Three weeks ago, on October 1, 2015, the cargo ship El Faro sank in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, during category-four Hurricane Joaquin.
The boat was built 40 years ago. Until it finally sank and disappeared, it regularly shuttled cars, TVs, food and other items from Jacksonville, Fla. to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The cargo ship El Faro
But at 40 years of age, with a history of engine failures and lifeboat deficiencies, El Faro should not have been operating during a hurricane.
33 people Die for the Jones Act
The deeper problem, is that El Faro should have been running from Jacksonville to San Juan at all. Not for 40 years, and not ever. Period.
Ever since 1920, Chapter 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (aka the Jones Act) has forced foreign registry vessels to unload all their goods in Jacksonville, re-load them onto US-owned ships, and only then, are these foreign goods allowed into Puerto Rico.
Through this mechanism, Jacksonville has retained 50,000 shipping industry jobs that rightfully belong in Puerto Rico.
Through this trick, the US makes sure that millions of Puerto Ricans pay 15-20% higher prices for all foreign and US goods, than they would pay without the Jones Act.
This one law alone – the Jones Act – costs Puerto Rican consumers over $6 billion per year. If it weren’t for the Jones Act, there would be no “public debt” and no “fiscal crisis” in Puerto Rico.
The 33 crew members of El Faro did not have to die in the Caribbean Sea.
Puerto Rico does not be enslaved to 15-20% higher corporate profits.
It is time to END THE JONES ACT.