By Rogelio Acevedo
The hostilities between the exploiters and exploited in the ‘territory’ of Puerto Rico have finally commenced under the new stage of PROMESA. For now, the Wall Street bondholders have maintained the initiative although traces of resistance, still spontaneous and disorganized, are emerging. They are the material reflection of the paralysis in which the structures of the colonial government have been caught up; the obsolete character of the Estado Libre Asociado. As it is presently structured, it does not function either for the financial oligarchy of Wall Street or the sectors of power within the metropolis or the colony who benefit from the repugnant scheme of exploitation to which the masses in Puerto Rico are subjected.
Elections in a capitalist society offer the bourgeoisie the opportunity to dilute the class struggle creating multiclass political parties that represent the interests of various factions of capital. In this sense, financial and political sectors, both metropolitan and criollo, have used the electoral system to legitimize their power in the territory. In 2011 the territorial administrators approved Law 222-2011 for oversight over political campaigns. Said law established that the government match up to $5 million of what electoral parties raise from private donations. But this is not all! Each party is allotted an additional $1.8 million annually for administrative costs.
As such, each party (bourgeois or petty bourgeois) has the possibility of counting on up to $10 million for its campaigns financed, on the one hand, by public money and, on the one hand, by the very sectors that benefit from the channeling of funds through government contracts.
In the case of Puerto Rico, the electoral process carries with it the corruption of the participating organizations through the money flows of electoral activity. The principal portion of that money comes from donating businesses that seek to buy key candidates in their interests. Many of these contributors receive juicy contracts and so they pay to the party in power a ‘commission’ for helping them access the trough of millions dispensed by the government. Another source are the public funds that are expropriated from taxpayers – mainly the workers, who are, in proportion, those from which the most is expropriated – through the electoral fund that allots funds to the registered parties. This money denatures the “opposition parties” (e.g. PIP, PPT), which cannot avoid falling into the trap of bureaucratic proceedings to qualify for funds, thus succumbing to the subsidy syndrome which democratically weakens the aggressiveness of its opposition.
The Wall Street oligarchs have some concern about the volatile scenario that the territory presents in the present conjuncture of PROMESA. This is why they have directed a considerable amount of resources to develop an intense media campaign about “the importance of electoral participation for our democratic system” in which, in addition to their whole press army, commentators, analysts, and all sorts of other bourgeois cadre are mobilized.
But this is not all. The bondholders and their allies in the territory want to make sure that by using the electoral system they can position the political sectors most in line with them under the promise that by cooperating with the Wall Street Junta (Financial Control Board), they too will benefit. With the most recent soup opera of corruption within the PDP that has ‘aired’ in the federal courts, it is evident that the bondholders have derailed the populares in order to position their agents from the NPP both within the territorial government and the Wall Street Junta.
With this move, the bondholders seek to give legitimacy the political system in the territory by presenting the current situation of ‘restructuring’ under a veneer of normality while the putrefaction of the system spews throughout. There is an urgency that the working masses assume that the maintenance and legitimacy of the political system extends beyond electoral matters. It is a system that is increasingly called into question (though still timidly) by the masses, however, this will increase as the FCB begins to implement its plans. In the same way, the working masses must come to terms with the fact that there are superior forms of organization to overcome the present situation. What is built, with our organizational efforts, must function for the needs of the majority of society.