Puerto Rico’s economic struggle felt throughout island

Laquavia Smith/ Staff Writer

San Juan, Puerto Rico: population 395,326, square feet 199.4km. Arriving in this U.S territory was an honoring and awakening experience. At first glance, San Juan is a beautiful city full of vibrant street houses and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. At second glance however, my perception of Puerto Rico shifted from a beautiful beachy island to “con Policia” everywhere.

On every corner, you saw fully dressed and fully armed neighborhood police officers directing traffic and monitoring the area. I didn’t comprehend the reason for the excessive amounts of law officials until I was introduced to the condition that “the enchanted island” is currently in.

“Puerto Rico files Bankruptcy” dominated the headlines just days before I arrived. Once you leave the tourist filled parts of Puerto Rico, you begin to see and feel the struggle. Within these areas, like Condado Beach, there are schools of homeless people. They are on the benches laying across the sidewalks, even walking along the beach.

While explaining the territory’s culture, Susie O., a non-native in Puerto Rico, said, “They go there because they know you’ll give them money.” Aside from Puerto Rico going bankrupt and the increasing number of homeless people, there has been an increasing amount of high school dropouts.

“Puerto Rico has lost 20 percent of its jobs since 2007 and 10 percent of its population, sparking an economic crisis that worsens by the day,” reports USA Today. According to locals, most of the schools are closing, if not already, due to children sacrificing their education to help support their families.

However, “without action to improve services such as public safety, health and education, the island’s population loss could continue or even accelerate,” USA Today continues.

Yes, Puerto Rico is an enticing island full of culture, art and life. It’s one that provides you with a sense of bliss and happiness with massive tourist attractions from the El Yunque rainforest to its Wynwood-like streets.

But despite all this, Puerto Rico is crying out for help, and I hear them. Visiting this paradise has allowed me to once again ponder on this epidemic of poverty and injustice. It’s a global issue that continues to appear around every corner. What remains is the question of what needs to be done in order to encourage change and sustain a productive and progressive economy.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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