Activist and journalist Klein (No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, 2017, etc.) looks at the “shock doctrine” as it is now unfolding in the ruins of Puerto Rico.
There’s a method to the apparent madness that, more than half a year after the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria, keeps much of Puerto Rico without electricity and drinking water. By the author’s account in this brief cri de coeur, it affords an opportunity for a clearance sale and land boom, which explains why the “disaster capitalists who have descended on Puerto Rico are reinforcing the most traumatizing part of the disaster they are there to exploit: the sense of helplessness.” Helplessness is the keyword for cities and their chokepoints, dependent on sea traffic from Florida to bring in supplies, unable to rely on agribusiness for fresh produce, and unable to air condition or light buildings. What to do? Sell out cheap and move to America, turning Puerto Rico into a place for natives to visit even as the speculators are moving to turn San Juan into the next Miami, helped along by a governor who seems committed to the project of luring American corporations to the island with a 4 percent corporate tax rate, “a fraction of what corporations pay even after Donald Trump’s recent tax cut.” It all seems to be working, except that, as Klein notes, plenty of Puerto Ricans are demonstrating that there can be another course, one in which the island is remade with small farms and gardens, renewable power, decentralized government, and other instruments of economic, small-is-beautiful revolution. As the author tours the island, she contrasts the desolation of the cities with the relative prosperity of communities that have adopted these soft-path, anti-colonialist strategies. Which will prevail? “Both are gaining power fast,” writes Klein in conclusion, “and in the high-stakes months and years to come, collision is inevitable.”
A revealing, on-the-ground report that ably shows that the real looters after disaster are not the poor.