‘Gringo go home’: Posters in Puerto Rico compare crypto-millionaires Logan Paul and Brock Pierce to colonizers as cost of living on island soars
At a recent protest in Puerto Rico, demonstrators held up signs that read “this is what our colonizers look like,” above black-and-white portraits of millionaires Logan Paul and Brock Pierce.
The saying has become one of the rallying cries behind Puerto Rico’s anti-gentrification movement, along with “gringo go home” and “Puerto Rico is not for sale”. Posters and graffiti with the slogans can be seen across San Juan, according to a New York Times report.
Local residents told the Times they could no longer afford their homes and were being displaced due to the recent influx of wealthy settlers registered under ‘Law 22’, the massive tax relief from the Isle.
Between December 2020 and December 2021, the cost of living in Puerto Rico increased by a record 7%, the largest percentage increase since December 1981. Over the past year, prices for single-family dwellings have increased more than 18%, according to the federal government. The data.
Paul and Pierce own multimillion-dollar mansions and hotels on the island, purchased amid the crypto “gold rush” that peaked during the pandemic. Both men did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“It’s getting crazy here in California, paying taxes,” Paul said on his podcast last February while explaining his motivation for leaving Los Angeles, which included being “locked in” to his boxing career. “In Puerto Rico, you are motivated to do more and make more money because of the implications that come with it.”
Brock Pierce, who is considered one of the island’s crypto mania leaders, bought an $18.3 million hotel in Vieques two weeks ago. He also owns a $5 million monastery in historic San Juan that doubles as his “clubhouse.”
Despite his real estate investments, Pierce told the New York Post that he does not plan to take a “dime” from the island and that any profits he makes in Puerto Rico “would be reinvested in the island or donated to charities”. In 2020, he donated $1 million to local COVID-19 relief efforts.
Law 22, which allows beneficiaries to exempt both passive income and capital gains, saw a record number of applicants last year. None of these applicants were of Puerto Rican descent, only immigrants are eligible to apply.
Not everyone sees newcomers and their Web3 fervor as negative. Young entrepreneurs told the Washington Post they are excited about the transformative power the high-tech crowd could bring to the island’s debt-ridden economy.
“People under Law 22 don’t add much to the Puerto Rican economy,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said at a December conference in San Juan. “They spend a little, but very little, and at the same time they increase property prices and the cost of living for others.”
Law 22, which was revamped in 2019 to fall under a broader code of incentives called Law 60, was first launched in 2012 in hopes of saving Puerto Rico from economic collapse. Five years later, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, forcing over 100,000 residents to migrate to different parts of the United States. As Puerto Rico struggled to recover, the crypto market exploded.
A similar fate repeated itself during COVID-19, when the virus upended the local economy and tourism industry. Over the past two years, virtual workers have moved to towns on the scenic coast of Puerto Rico, and crypto happy hours and NFT art galleries have quickly followed.
Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s tourism board, said this “visitor economy” is vital to the territory’s recovery: “When the visitor economy grows, everyone wins. Jobs are created, businesses thrive, the local tax base expands, and potential investors are drawn to Puerto Rico,” the website states.