She argues that the lifting of the 1920 Jones Act (the Merchant Marine Act) — which requires all goods to enter Puerto Rico’s ports on US-made, US-staffed, and US-flag-carrying ships — for ten days after Hurricane María still choked hurricane relief efforts, as supplies sat waiting to be distributed or were sent back to their points of origin. The article says this temporary waiver did little to alleviate the burdens created by Puerto Rico’s economic dependency on the US — but in fact, further demonstrates the high costs of this colonial relationship.
Operation Bootstrap is another focus of the paper, a policy it says continues to haunt Puerto Rico. Beginning in the 1940s, this industrialization-by-invitation initiative positioned Puerto Rico as a destination for wealthy investors and corporate polluters, including the fossil fuel industry, that became a modern-day master and overseer.
The third key policy outlined in the paper is the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA. Approved by President Barack Obama and the US Congress in 2016, it gave debt crisis management power to an undemocratically elected control board that has implemented a sweeping austerity agenda. The study argues that the debt situation and these efforts to ensure Puerto Rico’s US economic dependency have plunged local residents into poverty and increased unemployment.