Demand debt relief for Puerto Rico
Almost a year after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, thousands of Americans there are still without power – and Wall Street vultures are exploiting their misery.1
Wall Street bondholders recently forced Puerto Rico's government to split sales tax revenue with creditors.2 Creditors and the federal fiscal control board have imposed such measures, along with austerity and the sale of public assets, to help Wall Street turn a profit on Puerto Rican debt that speculators bought for cents on the dollar.3
But now, a host of leading Democrats – including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – have unveiled a sweeping debt relief bill that needs our urgent support.
Demand debt relief for Puerto Rico.
The crisis in Puerto Rico is decades in the making and the result of a racist, colonial approach to the island. First, it was the exploitation of the sugarcane industry. Then, Congress turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven for manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. When Congress allowed those tax breaks to expire, the Puerto Rican economy collapsed and its government had to take on additional debt. Washington then imposed an unelected, Wall Street-backed “fiscal control board” to institute harsh austerity measures in response to that debt.4
Wall Street hedge funds bought Puerto Rico's debt for cents on the dollar but are demanding the island's government pay in full. They used their leverage to force Puerto Rico’s government to slash infrastructure and the social safety net in order to pay them billions in interest and fees. They even doubled down after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Now Puerto Rico faces the impossible task of trying to rebuild while being forced to line creditors' pockets.5
The Obama administration's PROMESA Act imposed undemocratic and unfair strictures on Puerto Rico. Following the lead of progressives like Sens. Warren and Sanders, Democrats have realized that Puerto Rico does not need more racist, colonial micromanaging. The U.S. Territorial Relief Act would wipe out the debt of storm-ravaged U.S. territories while protecting the few debt holders who aren't Wall Street vulture funds.6
It's long past time to wipe the slate clean instead of torturing people to pad Wall Street's pockets. Puerto Rico deserves immediate debt relief.
Demand debt relief for Puerto Rico.
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 even floated the idea that Puerto Rico not be rebuilt at all.7
The rest of America has failed in our obligations to the people of Puerto Rico for far too long. Congress must invest in massive rebuilding and end Wall Street control over the island. Forgiving Puerto Rico's Washington-created debt is a major step in the right direction.
Thank you for speaking out.
- Oliver Laughland, "Ten months without power: the Puerto Ricans still without electricity," The Guardian, Aug. 8, 2018.
- Dawn Giel, "Insurers get a lift as investors cheer Puerto Rico bond settlement," CNBC, Aug. 9, 2018.
- David Dayen, "2020 Democrats band together to call for Puerto Rico debt cancellation," The Intercept, July 25, 2018.
- Juan Gonzalez, “Puerto Rico's $123 billion bankruptcy is the cost of U.S. colonialism,” The Intercept, May 9, 2017.
- Dayen, "2020 Democrats band together to call for Puerto Rico debt cancellation."
- Julia Ainsley, “Trump Administration Won’t Promise To Fix Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure,” NBCNews, Sept. 29, 2017.