World Economy

Hard Times for Puerto Ricans

Hard Times for Puerto RicansHard Times for Puerto Ricans

Puerto Rico is drowning in debt and its people are feeling the sting of economic crisis. People in this US island in the Caribbean are seeing their work hours reduced, AFP reported. Sales at stores are way down because of a big increase in sales tax aimed at helping the government raise revenue. Those who can are simply packing up and leaving for the US mainland, to places like Florida and New York. Consider the plight of Jorge Telon, who runs a chain of department stores frequented by working class Puerto Ricans. He’s had to cut his prices to stir demand, so his profit margin is down to almost nothing. “We have to sell really cheap,” Telon told AFP. His stores are strung along Paseo de Diego, which used to be a major commercial thoroughfare. Now it is desolate: many stores are shuttered and others are begging for customers. Indeed, merchants on this island of 3.5 million people are feeling the pain from an increase in sales tax from 7% to 11.5%.