A red hot grill begins to cool as it is time for a busy restaurant in Queens to close its door for the night. Joshua Garcia, 26, begins his closing duties and works as a chef to make ends meet. He has relocated from his homeland Puerto Rico, to here in New York City area.
Garcia will be one of many Puerto Ricans who have moved to the states due to lack of opportunities back home. “It was a difficult decision to leave but I felt it was best for me and those who I cared for.” said Garcia.
Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States. The tropical climate and intoxicating culture makes it a sought after vacation spot for several looking to plan a getaway. While that still may hold true the island is in the middle of one of the worst debt crisis in the modern the era. Simply put, the Government of Puerto Rico cannot pay what it owes and its economy is suffering. Numerous business can’t afford to keep their doors open and those once clear waters begin to seem a little murky.
Financial opportunity is one of the main motivator for moving to the United States, as seen in the Census Bureau data. According to Pew Research, among island-born Puerto Ricans who moved to the mainland, 40% said they left mainly for job-related reasons. As a result, the island’s population dropped by a staggering 9% in 2015 down 334,000 from the year 2000.
Puerto Rico is facing a major debt crisis estimated to be at the $70 billion mark. Many key components played into the debt crisis which almost doubled from $43 billion in 2006 to $70 billion in 2015. Government overspending, which meant it spent more money than it took from taxes. Puerto Rico lost its ability to claim bankruptcy that if were in effect would see the island and the court work toward a viable payment plan. Citizens, most notably skilled workers such as doctors and engineers are leaving the island in search of financial security. Puerto Rico is at an unemployment rate of 12.2% as of 2015 according, to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Things are not looking good over there (Puerto Rico). I worked as a paramedic and still worried about my future” added, Garcia.
Puerto may have difficulty receiving aid from the United States under the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has publicly stated during his campaigning in 2016 that he will not aid Puerto Rico in its debt and sees only one way out, cut spending.
“I wouldn’t bail them out, Puerto Rico has far far too much debt.” Trump told CNN.
However, a solution has been proposed by the Obama administration before leaving office labeled the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). The law would enact a federal oversight board that would discuss the reformation of Puerto Rico’s debt.
If put into action PROMESA would enable the Puerto Rican government to enter a pseudo bankruptcy status. This will halt proceedings in the event of default, preventing a taxpayer bailout.
The future of the Puerto Rico and its debts crisis still remains to be seen as of 2017. In order to overcome there has to be unison in the fact that the Puerto Rico debt crisis is an American crisis as well. Many Americans have investments through Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds. Municipal bonds makes up a large portion of Puerto Rico’s debt. Which means many Americans have a significant portion of their savings in government debt that might not be repaid. This may have lingering effect on America’s economy as a result. PROMESA seems to be a step in the right direction.
When asked if he ever considers moving back to Puerto Rico.
“I would love to go back, it’s still my home but things have to change first.” Garcia replied.