In the 1970s, Puerto Rico created the 936, which was an incentive program that gave corporations tax breaks to locate on the island. It positioned Puerto Rico to attract many companies that wanted to take advantage of this tax break. However, in 1996, under the Clinton Administration, the program ended without a strategy of making sure those companies who had been operating in Puerto Rico for over 20 years stayed in Puerto Rico.
In 2000, under the Bush Administration, they made a decision to stop bombing the islands in Puerto Rico as part of their military training—in doing so, the elimination of these U.S. Army bases cost the island some 25,000 jobs and 300 million dollars from the economy (of Puerto Rico) thereby adding to Puerto Rico’s economic problems.
Puerto Rico has had very little say as to what its future looks like, mainly because it does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress. Puerto Ricans have fought and defended the United States to the tune of over 1 million Puerto Ricans loosing their lives in the various wars but can not vote for their Commander-in-Chief. Puerto Rico’s healthcare system has become so bad that many families have to fly their loved ones to hospitals in the United States, because the lack of responsible healthcare systems has not been a priority for the United States.
The island of Puerto Rico could be the bridge to economic prosperity for the United States because of its location. Puerto Rico as it is now can’t directly begin to speak to Latin American countries about possible economic opportunities without first receiving approval from Congress.
Puerto Rico could be the perfect testing ground for bio-technology, green energy solutions, transportation solutions, the insurance industry, the banking industry, and the list is endless. Until Puerto Ricans and the United States determine what role Puerto Rico will play as part of the United States, the question of Puerto Rico’s status will continue to be a divisive subject with no real benefits to the people of the island and the people of the United States.
There is no doubt that we live in the best country in the world, and I am very proud to be an American citizen whose parents came from Puerto Rico. If we are truly the best country in the world, then we as Puerto Ricans should take great pride in making sure that Puerto Rico, a property of the United States, is accorded the same rights as the mainland Puerto Ricans receive.
For this to happen, the Puerto Ricans on the island need to come together and look at what’s best for its people, which is to be truly part of the greatest country in the world. Once the island people have concluded that it’s going to require that the mainland Puerto Ricans support, we will all have to work hard to hold Congress and the President accountable to the beautiful property known as Puerto Rico.