Exempt Puerto Rico Permanently from the Jones Act Law to rebuild and grow the economy.
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One crucial and essential action that will aid long-term recovery of Puerto Rico's infrastructure and economy in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and to foster its economic growth and sustainability, is to permanently exempt the Island from the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act.
This century-old, World War I law, was passed as an effort to protect the U.S. maritime shipping industry from foreign competition. Puerto Rico is the oldest, largest, and most populous United States Island territory at the southeastern most boundary of the Nation, strategically located along the shipping lanes of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Since the Jones Act inception, in the early 1920's, this law has hindered the economic growth of the Island, while limiting its ability to participate and compete autonomously in the International arena in the Caribbean basin economy. This was a direct result of Puerto Rico being ceded to the U.S during the Spanish-American War of 1898, under the Treaty of Paris.
The Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the U.S., either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel that was built, staffed and owned by American companies carrying goods between domestic ports.
The Jones Act has served financially well to the U.S. monopoly of the Shipping Industry magnates, and other interested commerce. The Shipping Industry and Commerce powerful lobbying groups oppose lifting the Jones Act, for profit making reasons. A profit status that has not allowed Puerto Rico to enjoy autonomous economic revenue as a U.S. territory, like their fellow U.S. Virgin Islands, which have benefited of economic viability for decades by being exempt from the Jones Act.
In 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York report said the Jones Act hurts Puerto Rico’s economy. It estimated that shipping costs from the U.S. East Coast to Puerto Rico are twice as that of the nearby Caribbean Islands, due to the Jones Act. The People of Puerto Rico pay twice as much for the same basic goods than their fellow Citizens in the mainland, USA. The Jones Act law places heavy tariffs on foreign ships delivering goods to the U.S. Island territory, hindering its free trade participation.
Waiving the Jones Act makes it easier for Puerto Rico to receive aid by opening up ports to any ship that can bring aid, rather than only U.S. vessels. It will protect these American citizens from gauging prices by the commerce industry that will benefit from selling their goods in rebuilding the Island of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. It will also allow Puerto Rico to participate just like the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands territories, which enjoy an exempt free status from this antiquated, protectionist, old colonial law.
Exempting Puerto Rico from the Jones Act, will have a two-fold benefit:
1) It will renew interest in Congress to consider viable solutions for the future autonomous economic sustainability of Puerto Rico.
2) It will provide for an opportunity to revisit the political relationship status of Puerto Rico with the United States; Whatever that future might be, a U.S. Commonwealth Territory; Statehood, or as an Independent Nation; it is up to Congress to do what is right for the American citizens of Puerto Rico.
By signing this petition, you are urging the President of the United States; U.S. Congress; U.S. House of Representative; U.S. Senate; Department of Homeland Security to exempt Puerto Rico Permanently of the Jones Act to help Puerto Rico recover, rebuild its economy, infrastructure, and future economic sustainability.
Unidos Por Puerto Rico. United for Puerto Rico.
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