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Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Puerto Rico

Leave aside for the moment the question of whose fault the government shutdown is and what their motives might be. Puerto Rico is suffering from the shutdown in a number of significant ways:

  • 10,000 federal employees living in Puerto Rico were affected; half are expected to be out of work.
  • Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristobal are both closed.
  • El Yunque National Park is also closed.
  • Opportunity costs in the tourist trade cannot be easily measured yet, but will doubtless be steep.
  • Social Security offices were closed.
  • The Federal District courts are finishing work on cases which have already received rulings, but are not going forward with other cases.
  • “Around 27 percent of Puerto Rico’s personal disposable income depends on federal government payments,” according to economist Gustavo Vélez.

Puerto Rico, already in a state of economic crisis, cannot afford this.

Against this backdrop of serious consequences came an added twist.

A group of Puerto Rican veterans of the Korean War went to lay a wreath on the Korean War monument. All memorials and monuments have been closed for the shutdown, though, and barricades erected.  The veterans, representing the 65th Army regiment, moved the barricades and completed their task of honoring veterans.

The monuments and memorials in question do not normally have any staff. Police officers were apparently brought in for the purpose of keeping the public, outdoor monuments closed. An officer informed the veterans that permits had been rescinded.

Anthony Mele, president of the regiment’s honor task force, said that the officer then turned around and left as they placed the wreath.

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