Art and creditors: tactics from Detroit’s debt mediator

The Detroit Industry mural of the Mexican painter Diego Rivera rises magnificent, grandiose, at the atrium of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Inspired by the dynamics of a Ford factory, one of the most important automobile companies in the city, the monumental fresco of 1933 depicts, in four 360 walls composed of 27 panels, the workers of the auto industry surrounded by mechanization in production lines, monitored by managers, in contrast to indigenous figures and scenes exploring great human and capitalism dilemmas from Rivera’s Marxist stance. Some consider Detroit Industry as the best example of Mexican mural art in the United States, and the artist identified the piece as the best work of his career. It is the most striking work in a collection of 66,000 creations, which includes the acclaimed van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Rodin, Warhol and Miró. Valued in $8.5 billion, the DIA collection was in danger of being sold to pay Detroit’s public debt, and after court battles and a fundraising marathon that ended in a deal called The Grand Bargain, is now protected in a public trust, a legal move that gave breathing air to the city pension system.

Sick Employees of Transgenic Companies Report their Cases to the Government of Puerto Rico

Agronomist Iris Pellot walked up to a plain laid bare by herbicide. Only crops of genetically modified corn could withstand this agrochemical. With safety goggles, steel-tipped leather boots and a four-month-old pregnant belly, she showed for work with crops from the multinational Monsanto in the village of Isabela, northwest of the transgenic epicenter of Puerto Rico. Her hands brushed the plants like many times before, but that day, her skin was marked with embossed red lines, as if it had been whipped with a burning wand. Pellot raises her head to catch some air, scratching her neck as if her throat was still stinging, and goes back to that day of 2010 in a mental journey.

The Boom of Monsanto and other Seed Corporations Blows in the South of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is the epicenter of experiments with genetically modified seeds in the United States and its territories. Several multinational seed corporations benefit from this business, such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta and AgReliant Genetics, which between all already occupy 14% of public lands with the best potential for growing food. Seed corporations receive more in subsidies than what they pay in taxes to the government on an island plunged in its worst fiscal crisis.

Puerto Rico’s Unlimited Generosity Towards Rum Companies

In the last six fiscal years, the government has transferred $554.8 million to three rum producing companies in Puerto Rico, related to the rebate the island receives on taxes for rum sold in the United States. But it wasn’t always that way. Until 2009, Puerto Rico used approximately 94% of that money to support economic development on the island. Years after the changes, not only have $434 million been sacrificed at the expense of the General Fund, but that in the midst of an almost decade-long economic recession, the rum industry shows an 11% increase in Puerto Rico, but pays 18% less in taxes to the government.

Where Does Daddy Yankee’s Money End Up?

Since jumping from Villa Kennedy to stardom in 2004, the Big Boss and King of Reggaeton, Daddy Yankee, has sold over 20 million records, and has performed in hundreds of concerts around the world. In addition, he has launched two record labels, and lines of clothing, perfume, watches and shoes. He has also starred in a film, and been featured in international advertising campaigns. However, during this successful path, Daddy Yankee’s companies, El Cartel Records and Los Cangris Inc., have mostly reported an annual income of less than a million dollars or even losses. Only his concerts leave huge amounts of money after overhead expenses—profits fluctuating, but exceeding $200,000 for each one of them, according to documents reviewed by the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (Center for Investigative Journalism), the CPI.