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05/22/2018 | Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond

Pain and Profit After Maria: Companies Taking Puerto Rico by Storm

Five months after Hurricane Maria, and amid a continuing austerity crisis, conditions in Puerto Rico remain dire.

Published By

Hedge Clippers

    More than 1,000 people died from the hurricane, although the official estimate is only 64. The government of Puerto Rico estimatesthat another 200,000 people (about 5 percentof the population) could leave the island by the end of 2018, adding to the massive wave of out-migration over the past decade. A quarter ofthe population stills lacks electricity. 

    Relief efforts have been marked by corruption. The most notorious example was Whitefish Energy, the obscure Montana company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown that was awarded a $300 million contract (which has since been canceled) to rebuild theisland’s electric grid. Aid that was promised tothe island has gone undelivered. The Federal Emergency Management Agency awardedone U.S. company $156 million to deliver 30million meals to Puerto Rico; only 50,000 wereprovided.

    On top of all this, private companies (many of which helped originate the island’s debt crisis) are now—in collaboration with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration—swooping in to profit off the ongoing climate and humanitarian crises by way of privatization efforts. The island is becoming a testing ground for privatization and a playground for the unrestricted power of the financial and tech industries.

    While the crisis in Puerto Rico is often blamed on “natural” disaster or the “free” market, the harsh conditions imposed on the island are entirely man made. This report names some of the key firms and individuals behind the crisis—and some who are now trying to cash in on ther ecovery effort.

    Read and download the full report here.