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Vol. 81/No. 3      January 16, 2017


End US colonial rule in Puerto Rico!

For decades Washington has claimed Puerto Rico is a “self-governing” territory, not a colony. This lie was exposed once again by Washington’s “fiscal board,” when it ordered the island’s colonial government to squeeze working people to the max to pay the $70 billion debt to bondholders and hedge funds. Lay off more public workers; push people off welfare; privatize the ports (i.e., sell them cheap to U.S. capitalists); slash wages, pensions, health care — those were its demands.

It is crucial for workers in the U.S. to stand with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico against these attacks, and demand an end to the colonial superexploitation of Puerto Rico. That has been the position of the Socialist Workers Party since its founding. The SWP “stands for the immediate and unconditional independence of all the territories, colonies, and dependencies of the U.S. and for the withdrawal of all troops from them,” says the party’s 1938 Declaration of Principles. “The revolutions in the colonies, semicolonies, and spheres of influence of United States imperialism are integrally and reciprocally related to the revolutionary struggle against that imperialism at home.”

It’s the U.S. capitalists who benefit from maintaining Puerto Rico as a colony. Pharmaceutical and other companies have made massive profits off low wages and special tax breaks. Shipping companies make billions because Washington bans non-U.S. ships from Puerto Rico’s ports. Because of the workings of colonial domination, a once-self-sufficient island is forced to import food from U.S. agribusinesses.

Under the impact of the deepening crisis, many Puerto Ricans are leaving the island and becoming part of the U.S. working class. The capitalists don’t realize they are creating their own gravediggers.

Workers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico face the same enemy: the U.S. capitalist class, which is forcing working people to pay for the capitalist crisis.

Newly elected Gov. Ricardo Rosselló claims the solution is for Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state. The U.S. rulers would only consider this if they feared a rising struggle for independence that threatened their lucrative domination of the island.

Oscar López, the Puerto Rican political prisoner jailed in the U.S. for more than 35 years, points to a different course. “Revolutionary Cuba has been able to set an example of the importance of the development of the human resource, of solidarity, and of the need to defend justice and noble causes,” he wrote in 2015. Just a few weeks ago he told a reporter that Puerto Rico “needs a government that represents the interests of Puerto Ricans, of working people.”

That will take a fight, a fight that is in the interest of the working class in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. We say free Oscar López now! Cancel the debt! End U.S. colonial rule!
Related articles:
Washington tells Puerto Rico: Bleed workers dry
Who is Oscar López? Why should he be free?
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