By Ellie Kreidie
In 2015, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla confirmed publicly that Puerto Rico’s debt was “not payable” and if the government was not able to successfully grow the economy, the country would turn in a “death spiral”. Since then, the issue of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has flooded every part of the country’s government and has suspended growth across the country. With Hurricane Irma making landfall, the debt has only worsened on the island.
In 2016, a package was signed into law by President Obama aimed at forgiving a certain amount of the island’s debt. Part of that deal was to create a US commission overseeing the island’s financial decisions. In May 2017, a federal judge began to hear a case on Puerto Rico’s multi-billion debt crisis. The recovery from Irma now added on top of the previous economic issues is frightening to Puerto Rican politicians and economists alike.
President Trump accepted federal assistance for Puerto Rico after Irma blew over, but that disaster relief aid will only help temporarily. Though Puerto Rico didn’t suffer as great a devastation as other Caribbean islands, the amount of money required to successfully rebuild the island is extensive. Though power outages have affected the island during the recent years of the financial crisis, the government has announced that some homes and businesses on certain parts of the island could be without power for up to six months.
The government’s fear is that either the power outages could extend due to the lack of money or the uncertainty of more possible environmental factors. Serene Martinez (‘18 ) said, “It’s really sad and really scary. I have family that live on the island and they are still without light.” The impact of Irma on Puerto Rico has had a truly devastating effect.