Economic Crisis Create a Threat to Future Generations

By: Ruth Meléndez

In a press conference held on Wednesday in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez Natalia Vila, president of the Asociación de Ayudas a Comunidades Especiales said that Puerto Rico’s social inequality is causing 40 percent of young people to drop out of school, a big percent of them to get into the underground economy. Wilfredo Ruiz, professor of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez added that 50 percent of young people with some college degree leave the country after graduation.

In this press conference Natalia Vila, University of Mayagüez students and president of the Asociación de Ayudas a Comunidades Especiales, with mayor in political sciences said that with an education system that has given up and lost the hope, how can students thinks there is hope for them? This has pushed them to enter in the underground economy with the hope of obtaining the social status they desire.

“Even though there are ways to stop this problem the government would not do anything about it because it generates a substantial profit for the government and judicial system to operate, said Carlos Ruiz, Agent of the Drugs, Narcotics and Illegal Fires Arms Division in Mayagüez.

He also said that Puerto Rico’s underground economy contributes approximately $30,000 million to its economy, 76.8 percent of the cases attended at court are related to narcotics and 75 percent of the criminal cases are also related to drugs which means that at least 75 percent of the all cases attended at court are related to the underground economy. This legal process involves money  that the government, is not willing to lose, added Carlos Ruiz.

During the press conference professor Wilfredo Ruiz explained that not all the underground economy is criminal economy. He said that “All economy that is not registered but that contributes to the gross domestic product becomes part of the underground economy.”

A recent article by the Caribbean Business, stated that the number of professional such as doctors and teachers who has left the island has quadrupled in a year, contributing to the “brain drain.”

Professor Ruiz said in the press conference on Wednesday that the solution for retaining young talented students graduating from college is creating a good or excellent country project that promotes an investment in these young people. Currently many of them, explained Ruiz, find it worthless to remain in the island after all the hard work they have done, with low wages, the cost of life rising and increasing criminality.

As economist Vicente Feliciano told the Caribbean Business pretty much everyone is emigrating not only the professionals and the better educated people, causing the Puerto Rico population to get older at a quick rate.

Considering the fact that the Puerto Rican population is getting older and the young people are emigrating, creates another economic issue in Puerto Rico. Since old people don’t work they live with what they received from the Social Security and with the rising in life cost that is not being enough to live.

Due to the rising cost of the basics needs the federal government announced that there will be an increase of 1.5 percent (smallest increase since 1975) in the Social Security benefits as published by the Caribbean Business on October 30 2013.  This article from the Caribbean Business added that this annual cost-of-living adjustment, or Cola, is a measurement of inflation which benefit more than one fifth of the island.

“The COLA helps beneficiaries from all ages from falling into poverty,” said The American Association for Retired People, AARP. This organization works using index from past years to predict inflation.

Meanwhile the economic crisis in Puerto Rico remains and the solution lies in the hand of the actual government, said Professor Ruiz, but judging by the actions that they are implementing they only contribute to the making the old saying true, “The richer are getting richer and the poor are becoming poor.

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Economic Crisis and Social Inequality
Press Conference held in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez on October 29,2013

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