Puerto Rico's economic problems are not going away and just recently the White House sent a team of "advisers" to help the local government manage through this mess. However, no adviser could help unless the entire government accepts to work in unity forgetting party lines and focus on one problem: recovery for the island. Below are some of my Newyorican recommendations:
1. Cut the number of municipios, towns from 78 to about 10 municipalities. This would help reduce the incredible number of government workers at the highest levels from mayors to the representatives for each of those towns. Besides the 78 mayors Puerto Rico has 51 House of Representatives members and 27 Senators. Add the salaries, stipends and extra living expenses for each of these and the island can immediately save big bucks. Puerto Rico is an island 135 miles x 40 and 78 and can do fine with less government-paid politicians.
2. Expand marketing tourism beyond to Anglos in the USA and abroad. They should start focusing on the over 4.9 million Puerto Ricans in the USA. If they focus on this sector by developing incentives for us to return for cultural, educational and back to nature tourism we would all be surprise how many stateside Boricuas would return more frequently. Disneyland has nothing on some of the places we have in Puerto Rico.
3. The government should develop incentives to get stateside Puerto Ricans to return and purchase property, a vacation home or to retire on the island. They should set up an office just to help facilitate and work through the bureaucracy of relocating, buying property, setting up a small business, etc. They should learn from the Jews. No matter where Jews live in the world, they consider Israel their "Homeland." The government should promote Puerto Rico as the "Homeland" to all Puerto Ricans living outside the island and concentrate on programs to attract this sector that spends an average of $60 billion annually in the states.
4. Stop the brain drain of some of the best young minds leaving the island to find work elsewhere. The UPR campus in Mayagüez is the Caribbean MIT. The government needs to invest in the future and the cutting edge of technology by utilizing these bright minds to develop new industries in high technology, renewable energy, recycling, medicine from plants, etc. Puerto Rico has much more resources than we ourselves know. Let these young minds find and develop those resources. Invite the young minds to make Puerto Rico an example for the rest of the Caribbean.
5. Decriminalize marijuana and legalize medicinal marijuana. This action alone will help cut through one of the major problems in the island: drug violence and high incarceration rates. This will allow the police to focus on the hard line violent criminal and save money from incarcerating non-violent offenders. This will also help eliminate one drug from the hands of illegal dealers and put some of that revenue into the government's coffers.
These are just my five recommendations that I believe could help get our island back on its economic foot towards a more solid future.
What do you think?