Alana, 2010, San Juan discussed on Brian Lehrer


Census numbers that came out in April. Was not that New York and California and a few other states each lost a seat in Congress, or that Florida gain one in Texas. Game two and a few others gained one. Those things matter. They may actually matter to the control of Congress, so it's really big in that respect. But as a census matter their incremental and all those states grew in population. The biggest story from the census to me was how many people left Puerto Rico The population of Puerto Rico. Now is 400,000 people fewer than it was in 2010. The island lost a whopping 12% of its population. No place else comes close. Only two states. Lost population at all. West Virginia declined by 3%, Illinois by just 1/10 of 1%. So Puerto Rico losing 12% of its population over the last decade, is in a class by itself. So what happened? And what does this exodus mean? That Puerto Rico needs you left the island since 2010. When did you leave? And why? How much of it was a direct result of Hurricane Maria? How much was other factors? What's the effect of so many people leaving? And what is the island need if we assume that so many people wanting to leave is not a good thing and back with us now is Alana Casanova Burgess, host of the W N Y C and fruit Tudo Studios podcast. La Brega. Hi, Alana. Welcome back to show. Hi, Brian. Good morning. I guess I should ask first. Do you have reason to believe that this census count is accurate? Mm. That's a good question. I mean, there was a there was a problem with the process in Puerto Rico. Uh, for a while, it seemed like only 30% of homes had responded, Um, Also, it was a slightly different process on the island because usually the senses verifies addresses first, and then sends out the forms. In Puerto Rico. Both of those processes were happening at the same time, because, um, post Maria Post Irma, There was just a lot of confusion about addresses, and about what Homes were still homes. Um, that said there was an expectation actually, that the number of people who had left in the last 10 years would actually be Higher. Um so so you know, demographers were expecting this number to be quite large that you know, I'm not a demographer, but if they were expecting an even larger number Um, I think we have to assume that this is accurate ish. Right? So the main story of a lot of people leaving seems real to you as someone who covers Where do we go issues and so are their big, uh, 10 poll reasons. Can you say it's really because of a B and C and that explains the bulk of it. Well, I mean, everyone who Knows and loves of Puerto Rican and knows that it's really hard to live there right now. I mean, I think a lot of people are familiar with how difficult post Maria recovery has been. We're also the results of an earthquake swarm, which was a massive story last year, which I don't know how many people really recognized that there were hundreds of earthquakes going on in the south of the island around Guanica. And and destroyed buildings, public buildings, residences, You know that this is just crisis after crisis. There's also been a fiscal crisis. The recession over the last 15 years, which I like to refer to as an austerity crisis, because what that means is that public services have been cut back drastically. A couple years ago, hundreds of public schools were closed and part of the reason for that. What the government said was that there just weren't enough students in the schools so that they had to. They had to close them and consolidate them. In order to make the system makes sense. Um So you know you have this This landscape that's so difficult to live in. It's also very expensive to live in Puerto Rico. We can talk about why, but it's a red estimates that the cost of living is something like 13% higher than it is in the states. And all of that compounds, um, the other, you know, anecdotally, I I know a lot of people who came to the states in the last 10 years. And that might just be, you know, my age bracket. Um, but who came to the states in the last 10 years for college or for graduate school to take advantage of of the schools and educational opportunities here in the states, and that's partly because the University of Puerto Rico, which is You know, a jewel of the system has been so decimated by cuts. And so it just doesn't seem like a viable system to be a part of if you're looking for higher education, so a lot of people have moved to the states and you know once you do that, then you get a job here, then you don't go back. Um, so those would be my, you know, 123 reasons. Yeah. So what could reverse those, Uh, people? Um, Is there any consensus on on what it would take because it sounds like a situation that is continuing to spiral down downward in terms of quality of life. Well, there are always calls to repeal the Jones Act, which, um, is this somewhat obscure law, which I think some people might have heard of. After Maria. It's about shipping, so it means that all the All the goods that are shipped from the United States to Puerto Rico have to be on US owned ships. It makes shipping more expensive. It makes goods more expensive, so that's one thing that people talk about all the time. You know, um, there have been in the last. Well, I think it was 2012. There was this package of laws referred to as LASIK as well lost 60 and um and that will try to create these tax incentives to get US companies to move to the island to create jobs, and that has been hugely controversial. We could talk about that a bit more. Um, what it has done is basically you know that a lot of the discourse around what's happening in Puerto Rico now is that there's massive gentrification from people who don't want to pay federal income tax. Or, you know, companies who want to relocate. It's part of a government program to attract businesses, and what that means is that they don't have to pay as high taxes in Puerto Rico. There's a huge land grab. One of the biggest stories over the past few months has been that the government is selling off some public land for private development from companies from the United States. You know, so so while it's extremely expensive to buy a home to live in Puerto Rico, it's sort of this idea that that the island is being sold off to external investors. Um So so you hear a lot of conversation about that? Cecilia in Ridgewood. You're on w. N. Y. C with a lot of costume over Burgess, producer and host of Llobregat, which is a podcast series about Puerto Rico House this area. Hi, Brian. A long time, listener. First time caller. Hi, Alana. Um, Load a podcast. All. Uh, Tim, I grew up in San Juan in white.

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