and agricultural right now in puerto rico and what the signs of hope for a new direction are. they work with a wonderful
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organization. they have been advocating for a very long time for food security, for a shift away from this extreme dependence on imports -- 85% of the food that puerto ricans eat is imported. 90% comes through the single port, the port of san juan, which was in absolute chaos after maria. this is why a lot of people who i talked to in puerto rico refer sort of casually to hurricane maria as "our teacher." this very stern teacher. there were all of these lessons carried by the storm of what did not work and also some things that didn't work. what did not work, as i said earlier, pretty much everything. this very centralized import have independent food in and she
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system. but there were also examples of things i did, including the model of agriculture that has for a very long time. we met them thanks to a delegation coming from the u.s. mainland organized by the, justice alliance. the stories they were telling is that on farms that use these more traditional methods of inter-cropping, so not planting a single mono crop, cash crop that was just leveled by maria, but using these seeds and methods that protected against erosion of a but also planted a diversity of crops, including a lot of root vegetables that survived hurricane maria. so some of the only people with food stores after hurricane maria sent the whole system into chaos were farms that have planted root vegetables, there were able to harvest them very
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quickly, and they had nutritious food. meanwhile, fema was not getting to remote communities in some cases, for weeks. when they finally arrived, they had boxes filled with skittles and crackers. so this is another example of what the reconstruction should look like if we actually learned the lessons carried by maria. juan: yarimar bonilla, this whole issue of the fact that puerto rico has had as a result of colonialism, to import so much food when the reality is, anyone who has been to the island knows it is so fertile wild everywhere on the island. >> and i think that was really made clear. naomi points to so clearly in her piece that this juncture between the kind of rich, local food that people were still able to get because -- i think it is really important to say that puerto ricans have been in this crisis for over six months, and there has not been rioting. there is that been violence.
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folks have adapted and managed to take care of themselves and the face of a state that has completely abandoned them, thrown paper towels of them, thrown skittles of them, all manner of inappropriate items. there was a kind of very sharp contrast. people did not want the military food that fema was distributing. andt of people tried it decided to just go back to things they were able to get in those days. amy: when we went to puerto rico right after the storm, we stayed in this dark house in san juan with no electricity, right next hotel, it was a little bed and breakfast. completely solar powered. amazing. and then all of the neighbors were saying, hey, we want to get solarsolar power -- a power, too. i want to ask naomi, about 80% is from fossil fuels imported,
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no domestic supply of well, gas, and coal, all of these fuels imported as well as i missed entirely puerto rico is reliant on food imports, despite what you are both describing right here. we wrap up, and i want to ask you both this question, do you see a completely new grid being discussed? instead we're hearing talk of privatization, which, frankly, is linked to this crypto currency mania also because if you are thinking about relocating your business to puerto rico, you want to make sure you have access to your data, which is intimately linked to this push to have a private his eyes electricity grid -- privatized electricity grid, which many are afraid will not be accessible to a lot of poor puerto ricans, that it will cater to these so-called puerto coming in.ertopians
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and there should be a huge amount of discussion going on right now about how puerto rico can power itself from the sun, the wind, the waves, which are all abundant, life also feels, about how to do it in a way that the power, the political power, the jobs, the skills in communities, and gives people a reason to stay. >> one thing that has not been discussed, the governor said block 10 will be central to the future. a lot of people -- amy: explain what that is. >> block chain is the ledger system that powers -- makes it possible to make bitcoin. it is not bitcoin. it kind of allows it. ster allowed people to change music, but there were other things you could do through a kind of system napster . a lot of people in the tech industry are saying block chain is the future to renewable energy. saidpect -- it is not been
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directly, but i suspect that is part of why black tennis essentially invested in what is happening puerto rico is they want to be turned toward renewable resources. there are lots of forms of green capitalism and green imperialism. i think what is most troubling -- there was a report that came out about how certain solar power companies are taking advantage of puerto ricans, selling them deficient products, poking them into a system long-term where they do not have batteries, did not have their own independence. so i fear there is going to be a the newgreenwashing of energy solutions that are going to be put into place that are going to pretend to look like something someone to what is eblo but inasa pu fact will be driven by completely different interests and will not be -- micro sounds great, but there are different forms of being micro.
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i really think it is troubling that is not people have the ear of the governor, but block chain industry leaders were setting the terms of what his recovery is going to look like. amy: we have 30 seconds, naomi, as you return and wrote this seminal book "the shock doctrine" your final thoughts? >> i guess my final thoughts, i one of the most hopeful things going on in puerto rico is puerto ricans are organizing against disaster capitalism and are advancing their own alternatives. i would encourage people to find ways to support these community -run initiatives and there's also a coalition of 60 organizations that has just formed. the people together who are putting forward their own peoples platform for a just recovery lost of stay tuned. we will be writing and talking about ways to support. and thank you naomi klein
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yarimar bonilla. her latest piece in the nat
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