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Disaster Capitalism Hits Puerto Rico with Whitefish Sweetheart Deal

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - “Whitefish’s contract with the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA) sets a dangerous precedent that brings disaster capitalism to Puerto Rico’s recovery. The deal is audacious cronyism filled with loopholes that benefit the company, not the Puerto Rican people.

“Government officials have rightly criticized the deal, from Congressional Democrats to the Governor of Puerto Rico. Now, Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board is seeking to appoint an emergency manager to PREPA, a first step on the road to privatization. We saw how taking control away from accountable local officials worked out in Flint. What’s more, Puerto Rico already had a failed experiment with water privatization. Whether it’s water or energy, privatization helps Wall Street, not communities.

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“These recent climate disasters underscore that we need a new way forward that puts people first. We need to fully fund a just and equitable humanitarian response and a sustainable reconstruction that makes Puerto Rico resilient to climate shocks. Clean, renewable energy is not only the future--it is the only way to avert the worst climate chaos ahead. Legislation recently introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act, mandates a just and swift transition nationwide by 2035. We could start this transition right now in Puerto Rico.”

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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