Residents of Puerto Rico were fleeing the island long before Hurricane Maria hit. Now, even more are fleeing. They are being replaced, to some extent, by rich mainlanders seeking to take advantage of laws that make the island a tax haven. And with that comes development, which many of the remaining locals oppose. USA Today reports:
Carmen Torres has fought off overreaching city officials, gentrification and the punishing winds of Hurricane Maria.
As Puerto Rico approaches the one-year anniversary of the storm's landfall, Torres and others brace for a new adversary: developers emboldened by Maria’s destruction and out to reshape some of the island’s most vulnerable – and desirable – neighborhoods, including this one named “Vietnam” for the pitched battles it’s had with police over the years.
“We’re getting together and will keep fighting for Vietnam,” Torres, 61, said. “They’d like to remove us one way or another.”
As post-Maria Puerto Rico shifts from recovery to long-term rebuilding, some of the island’s most vulnerable neighborhoods anticipate a renewed push from developers and local officials to target their prime properties and displace residents.