PROMESA, Puerto Rico and the American Empire


As the United States ascended to hyper-power status during the late 1970s, it changed colonial policy in Puerto Rico. The change, which included the elimination of favorable tax legislation and demilitarization, devastated Puerto Rico’s economy. Puerto Rico borrowed heavily in a failed effort to offset the dramatic decline in capital inflows. The federal government enacted PROMESA after Puerto Rico announced it could not repay the debt. The law was designed to restore Puerto Rico to financial solvency by imposing oppressive austerity measures. PROMESA was a watershed event because it stripped Puerto Rico of the limited sovereignty the federal government had allowed. But, just as colonialism is the source of Puerto Rico’s economic and humanitarian crises, colonialism will also sabotage PROMESA’s plan to extract wealth from an impoverished population. Hurricane Maria has guaranteed that Puerto Rico will never have the resources to repay the debt holders.

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Correspondence to Pedro Cabán.

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Cabán, P. PROMESA, Puerto Rico and the American Empire. Lat Stud 16, 161–184 (2018).

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  • Puerto Rico
  • Colonialism
  • Financial crisis
  • Hurricane Maria