A estas alturas del juego, no nos debe sorprender la enorme desconfianza que tenemos los puertorriqueños con el gobierno estatal y federal. Ambos nos han fallado en grande, y mucho de eso se manifiesta en nuestra bajísima tasa de participación en el Censo Decenal – un cuestionario del censo que, desde el 1910, realiza el gobierno federal en Puerto Rico cada diez años para medir nuestra población y otros importantes aspectos demográficos.
No es inusual, ante una crisis, escuchar a un gobernante o leer algún eslogan publicitario que apela a la unidad ante la adversidad e insinuar que “todos estamos en el mismo bote”. Sin lugar a dudas, el esfuerzo colectivo es clave, especialmente en estos tiempos cuando quedarse en la casa es la manera más efectiva de controlar el contagio de un virus que se propaga con suma rapidez y puede ser letal. Pero no nos llamemos a engaños.
Puerto Rico faces a host of daunting challenges, including chronically high poverty (especially among children), low labor force participation, over a decade of economic decline, an unsustainably high debt burden, and the lingering effects of the devastating hurricanes of 2017 that make its long-term prosperity harder to attain. To address these challenges, the Commonwealth needs a comprehensive economic package that centers around powerful tools such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Puerto Rico and its residents have experienced numerous crises and shocks in the last decades, including an economic depression dating back to 2006; a public debt crisis resulting in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and a federally appointed fiscal oversight board pursuing deep budget cuts; a demographic crisis with population dropping by more than 600,000 residents since peaking at 3.8 million in 2004; and most recently, the devastation and cascading effects left by the hurricanes of 2017.
Recently, there has been a heated debate about whether Puerto Rico has been treated fairly by the federal government in the allocation of funds for disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The answer to this question is complicated because it depends in large measure in understanding (1) how the federal appropriations process works and (2) how the different kinds of assistance programs function.
An expansionist outlook of American leaders in the late 1800s led the United States to acquire possessions outside of the contiguous land that we still refer to as “the mainland.” However, other than designing military strategies that would provide the U.S. a geopolitical advantage, little thought was given to how these territories would be governed.
It has been a little over a year since Hurricane María fractured Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and its demographic and economic landscape. Currently, all the critical infrastructure—electricity, water, telecommunications, schools, and hospitals—is functional.
In the wake of the devastation resulting from hurricane María, the United States Federal Government mobilized numerous emergency relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Traditionally, Federal disaster response has been thought of as the “silver lining” that stems from a catastrophic event, given the millions of US Government dollars that are pumped into the local economy.