29 November 2016

Hurricane Ciriaco 1898 – Disaster Capitalism

War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis, 2015, Excerpts

Shortly after the 1898 US invasion, Hurricane San Ciriaco, one of the largest in Caribbean history, destroyed thousands of Puerto Rico farms and nearly the entire 1898 coffee bean crop.

The United States sent no money. Instead, it outlawed all Puerto Rican currency and declared the island’s peso with a global value equal to the US dollar, to be worth only sixty American cents. Every Puerto Rican lost 40 percent of his or her savings overnight. Then, in 1901, a colonial land tax known as the Hollander Bill forced many small farmers to mortgage their lands with US banks.

Interest rates were so high, that within a decade, the farmers defaulted on their loans, and the banks foreclosed. These banks then turned a diversified island harvest – coffee, tobacco, sugar, pineapple, and other fruits – into a one-crop cow. That crop was sugar. The very first civilian governor of Puerto Rico, Charles Herbert Allen, used his brief tenure to become the King of Sugar.

No comments: