Puerto Rico and imperial machinations

Ricardo Rosselló, governor of a U.S. territory where power, thanks to Hurricane Maria, remains out for 36 percent of the population, tried making nice with Congress; now, incensed by how the tax bill on the verge of passing will punish investors, he’s lashing out.

Rosselló is particularly irked over portions of the law that impose a 12.5 percent tax on “intangible assets” of U.S. companies abroad and a minimum of a 10 percent tax on companies’ profits abroad, meaning businesses with operations in Puerto Rico will pay higher taxes than their counterparts on the U.S. mainland. The measure in the GOP tax bill is designed to stop American companies from avoiding taxes by shifting profits overseas. But it would also apply to Puerto Rico because the island is treated as both a foreign and domestic entity under the U.S. tax code.

Speaking of scathing, Refugees International excoriated the Puerto Rican government and FEMA’s bungled coordination:

Comparing it with past natural disasters, such as the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the group found the U.S. response lacking. In Haiti, the group says 8,000 U.S. troops were deployed to the island within two days of the disaster. In Puerto Rico, it took 10 days for 4,500 U.S. troops to arrive. Central to FEMA’s problematic response, Refugees International says, is that the federal agency is designed to supplement local and state disaster response efforts. But in Puerto Rico, the group found, municipalities and the Commonwealth had “limited capacity and ability to respond.”

Fifteen days ago, I dined with the warm and marvelous parents of a Puerto Rican friend. From their smiles it was impossible for me to tell that at home they still had no power and didn’t expect restoration until March. Please ponder this revelation for a moment. March 2018. Puerto Ricans enjoy no respite from the tropical climate; it’s humid or less humid. The machinations of their government fascinate them not a bit. Whether the imperial capital located thousands of miles north shows little besides a mercenary interest in the territory it regards as a colony matters less than fresh hot coffee in the morning.

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