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.
Los desastres naturales mayormente destruyen, pero también generan nuevos vocabularios que incluyen un revoltijo de acrónimos, y toda clase de conceptos técnicos que los sobrevivientes tenemos que aprender y asimilar rápidamente, como el término “resiliencia”.
Recientemente la Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) publicó un informe sobre la deuda de Puerto Rico. Los hallazgos principales del informe no deben sorprender a nadie.
Seis miembros de la Junta de Control Fiscal (“JCF”), aprobaron el Plan Fiscal para el gobierno de Puerto Rico el pasado 19 de abril. En términos conceptuales, el Plan consiste en la implementación de (1) un programa de reformas estructurales; (2) un programa de consolidación fiscal; y(3) un programa de reconstrucción financiado por el gobierno federal.