The UPRM celebrated a press conference about the causes and effects of social inequality in Puerto Rico.

By: Cristian Soto Torres

In order to educate about the social and economic inequality in which Puerto Rico is plunged, on Tuesday October 29, a press conference was carried out in the building Carlos Chardón of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus with the presence of 3 distinguished panelists expert in these topics.

The panel was constituted by the Dr. Wilfredo Ruiz, one of the founders of the Economy Department of the UPRM as well as professor for 40 years in the mentioned institution; Carlos Ruiz, agent of the division of drugs and narcotics of Mayagüez region, and Natalia Vila, third year student of political sciences and president of the Association of Support to the Communities. They answered questions of the students’ panel that worked as journalists as well as questions of the audience present.

The panelists were interviewed, based on their expertise and offered their different points of view, till when they were approached in controversial topics. Agent Carlos Ruiz was approached about his opinion toward the legalization of the marijuana and if the same one might have some positive effect in the economy of Puerto Rico, he indicated that beside of being an agent, he was a professional of the health for what he knew very well the medical benefits that this drug has and because of that he agrees completely with its legalization. Also he coincided with economist Wilfredo Ruiz affirming that direct or indirectly the legalization would have a positive short-term effect in the economy of the country.

To questions on the possible factors causing that the population of homeless was in growth in a very alarming way, Dr. Ruiz blamed the high number of unemployed persons in the island and the unequal way in which the economy of Puerto Rico is divided. “The economic structure is isolating them and they leave of the ordinary current of the economy and of the society, they do not see any hope on the society,” Ruiz said. Dr. Ruiz coincides with Ivette Perez Bull, special assistant to the Department of Family secretary, who in an interview with Danica Coto, from the Huffington Post, said “unemployment has had a domino effect; they lose their homes, their cars.” Also she also blamed the domestic violence and the financial crisis, for this increasing problem.

Regarding the underground economy, Dr. Ruiz and Agent Ruiz agreed that the informal economy has turned into the base of Puerto Rico’s economy, such that the government does not often intervene in drug trafficking, because it would imply an economy degradation. Economist Jose Alameda further explains in a publication about crime in Puerto Rico that annually approximately $6,000 million are injected to the local economy, form the drug trafficking, in a country which government operates on with an annual budget of approximately $10,000 millions; 60 percent of the country’s budget.

Panelists made recommendations for improving the economic situation and social crisis that Puerto Rico is undergoing. Natalia Vila, understanding that the efforts of the country and of the leaders must go directed to improving the education in Puerto Rico, affirmed that though the education is not the entire solution to the crisis, it can have an extremely positive effect, since in spite of simply looking at the statistics where 40 percent of the students do not finish high school, it is possible to see that it is one of the basic and more worrying factors that causes this problem. Whereas Dr. Ruiz understands that the country needs a so called ‘project of country,’ in which during his creation collaborates the citizenship and the high leaders of the country and where is created a compromise to expire with the agenda of work presented, likewise he understands that  it is necessary to provide the students better opportunities of employment after graduating of the university, avoiding in this way, what in his opinion is one of the principal problems in Puerto Rico; the brain drain.

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Natalia Vila, Dr. Wilfredo Ruiz and Agent Carlos Ruiz answering questions about the social and economic inequality in Puerto Rico on Tuesday October 29, 2013.

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