Before this week, Harriet Richardson’s retirement dream was still intact: work a few more years in the United States before heading back to find a quiet, ocean-front house in her native Puerto Rico. Now she’s not so sure.
Over a plate of fried plantains and rice at El Nuevo Bohio restaurant, a lunch spot popular with Puerto Ricans in New York’s Bronx borough, Richardson, a corrections officer, said Puerto Rico’s debt crisis may derail her plan.
“I wanted to be a beach bum, have a house by the ocean,” said Richardson, 46, one of the thousands of Puerto Ricans who migrated to the mainland United States in recent decades.
“If it doesn’t get any better, then I will think about somewhere else.”
Richardson isn’t alone. In interviews across New York this week, Puerto Ricans expressed weary frustration at the U.S. territory’s $73 billion debt burden and fiscal crisis.
Many Puerto Ricans said they expected more would leave for the United States because of the crisis, including family members, potentially accelerating a growing number of migrations in recent decades. Others have begun sending more money home to family and friends.
Puerto Rico’s troubles came to a head this week as it faced a deadline to repay its debt and as a report from former International Monetary Fund economists said the commonwealth was in dire need of economic reform.