Puerto Rico religious leaders sent a letter to Judge Laura Taylor Swain as she presides over the first bankruptcy proceeding in San Juan to restructure more than $70 billion in debt.
“We are grateful you are here and we hold you in prayer as you arbitrate this crisis impacting nearly 60% of our children who live in poverty,” write San Juan's Catholic Archbishop González and Reverend Heriberto Martínez, the Evangelical head of the Puerto Rico Bible Society. "You are in our prayers as you take on this important task to help restructure our debt, prevent austerity and protect our people."
The Title lll bankruptcy process was signed into law last summer by President Obama as a part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
“Puerto Rico has a comprehensive bankruptcy process that can restructure all of the debt and protect essential services,” noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. LeCompte is in San Juan today to observe the proceeding and he helped create the PROMESA legislation. “Congress designed this process to ensure that Puerto Rico could emerge from debt crises and not be held hostage by predatory vulture funds who prevented Argentina from restructuring their debt.”
A small group of "holdout" investors prevented Argentina from returning to the markets for nearly 15 years. LeCompte argues that the Puerto Rico process could be a model for both states and countries who need to work their way out of financial crisis.
"It is important that the venue for this trial is here in Puerto Rico, Nuestra Patria. Our people who are most affected by this crisis need to be able to monitor these proceedings,” said the religious leaders in their letter to the judge. “We hope you will be able to hear their stories and their struggles.”
Link to religious leader’s letter in English and en español.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in CBC speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Puerto Rico in Uncharted Waters as Historic Bankruptcy Process Begins
By: Steven D'Souza
"'This process does not allow for holdouts. It does not allow for predatory actors, and it forces everyone to be working through the same process to take a similar haircut,' he said.
'The reality is things are still going to be very hard for the people of Puerto Rico, but it's very likely they're going to get the debt relief they need, and it's going to be an unprecedented amount of debt relief.'"
Read more here.
Puerto Rico bankruptcy proceedings to restructure an over $70 billion debt begin on Wednesday in San Juan. The Title III debt restructuring process was created as a part of debt crisis legislation that was signed into law last summer.
"This is a historic process," notes Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA who is in San Juan to monitor the process. "The legislation and process is unique among bankruptcy processes because it can restructure all of Puerto Rico's debt and ensures that all creditors participate in the process."
LeCompte monitored the case involving Argentina versus NML Capital and organized nearly 80 development and religious organizations to file an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in 2014. Because Argentina was required to pay a small group of "holdout" creditors, the country was not able restructure all of its debt or return to the international capital markets for almost 15 years. LeCompte worked with Congressional leadership to create and pass legislation that would prevent so-called "vulture" funds from taking advantage of Puerto Rico as they did to Argentina. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) was designed to prevent predatory and "holdout" behavior.
"Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process could be a model for better, more comprehensive bankruptcy processes for states and other countries," explained LeCompte who advised the United Nations General Assembly on the creation of a global bankruptcy process. "Current debt restructuring processes available for U.S. states and countries can not restructure all of their debt, but the process for Puerto Rico can."
Overseeing the hearings is Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The process will likely last a year and a half or more.
"In the coming years, Puerto Rico will still have a lot of obstacles to overcome but if this process is done right, Puerto Rico will have a clear path for recovery and economic growth," says LeCompte.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) escaped a May 11th deadline for Congress to void a rule designed to give prepaid card users similar protections as debit card users. Congress could have used the Congressional Review Act or CRA to remove the "Prepaid Account Rule" as they did earlier this year to void other transparency rules. The Prepaid Account Rule will go into effect later in the year.
"Vulnerable consumers need to be protected from fraud, hidden fees and predatory actors," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "Any interruption to this rule would pose a loss for all consumers, let alone poor communities."
The CFPB announced the new rule in 2016 to protect consumers from fraud and to improve transparency. The rule is expected to go into effect starting October 2017.
"The fact that this rule is going forward is a victory for transparency and responsible lending," said LeCompte.
Puerto Ricans from across the United States and the Caribbean island are meeting in New York City to discuss the island's economic crisis. The "Diaspora Summit II" is organized by Centro, a center for Puerto Rican studies based at Hunter College. The two-day event comes days ahead of the island's first scheduled bankruptcy proceeding.
"We've seen action on Puerto Rico because of the strong voice of the Puerto Rican community.” stated Eric LeCompte Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. LeCompte is addressing the summit on the Puerto Rico bankruptcy process and economic crisis. “We are grateful to Dr. Edwin Meléndez and the team at Centro for convening and informing the Puerto Rican community at such a critical time."
US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain will preside over Puerto Rico's debt proceedings and scheduled an initial hearing in San Juan for Wednesday, May 17.
"Puerto Rico will not see economic growth until the island sees significant debt relief," noted LeCompte who will attend the opening of bankruptcy proceedings in Puerto Rico next week. LeCompte testified to Congress on the structure of the island's bankruptcy process and testified to the oversight board to activate the process. "Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process is a model for addressing financial crisis all around our world."
Event details about the Diaspora Summit II can be found here.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in The Tablet speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Bankruptcy Protection is a More Fair and Transparent Solution to Puerto Rican Debt Crisis
"Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a faith-based organisation that focuses on debt relief, called the filing a 'bankruptcy-like' step that was meant to protect Puerto Rico from creditors. The action, while posing short-term difficulties for Puerto Ricans, will protect vital social services, health care spending and school funding, LeCompte said."
Read more here.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in The Guardian speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Puerto Rico Files for Bankruptcy in Last-Ditch Attempt to Sustain Public Services
By: Kate Hodal
“'If Puerto Rico were a country, it would be the 13th most indebted country in the world,' said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an NGO that focuses on debt relief.
'But this shows there really is some light at the end of the tunnel. This [bankruptcy] process is the first to deal with 100% of the [public] debt. It’s unique in that it may set a precedent for how sovereign debt can be renegotiated in the world.'"
Read more here.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in National Catholic Reporter speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Puerto Rico Bankruptcy: Archbishop's Suggestion Becomes Forced Reality
By: Wallace J. de la Vega
"Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a faith-based organization that focuses on debt relief, called the filing a 'bankruptcy-like' step that was meant to protect Puerto Rico from creditors.
The action, while posing short-term difficulties for Puerto Ricans, will protect vital social services, health care spending and school funding, LeCompte said."
Read more here.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Normangee Star speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Assured, MBIA Sue Puerto Rico Board over Island Fiscal Plan
By: Madeline Patrick
“'This bankruptcy process is vital so Puerto Rico can receive the debt relief it was promised', said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, which promotes debt forgiveness for poor countries."
Read more here.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Le Temps speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Porto Rico se déclare en situation de faillite
«Ce processus de faillite est vital pour que Porto Rico puisse recevoir l’allégement de sa dette qu’on lui a promis», a réagi Eric LeCompte, directeur exécutif de Jubilee USA Network, une organisation spécialisée sur la question de la dette des pays pauvres. Il pourra «ramener la dette à des niveaux soutenables, protéger les habitants les plus vulnérables et promouvoir la transparence», poursuit-il dans un communiqué.
"'This process of bankruptcy is vital for Puerto Rico to receive the debt relief it was promised,' said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA Network, an organization specializing in the issue of countries' debt poor. It will 'bring debt back to sustainable levels, protect the most vulnerable people and promote transparency,' he said in a statement."
Read more here.