Puerto Rico, with at Least $70 Billion in Debt, Confronts a Rising Economic Misery

Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post, November 30, 2013

Boxes and wooden crates filled with household items bound for the U.S. mainland are stacked high in the Rosa del Monte moving company’s cavernous warehouse, evidence of the historic rush of people abandoning this beautiful island.

The economy here has been in recession for nearly eight years, crimping tax revenue and pushing the jobless rate to nearly 15 percent. Meanwhile, the government is burdened by staggering debt, spawning comparisons to bankrupt Detroit and forcing lawmakers to severely slash pensions, cut government jobs and raise taxes in a furious effort to avert default.

The implications are serious for Americans outside Puerto Rico both because a taxpayer bailout would be expensive and a default would be far more disruptive than Detroit’s record bankruptcy filing in July. Officials in San Juan and Washington are adamant that a federal bailout is not on the table, but the situation is being closely monitored by the White House, which recently named an advisory team to help Puerto Rican officials navigate the crisis.

The island’s problems have ignited an exodus not seen here since the 1950s, when 500,000 people left for jobs on the mainland. Now Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens, are again leaving in droves.

{snip}

Puerto Rico lost 54,000 residents—1.5 percent of its population—between 2010 and 2012 alone. Since recession struck in 2006, the population has shrunk by more than 138,000 to 3.7 million, with the vast majority of the outflow headed to the mainland.

The brutal combination of a long recession, a shrinking population and overwhelming debt has left Puerto Rico’s political leaders struggling to manage a conundrum: How do they tame at least $70 billion in debt while marshaling the resources to grow a shrinking economy and battle corrosive social problems, including a homicide rate that is nearly six times the U.S. average?

{snip}

Not long after Padilla took office in January, Wall Street debt rating agencies downgraded the island’s bonds to just one rung above junk status. Like states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico cannot file for bankruptcy. Also, Puerto Rico’s constitution offers bondholders strong guarantees that they would be paid before pensioners and public workers if the government went broke.

{snip}

Still, with Detroit’s bankruptcy filing fresh in the minds of investors, the downgrade ignited widespread concern that the island was sliding toward default, which would hurt many investors across the United States. Because of their high yields and exemption from federal, state and local taxes, Puerto Rican bonds are held by three out of four municipal bond mutual funds, according to Morningstar, a market research firm.

{snip}

For decades, Puerto Rico’s economy was powered by U.S. firms that set up factories here that allowed them to tap a large, relatively low-cost labor market and to book profits under the favorable tax laws, while keeping cash-intensive research and development operations—and the accompanying big tax write-offs—on the mainland.

First, shoe factories and textile mills dominated the economic landscape. Later, pharmaceutical firms turned the island into a hub of drug manufacturing. According to one investor research report, 16 of the 20 top-selling drugs in the United States are made on the island.

But eventually many of the clothing plants moved to more promising ports. Then a series of key drug patents expired, contributing to a sharp decline in manufacturing. Since 1996, the number of factory jobs in Puerto Rico plummeted from 160,000 to 75,000.

And while government workers make up about a quarter of the commonwealth’s workforce—much higher than the U.S. average of 16 percent—their ranks are shrinking as the pervasive debt and economic problems careen toward a reckoning. Now, just over 41 percent of working-age Puerto Ricans are in a job or even looking for one.

{snip}

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  • dd121

    Coming to a neighborhood near you. (part 1)

    • dmxinc

      It’s already here in Reading, PA. The city itself is like a war zone, but it sure is “vibrant.”

    • evilsandmich

      That’s not that worst part. The worst part is the PRs moving into their own neighborhood and pushing the exiting ghetto dwellers closer to our own.

      • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

        That’s exactly what’s happening in LA. Mexicans pushing the blacks out of Watts and Compton, and now they roam the streets of Downtown and even the Valley. And what charming attitudes they have!

  • Well I’ll be.

    Just a few years ago, all we heard from the Stupid Party was a bunch of yippie dippie doo about how PR elected a Republican territorial Governor who was enacting economic conservatism on the island.

  • Jefferson

    How can Puerto Rico have a per capita murder rate that is 5 times higher than the U.S when according to their statistics 80 percent of Puerto Ricans are “White”.

    Why are “Whites” in Puerto Rico so violent ? Sarcasm.

    • CoweringCoward

      Take a quick look at the Texas most wanted list, we have a lot of troubled “whites” here as well.

    • CoweringCoward

      Our dang “whites” are bad actors too.

      • Spartacus

        Good to see “Barrio Azteca” is allowing non-Aztecs in. They understand that diversity is their strength…

        /sarcasm

      • Bossman

        Most of these “whites” are definitely no so white. I’m sure the government has valid reasons for classifying Mestizos as white. Did they consult anthropologists before they decided to do that?

        • CoweringCoward

          Yes they do, to hide the criminality of their replacement population from the old population so we continue funding our replacement.

    • Bossman

      A lot of Puerto Ricans are light-skinned Mulattoes who like to party and do drugs and not work. Such behavior will generally lead to crime.

  • exlib93

    Like the song goes, “Let it sink back in the ocean…”

  • Rick Brooks

    Why we continue to hang onto this albatross is beyond me. About their only export to the “mainland” is dirt poor, welfare dependent, crime-prone dregs. They’ve turned entire neighborhoods in the northeast into Third-World style slums. I hear they’re now moving onto greener pastures like Florida. More cities await destruction.

    • exlib93

      I used to live on The Lower East Side. There were quite a few good and hardworking latinos who lived there. The majority of them are welfare scum. Loud, inconsiderate, and greedy (one of them parked a Bentley in front of his housing project apartment).

    • exlib93

      Not even a lot of the Cubans down here want anything to do with them.

      • When I was in federal prison, the Cubans and Puerto Ricans hated each other. There were several stabbings. I never could figure that out.

        • Spartacus

          Most cubans are White, and some have Indian admixture. Portoricans are mixed White, black and Indian. That’s the difference.

          • exlib93

            I was dating a light skinned Cuban man. He explained an “Hispanic Hierarchy” to me, with Castilians and Cubans (light skinned) on top, and Mexicans on the bottom. It was fascinating to hear this perception from one of them.

          • Bossman

            It is all a matter of shades and degrees. Cubans also have black ancestry but it may be less than the Puerto Ricans. One of the great mysteries is how Cuba can even be a white country. Cuba and Brazil are the two countries in the Americas that imported the most African slaves.

          • Jefferson

            Anybody who believes Cuba racially resembles a European country, must be on crack.

            The streets of Havana for example is filled with Darkies on every street corner. I should know because I have been to Havana a couple of years ago. I took a plane from Toronto to Havana.

    • mikebowen55

      Well we did get a “wise latina” on the supreme court. What a bargain.

  • Spartacus

    Good. The worst things are, the better. And they seem to be getting worse at a pace I wouldn’t have thought imaginable even a year ago.

    • M.

      “The worst things are, the better.”

      I don’t know about that. Their poor economic conditions has always been the liberals’ #1 excuse to flood them into White countries. So I’d rather they remain economically and politically stable.

      • Spartacus

        Once things reach a critical level, and Whites start fighting back, it doesn’t matter how many of them there are. Most will starve, and the ones who don’t will be dealt with swiftly.

    • “[Things] seem to be getting worse at a pace I wouldn’t have thought imaginable even a year ago.”

      ——————–

      You’re right. It’s because the Obama administration and the black community have continued to expand the limits of their power largely unchallenged. They are testing us, but whites are waking up in increasing numbers — and we’re arming ourselves.

      After the inevitable financial collapse blacks are going to discover to their horror that whites will be too busy trying to survive to pay any further attention to what someone on this site recently and so marvelously referred to as “snivel rights”.

      They’re going to have to learn to grow their own crops on the vacant lots of Detroit — either that or starve. If they try to take by force what the government used to transfer to them, they will be shot on sight when they enter white communities.

  • Spartacus

    Yeah, but they’re culturally vibrant, and that’s more important than dinero, right ?

    • Bossman

      Jennifer Lopez is very vibrant and she has mucho dinero.

  • Luca

    Puerto Ricans are mestizos crossed with Africans. Enough said.

    • M.

      I don’t know why the U.S. is still holding to these territories. What do you need these guys for? Just let them go.

      • CoweringCoward

        Your guess is as good as…

      • Bossman

        Puerto Rico is a paradise, close to the mainland. It is the USA with palm trees. What could be nicer than that. It turns out that in such beautiful places people generally don’t want to work. They would rather lie on the beach and party all night long.

        • M.

          Responding to your other deleted post about southern Italy:

          Yes, southern Italians, a part of Spaniards, Portuguese, all of those who still carry the Moorish genes do have these traits and colors. The one on the left is a typical Latin American though.
          An invasion and occupation as long as the Arab one in southern Europe was bound to leave some scars.

          http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v17/n6/fig_tab/ejhg2008258t1.html
          http://britam.org/Haplogroup-E1b1b.jpg

        • Katherine McChesney

          My aunt lived there in the 50’s, teaching school on the military base. She left because the weather, especially the storms were brutal and always damaged her property. I’ve heard nothing positive about her stay there. However, I do remember that Puerto Ricans were violent gangs in the north of America, particularly New York City.

      • CoweringCoward

        Maybe as a missile test site, but then again do we need to “hold” it for that?

    • Bossman

      If that can produce women like Jennifer Lopez, then that is okay with me. I saw her recently on the AMA TV show. What a body! What womanly curves!!

    • Bossman

      If when you cross Mestizos with Africans, you get people like Jennifer Lopez, then I’m okay with that.

      • HamletsGhost

        The number of Puerto Rican girls who look like J-Lo is approximately one. Take a stroll through Spanish Harlem and you’ll see (and hear) what P.R. chicks are really like. I’m sure you WON’T be okay with it.

      • Paleoconn

        I think JLo is very White. She is beautiful, but she must have very little mestizo or black genetics. Same with beautiful country star Shania Twain who is part Indian.

  • APaige

    A true ‘welfare state’.

  • Rhialto

    There is a simplistic solution: Bring the remaining Puertos the mainland, and sell the island to the Chinese. This will not only wipe out the PR debt, but Fedgov’s debt to China as well.

    • Anna Tree

      Maybe better to bring the remaining Puertos to the mainland and make the island only for whites?

      • pcmustgo

        There’s a white colony down there. Rincon, full of white surfers. White ex-pats. Costa Rica has a bunch of whites too….well, some.

        • ms_anthro

          When the economy collapses and handouts stop coming, those Whites are going to find themselves in the cannibal’s pot. I’m always baffled when Whites of any socioeconomic status retire in majority black or mestizo countries. It’s like asking to be massacred.

          • CoweringCoward

            Watched “Strategic Relocation” too I see.

          • ms_anthro

            No, just thinking rationally about future likelihoods. Is that a documentary?

          • CoweringCoward

            Strategic Relocation Documentary Film Featuring Joel Skousen

            There are two torrents for it up on Pirate’s bay right now. Yes it’s interesting, it brings up the issues whites living in non-white countries will face in a collapse situation. They will NOT FAIR WELL.

  • c684570

    Isn’t Puerto Rico largely White?

    • M.

      Yes, but that kind of “White”. Most of them look like this but they identify as “White”.

      • IstvanIN

        Those are some weird noses and some weird outfits.

        • M.

          From my research, I’m discovering that the typical Puerto Ricans are very far from being White. I don’t think the stats are correct.
          The Negro-mestizo crossing has produced some fugly breed.

          • IstvanIN

            In all fairness there are white Puerto Ricans, look at most of their Governors. Just not as many as the Census Bureau would have you think.

          • M.

            Those at the top are definitely white, yes. Same as in Brazil or Mexico.

          • Rick Brooks

            All the while, they ship us their unwanted trash…

        • They’re gay.

          • IstvanIN

            So they’re fashionably weird looking?

          • Max Krakah

            I can’t imagine normal men wearing those clothes, and they are standing awfully close together.

          • The three in the lower picture are probably just blokes who’ve known each other a long time and are trustworthy friends, but the two in the first picture are just plain gay.

      • Bossman

        These fellows can pass for Southern Italians. Are they gay?

      • Bossman

        I said in a previous post that these fellows could pass for Southern Italians. The moderator at this website seem to have a problem with that because my post was strangely deleted.

      • Alexandra1973

        Almost look like my uncle-by-marriage. He’s Puerto Rican, but his skin is a tad lighter and he’s blue-eyed.

        At least he’s not drunk 24/7 since my one cousin took him in.

        • M.

          He must be a full-blooded Spaniard then.

    • Rick Brooks

      Puerto Ricans are largely white? That’s a laugh. If that were true, why are places like the South Bronx and Hartford Ct poverty stricken dumps? As someone else on here has said, Puerto Ricans are (largely) mestizos crossed with Africans.

      • Max Krakah

        Chelsea MA and Lawrence MA. I’ve spent much time in both areas. They are NOT white. There are many with some amount of african in them and most look like they have a lot of indigenous indian blood in them. Few, very very few, look as if they may be more spanish than the other things.

    • pcmustgo

      No, only a tiny percent are real whites. Most are mixed. Some can pass for white. The average pr is 1/4th black, 1/4th american indian and half white.

      • Bossman

        Jennifer Lopez is a Puerto Rican born in the Bronx. Ricky Martin, very handsome and gay, is from Puerto Rico.

        • pcmustgo

          Ricky Martin is about as light as they come in PR, although they have a few blonds here in there… bizarre, freakish blonds. Ricky Martin had a genetically modified blond haired, blue eyed , Swiss looking baby… shows their mentality.

          • pcmustgo

            he’s gay, so he had a test tube baby.

  • MBlanc46

    Let’s hear it for Puerto Rican independence!

    • Terra Magnum Imperium

      It’s a shame only 5.49% voted for independence it in the last referendum (2012).

      • MBlanc46

        There was a pretty serious movement for it back in the 1970s, but that seems to have disappeared.

    • CoweringCoward

      Wish they would let US vote on PR independence.

      • MBlanc46

        Yes indeed.

    • Strider73

      When the US breaks up, Puerto Rico, Guam and the other colonies will be independent whether they like it or not.

  • ViktorNN

    An acquisition from our imperialist era that we really shouldn’t have acquired.

  • Pro_Whitey

    I’ll take the debt, but leave the Puerto Ricans. It’s long since time we sent Puerto Rico (or Porto Rico, as I once saw on a Spanish-American War monument) on its own way. In retrospect, the Spanish-American War was our costliest war. By getting us the Philippines as a territory, it guaranteed our involvement in WWII, as I doubt the Japs ever would have attacked had our troops and ships in the Philippines not been directly between Japan and the oil in the Dutch East Indies.

    • Bossman

      The Caribbean islands used to be very rich places; that is why Europeans were willing to fight and die to possess those islands. Now they are only good as tourist destinations.

  • Pro_Whitey

    I understand there is conflict between the Ricans and the Dominicans there, with the Ricans recently getting the upper hand.

  • RHG

    Then of course they move to places like NYC and vote for people Bill de Blasio. If any place should be encouraged to seek it’s Independence it should be Puerto Rico.

  • puffdaddy

    Which is why they want statehood – so they can become more wards of the State at our expense. Of course, if whites try saving the island through basic means like starting and running businesses well, curbing crime through demography, and so on, the “indigenous” PR will be outraged and insist on “taking their island back.”

  • WR_the_realist

    We should have granted Puerto Rico independence years ago and then this would be some other country’s problem.

  • Remember that study that some prof did about black gay Cubans hustling dice and rolling cigars in their “gravid space?”

  • itdoesnotmatter

    Trivia re: Puerto Rico. There are a few PRs who have been successful in the USA.
    Two of my favorite actors, Del Toro and Raul Julia. Both came from well to do, educated parents. Others include Jose and Mel Ferrer. Ferrer, I forget which one, was married to Rosemary Clooney, making him George Clooney’s uncle.

    I have always been against P.R.’s statehood. Puerto Ricans have the dubious honor of being the ethnic group with the highest welfare dependency.

    • M.

      These two are both White. Iberian White.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        Most upper class Puerto Ricans are largely Euro with a bit of Afro, and Amerindian, according to the research I did on this. Some allegedly have Afro-Caribbean heritage as well. Both Raul and Benicio look exotically mixed, not purely Euro-Iberian. One website claimed Raul’s only heritage was “Puerto Rican,” which is not an ethnicity. Benicio’s is more mixed, as his exotic looks reveal.
        Apparently Iberia was Moorish until the Muzzies ran them out.

  • Paleoconn

    Haiti is a classic example. The same coast and waters as the Dominican Republic, but a fraction of the wealth. No beach resorts.