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Sol, Puerto Rico

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Sol (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsol]) or Puertopia is the name of a proposed crypto-city promoted by a group of cryptocurrency moguls.[1] Located at Puerto Rico, the project would include the first cryptocurrency bank in the world and it intends to serve as a futuristic showcase of the potential of blockchains to change the economy of cities in the near future. The municipality of Ceiba has been mentioned as the forerunner to host Sol.

In contrast to another area that has been proposed as a crypto-utopia (or, at least, that would formally use cryptocurrency as its national coin if ever recognized), Liberland (which is mostly symbolic, uninhabited and -according to the nations with legal claim to the territory- potentially illegal), this project proposes a formal city created trough collaboration with the government of Puerto Rico.

Etymology[edit]

The city's original name was based on the terms "Puerto Rico" and "utopia", reflecting the project's intention of creating the first "crypto utopia" of its class in the Caribbean archipelago. However, since the name can supposedly be interpreted as meaning "eternal boy playground" in Latin, it was subsequently changed. Sol (derived from the Roman deities Sol and Sol Invictus) means "sun" in Spanish, a reference to the tropical climate of Puerto Rico.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

As a semi-autonomous territory that "belongs to, but is not part of" the United States,[2] Puerto Rico is regarded as a foreign jurisdiction by the IRS for tax purposes.[3] In 2012, the Promotion of Export Services Act (more commonly known as "Law 20") and the Act to Promote the Relocation of Individual Investors to Puerto Rico (a.k.a. "Law 22"), which facilitated the export of services and offered significant tax exemptions to wealthy individuals that were willing to relocate to Puerto Rico respectively, were passed with the intention of attracting investors. Most of the businessmen that arrived since have focused on the acquisition of real state and other forms of economic development. However, some beneficiaries of these laws have made attempts to become involved in the local sociocultural environment with initiatives like proposing the establishment of a large scale cinema industry or creating the latest incarnation of the Puerto Rico Winter Sports Federation (a previous version was discontinued, in part due to lacking an athletic base due to snow being extremely rare in the Caribbean).

Roosevelt Roads Naval Station closed down in 2004, after the United States Navy was ousted from Vieques, Puerto Rico following a wave of civilian protests. Since then, a number of initiatives have been proposed, but the redevelopment of the zone has stalled and only specific facilities have been repurposed.[4][5] Among the projects that did not made it past the planning stage are the Caribbean Riviera mega-project under Luis Fortuño, the involvement of Clark Realty Capital in housing/commercial projects under Alejandro García Padilla and a large scale amusement park under Ricardo Rosselló.[6][7][8] Others, such as the filming of productions like Wrecked and Crossbones or Marine Environmental Remediation Group's boat recycling facility were either temporary or short-lived.[9]

In its current form, cryptocurrency was introduced as a response to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and anonymous figure Satoshi Nakamoto is considered its popularizer. Bitcoin, created in 2009, was the first decentralized cryptocurrency.[10] Since then, numerous others have been created.[11] An increase in the value of these cryptocurrencies has made several investor wealthy, with some oscillating between being millionaires and billionaires.[12]

Puertopia and relocations[edit]

On September 20, 2017, hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico, creating what is considered the worst natural disaster on record for the archipelago. According to a New York Times article that quoted the "Puertopians", it was the economic environment that followed which convinced them to choose the ravaged archipelago.[1] In the words of investor Stephen Morris, "It's only when everything's been swept away that you can make a case for rebuilding from the ground up".[1]

Reception[edit]

As soon as the news were made public, Rafael Lenín López of WAPA-TV began an investigation for NotiCentro, the channel's news service.[13] In it he interviewed a number of government officials, technological experts and economists, whose reactions varied between cautious support and skepticism.[13] A conference (named "Puerto Crypto") where relevant legislation is to be addressed, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Economic Development and Commerce, is due to be held in march. [14] Despite this Manuel A. Laboy Rivera Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico, expressed a lack of knowledge about the real reach of Bitcoin within the Puerto Rican economy (despite it being recorded since the early 2010s) and speculated that some changes to the local financial regulations may be needed.[13] When prodded about what these would involve, he states that they would revolve around fraud protection.[15] Corporative lawyer Antonio Bauzá agreed and argued in favor of audits.[15]

The Puerto Rico Department of Treasury declined to comment on the issue, recognizing that they did not have an expert in cryptocurrency at the moment, but noted a future interest in having one.[15] The Puerto Rico Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions has seen sufficient legitimacy to approve the existence of "Digital Internacional Bank" licenses, under the interpretation of international banking laws.[15] However, unlike other locations where banks have suppressed the use of cryptocurrency,[16] the Puerto Rico Bankers Association notes trough president Zoimé Álvarez that they did not consider themselves "enemies" and that "[crytocurrency] is here to stay, only being concerned by the irreversible nature of payments. Businessman Samuel Medina expressed the belief that if used properly, and if the emphasis is placed in the underlying technologies, they could be capitalized for the well being of Puerto Rico.[15] Techno-entrepreneur also supports it, despite being aware of the risks involved, and noted that contrary to the local popular perception cryptocurrency it's not similar to the Iraqi Dinar investment scam.[13][15]

Others, like Larisa Yarovaya and Brian Lucey of The Conversation have expressed concerns that the creation of Sol would result in crypto-colonialism.[17]

References[edit]

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. [7]
  8. [8]
  9. [9]
  10. Sagona-Stophel, Katherine. "Bitcoin 101 white paper" (PDF). Thomson Reuters. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 Aug 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  11. Tasca, Paolo (7 September 2015). "Digital Currencies: Principles, Trends, Opportunities, and Risks". SSRN 2657598.
  12. [10]
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 [11]
  14. [12]
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 [13]
  16. [14]
  17. [15]


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