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The Oxford Place of the Year 2017 is…

Puerto Rico

Our polls have officially closed and the results are in: our Place of the Year for 2017 is Puerto Rico. Although it was a tight race between Catalonia and Puerto Rico in both the long- and shortlist polling, the events that have occurred in this Caribbean Island in the past year have truly resonated with our followers who partook in voting.

Puerto Rico has been in recession since 2006 due to a spiraling cycle of public debt – much of it stemming from public corporations such as the government development bank, the transportation authority, the electrical power authority, and the water and sewage authority. However, earlier this year, the island came into the global spotlight when they declared a form of bankruptcy in May. Because Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States, it was not allowed to formally declare bankruptcy, thus shedding light on the Commonwealth’s political relationship with the United States.

San Juan – Old San Juan from Air (Postcard) by Roger W. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

Then in September of this year, Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico and brought about horrific destruction. With the crippled hospitals, lack of safe drinking water, closed roads, and electrical outages island-wide, thousands of Puerto Ricans who were able to leave did just that. Response by the White House was met with great criticism for being too slow and insufficient in terms of relief funding. Two months later, much has improved but it will still be a while before Puerto Rico is back to its pre-hurricane status. Power on the island is still not completely restored, and hundreds of survivors remain in shelters across Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall in Puerto Rico by NOAA Satellites. Public domain via Flickr.

Between the financial and humanitarian crises facing Puerto Ricans, it has not been an easy year for this Commonwealth. It’s also unclear how the rest of the year will play out in regards to additional hurricane relief. What is sure is that debates will continue between Puerto Rico and the White House regarding debt relief, further hurricane assistance, and whether Puerto Rico should remain in the United States as a territory or a state – or become an independent country altogether.

Read up on our Place of the Year archive, and remember to check back for more posts about Puerto Rico and the other POTY contenders. Let us know what you think of this year’s Place of the Year in the comments below, or use #POTY2017 on social media.

Featured image credit: Puerto Rico by Birga. CC0 Public domain via Pixabay.

Recent Comments

  1. Dr. Dianne S. Widawsky

    Interesting to find that Puerto Rico is begrudged bankruptcy status because of its quasi ties to U. S. It would benefit from State hood Status. Hard to know if present U. S. Government would propose this. I find our current Congress and President occupied with upper 1% of population and being devise to people who can not trace their ancestors back 3-6 generations in U. S. Thank you for bringing Puerto Rico to the forefront for 2017. Dianne S Widawsky

  2. Javier Rúa

    Good choice.

  3. Idalia Nieves

    I’m very grateful you are shining light on my “Isla del Encanto”. It used to be the Island of Enchantment and will be so again. Regardless of status, my compatriots need to re-learn to support themselves on the new century. Windfarms, solar panel farms, horticultural projects, and a 1000 other measures can be implemented and allow us Puertorricans to come back to the 21st century better than ever! Please keep an “I” on us! Thank you.
    Idalia Nieves

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