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The first privatisation policy in Latin America: selling state-owned enterprises in 1948-1950 Puerto Rico*

  • Germà Bel (a1)

In the 1940s, when the governor of Puerto Rico was still appointed by the U.S. president, a large state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector was established. Later, in 1948-1950, the island's first elected government privatised these SOEs. This paper documents both the creation of the SOE sector and its privatisation, and analyses the role played by ideology, political interests and economic concerns in the decision to privatise. Whereas ideological factors might have played a significant role in the building of the SOE sector, the privatisation process was driven by economic factors. In the cement sector, the competing private firm was more efficient and the SOEs in other sectors with no private competitors in the island showed permanent losses.


En los 1940s, cuando el Gobernador de Puerto Rico era aún designado por el Presidente de EEUU, se construyó un gran sector público empresarial. Más tarde, en 1948-1950, el primer gobierno electo de la isla privatizó esas empresas. Este trabajo documenta la creación de empresas públicas y su privatización en Puerto Rico, y analiza el papel desempeñado en la privatización por la ideología, los intereses políticos y las motivaciones económicas. Mientras que factores ideológicos pudieron ser importantes en la creación del sector público empresarial, en la privatización jugaron un papel clave factores económicos como la superior eficiencia de la empresa privada competidora en el sector de cemento, y las continuas pérdidas experimentadas en el resto de empresas manufactureras públicas.

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
  • ISSN: 0212-6109
  • EISSN: 2041-3335
  • URL: /core/journals/revista-de-historia-economica-journal-of-iberian-and-latin-american-economic-history
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