Messrs. Martínez Nadal, Iriarte, Bolívar Pagán, Echevarría, García Méndez, García Veve, Ochart, Pacheco, Ramos, Reyes Delgado, Serrallés, Valdés, and Villanueva, introduced on behalf of the Economy Commission of the Legislature of Puerto Rico, the following
Setting forth to the President and the Congress of the United States of America the economic and social evils confronting The People of Puerto Rico and pointing out specific recommendations for a complete economic-social rehabilitation of the Island.
Whereas, The Island of Puerto Rico is an organized non-contiguous territory of the United States of America, considered as an integral part of the Nation by reason of the citizenship enjoyed by it;
Whereas The National Administration has made public its purpose to include the Island of Puerto Rico within the General Rehabilitation Plan which the President of the United States of America, Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, has submitted to Congress to cope with the prevalent economic situation and to combat unemployment;
Whereas, The Island of Puerto Rico is undergoing a very serious economic crisis, brought about by the destruction of its wealth by the hurricanes of 1928 and 1932, the prevalent depression, world-wide in its extent, the approval by Congress of the Jones-Costigan Act, which included sugar as a basic commodity under the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the application of the retroactive provision of which to our Island, has reduced by 240,000 tons of sugar the crop of 1933-34, and by 25% the 1934-35 production;
Whereas, As a result of the application to our Island of the said Agricultural Adjustment Act, a large number of commodities for the maintenance of the people, which are imported from the United States market, have been considerably increased in price, thus aggravating the subsistence problem;
Whereas, According to the provisions of the Jones-Costigan Act, a large portion of the land now under sugar-cane cultivation is to be withdrawn from such cultivation, and consequently, nearly 20,000 laborers will lose their opportunity of work in the cultivation and harvesting of the yield of said lands, thus increasing the number of the unemployed, now that there are but few industries in the Island and no opportunity to secure any profitable occupation to make up for the lockout of the agricultural laborers;
Whereas, The Congress of the United States has enacted a law providing for the establishment, operation and maintenance of foreign-trade zones in ports of entry to the United States, to facilitate and develop foreign commerce, it being required that the establishment of such free zones or open ports be requested by the States, the Territory of Puerto Rico being comprised within the meaning of the term State;
Whereas, It is a generally accepted fact that the Insular public debt of $27,466,000 and the municipal public debt of $16,782,228.13 is a heavy burden on the economy of our people and is by itself an element that hinders the efforts made towards economic reconstruction, which makes it urgently necessary to convert and merge such debt, whose service requirements are becoming too burdensome, specifically because of the fact that the funds for such purposes are derived from special property taxes which in many cases reach exorbitant rates which cannot possibly be reduced, due to the constitutional prohibition to the effect that the value of contracts shall not be impaired;
Whereas, The depression, overwhelming in its effect, has given occasion for the accumulation by the municipalities of Puerto Rico of a floating debt amounting to over $3,000,000;
Whereas, In order to attain the economic rehabilitation of our Island, it is necessary to carry out important public works without which it would be impossible to achieve the development of our agricultural, industrial and commercial wealth, due to the lack of adequate means of communication, of the utilization of the water resources, of an exhaustive organization of our lands to obtain abundant yields, and of means to diffuse among our country people the necessary knowledge as to cultivation of the lands and disposition of the products in the most profitable and convenient way to obtain the best returns therefrom;
Whereas, The Economy Commission of the Legislature of Puerto Rico duly studied the economic-social problem of Puerto Rico in all its aspects, held hearings, carried out investigations, designated the committees which were to submit their conclusions as regards the various aspects of the question under consideration, and arranged and compiled the findings of the committees, embodying them in the Plan herein set forth;
Whereas, The Legislature of Puerto Rico has always shown an earnest desire and a firm resolution fully to cooperate in the task of putting into operation any financial reconstruction plan that might be worked out by the National Administration to further the betterment and progress of the Island of Puerto Rico; and this being an organized noncontiguous Territory of the United States, it must find a remedy for its problems under the protection of the laws approved by Congress,
Now Therefore, Be it resolved by the Senate of Puerto Rico, the House of Representatives Concurring:
To approve, as it is hereby approved, in order that it may serve as a basis for the economic reconstruction of Puerto Rico the Plan herein inserted, setting forth in its various aspects the economic-social problem of the Island.