Puerto Rico is reeling under more than $70 billion of debt. For months since the PROMESA legislation passed, officials have warned about the island commonwealth’s inability to pay back investors while maintaining health care and school services for its residents.
Investors flocked to Puerto Rico in droves for years since the island openly borrowed money by issuing municipal bonds. It used the funds to prevent layoffs of public workers and social service cuts since they compensated for declining government revenue.
Now its future is terribly uncertain. Injection drug use is on the rise and nearly 200 schools are projected to close. While I have hundreds of images from Puerto Rico, especially from visiting with injection drug users, I can only share these for now. The others are part of a larger developing story. I hope these can shed light on the island’s natural beauty and national pride.
We landed in Puerto Rico two days before Oscar Lopez’ return to the island after almost 35 years in prison. Lopez was a leader of FALN, the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation. In 1981 he was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Chicago of seditious conspiracy charges, and sentenced to 55 years in prison. He received an additional 15 years in 1988 after he was convicted of plotting to escape from federal prison. His release and homecoming were celebrated by the Puerto Rican people.