Verve Opinion

Why Puerto Rico?

Uprooted Tree_11b6e

       There have been storms from Caribbean hurricanes that have struck the United States and multiple Caribbean islands. Katrina, Rita, Andrew, Hugo, Irene, Irma, and the list goes on.


   Why did we focus on Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico?


We looked at, and were dismayed at the United States response to aiding Puerto Rico because of a unique relationship: Puerto Rico is an American Territory. While territories from Louisiana, Northwest, Texas, Florida, Alaska and Hawaii have all been territories but have gained statehood. Puerto Rico hasn’t.


The governance of Puerto Rico has been overseen by United States executive (for 50 years) and Congressional decisions (since then), while Puerto Rico’s ability to self-govern, since 1950, has been by a government that acts as a local Chamber of Commerce. Tax exemptions, tax credits, corporate influx and exodus have all been divorced from the interests and well-being of the Puerto Rican people, and the island.


A tax base is important for any society to build an functioning infrastructure, but that tax base is non-existent as United States corporate interests have urged credits and exemptions to set up shop on the island. America’s corporations have benefited, United States defense has used Puerto Rico for military purposes, but nothing has been left behind (except lower paying jobs) while Puerto Rico was useful.


We found that behind this history, the United States bears at LEAST the responsibility of the support afforded to Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, the Southern and Eastern seaboards of America. Each state and combination of states have representatives in Washington D.C. , they have the option of voting their displeasure or gratitude. Their governors and Senators can work politically in their interests, while Puerto Rico is dependent on New York or Florida politicians to act in their interests without intimately understanding the problems.


Puerto Rico’s situation is unique. But their problems reflect the lack of long-range planning in multiple states and nations around the world. The island’s temporary robustness, and abrupt reversals are indicative of unplanned and un-managed societies. Hurricanes can not be avoided, but ability to survive and recover can be planned for. But who is planning? The United States Congress? Or Puerto Rico’s existing governing structure?


The Eyes of a Nation are watching.