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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“This Town is Dead”: the Long Decline of Arecibo, Puerto Rico



“I’m at the end of my wits,” “Everybody is in a tight spot,” “I’m running
out of hope”: these are the words of the small business owners in the small
city of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. As a child, I grew up with stories of Arecibo’s
great industries and entrepreneurial spirit. Since 1995, business owners, mer-
chants and residents have seen the drastic decay of the local economy. The
lasting effects of the Great Recession and the recent implementation of the
IVU agrandado (11.5% sales and use tax) has dissipated any hopes of an in-
crease in commercial activities in the near future. Arecibo and many other
municipalities across the island are veritable ghost towns, stuck in a dishe-
artening state of social, economic and political stagnation. Now more than
ever, people are migrating in greater numbers to the San Juan metropolitan
area and the US mainland expecting to set up shop and start a new life.

Governor Alejandro García Padilla’s declarations on Puerto Rico’s inability
to pay its debt have sparked an outburst of investigative reports and articles
on the Puerto Rican crisis and its impacts, mainly, on the population of San
Juan. However, these scathing reviews and articles fail to discuss Puerto Ri-
co’s socioeconomic crisis at a smaller scale, focusing on municipalities out-
side of San Juan...[CONTINUE READING]

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