SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Puerto Rican family that starred in a TV ad promoting investment in the island has joined an ongoing exodus to Florida, embarrassing a government trying to halt a deep economic malaise that has driven tens of thousands of people to seek opportunity in the U.S. mainland.
The move was revealed by a local journalist who posted on Facebook that the twin boys who appeared in the ad and their parents had been his neighbors for seven years but were forced to move after losing their home.
Hector Vazquez Muniz said the father, identified only as Jose Miguel, was a structural engineer who could not find “economic justice” in Puerto Rico.
“Ironic, isn’t?” he wrote. “They had no choice but to abandon their homeland for a better quality of life for their children.”
Yanira Hernandez, a spokeswoman for Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, confirmed Friday that the family moved. “But we don’t know the conditions that led to their move or for how long they’ll be gone,” she said.
The news about the family’s relocation unleashed a debate in Puerto Rico, with some social media users joking that a boy in the ad, who is seen rowing a boat toward a bright star, was actually trying to leave Puerto Rico.
Economic development officials unveiled the campaign last month as the U.S. territory tries to emerge from its seventh year of recession.