Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus

Lizette Alvarez, New York Times, February 9, 2014

Alexis Sotomayor has many reasons to stay in Puerto Rico: his two children; his mother and their gossip sessions over plates of fried rice; and the balm of salt and sun that leavens his life on the island.

But the artisanal soap business that Mr. Sotomayor built is barely hanging on amid rising costs and taxes, and sales that have sunk by 40 percent in five years. Crime is rampant; his girlfriend was nearly carjacked at gunpoint recently. So last month he boarded a flight to Orlando, Fla., to interview for a job at a rum distillery in the hope of joining the ever-growing Puerto Rican diaspora.

“I don’t see it improving,” said Mr. Sotomayor, a 47-year-old chemical engineer. “I see it getting worse. It’s the uncertainty. What am I going to do—wait until it gets worse?”

Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.

The situation has grown so dire that this tropical island, known for its breathtaking beaches, salsero vibe and tax breaks, is now mentioned in the same breath as Detroit, with one significant difference. Puerto Rico, a United States territory of 3.6 million people that is treated in large part like a state, cannot declare bankruptcy.


A sense of pessimism pervades on the island. Streets are lined with empty storefronts in San Juan and in smaller cities like Mayagüez; small businesses, hit hard by high electricity, water and tax bills and hurt by drops in sales, have closed and stayed closed.

Schools sit shuttered either because of disrepair or because of a dwindling number of students. In this typically convivial capital, communities have erected gates and bars to help thwart carjackers and home invaders. Illegal drugs, including high-level narcotrafficking, are one of the few growth industries.

Puerto Rico, about 1,000 miles from Miami, has long been poor. Its per capita income is around $15,200, half that of Mississippi, the poorest state. Thirty-seven percent of all households receive food stamps; in Mississippi, the total is 22 percent.


Puerto Rico’s drop in population has far outpaced that of American states. In 2011 and 2012, the population fell by nearly 1 percent, according to census figures. From July 2012 to July 2013, it declined again by 1 percent, or about 36,000 people. That is more than seven times the drop in West Virginia, the state with the steepest population losses.


Coupled with a falling birthrate, the decline is raising worries about how Puerto Rico will thrive with a rapidly aging population and such a large share of jobless residents. Of the island’s 3.67 million people, only one million work in the formal economy. The island has one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world, with only 41.3 percent of working-age Puerto Ricans in jobs; one in four works for the government.


Just about everyone in Puerto Rico has a relative who left recently for Florida, New York, Texas or Virginia, among others. But the decision is never easy. Fathers leave behind children. Houses must be rented or sold at a loss in a glutted market. Businesses must be shut. And English must be polished, or in some cases learned, in a hurry.


For many, the high rate of violent crime has been the capper. There were 1,136 murders in 2011, a record and far higher than the mainland’s rate. It fell to 883 homicides last year, a point of pride for the governor.


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  • Puggg

    Too much crime in Puerto Rico, so they bring their crime here.

    • sbuffalonative

      And they come to places like Buffalo, New York. While it’s not an arctic tundra, for the life of me I can’t understand why they leave a tropical island and decide to experience months of cold in Buffalo.

      • Ella

        Cheaper homes from a failing real estate market and new Latinos shops to open!

      • r j p

        A free Section 8 house?

        • sbuffalonative

          Yes, NY has very generous welfare benefits with what I suspect is little oversight and enforcement.

      • Extropico

        They all have relatives in NYC who know people in Albany who can hook them up with some government program and a cheap house in an area Whites are leaving.

        • sbuffalonative

          I agree.
          Many of them seem to move to NYC first to establish themselves. And they stay with relatives. I hear them talking about their families in NYC and how they moved from there.
          NY is a magnet for PRs, that’s for sure. Too many programs with generous handouts.

          Government programs trump island living.

  • Dave4088

    No surprise really. Just another failed, miserable brown nation who is exporting their DNA to the lower 48, so we too, can sink to their level.

  • Homo_Occidentalis

    One of the many reasons why Euro-American colonialism was ultimately a bad idea. This is the equivalent of back-flow from the septic tank spurting out of the kitchen sink.

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      This gives new meaning to the word, “blowback,” only this blowback is hitting the descendants of those Euro-American colonists in the face.

      • Laura Dilworth

        the founders didn’t say, give me your tired, poor…e. lazarus wrote the poem in 1883. there will always be a mutual draw between whites/nonwhites. nonwhites want the jobs that whites create. whites want cheap labor.

    • sbuffalonative

      Unlike the British, it seems the Spanish and the Portuguese had no problems with miscegenation. Their low standards will bring us down.

      • Laura Dilworth

        i think the white dames were left behind in europe, so the colonists in south america didn’t have access to many white ladies

        • sbuffalonative

          Yes. The Spanish and Portuguese also seem intent on conquest first rather than colonization.

          British colonists, like the Puritans, brought their women because they were looking to actually start a new life in a new world.

          • Laura Dilworth

            and the spaniards and portugese wanted gold.

  • sbuffalonative

    Hispanics fleeing Hispanics. Nothing new.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      From the Detoilet of the Caribbean to your (future) Detoilet.

      Why don’t you see Puerto Ricans on Star Trek?

      They won’t work in the future either!

      • gemjunior

        That is the funniest joke I have heard in a very long time. Thanks. It’s easy to remember too, so I won’t mess it up. Probably bring a lot of laughs so you are responsible for a lot of white people laughing in my area…

        • NeanderthalDNA

          Morale is important.

  • Nobody wants to stay and try to improve things, they just want to leave.

    • sbuffalonative

      Also, the only solutions aren’t politically correct so there are no workable solutions.

      • bilderbuster

        Politically correct? The only real solutions for PR that might work would have to be so ruthlessly brutal that even Castro would blush.

    • evilsandmich

      It takes a pretty monumental effort to ruin the gravy train that place is on. All the bennies of being a U.S. state with none of the responsibilities on an island paradise. My hope is that when white Americans go in to scoop up assets on the cheap that bankruptcy via independence will seem more appealing to them.

  • Alexandra1973

    Time to cut Puerto Rico loose.

    • kenfrombayside

      An idea whose time has come, Porto Rico is a nation: the people have a shard language, culture and history. Yet why is this food stamp island US territory! There should be an executive Oder granting this foreign realm independence at once. The people on the island, will lose their US citizenship.

      • Strider73

        We would also have to declare the PRs over here persona non grata and deport them.

        As for why that “food stamp island” is a US territory, that is an unfortunate result of the Spanish-American War. William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt are baking in hell for that one.

      • Zaporizhian Sich

        There has been more than one Puerto Rican terrorist movement with the goal of breaking ties to the U.S. It seems the ruling elites here should have simply let them go. But no, they knew they are going to be another thorn in the side of white Americans, if not a deadly enemy to be hunted down and eliminated the way Vlad the Impaler eliminated his enemies.

    • MBlanc46

      It’s long past time. Too bad we didn’t strike when the iron was hot back in the 1970s when PR nationalists were campaigning for independence. We should have just given it to them.

      • Max

        No, the internationalists will keep PR for the petrochemical industry alone. They would probably be happy if the entire population moved here and they could just have the island to repopulate with people from a 4th world country who could be paid even less.

        • pcmustgo

          NASA space program is a big industry down there too.

          • TeutonicKnight67

            I thought Hussein Ovomit killed the NASA program.

          • Rhialto

            Your president redirected NASA from space exploration to Diversity promotion. For example, minority Lesbians will travel to Mars in a comic book distributed to America’s innercity schools.

          • Pro_Whitey

            Please tell me you’re kidding.

          • Viking_61

            Hopefully they crash before they can infect Mars…

  • bigone4u

    Blacks and browns cannot manage money because they can’t grasp the concept that debt has to be paid back. If PR was a country, which it should be rather than sponging off US taxpayers, then PR would be in even worse shape. Genetically, these creatures have a very short time horizon. We sure don’t need them in the US since we already have too many as it is.

  • Spartacus

    Diversity is our greatest crime rate .

  • Luca

    This can’t be. Puerto Rico is a glowing example of diversity; the brave, new, brown world being crafted by the multi-culti’s. They have the diversity, so where’s the strength?

    You know it’s getting bad when Puerto Ricans can’t stand to be around other Puerto Ricans.

    Can’t wait for them to vote themselves in as the 51st State. Obama and Co. would jump at the chance to gain a few million new voters.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    A better life for Puerto Ricans in the US means a worse life for white Americans. The only thing these people will end up doing is recreating their failed society on US soil. Of course, anyone with two eyes and a functioning brain can see that more Puerto Ricans means less social cohesion, more crime and more wealth inequality. Globalists know this and love it, largely because it means more biological weapons to hurl at the traditional white establishment in their campaign to dismantle the US and bring a once dominant world power to its knees.

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Until they come for the globalists daughters.

  • Kenner

    Picture Mexicans on meth….

    • Max

      Picture Mexicans on neegrow.

  • IstvanIN

    Puerto Rico is the future of the US, when the US population has as small an actual white population and is so miscegenated that it can no longer function.

  • Ella

    I thought the author described our largest US cities with car-jackings and typical daily armed burglaries. Maybe if most Puerto Ricians leave for the US, race realist can revive the island into our own paradise.

  • NoMosqueHere

    A friend of mine vacationed in PR a few years ago. He was robbed and shot 3 times in the head.

  • evilsandmich

    I have a PR buddy and I was over at his house when a relative stopped over and mentioned a bank robbery and exclaimed “but what are you gonna do? People need money”, and then went on to mention that he knew about it because his daughter was working at the bank at the time (!?!?). Crime is a completely legitimate line of work for the island folk.

  • Max

    These natural criminals will continue to come here and demand more gun abolition to be safe from their neighbors who will also come here.

    I’m only glad that I don’t live in one of the cities they have colonized.

  • pcmustgo

    Not mentioned in this article is how the US recession must have effected tourism in Puerto Rico in the past 10 years or so. Tourism being one of the big industries down there. I’ve been there and have been struck by how empty it seems.

  • LHathaway

    There are only 3.6 million people in Puerto Rico?

    I’m surprised there are so few for surely 10 million of them have immigrated to the USA in he last 100 years?

  • Carney3

    Independence, whether they want it or not.

  • hastings88

    Why the heck didn’t we give them their independence?

  • bilderbuster

    Puerto Rico has always gotten on my last nerve. That island & it’s people have always been a thorn in the side of this nation. Everyone I know who has lived among them in the states has a low opinion of them but they never seem to care that we have a whole island of them ready to blow up in our face one day.
    When Gingrich was speaker of the house he was pushing for statehood & PR almost voted for it but instead chose to remain a welfare territory.
    When PR goes Detroit they will be here real quick & with a bad attitude.
    That third world territory of ours has always been an accident waiting to happen.

  • jeffaral

    You brown skinned half monkey Puerto Ricans, Amerika welcomes you with open arms. So keep coming….

  • WR_the_realist

    One of the many stupid acts of American imperialism was taking Puerto Rico from Spain in the Spanish-American War. If we wanted to rid the New World of Spanish influence we should simply have demanded independence for Puerto Rico. But now it’s a territory so we are stuck with a flood of Puerto Ricans to the mainland.

  • Pro_Whitey

    Man, you just can’t beat that vibrant diversity, or diverse vibrancy, or whatever it is you’re supposed to call it. And for this we beat up on the Spanish? I think that little proto-imperial excursion has turned out to be the costliest war in U.S. history outside the disaster of the War of Northern Aggression.

  • Katherine McChesney

    I have a Dominican for a neighbor. He is violent, rude, loud and macho. I experienced his ’emotional outburst’ and called the police to file a report as I don’t trust him at all. He is formerly from New York and claims to be a convert to Judaism. I give him a wide berth.

  • sbuffalonative

    Well, the combination of ‘hot-blooded- Latins mating with ‘savages’ certainly has produced a problem for us today. They have produced a high-sex-drive cross-breed that is efficient at procreating.

    Demographics is destiny as they say and this cross-breed is going to out produce us.

  • Laura Dilworth

    we’ve got a pr population here in chicago. i’ve had issues w/several females at work-very hot tempered…