Puerto Rico is a really interesting country when it refers to its political and cultural mentality obviously influenced by the imperial doctrines of the United States. At the moment it is easy to know that we are a capitalist country because it is the predominant economic system in the whole world. Even so, we enjoy many socialist characteristics such as unions of employees, collective agreements, financial aid among other things. It is also important to point out the internal struggle between neoliberalism and socialist traits within our political culture. With these themes in mind, let us delve into the complex socio-political mentality of Puerto Ricans.
Neoliberalism is a natural characteristic of capitalism as this was the driving force behind this economic system. This neoliberalism was not only the driver of capitalism but also responsible of the industrial revolution and for all the advances we know today. Neoliberalism is nothing more than the private sector control over all industry without rules, in short, the private sector on the free. In 1930 occurs the Great Depression, which is the collapse of conservative or neoliberal capitalism according to some authors. As an ingenious move by the same private sector allows the government to interact and establish rules for the industries. Here are born the “fair wages”, the supplementary wage, the Department of Labor, social insurance, food stamps, incentives, in short; Modern capitalism is born.
Within the political culture of Puerto Rico and after the creation of the New Progressive Party (PNP) in the late 1960s, conservative ideas take power in the country. After the end of the cold war, campaigns of fear against communism ceased, partially changing the political ideas of that time. We now have a party that when it takes power in its economic development plan include privatization (neoliberalism under another name) as an economic engine for the country. But we see the counterpart of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) to use and cling to the characteristics of modern capitalism that are now suffocating the private sector. It is here that begins a political and moral warfare in the political ideas of Puerto Ricans, a battle that has lasted more than 50 years.
Today we have a Puerto Rican with rather disorganized political ideas and a somewhat confused government system that is the product of the difference between the PNP and the PPD. It is easy to see it, because each quarter brings a total change of government along with the imposition of the ideas of the party that won the elections. It is for the aforementioned that Puerto Rico has as many mixed characteristics of two contradictory political systems as it is capitalism and socialism.
Puerto Rico enjoys many obvious socialist characteristics to which they refuse to resign as they do not recognize the existence of socialist ideals in their culture. This denial comes from the constant anticommunist and socialist campaigns by conservatives and the US government during the Cold War. There is a fear of these intimidations to socialism to the level that in the political culture of this country is seen as a destructive monster and just to mention socialism is condemned immediately. Something illogical because if we consciously evaluate Puerto Rico we see socialism everywhere and even people do not want to let go of those socialist characteristics. A socialist characteristic impregnated in the culture of this country is the government monopoly. For example, we see how within the social culture we are clinging to it on essential services such as electricity and drinking water, monopolies that are maintained today. In fact, in our history the government held a monopoly over the telephone industry and when the Puerto Rico Telephone Company (government owned) was sold, a series of violent protests occurred, leaving people wounded and killed all because the government decided to let this monopoly go . The same thing happens when you propose to get rid of the other monopolies. We see this same indignation when the government violates collective agreements or attacks against unions, important characteristics of socialism that we see in our culture. Even so, we have a constant denial and hysterical fear of socialism.
This double standard within the political culture plays the main role along with the bad administrations for the economic crisis of 73 billion dollars debt that crosses the country. We have two contradictory ideals that are terribly holding back progress in the country. Unfortunately, in the colonial conditions to which we are subjected does not allow us to maintain the same unhealthy political mentality. It’s time to decide what direction we want to take so that the country can get out of the crisis we live today. This includes deciding and clearly establishing a new political mentality about being capitalist or socialist accompanied by resolution of our colonial status in a real and forceful way beyond false political promises and fairy tales.