“Protesters argue Wal-Mart damages the local economy while only providing precarious jobs for Puerto Ricans.”
Puerto Rican youth protests suggest awareness of the real causes for the 46% poverty rate in the island. Since 1898, American businesses have been exploiting labor and packing up and leaving when profits are better somewhere else in the world. They have done the same in retail commerce and agriculture, buying small farms, and converting the lands to farming of whatever crop the United States needs at the moment, until worldwide competition makes the crop unprofitable. This has left the island with empty lands where no one can afford to produce crops even for the local Puerto Rican market that has been taken over by American-owned stores that sell American products and provide minimum wage jobs. This eliminates local competition and discourages local business development. Profits obtained by American businesses are sent back to the United States with minimum (for a period of time they paid none) taxes paid to the local government. American businesses are the main beneficiaries of all money the United States “gives” Puerto Rico. Local citizens struggle to remain living in the island, or give up and leave for the United States to search for opportunities.