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.
Read more here.