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Archive for December, 2011


Today, Puerto Rico’s online news portal, primerahora.com, ran an article in Spanish confirming that the island continues to face a decreasing population, according to the 2010 US Census and new 2011 figures. In fact, when compared to all 50 states of the Union, Puerto Rico would be ranked by far as the place to have suffered the largest population loss.

Here is a quick translation of the original Spanish article:

Puerto Rico’s population continues to decline and lost another 19,100 people between April 2010 and July 2011, according to estimates offered this week by the United States Census Bureau.

The first estimates published by the agency since the 2010 Census set the population of Puerto Rico as of July 2011 at 3,706,690. This figure is 19,099 fewer people than the estimated figure for April 2010, the month that was used as a basis for comparison.

The document estimated that around 35,000 inhabitants left the island and migrated. Interestingly, the study classifies migration between Puerto Rico and the U.S. as “international.”

For this same period, the Census Bureau estimated an increase of 2.8 million for the U.S., representing an increase of 0.92 percent. The U.S. population was estimated at 311.6 million for July 2011. Only three U.S. states reported a population decline during this period of 15 months and all well below that of Puerto Rico’s loss: Rhode Island (1,300), Michigan (7,400) and Maine (200).

The “natural growth” of the population of Puerto Rico during those months was 16,370 people, as a result of more births than deaths. The large number of people who left the country far exceeded the “natural growth,” casting the negative balance that highlights this report.

Product of Depression

“What has happened in Puerto Rico is that the depression has been loud and long, which is generating a strong migration to the United States,” said economist Jose Alameda.”Furthermore, the pattern of net births is declining,” he said.

“What worries most is that the people of Puerto Rico are usually educated … human capital has been reduced by migration,” he said. “That started between 2005 and 2006 as part of the depression. As there are no jobs for anyone, people migrate,” he said.

The economist expressed concern that as these figures show is that Puerto Rico’s economy is shrinking. “There is less human capital, shops close, and it also creates the problem that property has seen a decrease in value,” Alameda said.

The demographer Raúl Figueroa agreed that the economic situation is causing a negative migration in the country. “There are push factors right now,” he said. “Puerto Rico does not have many pull factors. There is no job or no crime situation that makes it attractive for people to come back, we’re seeing that people (who left the island) are not coming back,” he added.

“We must work for these people to return to Puerto Rico. People who are leaving are many young people under 40 years old, which causes a reduction in the workforce,” said Figueroa.

He noted, moreover, that the increase in migration is also “very particular situation of Puerto Rico, because we can travel freely to the United States.”

He predicted that “the population will continue to decline for several years. Migration is very high and the natural growth has been declining over the past 20 years. Births have been reduced,” he said.

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First it was the Wall Street Journal, then it was a syndicated national columnist, and now it is a GOP strategist who has a blog site where you can’t even comment.

Yes, the Luis Fortuño for the VP nomination of the GOP Train is moving at a steady clip. Little by little, posts by GOP brokers are setting the stage to push the Republican and pro-statehooder Fortuño as a serious VP candidate, even though the governor has already said on record that although he is flattered, he would not run.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Nonetheless, the suggestions continue, as reflected by Roger Stone’s latest piece, entitled THE GOP’S HISPANIC SECRET WEAPON (And It’s Not Marco Rubio). Ignoring the fact that all of a sudden Senator Rubio is no longer the Anointed Latino of the GOP, it is sad to see how short-sighted and inaccurate people like Stone are when discussing the Fortuño administration.

Also, we won’t fault Stone for forgetting to add an “ñ” to Fortuño’s name. Since it just shows how shallow Stone’s sincerity in capturing more Latino voters to the GOP truly is. Let’s hope Stone doesn’t say FELIZ ANO NUEVO next week on Twitter.

The one point that no one is addressing (and it is a basic Constitutional principle) is that right now, Fortuño COULDN’T EVEN VOTE FOR HIMSELF, since Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote for President or Vice President (although they can participate in presidential primaries). So, like we have said ad nasuem on this site, for Fortuño to run, he would have to claim residency in the mainland United States, which we are absolutely sure won’t play well on the island, where the governor is facing a very tough re-election bid in 2012. We have listed other reasons as to why a Fortuño for VP media campaign is laughable, so we won’t repeat them here. But we will like to share a few facts with Stone and maybe even invite him to actually talk to the vast majority of Puerto Ricans on the island who can share some real stories about the so-called “Puerto Rican miracle?” To many in the financial community who actually understand economics and markets, Puerto Rico can be the next Greece.

Here is what Stone writes:

Meet Luis Fortuno, Governor of Puerto Rico. He is experienced in Washington as Puerto Rico’s non-voting member of Congress and leading a crusade to restore Puerto Rico – whose economy is suffering after years of bloated spending, high taxes and an expanding government sector under a line of previous Democratic Governors – to economic prosperity.

Governor Fortuno has been on the frontline of cutting spending, hacking back business-killing overregulation and taking on the public employee unions and their rich benefits and compensation in a commonwealth where six in ten people work for the government.

A few things that Stone seems to ignore. According to the US Department of Labor, the current percentage of Puerto Ricans working for the government is about 27% not 60% as his blog claims. As for economic prosperity, Stone also overlooked 2010 US Census statistics (ooops) that show that the island has gotten poorer and that there is a growing gap between rich and poor. Finally, Stone seems to overlook something very basic about Puerto Rico that shows a clear ignorance about the island: the economic culture created by those “Democratic governors” was a direct cause of (wait for it), a 113-year-old colonial relationship with the United States. The culture of dependence has thrived in Puerto Rico because of its the colonial relationship it has had with the United States ever since the US invaded the island in 1898 during the Spanish American War.

Stone continues and concludes:

Fortuno is tall, handsome and articulate. He has been active in the National Republican Party and is a member of the Puerto Rican Statehood Party. Puerto Ricans are the fastest growing segment of the Latino community and Hispanic Americans are the largest growing sector of the American electorate.

Hispanic Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the Democrat Party. The GOP presidential nominee would be wise to consider a sitting Republican Governor who would bring charisma, star power and excitement to the campaign and launch a crusade to win Hispanic American votes based on shared conservative values on many issues. Luis Fortuno is that man.

Stone should come down to the island and ask residents how much “charisma” and “star power” Fortuño has. This year’s polls from the island’s largest TV network would tell a different story. And like the governor said, Puerto Rican “economic prosperity” is clear now that Victoria’s Secret and PF Chang’s are launching stores on the island.

But we will give Stone the benefit of the doubt. We understand that facts are silly things, but we will say that if you are going to craft the American public the myth of Luis Fortuño, you might want to actually do more research.

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Looks like 2012 is shaping to be the MOTHER of POLITIQUERÍA (loosely translated: political shenanigans) on the island colony of Puerto Rico, as politicians begin to hedge their bets and in some cases, employ a classic cover your culo mentality. Today, Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, a member of the island’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), has backed off from pushing a different election date for the island’s plebiscite status vote and has washed his hands from claiming any accountability in ensuring the statehood party’s success in the vote.

According to Rivera Schatz, that responsibility will now rest 100% on the leader of the PNP, Puerto Rico’s Republican Governor Luis Fortuño. With a plebiscite vote set to occur on the same day as Puerto Ricans choose for their next governor (Fortuño is the incumbent), the embattled and unpopular governor is taking a huge political gamble that will either produce a historic windfall or a dismal catastrophic miscalculation. But maybe this play by Fortuño, tying the plebiscite vote to the island’s general election in November, is all he has left, given that the majority of Puerto Ricans would agree the Fortuño administration has done very little to solve the island’s economic crisis.

Here is what Caribbean Business reported today: 

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz has dropped his plan to amend plebiscite legislation to avoid holding a status vote on Election Day next November, but said Gov. Luis Fortuño will be accountable for the results.

Rivera Schatz opposes having a status vote on Election Day, contending the general vote and the status plebiscite are too important to be held together. Other New Progressive Party leaders have said having the status vote on Election Day could make it the target of a “punishment vote” by voters disgruntled with Fortuño.

“The leader of the NPP is Luis Fortuño and he is assuming all of the responsibility,” Rivera Schatz said.

The status calls for the first part of a two-step plebiscite to be held on Aug. 12, 2012. If a second status vote is required, it will take place on the same day as the general election in November 2012.

The first referendum will ask voters whether they want to maintain the current commonwealth status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution or whether they prefer a nonterritorial option.

If more voters check that nonterritorial option, a second vote would be held giving people three status options: statehood, independence or free association.

In the meantime, even though there is clear indication that the plebiscite status vote will indeed occur next year, there are still questions about what the final language of the vote will be. As the article continues:

A vote on the bill enabling the status plebiscite is slated to be held in the Senate on Tuesday, according to NPP officials. The legislation is not expected to see significant changes, but officials are considering removing any reference to the commonwealth as a colonial status from the bill. During a Senate hearing Monday, Popular Democratic Party Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora, a former Senate president, opposed having the second of the two-tier vote on Election Day and called for the elimination of the word “colony” from the bill.

He suggested that the first vote should give voters the option of a territorial status that falls under the U.S. territorial clause or a permanent non-territorial status.

He then proposed his own definition of commonwealth status for the second vote. Fas Alzamora proposed a pact of association, which he said is different from free-association.

“Puerto Rico and the United States agree to replace the Federal Relations Law for an associated pact that is not subject to the territorial clause with permanent citizenship” in which the United States and Puerto Rico will decide “which powers will the United States keep and which powers will be delegated to Puerto Rico.”

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said the two votes should be held on Election Day. “Our people should be allowed to decide if they want the current status and express their status preference,” he said.

He insisted that the plebiscite has to be held no later than 2012. On the other hand, he also said the first of the two votes, which asks voters if they want to change the current political status, is the most important of the two votes because it could force Congress to act.

While he did not expect commonwealth supporters to abstain from the vote, doing so could cause Congress not to take the plebiscite results seriously. In that regard, he opposed the inclusion of the world “colony” in the legislation.

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