Monday, May 09, 2016

PUERTO RICO - The Economic Disaster

"Puerto Rican economic disaster leaves residents struggling" PBS NewsHour 5/6/2016

REMINDER:  Puerto Rico is a U.S. Unincorporated Territory, and they are born U.S. Citizens.


SUMMARY:  For years, the Puerto Rican economy has been in decline, and the U.S. territory is now on the brink of disaster, with $72 billion of overall debt and an unemployment rate twice that of the mainland.  As the island’s government is forced to suspend funding for vital services, hundreds of Puerto Ricans are leaving every day, while those who remain struggle to stay afloat.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  The sights and sounds of old San Juan leading back to the 16th century.  This morning, locals and tourists enjoyed the charm of the Caribbean island.

But last night, about an hour away, we heard of another Puerto Rico.  Coral Jimenez lives with her 11-year-old son Felix who suffers severe disabilities.  Several months ago, the fiscal crisis that now plagues this island territory trickled down to her son.

CORAL JIMENEZ:  The people that provide therapy for my son were not getting paid so we stopped getting the services for more than a month.  He couldn’t get his physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological therapy, he stopped getting them.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Coral says caring for her son has taken a village of friends and family.  But now, that village itself needs help.

CORAL JIMENEZ:   For a son like my Felix, I required therapy, I required his father to help me economically.  My mom has to help me, but the economy has been affecting his father’s business.  He’s doing the best he can, but he’s warning me things are not going the way they used to be.

Some friends of mine, they used to helped me a lot, they have to move to the States, so I don’t count on those friends anymore.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Around San Juan, we heard other stories from victims of a slow-moving economic crisis that’s battered government coffers and sacked personal savings.  The unemployment rate is here is double that of the mainland U.S.

MAN (through interpreter):  My kids are grown up now.  One is in university and I also have grandchildren.   They are suffering, too, because I can’t help them the way I normally would have.

JEFFREY BROWN:  One response, Puerto Ricans are leaving in record numbers, some 230 a day.  According to a recent study, Puerto Rico lost testimony 2 percent of its population in 2014 and the flight continues.

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