Before Hurricanes María and Irma hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, the island had long been suffering from an extended economic crisis, La Crísis Boricua, since 2006.
But Puerto Rico had been neglected for long before then. Since the US invasion of the island in 1898, Puerto Rico’s role as a site of extraction has escalated with the primary purpose of benefiting the mainland United States while increasing the island’s dependence on the larger power. The more recent wave of purportedly debt-driven austerity has spurred a new wave of net out-migration, high unemployment, declining labor-force participation, and the worsening of a host of other socioeconomic conditions.
Given this context, it is clear that any long-term solution for increased wellbeing in Puerto Rico must involve a change in political status for the island and a social-justice-based restitution of appropriated wealth.