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Puerto Rico Mountain Town Forced to Dismiss 200 Workers in Largest Such Layoff

SAN JUAN — A small mountain town in central Puerto Rico whose economy depended heavily on manufacturing announced today it will dismiss 200 employees in the largest layoff of its kind in the U.S. commonwealth in more than a decade.

Cidra spokeswoman Eunice Castro said that it is necessary to lay off 35 percent of workers because the town of 40,000 people is running out of money after the closure of a PepsiCo manufacturing plant in February, which itself cost 200 jobs.

The soft drink company generated some $7.5 million a year and represented 40 percent of Cidra’s budget. As a result of the plant closure, the town budget will shrink from $18.6 million to $11.1 million in the upcoming fiscal year, with $10.5 million alone needed for employee salaries, Castro said.

“None of this adds up,” she said. “It’s not possible.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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