When it comes to examples of futuristic crypto societies, none is more bold or vivid than Sol. The relocation of a number of notable cryptocurrency enthusiasts from California to Puerto Rico has come with the ambition to create a modern crypto utopia. But behind the bold dreams are a myriad of threats to the sanctity of paradise.
Advocates for the Sol shift include notable names of the tech world. There’s CNET-founder Halsey Minor, Tether co-founder Reeve Collins, Block Industries CEO Bryan Larkin, Lottery.com co-founder Matt Clemenson, and Block.One co-founder Brock Pierce.
Pierce, a former child actor turned video games and crypto investor, has been a leading voice in the group’s plans to engineer a new breed of urban environment in Sol, insisting that he and his partners “come in peace”, and want nothing more than to transform the island into a hotspot of innovation in the blockchain era. This surely all sounds great on paper, but the logistical and political factors are not insignificant. And then there’s the island’s newfound distrust of its continental fellow citizens in the wake of horrific mistreatment during the Hurricane Maria fiasco.
A New Beginning in an Era of Recovery
In September 2018, Puerto Rico sustained immense damage due to Hurricane Maria, damage which continues to make its presence felt today. One million lost electricity, including hospitals, one third of the population lost access to clean water, and countless homes were destroyed. Thanks to the storm’s violence, and the incompetent and frankly corrupt response from the US government, 4,600 US citizens died, with the true number possibly much higher.
Damage to neighborhoods and infrastructure was immense, and recovery is a painful, ongoing process. As with any large-scale effort, assistance in the rebuild is being sought from near and far, and one group interested in lending a hand is the Sol collective.
Sol’s founders say they wish to be leaders of the rebuilding effort in Puerto Rico, and given that progress in this field from other parties has stalled, there is certainly a receptiveness to people willing to invest in recovery and growth. Just the same, the need for Sol’s advocates to tread carefully here is significant. Not only is Puerto Rico’s sovereignty status complex — all citizens are American by birth but the territory is not recognized as a state — but it also resides in the Caribbean, a region with bitter memories of colonialism, which some say has made a furious comeback in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The island’s citizens are understandably suspicious and it will take a lot of good will to earn their trust.
As well as concerns about the timing in which Sol has been launched in Puerto Rico’s history, there remains a high bar to its success in future. Ultimately, the best foundation for the concept of Sol and its success in future will be success in the present. On that front many in Puerto Rico and around the world shall be watching the progress of Pierce and his colleagues closely.