To the conference title, “Putting Revolutionary Socialism on the Table,” I add, “at the time of capitalism at a dead end.” We need a serious and deep discussion on how to defeat capitalism. Not with reforms, not with patches; we need structural change.
We need socialism!
Fidel once said that as long as imperialism is standing, racism will not end. Imperialism nurtures racism, profits from it and from all the differences that it can use to divide the working class so the workers don’t unite and fight against the capitalists.
For several years I have been reporting on the turn to the left in Latin America. But I want to raise the difficulties confronted by the progressive movements and governments there, because many of those difficulties arise from U.S. imperialism. The great achievements won in the region are too much for imperialism to bear!
The U.S. has intensified its intervention in the region, aligned with the reactionary right wing of many of those countries. Capitalism in its final dead-end phase is trying to turn back the forward march.
The capitalist crisis is global, but so also is the struggle. There are two camps worldwide: The capitalists together with those who serve them, and the masses fighting it.
But I want to focus on Puerto Rico, a country that for a long time was not even considered Latin American, and has been in the news because of its immense $73 billion debt.
Puerto Rico is the perfect example of the virulence of capitalism in its final dead-end stage.
Puerto Rico: U.S. colony
Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S. It has no sovereignty. Foreign capital owns everything, decides everything. The island’s government is just a figurehead; Wall Street and the Pentagon, through the U.S. Congress, are the real rulers.
Puerto Rico has been a laboratory for U.S. practices since the U.S. invaded it in 1898. Erasing our history and our heroes; trying to suppress our language and our flag; using us for pharmaceutical experiments; sterilizing our women; using our land to test toxic weapons and to practice for military interventions in other countries; targeting, killing and imprisoning the independence movement; etc. — a long et cetera.
One of the most criminal practices has been economic destruction. It has left Puerto Rico in a deep depression. All the measures to deal with the current crisis are to benefit the bondholders in Wall Street, many of them “fondos buitres” — vulture funds.
The Puerto Rican government squeezes the workers and the poor to pay bondholders. While the people are getting increasingly poorer, laws have been implemented to give a free ride to billionaires from the U.S. — by exempting taxes from their profits made in Puerto Rico!
The Puerto Rican people receive increased taxes and higher costs of utilities, gasoline and medicines. Medicare, which is deducted from wages at the same rate as here, provides only almost half of the benefit. And while Medicare benefits will be raised in the U.S., in Puerto Rico they will be lowered even more — by 11 percent.
Puerto Rico’s government is paying millions to U.S. firms to “solve” the crisis. Economists from the International Monetary Fund have produced a report that the government is now trying to impose. It includes privatization of education, electricity, water and sewage, and roads; cuts in wages; an increase in university tuition; etc.
But the people in Puerto Rico are fighting back. They are holding people’s assemblies about the consequences of the government’s reforms. There is a call for a general strike that we should support in any way possible here.
Viva Puerto Rico Libre! U.S./Wall Street out of Puerto Rico! Free Oscar López Rivera now!