Puerto Rico restaurants are having trouble selling their wares in the U.S. after a hurricane devastated the island and forced the closure of many businesses.
The hurricane has left Puerto Ricans with little money to purchase goods and services.
But some restaurant owners say they’re not sure they’re going to get reimbursed for the damage caused by the storm.
Ricardo Villanueva, owner of Puerta Rosa, said that after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last month, he had to hire extra staff to keep his businesses running.
“We had to put a lot of money into the restaurant to be able to survive,” he told Vice News.
“I have a lot more to sell than we had last year.”
The restaurant was able to stay open despite the closure, because Puerto Rico had no insurance and its state has not been able to make payments.
But he said the storm and the lack of insurance made it difficult to survive.
“There are no insurance companies, no companies that are insured, so we’re not able to buy our food, our beverages, anything,” he said.
Villanuevas family of six has sold more than 500 items, including rice porridge and rice, since Maria hit.
He said that even though he’s able to keep running the restaurant, he has to make a lot to pay for the items.
“I have no money,” he added.
“We’ve lost everything.”
He said that the owners of other Puerto Rican restaurants that were affected by the hurricane were forced to close.
“The only way we can get a food voucher is if we can sell rice to the Puerto Rican people, and that’s a very difficult situation to have,” he continued.
“If the Puerto Rican people are unable to buy, then they’re unable to consume, which means we have to make our products in the United States.
That’s the only way.”
Villanueso said he is worried that some of the restaurants may be closing down after the hurricane.
“When you lose everything, and you have to sell all the things, then you’re in a really bad situation,” he explained.
“If there are no food vendors in Puerto Rico, then there’s no way to survive.”
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