Economy January 26, 2016 | 10:38 am

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Economic woe switches Puerto Rico-Dominican Rep. immigration

Santo Domingo.- CarlosGonzalez had noticed increasingly empty chairs and little movement at casino slotmachines in Puerto Rico where he worked while job offers in the DominicanRepublic spun in his head.

It was 2013 and PuertoRico´s economy had bogged down during 10 years. Gonzalez didn’t know it then,but the once-popular casino where he worked as marketing manager would soon close.

He thought about hisfamily, his friends and the reasons why he had returned to Puerto Rico afterliving in New Jersey for 20 years.

It took him severalmonths to decide. "It is not easy to leave your land," he said. Butin the end it did. “I never imagined it. Never! he said laughing. "I askedmyself 2,000 times if I was really going to live in Dominican Republic. I wouldsay I was crazy."

During the last half acentury people crossed the 129 kilometers (80 miles) of rough waters between PuertoRico and the Dominican was in one direction: from Dominican Republic to PuertoRico.

But Puerto Rico´sstaggering economic crisis reversed the trend as Boricuas, overwhelmed by monetaryproblems, increasingly escape it to open businesses, while the chaos evenscares many Dominican immigrants.

Although authoritiessay they lack exact figures from recent years many Puerto Ricans have come tothe Dominican Republic counting on their status as Americans. .

"Before it wasvery rare for a Puerto Rican to come here to get a work visa," said Dominicanconsul in San Juan Franklin Grullón. "There has been an increase in all areas.We understand that this flow will continue to increase."

Quoted by,Grullón said most Puerto Ricans seeking a visa are youngsters or middle-aged studentsand many request a permit to work in the tourism sector because they speakEnglish and find it relatively easy to find work in that sector, which posted a7.0% growth according to the Central Bank.

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