Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite! That is the rallying cry of the newspaper “Workers World.” Included in this cry, is the case of Puerto Rico.
In a recent article titled “Puerto Rico, the Colony,” Workers World discussed the status of Puerto Rico and reported various aspects of the Cabotage Law (Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones-Shafroth Act).
The Jones-Shafroth Act (aka Law of Cabotage) has a special relationship to workers and workers’ rights, since it has prohibited Puerto Rico from creating 50,000 jobs, and from generating a shipping industry that is badly needed on the island.
As an ISLAND, Puerto Rico needs to develop its own shipping industry, and conduct its own international trade. But it is not allowed to do this…thanks to the Law of Cabotage.
Under Section 27 of the U.S. Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (also known as the Jones-Shafroth Act), all goods shipped over water between US ports must be carried on US flag ships that are constructed in the US, owned by US citizens and operated by US citizens.
What does this mean? It means that every product that enters or leaves Puerto Rico, other than highly taxed and severely regulated foreign registry vessels, must be carried on a US ship to and from US ports.
EVERY product that enters or leaves Puerto Rico to U.S. ports must be carried on a U.S. ship — or face highly protectionist tariffs, quotas, taxes and fees that are later passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer. This includes oil from Venezuela, cars from Japan, electronics from China, food from Central America, medicine from Canada — any materials from anywhere. In order to comply with the Jones Act, all this merchandise must be off-loaded from the original carrier, reloaded onto a U.S. ship and then delivered to Puerto Rico. It all makes as much sense, as digging a hole and filling it up again.
This is not a business model. It is a shakedown. It’s the maritime version of the “protection” racket. The repeal of the Cabotage Law in Puerto Rico should be our new Vieques…the entire world must hear about it. The United Nations must hear about it.
We must end this NOW.