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René Francisco Poitevin

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Political Surveillance, State Repression, and Class Resistance: The Puerto Rican Experience

This essay examines the intersection of the repressive and surveillance apparatuses and the need to secure corporate profits in the context of a colonial regime in Puerto Rico. Poitevin pursues this relationship from three separate but related events: (1) the history of political surveillance (and resistance) since the 1930s as it is signified through the scandal of las carpetas (files) or listas de subversivos; (2) the development of the current policies of incarceration and crime control since the 1980s; and (3) the logic behind the colonial policy of quasi-forced migration of Puerto Rican workers to the United States from 1940 to the 1970s. The goal of this essay is to contribute to ways of mapping out the concrete and contingent ways in which new technologies of repression and consent are developed to secure the appropriation of surplus value and the reproduction of consent. The Puerto Rican experience demonstrates that increased state repression, such as the military occupation of public housing projects, increases unrest rather than eliminating opposition to economic and political inequality. US-led neoliberal policies have heightened political instability in Puerto Rico.

Caribbean, political repression; Puerto Rico; history — prisons; Federal Bureau of Investigation; history — Puerto Rico; relations; United States; history

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 3 (2000): 89-100