Ni pa’ Buitres, ni Corruptos: [Lack of] Democratic Legitimacy and the Anti-Austerity Social Movement of Puerto Rico

Senior Capstone Experience by Gaviota Del Mar Hernández Quiñones ’20

Submitted to the Department of Political Science

Advised by Dr. Christine Wade

Abstract: “Since 2006, the Puerto Rican debt crisis has severely crippled the local economy, causing politicians to implement austerity — or structural adjustment reforms — to the already outdated economic and development model of Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, the Anti-Austerity Social Movement of Puerto Rico did not gain strength or wide-spread popularity until the 2016 elections. This leads me to ask the following question: what is motivating Puerto Ricans into anti-austerity street demonstrations? Throughout this Senior Thesis, I will provide evidence that exposes a parallel crisis of democratic legitimacy in Puerto Rico and how democratic illegitimacy has fueled and developed the Puerto Rican Anti-Austerity Social Movement. Utilizing Vivien A. Schmidt’s approach to democratic legitimacy, I propose a new understanding of anti-austerity protests as the mobilization of people who consider the current state of democracy insufficient to effectively oppose austerity.”

Key words: austerity, anti-austerity social movements, democratic legitimacy, political participation, debt crisis, Puerto Rico

Contributor Bio: Gaviota Del Mar Hernández Quiñones graduated from Washington College at Chestertown, Maryland in May 2020. There, Gaviota was a member of the Cater Society, a research society for high-achieving students. She is also a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science society as well as part of the 2019 Ralph Bunche Summer Institute cohort of the American Political Science Association at Duke University.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Gaviota migrated to the United States to study political science. At Washington College, she founded the university’s first Latin American Student Association and became involved in campus life by participating in the Black History Month and Latino History Month committees. As a Teacher Assisstant for the Department of Modern Languages, she taught undergraduate Spanish courses at the 100 and 200 levels. Hernández Quiñones also worked as a Social Media Manager, interviewer, and Community Outreach Coordinator for the National Home Front Project, an oral history program on World War II. She was hired as a Research Assistant to Washington College’s Goldstein Program in Public Affairs in the spring of 2019. During her last undergraduate semester, she worked as Legal Assistant for the Chestertown Office of Mid-Shore Pro Bono, an organization that provides legal assistance primarily to Latinx immigrant individuals throughout the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Throughout her academic career, she has emphasized the importance of intersectionality as a theoretical framework for the study of individual and collective political behavior. Upon graduation, Gaviota intends to enroll in an interdisciplinary doctoral program in political science to conduct research on US-Latin American relations, democracy, and the establishment of neoliberalism throughout the Americas. Currently, she works as a Support Specialist for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) in Washington, D.C.

Read Gaviota’s SCE below:

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