Common Dreams Talks with Eric LeCompte about Caribbean Debt Relief

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Common Dreams speaking on Caribbean Debt Relief. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

In Midst of 'Immense Suffering' Caused by Climate Crisis, Caribbean Religious Leaders Call for Debt Relief

By: Jake Johnson

"Across the Caribbean, we still see immense suffering from the hurricanes that landed last year," Jubilee USA executive director Eric LeCompte said in a statement endorsing the Caribbean leaders' call. "Islands that are struggling to recover after natural disasters and meet basic needs of their people should not be making debt payments."

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Caribbean Religious Leaders Call for Debt Relief in Face of Disasters

From Grenada to Saint Lucia, religious leaders are calling for processes to provide debt relief in the face of natural disasters. "As Churches in the Caribbean we have witnessed the grief and despair of our people last September, and we are not prepared to enter the next hurricane season without at least being able to tell them that our authorities shall be able to use scarce resources for immediate relief and mid-term reconstruction rather than debt service," explained a statement signed by major religious leaders from the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, Methodist, Anglican and Episcopal Churches.

“When our island nations discuss debt, it is not just about economics but about our very existence. We borrow, often for capital development, but one major disaster can reverse all capital gains we made, and so with our economic, health and educational infrastructure in shambles, we still have to repay the money we owe," noted Reverend Dr. R. Osbert James who leads the Presbyterian Church in Grenada and currently leads Jubilee Caribbean. "This results in our being in an unending cycle of dependence, under-development and indebtedness."

The faith leaders called for action from government leaders, the International Monetary Fund and Caribbean development institutions. The statement released on March 14th was signed and endorsed by 22 leaders.

"Across the Caribbean, we still see immense suffering from the hurricanes that landed last year," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who endorsed the statement. "Islands that are struggling to recover after natural disasters and meet basic needs of their people should not be making debt payments."

To read the statement click here
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WSJ Talks with Eric LeCompte about Puerto Rico Debt and Long-Term Growth

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

Why Puerto Rico is Proving to Be 2018’s Top Bond Investment

By: Matt Wirz

“The construction boom after the hurricane is fueling an increase in bond prices, but that’s going to be short lived,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, one of the activist groups seeking debt forgiveness for Puerto Rico. “We should be focused on long-term economic growth for Puerto Rico and that includes debt relief.”

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Debt, Corruption and Tax Policies Impact Poverty, Says Vatican at United Nations

During United Nations Human Rights Council meetings last week, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Geneva based Vatican representative stated, “We can no longer frame the debt crisis as an exclusively economic problem. It affects future generations, as well as the social conditions that allow the enjoyment of human rights of vast numbers of people entitled to the solidarity of the whole human family.”

Jurkovič’s intervention during the UN Meetings called for, “stronger policies around public budget transparency, responsible lending and borrowing, securing greater development protections, stronger debt restructuring policies and fiscal strategies that curb tax evasion and corruption.”

“Archbishop Jurkovič’s speech is incredibly timely and expresses urgency to improve debt, tax and transparency policies to protect vulnerable people,” expressed Eric LeCompte who leads the interfaith religious development group, Jubilee USA. The organization counts the Catholic Church among its founders working with Jubilee USA for over 20 years on economic issues. “The speech is important because it calls for world leaders to promote development measures that tackle inequality and prevent financial crisis.”

The speech was made during The 37th Session of the Human Rights Council on Report of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights. The report that the Vatican and world governments discussed at the United Nations session was prepared by UN Independent Expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.

“The Holy See recognizes that severe human rights impacts resulting from the recent financial crisis have been widely and well documented. Policy responses to the crisis have revealed a deep-seated structural neglect of human rights in economic policy formulation, insufficient protection of the most disadvantaged and a lack of attention to participation, consultation, transparency and accountability,” stated Jurkovič whose official title is the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

During the address, Jurkovič reiterated concerns around “predatory firms that take advantage of economies in distress,” or groups popularly known as “vulture funds.” The statement endorsed a United Nations “bankruptcy” process for countries that is supported by Pope Francis. Setting targets to curb global corruption and tax evasion were also encouraged during the Vatican diplomat’s remarks.

“The developing world loses more than a trillion dollar a year because of tax evasion, corruption, bad debt policies and vulture funds,” said LeCompte who serves on UN expert finance groups. “From Puerto Rico to Mozambique, people are suffering because of a lack of transparency in the financial system. We have the ability to dramatically reduce poverty, if we can improve accountability in global economic policies.”

Read Archbishop Jurkovič’s United Nation Holy See Speech

Read the Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky UN Independent Debt and Human Rights Expert Report

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The Bond Buyer Talks with Eric LeCompte about Puerto Rico Loan Delay

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in The Bond Buyer speaking on the loan delay for Puerto Rico disaster relief. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

U.S. Treasury Secretary says Puerto Rico Loan Delay is Island Government’s Fault

By: Robert Slavin

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA -- a non-profit devoted to the forgiveness of debt on humanitarian grounds -- said the priority should be to get money for rebuilding distributed as fast as possible.

"Almost six months after Hurricane Maria, we are still dealing with real human and economic suffering," he said. "It seems everyone is trying to work together to get the first installment of financing sent and it needs to be urgently sent."

LeCompte continued: “More long-term, everyone who cares about Puerto Rico also cares about greater public budget transparency on the island. Fortunately there are paths moving forward. We do have some processes that are improving transparency like the ongoing bankruptcy process and Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance on the ground."

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Religious Development Group Advocates for New York Law to Stop "Vulture Funds"

Religious leaders, lawyers, academics and debt experts are meeting to discuss changing New York laws that govern debt contracts from Puerto Rico to Mozambique. The public interfaith event held at a Schenectady Synagogue is entitled, "Building an Economy that Serves the Poor: An Interfaith Forum on New York Laws to Stop Predatory Finance and Protect Developing Economies."

"New York laws govern most of the world's debt" said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious Development Group, Jubilee USA. "Changing laws in New York can stop predatory behavior and make it easier for US States and countries to get out of financial crisis."

More than half of the world's debt is contracted under New York state law.

The event features: Matt Cutler, Rabbi, Congregation Gates of Heaven; Barbara Di Tommaso, former Director of the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany; Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA and UN Expert; Richard L. Shirley, Professor of Economics, Sienna College; Stephen Schneck, Professor of Politics at The Catholic University of America; Beatrice Parwatikar, representing Jubilee Vermont and Jubilee USA Board Co-Chair Emeritus; and Steven L. Schwarcz, Stanley A. Star Professor of Law and Business at Duke University School of Law; and Daniel Finn, Professor of Theology and Clemens Professor of Economics at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

The event is at 7:00 pm at the Congregation Gates of Heaven, Schenectady, New York. The event is is free and open to the public.

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New US Bills Introduced to Tackle Global Tax Avoidance and Corruption

This week a series of legislation was introduced in the House and Senate that takes aim at corporate tax avoidance and foreign corruption. The bipartisan Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Act (HR 5101), introduced by Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Keith Rothfus (R-PA), encourages "whistleblowers" to disclose knowledge of foreign corruption facilitated in the US financial system. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act as companion Senate and House legislation to reduce corporate tax avoidance.

"More than a trillion dollars leaves the developing world annually because of tax evasion, avoidance and corruption," stated Eric LeCompte Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "Congress can play an important role in stopping behavior that drains resources from vulnerable communities."

The No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act ensures corporations managed in the US are treated as US corporations instead of foreign entities. This addresses the problem of US corporations "hiding" in tax havens like the Cayman Islands. The legislation also strips large oil corporations of special tax breaks that some lawmakers call excessive.

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The Intercept talks with Eric LeCompte about the Puerto Rico Debt Crisis

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA recently talked with The Intercept speaking on the Puerto Rico debt crisis. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Citigroup Drove Puerto Rico Into Debt. Now It Will Profit From Privatization on the Island.

By: Kate Aronoff

“Our concern with how debt restructurings often happen is that consultants too often turn to traditional prescriptions that haven’t necessarily worked. We believe fundamentally that austerity hurts economies when they’re trying to get back to economic growth.”

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Eric LeCompte Featured in America, the Jesuit Review

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

Puerto Rico to receive $11 billion in disaster aid. Advocates warn it won't be enough.

By: J.D. Long-García

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network has serious doubts. “Half a million people in Puerto Rico are still without power,” he said.

“There’s a lot of hopelessness across the island,” Mr. LeCompte said, adding that hundreds of thousands have left Puerto Rico since the hurricane. According to Mr. LeCompte, there has been a surge in suicide rates. While Mr. LeCompte applauded the approval of disaster relief, he added that “the work of Congress is not over yet.”

Even before the hurricane, half of the children in Puerto Rico lived in poverty, according to Mr. LeCompte.

“The suffering was already great on the island with hundreds of schools closed,” he said. “Austerity was impacting health care and social services. Because of the debt crisis, Puerto Rico was ill-prepared to deal with hurricanes.”

Mr. LeCompte noted that many Americans still do not realize Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. Still, he expects the financial oversight board of Puerto Rico to recommend a five-year suspension of debt payments in the coming weeks.

“There is also a ‘super bankruptcy’ process taking place that Congress passed as a part of legislation,” Mr. LeCompte said. “That bankruptcy process will need to cut about 80 to 90 percent of the debt if Puerto Rico wants to see future economic growth.”

The island’s government estimates Puerto Rico needs $90 billion in aid in the aftermath of the hurricanes, Mr. LeCompte said. The U.S. Virgin Islands have requested more than $7.5 billion.

“We will need more disaster aid bills from Congress in the coming months,” he said. The current budget proposal also falls short of requests from California, Texas and Florida, according to Mr. LeCompte.

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Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands Victory. Thank Congress, Ask Congress

Friends,

Thanks to your efforts, as dawn broke in Washington, we won relief and recovery funds for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 

For 6 months, you generated thousands of e-mails, phone calls and petitions to Congress and the White House. You met with your Members of Congress and organized 130 prayers services across the country for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 

You asked Congress and the White House and they listened.

The new law includes $11 billion in recovery aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. There is over $2 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid. There are rules in place to ensure that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands can rebuild to withstand future storms. In addition, you campaigned for two years continually for Medicaid funding to protect Puerto Rico's poor and help Puerto Rico respond to its debt crisis. Your efforts secured nearly $5 billion in funds. The program was within weeks of running out of money and now has funding for years.

We are grateful that Congress and the White House worked with us to move forward relief. We also need to ask Congress to do more. 

Please join us as we thank Congress for moving forward relief for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Join us as we invite Congress to do even more. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will need more recovery aid to fully rebuild. The US citizens on the islands still need to be able to access the same levels of healthcare and child tax benefits that US citizens can access in the States. Continuing to win these policies is essential to ending the debt crisis that continue in the post-hurricane world on the islands.

In the summer of 2015, Puerto Rico's religious leaders alerted the world to a financial crisis devastating their islands and harming the poor. In the years that followed Puerto Rico's Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez and Bible Society Head Reverend Heriberto Martinez continued to call for debt relief and for Congress to enact a fix to Medicaid for the poor on their island.

We, along with our national religious founders and partners, joined them in their calls. Our work together is not finished.

Together working with two different White Houses and Republican and Democratic leadership, we've achieved a lot. Together, we will do even more. Please join us as we thank Congress for acting and inviting them to do more.

Puerto Rico was ill-prepared before the hurricanes hit because of the island's debt crisis and austerity policies. Before the hurricanes nearly one in two kids lived in poverty. In a post-hurricane world, hundreds of thousands do not have electricity and suicide rates continue to soar. In the coming weeks, our efforts together, will be essential to ending the debt crisis and building a path forward that reduces child poverty and promotes economic growth. 

Thanks for your efforts to make today's incredible success possible.

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Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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Jubilee USA Network
212 East Capitol St NE - Washington, DC 20003
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