Puerto Ricans struggling after a recent earthquake are outraged after a warehouse was discovered to be full of disaster relief supplies from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which were never distributed.
Desperate locals in the southern city of Ponce broke in to the warehouse after finding hoards of food, water, cots and other unused emergency supplies during checks for damage from the earthquake several days ago.
The governor of Puerto Rico fired the director of the US territory’s emergency management agency after the warehouse was found filled with the likes of diapers and medicine, apparently unused since the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
The warehouse was discovered on Saturday, and police were called in to remove people taking supplies.
On Monday, U.S. Representative Nydia Velázquez and seven other representatives asked Elaine Duke, acting head of Homeland Security, to waive the nearly 100-year-old shipping law for a year to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.Gregory Moore, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, an office of Homeland Security, said in a statement that an assessment by the agency showed there was “sufficient capacity” of U.S.-flagged vessels to move commodities to Puerto Rico.
“The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” Moore said.
Puerto Rico has long railed against the Jones Act, saying it makes the cost of imported basic commodities, such as food, clothing and fuel, more expensive.
First, there is the actual discussion of whether or not this would help. If there is plenty of shipping, but the ports don’t have enough capacity, then the waiver wouldn’t actually help anyone. It seems that there is some dispute about that.
But second, it does highlight how high American taxes actually impact everyday Americans. After this spat passes, perhaps the Congress can see about lowering the tax burden.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Ricans are getting the chance to tell the U.S. Congress on Sunday which political status they believe best benefits the U.S. territory as it remains mired in a deep economic crisis that has triggered an exodus of islanders to the mainland.
Congress ultimately has to approve the outcome of Sunday’s referendum that offers voters three choices: statehood, free association/independence or the current territorial status.
Many expect statehood supporters to crowd voting centers because three of Puerto Rico’s political parties are boycotting the referendum, including the island’s main opposition party. Among those hoping Puerto Rico will become the 51st state is Pedro Pierluisi, the island’s former congressional representative.
“Let’s send a loud and clear message to the United States and the entire world,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “And that message is that we Puerto Ricans not only want our U.S. citizenship, but we want equal treatment.”
It seems to me that if Puerto Rico wants to be a state, then it should bring something of value to the table. Massive debt, a struggling economy, and a few nice beaches isn’t exactly attractive.
I don’t understand. Puerto Rico increased the minimum wage, increased taxes, increased government spending to stimulate the economy… their liberal government did everything they say will make a state solvent. Why are they defaulting?
Puerto Rico’s governor on Sunday declared a moratorium on a $422 million debt payment due Monday by the island’s Government Development Bank, the most significant default yet for the U.S. territory facing a massive economic crisis.
Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a televised speech that he signed the moratorium on Saturday in what he characterized as a “painful decision” based on inaction from the U.S. Congress, which continues to debate a legislative fix for Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt load.
Garcia Padilla, addressing Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people in Spanish, said the island’s American citizens had sacrificed much for the nation throughout history and asked Congress on many occasions for tools to restructure its financial liabilities.
Enacted in May, Puerto Rico’s Act 72-2015 increases to 6.5 percent from 2 percent the tax on goods imported from offshore affiliates to local companies with gross revenues of more than $2.75 billion.
The increase comes as the U.S. commonwealth struggles to restructure $70 billion in debt, more than every U.S. state but New York and California. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider reinstating a law that would let Puerto Rico’s debt-ridden public utilities restructure their obligations.
The new levy raised the estimated cumulative income tax on Wal-Mart Puerto Rico Inc. “to an astonishing and unsustainable 91.5% of its net income,” according to the company’s complaint, filed in federal court in San Juan Friday.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer, is Puerto Rico’s biggest private employer and hands over more sales tax to the island government than any other business, according to its lawyers. They’re asking a federal judge to declare the new measure unconstitutional and block its enforcement.
The commonwealth paid a mere $628,000 toward a $58 million debt bill due Monday to creditors of its Public Finance Corporation. This will hurt the island’s residents, not Wall Street. The debt is mostly owned by ordinary Puerto Ricans through credit unions