Call for Papers


Puerto Rico:  Savage Neoliberalism, Colonialism and Financial Despotism

Call for Papers: April 13-14 University of Massachusetts, Amherst

(Deadline for submission: March 3, 2017 – email:


The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies-CLALCS at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Puerto Rican Studies Working Group-PRSWG, are organizing a two-day regional event titled Puerto Rico:  Savage Neoliberalism, Colonialism and Financial Despotism. Our main goal is to reunite a group of academics, community activists, and governmental workers, to analyze the current crisis in Puerto Rico, place it in an historical context, discuss it causes and implications, as well as talk about possible strategies and alternatives to face it.

This past June the United States Congress approved the establishment of a Fiscal Oversight Board to take control over all budgetary decisions by the government of Puerto Rico.  The Board, known in Spanish as “Junta de Control Fiscal,” consists of seven persons, all appointed by President Obama acting on recommendations by both the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership.  President Obama appointed all members, three of whom are Puerto Ricans.  The governor of Puerto Rico is an ex-officio member of the Board with voice but no vote.

Tellingly, the Congressional bill did not stipulate economic growth as one of its goasl. Rather, the explicit objectives seek to make the government more efficient in the provision of public services; to organize local finances to make possible that bond holders of Puerto Rican debt, contingent on resoures available, will be paid; to open doors in the finnacial markets now closed to the central government and its public corporations, and to foster projects aimed at reduing the island’s dependence on oil for all its energy needs.

All of this can be expressed in a different way:  Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States confronting an unsustainable pattern of public indebtedness, which led the Federal government to take over.  This is a situation in which imperialism, colonialism, and neoliberalism coalesce in a society that has been fraying for a long time and is now moving toward a humanitarian crisis.   Per the Congressional logic, supported by local elites, the solution does not lie in democracy but in a suspension of democratic practices as well as in the imposition of the well-known recipe of privatization and higher taxes that ravaged Latin American economies in the 1980s as it is now ravaging the Greek economy.

The triad mentioned above of imperialism, colonialism, and neoliberalism will design public policies that, likely, will deepen the deterioration of the social fabric and create conditions for a radical reformulation of the present colonial relationship with the United States government. Given this situation that, arguably, will be worsened with new conservative administrations in the island and the United States, Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans find ourselves in an historical crossroads, situation that urgently requires critical investigation and analysis.

In light of these historical conditions, CLALCLS-PRSWG is making a Call for Papers, for professors, students, community activists, and goverment workers to submit proposals to participate in the conference that will take place April 13-14 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Proposals should include a title, a short abstract, and basic information about the applicants. All proposals should address the key theme of the conference that is the current crisis in Puerto Rico, its causes and consequences, as well as its implications and possible solutions.

All proposals should be send to the following email address:

no later than Friday, March 3, 2017. Proponents should recieve an answer by Friday, March 10, 2017.






Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

312 Machmer Hall

240 Hicks Way

University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA 01003-9277

Tel: (413) 545-4648
Fax: (413) 545-1244


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