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February 19, 2018


Professor Kennedy’s blog seeking comment today was on the topic of Trump’s treatment of our fellow American citizens in heavily-indebted and hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. I responded as follows, as slightly edited.

It seems Trump is an agent for Putin in spreading disinformation, sewing discord between Americans and disbelief in our democratic institutions, and I think Puerto Rico was a good venue for Trump to try out his racist wings to placate his base, all to the delight of Putin, since this creates ever more division but without particular political consequence since Puerto Rico has no voting senators or congress people to stand up for them in Washington. We are told that, like the residents of Guam, they are American  citizens, but without voting representation the fact is that they are only quasi-citizens and thus vulnerable to attack by stateside politicians.

The government of Puerto Rico is hopelessly in debt and Hurricane Maria didn’t help, but perhaps Puerto Rico could get the attention of Trump and other bigoted politicians in Washington if they announced that they were defaulting on their debt to American bondholders, renouncing their American citizenship, and associating politically as an overseas territory of France or some other country with sane leadership and a presence in the Caribbean. Trump in the face of such a move and as a self-professed money man might well consider doing something for Puerto Rico when bondholders come knocking on his door.

A personal note – I first visited Puerto Rico in 1945 shortly after WW II ended and after a couple of earlier stints in the South Pacific. My next visit was on a “The Nation” cruise in 2011. San Juan has changed very considerably during the interim and is now a tourist trap, but I found Puerto Ricans to be the same friendly and seemingly happy people they were 66 years earlier. I can only imagine how those people are faring now after Maria and living under the brutal treatment of a racist president.

Final thought on Russian conspiracy in this connection > Did Putin in his attempts to sew racial division via a blackmailed Trump include Puerto Rico to his targeted states for political interference? I don’t know, but perhaps we will know when Mueller files his final report to the Congress.      GERALD        E


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