Unelected Fiscal Board Pushes Austerity as Island Continues Slow Recovery

It’s been almost eight months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and at least 30,000 homes in Puerto Rico still lack power. As anti-austerity protests hit San Juan, we speak to Giovanni Roberto, director of the Center for Political Development in Puerto Rico.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Well, from those streets to our New York studio, we’re joined by Giovanni Roberto. He’s director of the Center for Political Development in Puerto Rico, an umbrella organization that sets up community kitchens after Hurricane Maria and now has 10 mutual aid centers throughout the island. He’s on tour now to raise awareness and meet with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Giovanni, welcome to Democracy Now!

GIOVANNI ROBERTO: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us.

GIOVANNI ROBERTO: Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: It must be very odd for you to be here in New York when this mass protest took place in Puerto Rico.

GIOVANNI ROBERTO: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: But explain what you’re confronting now. I mean, we’re talking Hurricane Maria more than six months ago, but you had another mass blackout in Puerto Rico just in the last weeks.

GIOVANNI ROBERTO: Yeah, exactly. And we are probably facing the new season of hurricanes, so we have an unstable situation in Puerto Rico, as you say, a lot of people still without energy and basic needs. So, from part of the mutual aid center, we are trying to get ready our centers, to be solar panels, to have water, to get ready, because what we see now is that the crisis is going to increase. What the board is doing is going to increase the crisis. And Maria gave us a glimpse of what is going to look like Puerto Rico in the next few years.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, when you mentioned what the board is doing, there’s been very little attention here in the US media about the oversight control board. There was more attention to the impact of the hurricane. But the board now is facing the fact that even the governor of Puerto Rico and most of…

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