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Puerto Rico Herald

Why I Left Puerto Rico

Dr. William Quintana Ruiz

March 20, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Puerto Rico Herald. All rights reserved.

Interesting question posed by the Puerto Rico Herald: Why are Puerto Ricans leaving the Island?

The answer is simple, economics.

The Island cannot sustain the 8.6 million Puerto Ricans that according to the U.S. census do exist (on the island and the mainland).

Take my case for example. I got my Bachelor's in Science with a concentration in Chemistry in 1983 from the University of Puerto Rico. I graduated with high honors and obtained a scholarship to come to the United States and got my Ph. D. in Chemistry in 1988 from the University of Pennsylvania. I started at that point applying for jobs in Puerto Rico. What was the answer? Zilch, nothing.

I had every intention of returning to Puerto Rico after finishing my Ph. D., but I was frankly told, thanks but no thanks. So I embarked in my current path. I went to The Ohio State University as one of the first postdoctoral fellows on a special program set up by that university. I spent three years there, honing my skills in the area of Inorganic Chemistry. I was the only Hispanic in that program.

I thought for sure that at that point, I would excite some interest in from either the University of Puerto Rico or the chemical industry on the Island as a potential employee, well prepared, educated in two of the best universities in the United States.

What did I get? Not a damn thing. Sorry, no vacancies. So I applied for an academic position at New Mexico State University, where I am currently employed. Do I like my work? For certain. I am helping shape the next wave of Hispanic students in science through my teaching efforts at this university.

Do I get any phone calls from Puerto Rico? Not one. It is very depressing to see positions at the University of Puerto Rico go to individuals that are not puertorrican.

I probably with this letter burned the last bridge and any hope of ever going back to Puerto Rico, but so be it. I have managed for twenty-two years to be successful at what I do. If by some reason in the future I do something significant in my field, I am sure that my puertorricanness will be exploited, when so little was done to have me return to Puerto Rico.

That is why so many Puerto Ricans leave the Island.

I am sure that I will not even be considered puertorrican enough due to the fact that I have lived my whole adult life in the United States. But that choice was the only one left to me. I was not sought by anybody, I was not wanted when I tried to return, so therefore I have to continue on with my life.

Puerto Rico as of today is in reality a micro-socialist state, under the disguise of a democracy. The government has too much influence in everything in the Island. Free enterprise is not allowed to flourish; too much government intervention is the real culprit of the situation in Puerto Rico.

If you ask my opinion, the only way that Puerto Rico will move forward is by dismantling the ELA. It has shown that is not a viable alternative of government.

It has stunted the growth of the Puerto Rican economy by making it more attractive to young professionals to flee to the United States. In essence, we are living the American dream away from Puerto Rico. Strange when one of the pillars of the ELA was common U.S. citizenship.

We all are U.S. citizens, but we are unwelcome in our place of birth.

As long as the political situation in Puerto Rico stays unchanged, more Puerto Ricans will leave the Island, depriving it of their talents and condemning Puerto Rico to be a third world country.


Dr. William Quintana Ruiz

Las Cruces, NM


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