Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vieques and the Jones Act



Thousands of Puerto Ricans protested, marched, and fought to support the NAVY presence in Vieques and Puerto Rico.

HOWEVER... We did not receive any help or support from any of the political parties in Puerto Rico. They abandoned us and instead, joined together to push the Navy out of PR
Miriam Ramirez addresses crowd
 in a Pro-Navy Rally in Vieques.

That unfortunate event  may help explain why bad decisions made by our leaders are the main reason for Puerto Rico's severe economic problems.

Maritime Professional

Keeping Up With the Jones (Act)

Puerto Rico’s money woes have nothing to do with the Jones Act. Arguably, the U.S. island would be worse off without it.

by Joseph Keefe
Circling back to Puerto Rico, a $72 billion debt crisis has many causes, but to blame the Jones Act for the island’s woes is simply shortsighted, and frankly, a misguided effort to point fingers elsewhere when the real problems exist much closer to home.

When the United States government decided that it no longer needed the Naval Base at Roosevelt roads, Puerto Rico, back in 2004, it also signaled the end of an era for the local island economy which took a massive hit when the federal money dried up. 

As a young Third Mate sailing for the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, I visited the port and base more than once in the early 1980’s. It was a vibrant operation then, supporting not only the important training of military aviators, but also accounting for as much as 75 percent of the money flowing into local businesses. 

Nevertheless, the Navy no longer had any need for the base after it halted test bombing of the island of Vieques following years of protests.

Local Puerto Rico officials are still bitter about the base closure, some of whom believe that the U.S. government was punishing them for the loss of their training areas. 

In truth, it was merely a savvy financial decision (our government does makes them once in a while) to withdraw from the island. Shortsighted local activists (arguably) got exactly what they deserved when they failed to comprehend that the end of the training also signaled the end to the need to operate from the remote location.

The impact on the local economy continues to this day, and reverberates all over the rest of the island. In many respects, the drama reminds me of what happened in the Philippines when the U.S. Navy pulled out of Subic Bay when the local government there wanted too much in return for the extension of local leases on the port land.