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Poverty Crisis in the heart of the island

This is a translation of an article in El Nuevo Dia. It deals with the poverty and unemployment numbers, I think you will find it interesting. It is long but it touches on the situation in the island that many of you never get to see or get to understand. People have been abandoned and have little resources to pick themselves up.

Excerpt below:
It starts with the story about the “Happy Corner” a Colmado (convenience store) in Adjustas where the 67 year old owner tells us that he seen 3 customers today. The first 2 spend 6 dollars and the 3rd one purchased items on credit. He said his business has dropped by half and that he remains open just to have something to do and kill time. Life in Adjuntas is not that different from the rest of the central towns.

The central towns of Adjuntas, Maricao, Barranquitas, Comerío, Ciales, Orocovis, Lares, Las Marías, Jayuya, Corozal, San Sebastián, Morovis, Villalba, Utuado, Naranjito y Aibonito are dealing with high levels of poverty, high unemployment and a much higher rate of people leaving the island than the rest of Puerto Rico. But it is not just that, many people have insufficient schooling and are being marginalized.

The level of poverty in 3 of the above towns with the larges population have the following poverty levels: Maricao (64.2%), Adjuntas (61.7%), Barranquitas (61.2%). Consider the meaning of those numbers in comparison with the total for Puerto Rico of 45.5%. In all the mountain towns with the exception of Aibonito and Naranjitos, the majority of the people live below the poverty level. Many families of 2-5 people live on 300-700 a month.

According to the US census there were 375,108 in those towns in 2010, today the count has dropped by 28,934 and the exodus is still ongoing. Lares for example has lost 15% of the population, Las Marias has lost 14%, Villalba 13%, Utuado 12%, San Sebastian and Jayuya both have lost 11% each.

As of April unemployment for the entire island was 11.5%. Maricao for example has a 24% unemployment, Lares is 22.7%, all the others also have high unemployment that is higher than the average for the island.

In the education front, Las Marias has 52.5% high school graduates, Maricao has 55.5% high school graduates. Most of these towns have low numbers of High school graduates with the exception of Aibonito which has 73.5% high school graduate population.

Due to lack of mobility and low income a lot of people do not take their medicines consistently and fail to go to the doctors as they should.

Government facilities and hospitals are mostly concentrated in the metro area where the government has about 200,000 employes. A lot of people has to travel to the metro area from many parts of the island causing heavier traffic in the metro zone and delays in services due to lack of transportation for a lot of the poor. The government should spread out some of that personnel to other towns so as to provide better service to the rest of the island. Telecommuting would allow this to occur but it is not being contemplated according to the report.

The people of an island with such high unemployment and such high poverty levels (45.5%) and if you then consider that a good number of them are not educated, make for a situation where people are highly dependent on politicians and their message. People are desperate and tend to believe the lies politics spread. With so many in poverty it is fairly easy to understand why they keep electing lousy governments.

Hope this give you something to think about, in these towns the situation with the economy is a lot more pronounced than the towns you normally live in or visit.
Rey

Thank you, Rey. This is important information -- certainly different from what seems to be a shop-shop-shop-'til-you-drop mentality in the east, as evidenced by the full parking lots, crowded stores and well-dressed people.

Maybe the government needs to deal with the situation from a third world point of view. I am not sure that the US is the best example of how to deal with this situation and it seems like Puerto Rico defines itself in many ways by the mainland standard. Mass transit probably would have been more in place if car ownership had not been encouraged. Self reliance on food might have been more active if convenience foods were not as accessible and this would have led to better health in the long run.  Puerto Rico seems like a country where what works on the mainland does not work as well here. Hawaii is in a similar situation. These native cultures do not adapt so easily to a different kind of culture forced upon them. Hawaii has the largest homeless population in the US. Native Americans are as challenged.   I am grateful for a lot of the infrastructure that Puerto Rico has acquired from the US. Drinkable water. Somewhat dependable highways. Food stamp programs,  Social Security programs but maybe Puerto Ricans will have to take some responsibility and attend to their own needs without looking for a handout. There is a small grass roots movement that I know of on the South coast that is thinking more on these lines. Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas does a wonderful job in educating people in this way too. The solution may have to start at this kind of basic level.

Completely agree with mrkpytn.

Mrkpytn :

Puerto Rico seems like a country where what works on the mainland does not work as well here. Hawaii is in a similar situation. These native cultures do not adapt so easily to a different kind of culture forced upon them. Hawaii has the largest homeless population in the US. Native Americans are as challenged.

There are several common areas between them:
1) All 3 were colonized / taken over in the past by a European type culture
2) All the natives are poor, sure there are exceptions. But basically we are talking haves and haves not.
3) All had strong culture, they are used to do things their way, American / European ways were forced into them
4) Regardless, the vast majority did not vote to be assimilated, most did not vote and the minority ruled.
5) Not as educated on average, most can't afford it, not that many college degrees either. Specially before the last 30 years
6) Last but not least they all had their own language and were forced to accept English.
7) They lost their lands and their agriculture were changed from internal consumption to export agriculture. For the hunters, their hunting was curtailed. Some were shoved into reservations.

This is my point...Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, Native Americans have not adapted the to The European/American way of living as a whole. Some have adapted exceedingly well but as a whole I am not so sure if a certain  amount of people have been able to. Hawaii has the largest homeless population in the US.  We are talking about 3 generations of  indoctrination that has not taking a foothold. Here might lie the problem for a vast number of people of these cultures. Maybe the DNA imprint is stronger in some.  Just maybe a reintroduction of some sort of the old way could be incorporated into a life style that utilizes some aspects of what is useful and discarding what does not apparently work. Sacred Ritual was a big part of native cultures and I may open a can of worms here but Judeo/Christian rituals may not have served theses peoples. Missionary work is like an enforced doctrine on some people. Maybe the real issues run deeper than where the next meal is coming from. This might be too much generalizing but I have not heard of another solution other than trying to work with what does not work. I try not to let myself get manipulated by what does not work for my temperament and maybe this is why I can empathize with this situation in some way.

I would guess the problem is cultural, they don't want to change and maybe also some resentment about how they were treated in the past. Look at the issue with whites and blacks in the mainland, it is all over the news and it has been very long since slavery ended. I as a native Puerto Rican can not understand why the hatred continues between them.

6) Last but not least they all had their own language and had to adapt to English.

Spanish is not the native language there, either.  That died out with the Tainos.  Just sayin'

Hey Rey,
That's an easy answer.  When I come to Luquillo Beach in December, let's have a cup of coffee and I will explain to you the cause and the reason for the strife!

annabfalter :

6) Last but not least they all had their own language and had to adapt to English.

Spanish is not the native language there, either.  That died out with the Tainos.  Just sayin'

You are right about that but they spoke Spanish for 400 years and today after 119 years under the US only a portion speaks English and not necessarily at home, we are speaking natives, not second or third generation born in the US mainland.

Psych2 :

Hey Rey,
That's an easy answer.  When I come to Luquillo Beach in December, let's have a cup of coffee and I will explain to you the cause and the reason for the strife!

I won't be in the island in December so you will need to beam it to me Psych way.

Two points:

First, economic development occurs most markedly along coastlines.  ALL coastlines.  Look at any country in the world (that isn't landlocked) and the major economic centers will be coastal.

Second, look at a map of PR.  Highways, when constructed, simply connected these pre-existing population centers.  To get from San Juan to Cabo Rojo is roughly 100 miles, as the crow flies (at least according to Pythagoras).  How far is the drive?  The interior is unconnected.

I live in a tremendously poor part of Virginia.  My county has a 25% poverty rate (yes, I know that is less than PR, but the state average is 10%).  We are in the middle of the state, and to get onto the closest interstate is a 2-hour drive.

This isn't colonialism, nor is it culture.  It's geography.

Yes, it is something to think about, as it all spreads outward. If you pull up https://caguas.gov.pr, looks perfectly normal, inviting, two rivers. Clasificados lists some 127 homes, that's homes not apartments, for rent. Looks like some haven't even been cleaned up to rent.  Could be people who left before finding buyers, so they just let realtors try to find tenants.

My point is simple: Here is the translation of an article I read and some numbers that you all may find interesting.

Nothing to add but found the article very interesting... thank you!

Aharkness :

Nothing to add but found the article very interesting... thank you!

You are welcome.

Several members have been looking at Las Marias and other towns at the edges of the central part of PR. Due to economic conditions there it is cheap to buy land and properties there but the towns are rather poor.

This makes it important when it comes to hiring help but there are negatives also such as having to drive long distances to perform any government activity and petty crimes like some tools disappearing off the shed are likely due to the poverty.

Absolutely, agree and it's not getting any better either. It is very sad to see what is going on between African Americans and Caucasians in the states. As an Afro-Puerto Rican I was aware of racism still existing and have experienced it myself but definitely never imagined at this level. This is one of the many reasons why we want to move to Puerto Rico because we love the racial diversity of our culture (Indigenous Native, African and European) that (for the most part) doesn't separate us. Informative article and good talking points on here!

annabfalter :

6) Last but not least they all had their own language and had to adapt to English.

Spanish is not the native language there, either.  That died out with the Tainos.  Just sayin'

English is not the mainland's native language either. English and Christianity was imposed on the Native Americans and Africans.

Unfortunately the bigotry and racism is getting worse every day in the mainland. And is not just directed towards one specific group.

Our island, generally have more diversity and is more accepting.

I haven't witnessed any overt racism in PR (don't doubt that it exsits) just mostly acceptance - the locals we know are open and friendly to all.

The biggest problem I see is lack of work opportunity, especially for young people.  When the adult children of our PR friends must go to the states for a job, it hurts families and is a major problem.

When I was growing up in PR (Eons ago), a white father may be best friend with a black guy and he would come eat at the house and come to parties, play domino,  and all was well. But if his daughter fell in love with the guy and he was black the father would sometimes refuse the marriage. It was sort of a preserving the line not because he tough less of the black guy. So it was more of a marriage thing. That all has changed now but there may be a few stragglers. (not that we are super white anyway, LOL).

Gay versus straight is still around, but a lot less than it used to be. Now is accepted but it makes other people uncomfortable if they get to kissing and stuff. It is changing slowly.

The younger generation is more tolerant and understanding of the gay and lesbian community in the island. We see more open relationships between same sex in the island now than when I was growing up. Most families now are more understanding and willing to accept their children's preferences.
Today's day we even have transgender shows at some of our local clubs, something unheard of when I was younger.

El cotorrito, was a transgender variety club when I was growing up. High society used to attend. I assume that has changed.

These are very interesting comments and thoughts about a legacy that our country (United States) refuses to deal with. Eventually, if left unresolved, it will be the catalyst that causes   United Stated to implode.   As an African-American professor and psychologist, I have spent the last 30+ years, speaking, presenting and teaching on issues of race, and bias. I am anxious to return to Puerto Rico to see how the culture deals with these challenges and hang out with my brothers and sisters.

Thanks for sharing.

People say NY is the melting pot, layers upon layers of different ethnic groups live there. We did one better in PR ......... We stirred the pot, that is why we don't have the same issues, we interbreed which is great to create a good set of genes.

Interesting article about our gene pool.
PUERTO RICAN GENE POOL RUNS DEEP
http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/new … e-1.513434

Biologist Says Puerto Rican Women Possess Ideal Genotype Of The 'Perfect' Human Via DNA Ancestry
http://www.medicaldaily.com/biologist-s … try-313956

They sure have the curves!!!!

I ain't mad at PR! :)  PR I'm coming to join you!

ReyP :

People say NY is the melting pot, layers upon layers of different ethnic groups live there. We did one better in PR ......... We stirred the pot, that is why we don't have the same issues, we interbreed which is great to create a good set of genes.

As a Nuyorican, I cosign on this! My mom is Puerto Rican with predominant European genes and my father is Puerto Rican with predominant African genes. In our culture this wouldn't be considered an inter-racial relationship because they are both Puerto Rican. My siblings and I are all a different mixture  from each other of our parents from skin tone, features and hair textures. Love that (most of us) Puerto Ricans acknowledge all of our roots without the stigma that some cultures face when they claim biracial or some mixture. On a different note, I love that there are so many open LGBT also on the island and that it is not something being shunned anymore. To see people openly and freely being themselves is a beautiful thing.

In other words, we are Satos and proud of it.

My grandfather on my father side is a black Puerto Rican and mostly whittish Puerto Rican on my mother side. We have dirty blonds, red heads, brunets, brown eyes, hazel, blue and green eyes all in the same family just different generations. We have a very varied gene pool. We have a Spaniard somewhere in the great-great-grad dad line. My great grand mother and my grandmother on my mother side had green eyes, my mother and I have brown eyes.

ReyP :

In other words, we are Satos and proud of it.

My grandfather on my father side is a black Puerto Rican and mostly whittish Puerto Rican on my mother side. We have dirty blonds, red heads, brunets, brown eyes, hazel, blue and green eyes all in the same family just different generations. We have a very varied gene pool. We have a Spaniard somewhere in the great-great-grad dad line. My great grand mother and my grandmother on my mother side had green eyes, my mother and I have brown eyes.

From one sato to another, I agree 100%.  :lol:

ReyP :

In other words, we are Satos and proud of it.

My grandfather on my father side is a black Puerto Rican and mostly whittish Puerto Rican on my mother side. We have dirty blonds, red heads, brunets, brown eyes, hazel, blue and green eyes all in the same family just different generations. We have a very varied gene pool. We have a Spaniard somewhere in the great-great-grad dad line. My great grand mother and my grandmother on my mother side had green eyes, my mother and I have brown eyes.

Yes, sounds pretty much like my family and many other Puerto Rican families I know. Both my sons are rubios and my husband and myself have dark hair. All my mom's grandchildren have either light eyes and/or light hair regardless of skin tone or texture. Melting pot culture, indeed!👊🏻👊🏼👊🏽👊🏾👊🏿🇵🇷

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