The country I chose is Puerto Rico, a large island territory located in the Caribbean with a population of around 3.5 million. Puerto Rico seceded from Span in December of 1898, and has been a United States territory since 1917, and has been known to be inhabited since at least 1000 AD. (1, pbs.org) Puerto Rico’s official Languages are Spanish and English, though Spanish is very much the dominant language. Since Puerto Rico is a United States territory, all Puerto Ricans are natural-born United States citizens, however, they are not allowed to vote for the President in national elections. Their largest native newspaper is El Nuevo Dia, or The New Day, which covers current events and more specialized topics such Sports, Travel, and Technology. The New Day is available in Spanish and English, however many of the articles are not available in both English and Spanish. In order to familiarize yourself with the country a little better, below are some interesting recent current events for the country.
During Rio 2016, Monica Puig won gold in Women’s Tennis Singles, Puerto Rico had its first gold medal in the Olympics, only the ninth athlete to win a medal for Puerto Rico at all. Puig came into the final match the underdog starting out as the thirty seven seed, up against Angelique Kerber, champion of the Australian Open, who was the favorite to win and the number two seed. Puig was quite excited about what this meant for her country, “This Olympics isn’t about me. It’s about Puerto Rico, and I know how bad they want this,” she said before Saturday’s match-up. “The island is full of such bad news all the time so every time … somebody from the island wins a medal, everything stops. I know how happy everybody gets.” (2, nbcnewyork.com) Ultimately Puig’s triumphant victory was well deserved, climbing her way up the sixty four person bracket and was surely some great news for Puerto Rico.
Zika, a virus carried by mosquitoes has become a large source of concern to Puerto Ricans, impacting rates of tourism, a lack of funding in our government keep preventing the spread of zika, and thousands of documented cases being on the island itself with the number growing every day. (3-5.5, elnuevodia.com) Concern about zika are well founded due to its dangerous effects on pregnant women and what it does to the children born by them. Most commonly, zika leads to microcephaly, a condition which causes an infant to be born with a much smaller head than usual. Symptoms include a slowed learning capacity and slurred speech, in some severe cases, seizures and abnormal muscle function. (6, mayoclinic.org) Preventing the spread of mosquito-borne pathogens is difficult, but becomes even more of a challenge on an island in the Caribbean where pools of warm, stagnant water are likely common and thus make reproducing fairly easy for mosquitos. Making matters worse is that funds to help prevent the spread of the virus are soon going to be gone, with as suddenly as zika became such a widespread issue this year. What the growth rate of the virus will become once that happens is unknown, but it surely must be a large concern for areas like Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is around $70 billion dollars in debt, and nearly 46% of the country lives in poverty due to a financial crisis. (7, youtube.com) The financial crisis was created by a number of factors such as financial incentives for companies to move there,were eventually slowly removed, and lead to jobs people depended on being lost when those companies left elsewhere due to losing the tax incentives that got them there in first place. Also contributing are bonds that Puerto Rico had, which were tax exempt in three different ways, and thus very popular. Unfortunately the short term cash influx hurt them in the long run when they could not pay back the loans due to not taxing them like they should’ve been. Puerto Rico has been given an opportunity to help reduce its debt and ease the burden on Puerto Rico through an Oversight Board, instituted by President Obama. However, our territory is running out of time to submit its changes to the Financial and Economic Growth Plan (FEGP), which is due on September 15th. It will be very crucial to well-being of not only Puerto Rico but the United States as well that they submit a plan that will put the limited funding they receive to good use because Puerto Rico is a United States territory, and their financial state will affect us as well. Even more concerning than that is, despite the very close deadline, Puerto Rico’s changes to the plan are still not quite close to finalizing, and the head chair of the financial Oversight Board has yet to be nominated. (8, elnuevodia.com)