Puerto Rico’s biggest need from allies in Orlando continues to be help with improving their delicate infrastructure
Recently, I had the chance to visit Puerto Rico for the aftermath of the elections, and I was sad to see in my first visit in years how poorly the progress has been with developing infrastructure on the island.
If you’ve never been to Puerto Rico, one important note to remember is that it’s not all beach front property, despite what it’s various image may be to the rest of the world (and yes, it’s also to remember that they are Americans). There are mountains and heavy tropical forests. It’s some of everything its geography on the planet has to offer.
Which is also a reason why maintaining it’s infrastructure is a challenge. We’re talking about communities in the middle of the mountains that have power lines dangling from pole to pole, up and down hills, and along buildings. We’re talking about major roads with serious potholes and other unsafe conditions like missing guardrails. Imagine an equivalent to Colonial Dr. or Semoran, now imagine that there is a good possibility that you will hit a pothole at high speeds possibly causing a very dangerous accident. Or taking a turn on a small road up a hill too fast and falling off of that hill. We’ve also got buildings that are anywhere between 50 and 100 years old that are in mainstream residential areas. It’s all here.
Which is why, when you hit this island with serious hurricanes, earthquakes, and landslides ultimately it’s the a lack of an economic engine which prevents it from healing itself. There are few other U.S territories that are hit with such a wide variety of natural disasters.
That’s why the electric grid is always going down so easily and why flooding is a regular occurrence that destroys homes. Even the Arecibo Observatory, a rare scientific achievement on the island has found it’s future in question after a part of the facility collapsed and the decision was made not to repair it.
And while political corruption has certainly played it’s part is styming progress, a major challenge is finding an industry to allow the people there to stand on their feet. They’re some of the hardest working people I know, and there is a dormant manufacturing engine that is ready to roar to life if we ever made the conscious choice to use it. It’s what their fathers and grandfather used to build their families and make a happy life.
And that is indeed the solution. Let’s give them a fair shake to build something again. It’s not at all different from factories in Michigan or Ohio. Just throw them the ball and allow them the civil basics like roads and electricity and you’ll see how much they’ll grow. I promise you that.