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Reforming Expropriation in Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of the universally reviled U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London, in which the court permitted the use of eminent domain for private development, 44 states have reformed their eminent domain laws. These changes have made it dramatically more difficult for cities to violate citizens’ fundamental private property rights.

Unfortunately for home and small-business owners across the island, Puerto Rico has been noticeably absent from this trend. With some of the very worst laws in the U.S., municipalities routinely abuse the power of eminent domain—or expropiación—and many activists and homeowners fear that private-to-private land transfers will grow under the guise of post-Maria recovery efforts and an influx of billions in federal Community Development Block Grant dollars.

To protect the constitutional rights of property owners throughout Puerto Rico, the Institute for Justice has joined with local community leaders, creating the Comité para la Reforma de la Ley de Expropiaciones (CRE).

CRE has already generated strong reaction from the media, as well as positive support from policymakers and activists. IJ’s recently released report card, Expropriation in Puerto Rico—which gives Puerto Rico an F for its poor eminent domain laws—has even been cited in Proyecto del Senado 1049, a recently-introduced bill that seeks to curb eminent domain abuse.

IJ looks forward to continuing its work defending the property rights of all Puerto Ricans, who deserve to keep the homes and businesses they’ve worked so hard to own!

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