Puerto Rico's debt crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Its people are our people - American citizens facing increased austerity, population drain, poverty and health crises.
In August 2015, we launched a campaign with Puerto Rico's religious leaders to address the crisis. The island's religious leaders called for Jubilee - debt relief, budget transparency and investment in Puerto Rico's people. They called on Congress and the White House to intervene. We organized high-level meetings for those leaders with the White House and Congress and joined them at the United Nations to call on funds that own Puerto Rico's debt to negotiate with the government.
In June 2016, President Obama signed bipartisan Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation that stops predatory behavior and prioritizes the payment of pensions and social services ahead of debt payments. It seeks to reduce child poverty on the island and provides strong bankruptcy tools to return the debt to sustainable levels.
This legislation would not have passed (or been significantly improved over earlier drafts) without the leadership of Puerto Rico's religious leaders - and your phone calls and messages to Congress. We are proud to have partnered with organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Caritas Puerto Rico and religious leaders from across the US mainland and Puerto Rico to push for legislation that addressed the crisis and put Puerto Rico's people first.
Passing this legislation was an important first step toward building Jubilee in Puerto Rico - but it is not the last step. As our executive director Eric LeCompte told the Washington Post after the vote:
"I think in terms of the real issues facing the island, we are just getting to the end of the beginning. This is not the beginning of the end."
Now Jubilee USA is working to hold the new congressional oversight board and task force on economic growth accountable - to ensure that Puerto Rico can fully restructure its debt, grow its economy and reduce child poverty.
Resources and More Information:
A Timeline of Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis
Statement on Puerto Rico Governor/Creditor Debt Dialogue
Pray with Puerto Rico (en español)
Ending Puerto Rico's Humanitarian Crisis (en español)
Archbishop Roberto González's oped in TIME Magazine: "Congress Should Allow Puerto Rico to Declare Bankruptcy"
More information on HR 870 / S. 1774, the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act
Puerto Rican Religious Leaders' Statement: "A Call from the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Coalition for a Jubilee for Puerto Rico: The Fiscal Crisis."
En Espaňol: "Llamado de la Coalicion Ecumenica e Interreligiosa a un Jubileo para Puerto Rico: La Crisis Fiscal."