The rhythms of the Puerto Rican daily life were stalled long before the fire at the aging Aguirre power plant in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Since the early 2000s, Puerto Rico has been facing a recession, which has caused many Puerto Ricans to move to the United States. The influx of migration has caused Puerto Rico’s labor force to decrease. A report published by the Institute of Statistics of Puerto Rico shows that, in 2012, about 84% of men and 67% of women stated that their main reason for moving to the United States was job-related. These findings are not unexpected considering that approximately 46% of Puerto Ricans live below the poverty line. As a result, labor participation is roughly 40%.
Currently, Puerto Rico faces debt of nearly $72 billion, combined with “a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans” who are joining the diaspora in mainland United States. As a response to these problems, the former Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García-Padilla, enacted the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act (“Recovery Act”). The main purpose of the Recovery Act was to create an avenue for public corporations to restructure their debt. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decided that the Recovery Act was unconstitutional. Congress subsequently introduced a bill called the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (“PROMESA”).