Credo Action

Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street

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Petition to Congress:

"Immediately pass a major Puerto Rico relief package, including billions in direct aid and grants, not loans and cover the reconstruction of the island’s electric grid and infrastructure. Restore control of Puerto Rico’s budget and spending to the island’s elected officials by eliminating the Financial Oversight and Management Board, and forgive Puerto Rico's Washington-manufactured debts so the island can make a lasting recovery."

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    Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street

    Long after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, millions of American citizens there are still without electricity and reliable access to basic necessities like food and water.1

    The quick and overwhelming response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has been utterly missing in Puerto Rico. Instead, the Trump administration took a week to waive shipping restrictions, causing massive delays in aid efforts even as the elderly were dying due to the lack of medicine or electricity for ventilators and dialysis.2

    Instead of springing into action, Donald Trump has tweeted that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them,” accused San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of criticizing the disaster response only because Democrats put her up to it, insisted that Wall Street be able to profit off loans to Puerto Rico and said the disaster wasn’t a “real catastrophe” like Katrina during a trip where he tossed paper towels to desperate people like he was a game show host.3,4,5

    After decades of exploiting Puerto Rico to help Wall Street, our government is now ignoring American citizens in desperate need. So we are standing with our friends at Democracy for America to demand that Congress act immediately to provide a massive aid package and end Wall Street's hedge fund exploitation of Puerto Rico.

    Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street.

    After the Trump administration labelled the disaster response a “good-news story,” Mayor Cruz declared “this is a 'people are dying' story.”6 Once again, Trump flew off the handle when a person of color dared to criticize him. But while the mayor was sleeping on a cot and is doing all she can for her people, Trump was enjoying a day of golf.7 Only recently were there reports that Trump would request aid for Puerto Rico, with no guarantees that it will be enough or free the island from the hands of hedge funds.8

    The crisis in Puerto Rico is decades in the making, and the result of a racist, colonial approach to the island. First, it was sugarcane industry exploitation. Then, Congress turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven for manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. When Congress allowed those tax breaks to expire, the economy collapsed and the island plunged into debt.9

    Wall Street hedge funds bought the debt and used that leverage to force Puerto Rico’s government to slash infrastructure and the social safety net while paying them billions in interest and fees. Washington has since imposed an unelected, Wall Street-backed “fiscal control board” to institute harsh austerity measures.10 The hedge funds that bought up Puerto Rico’s manufactured debt even pushed a new deal just days ago in an attempt to profit off of the disaster.11

    Puerto Rico does not need more racist, colonial micromanaging. Congress must immediately pass a massive relief package like the ones for Irma and Harvey, end Wall Street control over the island, and forgive the island’s debts.

    Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street.

    Puerto Ricans are American citizens – but have been treated like colonial possessions to be exploited by large corporations and then told they cannot manage their own affairs. They had no voice in Congress when our government was boosting oil and gas companies, but now that climate change has supercharged storms and devastated the island, Trump has even floated the idea that Puerto Rico not be rebuilt at all.12

    The rest of America has failed in our obligations to our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico for far too long. Congress must not only pass a massive relief package, but tackle the underlying outrage by ending Wall Street control over the island and forgiving its Washington-created debt.

    Tell Congress: Help Puerto Rico, not Wall Street.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Oren Dorell, “With long lines for food, water and fuel and no electricity, Puerto Ricans help each other,” USA Today, Oct. 1, 2017.
    2. Carla Minet, “Nature caused Puerto Rico’s latest crisis. But politics are making it worse.” The Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2017.
    3. David A. Graham, “Trump Takes to Twitter as Puerto Rico's Crisis Mounts,” The Atlantic, Oct. 1, 2017.
    4. John Wagner, “Trump declares Puerto Rico is in ‘deep trouble’ as questions mount about his commitment,” The Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2017.
    5. Chris Cillizza, “Trump's Puerto Rico event was way worse than his tweets,” CNN, Oct. 4, 2017.
    6. Juana Summers, “Trump attacks San Juan mayor over hurricane response,” CNN, Sept. 30, 2017.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Rebecca Savransky, “Trump to request for more disaster relief funds this week: report,” The Hill, Oct. 2, 2017.
    9. Juan Gonzalez, “Puerto Rico’s $123 billion bankruptcy is the cost of U.S. colonialism,” The Intercept, May 9, 2017.
    10. Ibid.
    11. David Dayen, “Puerto Rico rejects loan offers, accusing hedge funds of trying to profit off hurricanes,” The Intercept, Sept. 28, 2017.
    12. Julia Ainsley, “Trump Administration Won’t Promise To Fix Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure,” NBCNews, Sept. 29, 2017.