According to reports in the UK press, a group of hedge funds is demanding that Puerto Rico sacks teachers and closes schools, so that it can repay the huge debt it 'owes' them. The 34 hedge funds, who bought parcels of the country's debt, commissioned former International Monetary Fund economists to produce the proposals, which said that the country's education system was 'massively overspending.'.
The funds, otherwise known as vulture funds, are the same ones who made a killing in the 2008 fincancial crisis which spread cuts, austerity and misery through many parts of the world, as well as by speculating on Argentinian and Greek debt.
The government has already closed schools, we reported a fight by teachers and parents against the closures only last month. As one Puerto Rican polictician put it: '(They have) already closed down almost 100 schools this year and reconfigured 500 more, as well has having closed down 60 the year prior. I am not sure what else they are expecting. If they expect us to lay off teachers or cut their already-low salaries, they are out of their minds.'
In an attempt to stave off a crisis in the country, it had previously set itself up as a tax haven, attracting such mega corporations as Microsoft to set up offices to avoid tax, the company started by that great education reformer, Bill Gates. The politician quoted above went on to say that the funds 'expect teachers, students and workers to absorb the hit, and they are not willing to budge themselves.' Well of course they aren't. But the more obvious the venality and injustice of this system becomes, the more resistance is growing. Not the least part of that resistance are the members of the Puerto Rican teachers union and the communities they serve.