Mired in Economic Crisis, Puerto Rico Braces For Hurricane Irma

Category 5 Hurricane Irma nears the US territory of Puerto Rico. Struggling with a $74 billion dollar debt crisis, the island suffers from cuts to emergency services.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA, releases the following statement:
 
"We're concerned with how the debt crisis ‎affects Puerto Rico's ability to deal with the impacts of Hurricane Irma.‎
 
"Before Hurricane Irma, we saw cuts to social and emergency services.

"We are praying for all in the path of this hurricane."
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The International Bar Association Interviews Eric LeCompte on Global Bankruptcy

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in the International Bar Association speaking on Latin America. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Latin America and the Money Men

By: Yola Verbruggen

"Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit financial reform organisation based in Washington, DC, sees the law as a victory for defaulting countries. ‘The Puerto Rico case is very significant as it shows a legal framework for a comprehensive bankruptcy process is possible. More importantly, the Puerto Rico legislation retroactively binds all creditors and prior bond contracts into one process. The Puerto Rico case shows that a framework for sovereign bankruptcy is possible. The case also shows that it is possible to prevent holdout and predatory behaviour. The Puerto Rico process is a model for future bankruptcy processes,’ he says."

Read more here

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NAFTA Talks Begin

Negotiations begin for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA, releases the following statement:

“Trade is a critical component of easing poverty and promoting development.‎ New NAFTA negotiations must ensure that protections are in place for vulnerable communities.

"Access to medicines must be a priority during the NAFTA negotiations. In the past, trade agreements failed to ensure that vulnerable people could access life-saving medicine. A successful trade agreement ensures that poor communities won't get priced out of the medicines they need.

"Too many trade agreements undermine protections for poor communities, local labor standards and environmental laws. Predatory hedge funds manipulate these trade agreements to collect on old debts of countries. In the new NAFTA agreement, we need to see trade disputes resolved in ways that protect the poor and that ensure those affected by trade ‎decisions are involved in making the decisions."

 
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Bipartisan Senate ‎and House Bills Tackle Abusive Shell Company Practices

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Corporate Transparency Act. The bill requires corporations to register the identities of the owners who benefit from the business. The information is then available for law enforcement to identify those who are responsible for crime and corruption. ‎Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced companion legislation in the House in June.

“When we can't find the names of people who actually own and benefit from a company, we can't find perpetrators who used the company to take advantage of poor and vulnerable people," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "Anonymous shell companies can be used by corrupt government officials to steal money from their people and by human traffickers who are trying to secretly move money.”

Both bills in front of Congress allow the US Treasury Secretary to collect "beneficial ownership" information for all US companies unless the state where the company was formed opted to collect this information instead.

“The developing world loses a trillion dollars a year because of secrecy, tax evasion and corruption. This legislation helps address one of the ways money secretly leaves poor economies," noted LeCompte. “Senator Rubio and Senator Wyden are moving legislation forward that protects the poor, defends human rights and makes us all safer.”

Legislation can be found here

 
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Crux Now Features Jubilee USA's Puerto Rico Work

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Crux speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Puerto Rico’s archbishop asks Congress for relief over debt crisis

By: Staff

"According to the Jubilee USA Network, which promotes debt relief around the world, a higher proportion of Puerto Rico’s population relies on Medicaid than in the 50 U.S. States.

'Disparity in coverage drives doctors and residents to move from the island to one of the states,' wrote Eric LeCompte, the Jubilee USA Network’s executive director, in a July 26 letter to Congress."

Read more here.

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Archbishop and Evangelical Leader Tell Congress to Reduce Puerto Rico Child Poverty

Puerto Rico religious leaders are urging Congress to reduce child poverty on the island by granting equal access to US health care funding and child tax benefits.‎

“We are grateful that Congress moved forward a process to restructure the debt,” noted San Juan's Catholic Archbishop Roberto González and Bible Society Head Reverend Heriberto Martínez, in a letter they sent to Congress on August 2nd. “We now encourage you to act on the remaining and related bipartisan proposals from the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.”

Last year a Congressional task force made recommendations to reduce child poverty in Puerto Rico. The task force encouraged Congress to pass legislation so that US citizens living in Puerto Rico can access ‎federal programs the same way that US citizens in the US States can access Medicaid, Medicare and the federal Child Tax Credit.

“Federal funding for Puerto Rico’s health care programs should mimic coverage for citizens who live in the States,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization, Jubilee USA. LeCompte sent a similar letter to Congress last week. “Puerto Rico needs equitable access to federal health care programs and tax credits. These recommendations are essential for reducing poverty for nearly 60% of kids who live in poverty on the island.”

González and Martínez‎ have continually asked Congress to address child poverty on the island and help resolve the island's debt crisis ‎since 2015. The religious leaders have also encouraged Congress to address broader policies that impact financial crisis across the developing world. 

“As we continue to work together to resolve Puerto Rico's current crisis, we also want to prevent the next crisis,” continued González and Martínez in their letter to Congress. “We want to prevent financial crises that impact all children in our world and we invite you to also work with us on these broader stewardship and preventive measures.”

Read the letter to Congress from Archbishop González and Reverend Martínez' in Englishen español.

Read the letter to Congress from Jubilee USA'‎s Eric LeCompte here

 
 
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Eric LeCompte Featured in the Millennial Journal

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in the Millennial Journal speaking on Jubilee USA's work. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Building an Economy that Serves and Uplifts the Vulnerable: An Interview with Eric LeCompte

By: Robert Christian

"What are some of the accomplishments that Jubilee USA has achieved?

'We’ve won more than $130 billion in debt relief for the world’s poorest economies. Because of the US and global agreements we’ve won, that $130 billion is invested in schools, hospitals, and other social infrastructure. In Sub Saharan Africa alone, 54 million kids have gone to‎ school who never would have seen the inside of a classroom. Recently, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank President, cited Jubilee’s efforts as the reason for economic growth in parts of Africa.'"

Read more here

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House Repeals Consumer Protection Arbitration Rule

The House voted to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rule that ‎made it easier for consumers to take joint legal action against banks and lenders.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA, releases the following statement:

"We need regulations that make our financial system more transparent and accountable, not less.

"It's unfortunate the House of Representatives moved to repeal consumer bank and credit card protections.‎"

 
 
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Congress Could Repeal Consumer Protection Bank and Credit Card Rule

As early as Tuesday, the House could vote to repeal regulations designed to help consumers take joint legal action against banks and lending companies. Last week, measures were ‎introduced in the House and Senate to repeal a new "arbitration" rule created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious coalition that advocates for banks and lending institutions to be more transparent, releases the following statement: 

‎"When we are wronged by financial institutions, we need to be able to hold them accountable. 

‎"Beyond the consumer protections the new rule delivers, the rule pushes banks and credit cards to be more transparent because these businesses don't want to be subject to consumer collective actions lawsuits."

"It's a mistake for Congress to repeal these consumer protections." 

 
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Consumer Bank and Credit Card Rule Under Threat

On Thursday, Members of Congress took aim at a new banking and lending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senators and Representatives introduced companion measures to repeal the bureau's rule that makes it easier for consumers to take joint legal action against banks and lending companies.

‎"Congress should not repeal rules that make banks and lenders more transparent and accountable,"said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt watchdog group, Jubilee USA. "We cannot forget that it was a lack of accountability and transparency in the financial sector that helped create a global financial crisis."

Congress could vote to repeal the consumer rule as early as Tuesday.‎ Senators and Representatives are using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to eliminate the regulation. Congress has used the CRA 14 times since the beginning of the year. 
 
"Unfortunately, Congress took similar actions earlier this year that weakened our protections against financial crises and voided transparency rules that protect poor countries," said LeCompte.
 
 
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