[News] A fake Promesa for Puerto Rico: the “new” Financial Control Board bill

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 23 11:00:19 EDT 2016


  A fake Promesa for Puerto Rico: the “new” Financial Control Board bill

A new Caribbean dictatorship will soon take charge of Puerto Rico. The 
final PROMESA bill finally arrived…and it is the WORST one of all.

After five months of “hearings” and “analysis,” the US Congress 
announced HR 5278…the law which will officially kill the economy of 
Puerto Rico. Here is the bill, all 148 pages of it:


The economy of Puerto Rico will soon be handed over to a “Financial 
Oversight and Management Board,” and the billionaires behind them.


One of the more astounding “good government” powers of the Board will be 
its right to “accept, use, and dispose of gifts, bequests, or devises of 
services and real and personal property.” There is no explanation of how 
these gifts will “aid or facilitate” the work of the Board.

This incredible invitation to bribery, influence peddling, and money 
laundering appears on pages 24-25 of the PROMESA bill.


The Board will “re-structure the workforce of the Commonwealth 
government,” ensure “the payment of debt obligations,” and reduce or 
freeze public pensions.

It will also supervise the budget and finances of the entire 
Commonwealth government, its pension system, courts, legislature, public 
authorities, and all leases, union contracts, and collective bargaining 

Anyone (public official or otherwise) who defies or obstructs the Board, 
will be found guilty of “criminal misdemeanor” and will be subject to 
suspension without pay, and removal from office.


Section 403 of the bill contains an extreme wage cut, from $7.25 to 
$4.25 an hour. It will apply to everyone aged 20-24 in Puerto Rico, 
whenever they start a new job.

If this bill is passed then over 200,000 young people, many of them 
paying student loans, will soon be working for $4.25 an hour in Puerto 
Rico…because that will be their new “minimum wage.”

The supply side argument that this will “create more jobs and economic 
development on the island” is woefully myopic. At $4.25 an hour, $170 a 
week, $8,840 a year, a young worker will make 25 percent of the per 
capita income of a resident of Mississippi, the poorest state in the US. 
Someone needs to explain to the House Committee on Natural Resources 
that this is not “economic development.” It is indentured servitude that 
smells of racism.

No tortured logic, no trickle-down theorist or hedge fund hustler can 
credibly argue that a minimum wage reduction to $4.25 will help the 
island — especially when the rest of the US is pushing for $15 an hour 
in all 50 states.


The government of Puerto Rico must appeal to the Board for any 
possibility of bankruptcy. Through a “certification procedure” 
controlled by the Board itself (see Sections 206 (a) and 206 (b) of the 
bill), the Board decides if and when any bankruptcy re-structuring will 
be allowed. The Board will also decide which part of the Puerto Rico 
physical infrastructure (electrical grid, water supply, roads, bridges, 
highways, schools, prisons, airports, beaches) will serve as collateral 
for the debt re-structuring.

The Board can also directly encumber the physical infrastructure of 
Puerto Rico…because any and all debt issuances of the Puerto Rican 
government must receive the prior approval of the Board. In other words, 
the Board */will be/* the debt issuing authority of Puerto Rico.

The physical infrastructure of Puerto Rico (highways, bridges, schools, 
prisons, electrical grid, water supply, public housing, prime coastal 
real estate) will all be available as “collateral” for the debt 
decisions of this Board.

Despite all of this power, neither the chairperson nor any of the seven 
Board members, will be accountable or liable to the government of Puerto 

The PROMESA bill is careful to mention that “the United States is not 
responsible for any principal or interest on any bond, note, or other 
obligation issued by the Board.” This means that Puerto Rico – its 
taxpayers and its physical infrastructure – will be solely and 
exclusively responsible for repayment of the Board’s debt decisions.


The Board will also have prosecutorial powers.

It is authorized to “conduct necessary investigations” into the 
government of Puerto Rico. It is empowered to hold hearings, secure 
government records, demand evidence, take testimony, subpoena witnesses, 
and administer oaths (under penalty of perjury) to all witnesses.

Anyone who fails to appear, refuses to testify, or withholds evidence, 
can be held in contempt of court. The result of any Board investigation 
can lead to criminal and civil penalties – including, but not limited 
to, getting fired from your job.


This Financial Control Board will be the governor, banker, judge, jury, 
and prosecutor of Puerto Rico.

It will manage the entire Puerto Rican economy, and be accountable to no 
one on the island. It will tell the entire Puerto Rican government what 
to do, when to jump, and how high. It will issue debt, spend the money 
in any manner it sees fit, and leave Puerto Rico to pay the bill.

It will do nothing about Jones Act reform, the privatization of the 
island’s public schools, or the hedge funds that will own the physical 
infrastructure of Puerto Rico – its schools, prisons, highways, 
electrical grid, and water supply.

This is where our “Commonwealth” relationship to the US has gotten us: a 
dictatorship in the Caribbean, owned and operated from Wall Street, all 
disguised as a “management assistance board.”

The branding is very catchy, though.

With a wink and a nod to George Orwell, the US Congress took five months 
of hedge fund bribe money, slapped some lipstick and high heels on 
Senate Bill 2381, and called it PROMESA for Puerto Rico.

There is no “promesa” in this bill. It simply creates a collection 
agency in the Caribbean.

It is one great big lie.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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