Puerto Rico: Crypto Paradise or a New Wave of Colonialism?
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are moving en masse to Puerto Rico, where they intend building their crypto heaven. However, with a colonial history stretching back centuries, many natives are skeptical that the crypto millionaires will be able to achieve any good.
According to The New York Times, cryptocurrency millionaires from around the world are selling-off their properties and heading to the Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to help rebuild the city and convert it into a cryptocurrency paradise. The group is led by Brock Pierce, a well-known investor in projects like Blockchain Capital, EOS, and Tether.
A Crypto Utopia in Puerto Rico?…
These bitcoin millionaires termed what they are building “Puertopia” until they found out Puertopia meant “eternal boy playground” in Latin, so they changed it to Sol.
These cryptocurrecy enthusiasts are fleeing from state and federal taxes on their crypto fortunes, some of which now runs into billions of dollars. They have plans to rebuild Puerto Rico from the ground up, turning it into a cryptocurrency utopia, a city built on digital currencies and powered by the blockchain.
The founders of Sol or the ‘Puertopians,’ as they call themselves, firmly believe that blockchain technology has the capabilities to reinvent the world and they want to prove it; they are determined to show everyone what a world run by crypto and distributed ledger technology could look like.
The ‘big whales’ had been searching the world for over a year, trying to find the best location to create crypto heaven.
After nature flexed its muscles on Puerto Rico’s infrastructure in September and the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies landed on the moon, they saw an opportunity and felt a sense of urgency like never before.
Founder of CNET, Halsey Minor, who’s also moving his Blockchain firm, Videocoin, from the Cayman Islands to Puerto Rico this winter, said:
“What’s happened here is a perfect storm. while it was really bad for the people of Puerto Rico, in the long term, it’s a godsend if people look past that.”
Puerto Rico is an almost tax-free nation; no federal personal income taxes, no capital gains tax and on top of that, business taxes are quite favorable. At present, the local government is entirely receptive towards the crypto utopians, and the governor will speak at their blockchain summit conference tagged Puerto Crypto in March.
A blockchain tax lawyer, Giovanni Mendez, noted that he expected the expatriates to leave after Hurricane Maria, but the population keeps increasing. In his words, “It’s increased monumentally, and they all came together.”
Hedge fund manager, Robb Rill, who has been living in Puerto Rico since 2013 and is the leader of a group of individuals seeking to enjoy the benefits of the country’s tax incentives, hinted he is not quite excited about the movement of the crypto utopians:
“They call me up saying they’re going to buy 250,000 acres so they can incorporate their own city, literally start a city in Puerto Rico to have their own crypto world, I can’t engage in that.”
The visitors are still deliberating on the exact shape Sol would take. Some say they need to build a city; others believe moving into Old San Juan would be just right. However, they all hope to decide and move in quickly, but for the time being, they have found solace in the Monastery.
The Monastery, a twenty thousand square-foot hotel the Puertopians rented was unscathed by the Hurricane. Matt Clemenson and Stephen Morris, two men championing the crypto utopia, stated “It’s only when everything’s been swept away that you can make a case for rebuilding from the ground up.”
”We’re benevolent capitalists, building a benevolent economy,” said Mr. Clemenson, who is a co-founder of a blockchain-based lottery platform, lottery.com. “The U.S doesn’t want us. It’s trying to choke off this economy. There needs to be a place where people are free to invent,” said Mr. Minor, about the difficulties cryptocurrency investors encounter with U.S banks.
… or Another Wave of Colonization?
However, many on social media have pointed out that The New York Times never bothered to question why one of the leaders of this movement, Brock Pierce, is interested in an offshore haven. Furthermore, Puerto Rican natives are suspicious of the real intentions, claiming that the island nation doesn’t benefit from a millionaire’s playground in their backyard.
As a nation that has an extensive history of colonialism, first with the Spanish followed by Americans, could it be that these cryptocurrency millionaires just represent another wave of colonization?
At a time when the world is killing cryptocurrencies with taxes and harsh regulations, there’s no better time to build a crypto utopia than now. A crypto world without government interference is an excellent idea in theory but whether the Puertopia dream will come to pass; only time will tell.
Contributions by Jamie Holmes