Puerto Rico

After nearly two years of missed payments and delayed actions, Puerto Rico is bumping up against another deadline as it tries to grapple with tens of billions of dollars of debt.

One proposal for partial repayment of the debt was rejected over the weekend. Another option is for the island to essentially declare bankruptcy, through a process created specifically for Puerto Rico.

After midnight on Monday, if some sort of deal has not been struck, the U.S. territory will be fair game for lawsuits by its creditors.

Miami Herald

More than 50 people were recently arrested in a major international sting operation that led to the dismantling of an identity theft network centered in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Two of the most recent defendants were Francisco Matos-Beltre and Isaias Beltre-Matos, both originating from the Dominican Republic. The network was selling Puerto Rican birth certificates in more than a dozen U.S. states. Alfonso Chardy of El Nuevo Herald tells how the network operated and whether Puerto Ricans should be concerned about their identity.

Micaela Delgado is a beautiful dark-eyed baby girl with a ready smile. She's 8 months old. She's one of more than 1,000 babies already born in Puerto Rico to mothers with Zika.

Her mother, Yalieth Gonzalez, 22, says despite all her worries, so far Micaela's development appears normal. "She's very active, she's up on her own now, she's crawling," Gonzalez says. "She's saying, 'mama' and 'papa' already. She's a very happy baby. She has a lot of energy." But Gonzalez is on alert for signs of trouble.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Puerto Rico is still mired in one of the worst economic crises in the island’s history. Its new young governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is on a campaign to turn things around - and he's betting an important ally will be South Florida’s booming Puerto Rican diaspora.

Rosselló is only 38 years old. But he’s leveraging his youthful energy in an effort not only to reform the U.S. territory’s disastrous finances but to change the often dysfunctional relationship between the U.S.  government  and Puerto Rico – whose residents are U.S. citizens.

On Puerto Rico's southwestern corner, the sleepy seaside town of Guanica is where, nearly 120 years ago, the U.S. relationship with the island began during the Spanish-American War. The town's museum director, Francisco Rodriguez, takes visitors to the town's waterfront where the invasion began. In Spanish he says, "This is Guanica Bay, where the American troops commanded by General Nelson Miles landed on July 25, 1898." At the site, a stone marker engraved by the 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army commemorates the invasion.

LEON NEAL / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This week on The Florida Roundup...

In Puerto Rico, A Woman Infected With Zika Prays For A Healthy Baby

Dec 30, 2016

Before the virus overwhelmed Puerto Rico, Zika already lurked in Keishla Mojica's home in Caguas.

First her partner, John Rodríguez, 23, became infected. His face swelled and a red, itchy rash covered his body. Doctors at the time diagnosed it as an allergy.

Two months later, Mojica, 23, had the same symptoms. Medics administered shots of Benadryl to soothe the rash and inflammation. She didn't give it much more thought.

The number of new Zika cases in Puerto Rico has dropped dramatically in recent weeks, yet health officials worry the full effect of the outbreak on the island may not be known for months or years to come.

Puerto Rico has confirmed more than 34,000 Zika infections since the virus was first detected on the island in November 2015.

Univision

Before Wynwood was the heart of hipster Miami, it was a Puerto Rican enclave. So Puerto Rican community leaders and business owners recently gathered there at Jimmy'z Kitchen for a campaign fundraiser.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

On Labor Day there was a good Puerto Rican party on Hollywood Beach – classic Willie Colón salsa music playing on the boom box – hosted by a South Florida group called Boricuas Realengos.

Boricua means Puerto Rican, and so the group’s name translates to “Far-Flung Puerto Ricans.”

Carlos Giusti / AP

Puerto Rico is suffering one of the worst economic crises in the western hemisphere. Adding to the U.S. territory’s problems right now is a massive, island-wide blackout - which gives Puerto Ricans one more reason to come to Florida.

(This post was updated at 2:11 p.m. ET.)

Puerto Rico's governor, Alejandro García Padilla, has declared a state of emergency over a power outage that at its peak affected 1.5 million customers.

By morning that number had been cut by a couple hundred thousand, but more than a million customers on the island remained without electricity.

One of the most surprising stories of the Olympics, which end on Sunday, was the unseeded Monica Puig's improbable march to the gold medal in women's singles tennis. Puig's win captured Puerto Rico's first-ever gold medal in the Olympics, and set off massive celebrations across the island. It was a big-ass deal.

Spencer Parts / WLRN.org

Puerto Rico’s economic crisis has gotten deeper this summer. This month the U.S. commonwealth defaulted on $1 billion of debt – and the U.S. Congress approved a federal oversight board to rescue the island.

Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland want a say in how that happens. So they recently created a more unified front called the National Puerto Rican Agenda (NPRA). The group includes a South Florida chapter – which reflects the surprising growth of Florida’s Puerto Rican population down here, not just in Central Florida.

Puerto Rico's governor has signed a bill that puts the island's debt payments on hold until January 2017. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla says the island's first priority is covering payments for essential services.

Puerto Rico acted this week following reports that a key financial institution, the Government Development Bank, is nearly insolvent. A group of hedge funds went to court to block public agencies from withdrawing funds from the bank. Within hours, the Legislature moved to pass the debt moratorium by approving the measure.

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