Stopping the privatization of Puerto Rico, with Julio López Varona

Puerto Rico is still struggling after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria. So naturally its government, prodded by the wealthy, wants to privatize its electrical grid and its public schools, among other things. But Puerto Ricans are organizing, on the island and the mainland, to fight back. Julio López Varona of Make the Road Connecticut and the Center for Popular Democracy joins me to talk about Puerto Rico’s economic troubles–which are anything but a “natural” disaster–and why we should pay attention to the situation in Puerto Rico. It bears a striking similarity to what many people would love to do across the rest of the US.

What we are seeing is a trend. Puerto Rico is, in many ways a microcosm of what is happening in other places. We are seeing this move toward privatizing electricity, but at the same time, we are seeing this move to privatize education. In Puerto Rico, in particular, it is crazy because it is everywhere. The proposal is not like, “We will privatize some.” They want to change or renew – those are the keywords they are using – the education system and they are saying the only way they can do it is by providing charter schools and a private electric grid, which has not been proven necessarily to actually improve the outcomes of students or to actually be good for customers that receive those electrical services.

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