The Puerto Rican Debt Crisis Is Sending an Average of 230 People a Day to Mainland US

The Puerto Rican Debt Crisis Is Sending an Average of 230 People a Day to Mainland US
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

On Sunday, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank would default on roughly $389 million in payments to bondholders. According to CNBC, the missed payment represents the largest of those since its first-ever default in August, when the island only paid $628,000 of a $58 million payment — just a fraction of Puerto Rico's over $70 billion total debt.

Combined with an unemployment rate of nearly 12%, more than double that of mainland United States, Puerto Rico's ongoing economic crisis has its residents migrating at an unprecedented rate. 

CNN reported that 84,000 people left the island for the U.S. in 2014 alone, amounting to about 230 people a day. After a decade-long recession, more Puerto Ricans now live in the U.S. than in Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican capitol
Source: 
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

According to the Washington Post, Puerto Rico's next payment deadline is July 1, at which time the bank owes another $2 billion to its creditors.

Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives has a bill to reduce the island's debt, though the perception of the legislation qualifying as a "bailout" — though it wouldn't allocate any government funding to Puerto Rico — has resulted in some push back.

Last month, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda penned an op-ed in the New York Times, urging the U.S. Congress to save Puerto Rico from buckling under its debt. 

"Please let us not get bogged down in Puerto Rico's status," wrote Miranda. "If a ship is sinking, you don't ask, 'Well, what type of ship is it and what type of ship should it be?' You rescue the people aboard." 

Read more: Zika Claims Its First US Fatality in Puerto Rico

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Marie Solis

Marie is a staff writer with a focus in feminist issues. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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