Mizraim Belman Guerrero

  • Jubilee USA Statement on IMF World Economic Outlook Report

    Ukraine War and Pandemic Drive High Food Prices and Inflation

    Washington DC – The IMF releases its flagship World Economic Outlook report. Faced with the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, the IMF forecasts lower global growth.

    Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert who monitored IMF meetings since 2010, releases the following statement on the IMF Meetings and World Economic Outlook Report:

    "The Ukraine war is causing high food prices and global inflation.

    "Before the war in Ukraine, most countries were still struggling with health and economic crises spurred by the pandemic.

    "The pandemic and Ukraine war are significantly hurting poor people who live in the poorest countries.

    “Lagging vaccinations in the poorest countries means virus mutations remain a risk to the global economic outlook."

    "Beyond the Ukraine war and the pandemic, we have unsustainable debts and shocks from climate change that make the current situation impossible for many developing countries.

    "The IMF is right that a solution to the multiple crises should include peace in Ukraine, solving debt crises, aid to countries in need and addressing climate change."

    Read the full World Economic Outlook Report here.

    Read Jubilee USA's press release on Secretary Yellen's speech to the Atlantic Council here

    Read Jubilee USA's press release on the creation of the Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) here

    Read Jubilee USA's press release on IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva's curtain raiser speech here

    Read Eric LeCompte's piece for Barron's on Ukraine here

    Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
    Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
    [email protected] / (202) 430-6975


  • IMF Head: Ukraine War, Pandemic Worse, Debt, Food Security

    IMF Head Raises Global Challenges Ahead of World Leader Meetings in "Curtain Raiser" Speech

    Washington, DC – The war in Ukraine will add to the pandemic crises that most countries are struggling with and lengthen the recovery in developing countries, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva. In her curtain-raiser speech, ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank meetings, she shared that the IMF projects more than 140 countries face worse prospects in the coming months.

    “As incomes drop and the cost of living rises, poverty increases,” stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who has monitored IMF policies for more than a decade. “With the challenges of the pandemic, poverty increases and it will be harder to lift people out of poverty.”

    Georgieva called for improvements to the G20 Common Framework – a debt restructuring process the group set up a year and a half ago. Up to 73 countries are eligible to seek relief but only three requested relief so far. Ethiopia, Zambia and Chad, who applied for the framework, have not yet received any debt reduction from the G20 process. More than 60% of developing low-income countries face debt crisis.

    “If the tools for debt crisis resolution are not functioning, developing countries will delay requesting help from processes," noted LeCompte who is a United Nations finance expert.

    In a separate statement today Georgieva shared calculations that for every percentage point that food prices go up, 10 million more people fall in poverty.

    “The challenge of food insecurity and the potential for social unrest is a frightening part of the current IMF diagnosis.” added LeCompte.

    View Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva's Spring IMF Meetings Curtain Raiser Speech here.

    Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
    Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
    [email protected] / (202) 430-6975


  • IMF Sets Up New Pandemic and Climate Aid Instrument

    Tool Accepts Donations of Special Drawing Rights Aid

    Washington DC – The IMF Board of Directors established a new fund to aid developing countries with long-term pandemic and climate challenges. The Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) offers low-cost loans to developing countries with emergency currency or Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that wealthy countries will contribute.

    “The new trust provides an important way for wealthy countries to support developing countries struggling with the impacts of crises spurred by the pandemic and climate change,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert. “With the growing challenges that developing countries face and new global shocks from the war in Ukraine, we need more tools like this trust.

    In August the IMF created $650 billion SDRs. Due to IMF rules, about $230 billion went to developing countries and more than $400 billion went to developed countries. The RST is a process that enables wealthy countries use their SDRs to aid developing countries. Countries can also pledge SDR funding to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, a fund that lends at a zero interest rate but supports only the poorest countries.

    “The decision to allow developing middle-income countries to access the new trust recognizes the significant difficulties these countries face,” added LeCompte.

    The Fund seeks to mobilize $45 billion for the RST in the coming months. The G20 continue discussions on how to channel SDRs through development banks.

    “The new trust is a start, but we will need additional ways to donate Special Drawing Rights to developing countries that struggle to meet development goals and deal with health crises," stated LeCompte.

    Read IMF Managing Director's full statement on the creation of the RST here.

    Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
    Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
    [email protected] / (202) 430-6975


  • Yellen: IMF Needs Overhaul to Fight New Global Crises

    Washington DC  The IMF needs more tools to fight modern, potentially more frequent global crises, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued in a speech to the Atlantic Council.

    “Health, climate and development challenges are creating worse economic shocks and leading to crises that are harder to solve," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “In the face of crisis, countries with more resources can act forcefully while poor countries get left behind."

    Yellen’s speech comes days before she joins world leaders for G20 and World Bank/IMF meetings focused on developing countries struggling with debt, vaccine access and climate change. The Ukraine war brings a new shock to the global economy that leaders will discuss. Recently, IMF staff warned that 60% of poor countries are facing debt crisis or economic instability.

    “The Ukraine war adds to the dramatic debt challenges in countries that already struggled with the pandemic,” added LeCompte. “It's clear that we need stronger and more efficient tools to solve economic crises.”

    Yellen addressed international tax, trade, climate finance, health and pandemic preparedness reforms to modernize global financial institutions so they are fit to face global 21st century challenges.

    Read Yellen's full speech here.

    Read Eric LeCompte commentary in Barron's on Ukraine's debt and the lack of global financial crisis tools here.

    Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
    Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
    [email protected] / (202) 430-6975


  • Devex Quotes Eric LeCompte on Development Finance

    Devex Quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Development Finance. Read the full article here

    Devex Invested: Can development finance fix global inequality?

    By Adva Saldinger

    An expected outcome document from the 2022 forum is likely to reiterate many of the positions agreed in previous years, particularly around tax, trade, and anti-corruption efforts, along with economic and aid issues, according to Eric LeCompte, the executive director at Jubilee USA Network.

    But a draft of the document has a few notable additions, he tells me. The final version is likely to recommend an international summit on development financing in 2024. And the draft has stronger language on debt — saying, for example, that the G-20’s Common Framework for debt treatments should move quickly, with a clear process that includes a debt standstill during negotiations. It also calls for a more comprehensive debt solution and for small island developing states to gain access to concessional finance, particularly through IMF.

    Another key issue in the document relates to changing how assessments are made by credit rating agencies, which play a significant role in sovereign funding and addressing mounting indebtedness. Hanif says what’s needed is longer-term thinking in credit ratings, which could help decrease borrowing costs for lower-income countries. And ratings agencies now seem willing to engage, he says.


  • Bretton Woods Project Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's Debt

    The Bretton Woods Project quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's debt. Read the full article here

    Calls for Ukraine debt relief grow as IMF and World Bank provide fresh loans amidst crisis

    Ukraine’s external debt stood at $56.7 billion at the end of 2020, according to the IMF. Jubilee USA executive director Eric LeCompte noted in a 8 March article in Barron’s magazine that Ukraine owed $22 billion to international finance institutions (IFIs), stating: “The IMF holds more than a half of that…debt at $13.4 billion with $2 billion in debt payments owed this year…. Since Ukraine will most likely default on these payments, the IMF should act quickly to restructure the payments.”

    The Fund’s executive board subsequently approved a $1.4 billion loan to Ukraine on 9 March via its Rapid Financing Instrument, while the World Bank also released a $723 million financing package on 7 March, including $589 million in new loans. While this financing provides much needed emergency support, it increases Ukraine’s substantial debt load further.


  • National Catholic Reporter Quotes Eric LeCompte on Pope Francis' Speech in Malta

    National Catholic Reporter quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Pope Francis' speech in Malta. Read the full article here

    In Malta, Pope Francis criticizes those responsible for Ukraine war, forced migration

    By Christopher White

    Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, an interfaith organization advocating for debt relief for developing countries, said that Malta “has a long history of financial secrecy and has served as a tax haven and home of money laundering and facilitator of terrorist financing.”

    "Whenever Pope Francis travels, he puts financial secrecy and corruption in his cross hairs,” LeCompte told NCR. 

    “Knowing that secrecy and corruption harms the poor and society, he speaks explicitly about these problems," he said, adding that "the island has implemented many reforms and soon global authorities may remove it from the list of notorious countries that launder money.” 


  • West Orlando News Quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Puerto Rico

    Executive Director Eric LeCompte comments on action needed in Puerto Rico. Read the full article here.  

    Puerto Rico: Action Needed to Avoid New Bankruptcy, Reduce Child Poverty

    By Rebecca Martin

    In a statement on Puerto Rico’s debt settlement, 26 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders asserted that Puerto Rico will need economic development, fully-funded social programs and more than $55 billion in additional disaster aid to avoid new debt defaults. The statement comes after Congress “omnibus” budget negotiations failed to deliver additional Puerto Rico manufacturing jobs and funds for nutrition and supplemental security income. The final budget bill adds $200 million in Puerto Rico Medicaid funding.

    “People across Puerto Rico continue to suffer because of the debt crisis and disasters that hit the island in recent years,” explained Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, the organization that coordinated the statement with Puerto Rico religious leaders. “For Puerto Rico’s debt to be sustainable and to reduce the high child poverty rates, new disaster relief and recovery monies are critical.”

     


  • Catholic News Service Quotes Jubilee USA on Puerto Rico's Debt

    Jubilee USA Network comments on Puerto Rico's debt in an article by Catholic News Service. Read the full article here

    Puerto Rico religious leaders welcome long-awaited debt restructuring plan

    By: Dennis Sadowski

    “We should make sure that the debt payments do not come at the expense of the hunger of our people, including our children, 60% of whom live in stark poverty,” he said in a statement released March 14 by Jubilee USA, an alliance of faith-based development and debt relief advocacy organizations.

    In their statement, the religious leaders called on Congress, the White House, creditors and other stakeholders to begin additional measures that would prevent Puerto Rico from having to renegotiate its debt again and to ensure that responses to climate change and “staggering child poverty” are carried out.

    The leaders urged that economic development be prioritized so that manufacturing jobs can expand and sustainable infrastructure be built.

    They also pressed for at least $50 billion of additional disaster recovery aid and that distribution of the $55 billion already approved be accelerated.

    Other measures sought by the group include moving Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to parity with U.S. states on nutrition, child poverty reduction, Medicaid, Medicare and tax relief programs, and the importance of a “debt audit” to promote transparency and accountability and stop “corruption and impunity.”

    “As the end of bankruptcy is lauded, we continue to call for a true jubilee — a world where we all have enough, can live in dignity and honor the greatness of our creator,” the statement concluded.

     


  • Puerto Rico: Action Needed to Avoid New Bankruptcy, Reduce Child Poverty and Support Island Recovery

    26 Major US and Puerto Rico Faith Leaders Sign Statement Calling on White House, Congress and Elected Officials to Promote Island Development

    Washington, DC In a statement on Puerto Rico’s debt settlement, 26 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders asserted that Puerto Rico will need economic development, fully-funded social programs and more than $55 billion in additional disaster aid to avoid new debt defaults. The statement comes after Congress "omnibus" budget negotiations failed to deliver additional Puerto Rico manufacturing jobs and funds for nutrition and supplemental security income. The final budget bill adds $200 million in Puerto Rico Medicaid funding. 

    In January, the judge in charge of Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process, Laura Taylor Swain, approved a debt restructuring for the island.

    “While we wished to see deeper debt cuts… Puerto Rico has now the opportunity for a path forward, and to forge a comprehensive strategy for recovery and economic development,” the leaders said in a statement.

    The agreement cuts Puerto Rico's $72 billion debt by about 55%, but debt payments will only be sustainable, the religious leaders argue, if growth and economic recovery projections are accurate. The territory’s four-year bankruptcy process took place under federal legislation Jubilee USA and Puerto Rico religious leaders promoted in 2016, after the island defaulted on debt payments.

    The leaders laid out a seven-point agenda for Congress, the White House and the island's government to expand manufacturing jobs and infrastructure and moving nutrition, Medicare, tax relief and other programs to the same status with US States. The leaders also urged greater government accountability and an audit of the island's debt.

    "We should make sure that the debt payments do not come at the expense of the hunger of our people, including our children, 60% of whom live in stark poverty,” said Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan and a signer of the statement.

    The heads of US and Puerto Rico churches signed the letter representing Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Christian (Disciples), Presbyterian, Baptist and Evangelical churches. The 26 signers include leaders of the National and Puerto Rico Council of Churches, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, the Caribbean Institute of Ecumenical Action and Formation, the Puerto Rico Bible Society and Jubilee USA Network.

    "People across Puerto Rico continue to suffer because of the debt crisis and disasters that hit the island in recent years," explained Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, the organization that coordinated the statement with Puerto Rico religious leaders. "For Puerto Rico's debt to be sustainable and to reduce the high child poverty rates, new disaster relief and recovery monies are critical."

    Read Religious Leaders Statement on Puerto Rico Debt Deal and Way Forward here

    Lea la declaración de los líderes religiosos sobre el acuerdo de la deuda de Puerto Rico y el camino hacia adelante aquí.

    Read Jubilee USA's January press release on Puerto Rico's debt settlement here

    Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
    Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
    [email protected] / (202) 430-6975


  • Declaración de Líderes Religiosos de Puerto Rico y EE. UU. Sobre el Acuerdo de Deuda y el Camino a Seguir

    14 Marzo, 2022

    Lea la declaración en PDF en españolinglés.

    "El Espíritu del Señor sobre mí, porque me ha ungido para anunciar a los pobres la Buena Nueva, me ha enviado a proclamar la liberación a los cautivos y la vista a los ciegos, para dar la libertad a los oprimidos y proclamar un año de gracia del Señor."   --- Lucas, 4:18-19

    Desde 2015, como líderes religiosos, reclamamos un Jubileo para la isla que es nuestro sagrado hogar, Nuestra Patria, Puerto Rico. Hemos levantado nuestra voz para advertir que nuestra niñez y nuestra patria estaban y siguen estando en crisis — Puerto Rico tenía deudas que no podían ni debían ser pagadas mientras casi 60% de nuestra niñez viven en la pobreza. Seguimos insistiendo en un Jubileo — La ordenanza de nuestro Dios amoroso que vivamos en una relación fraternal con el prójimo y que todos, especialmente nuestros niños, vivan en un mundo de suficiencia y dignidad.

    Con nuestros socios de Jubilee USA Network —continuamos trabajando las crisis que enfrenta nuestro pueblo: la colonia, la deuda y la económica. Desde 2015, nos reunimos con los distintos sectores para buscar una solución permanente a nuestras crisis, de tal  forma, que reduzca la deuda, proteja a los y las vulnerables y que ubique a la isla en el camino de la prosperidad. En nuestro trabajo con Casa Blanca, líderes republicanos y demócratas en el Congreso, el gobierno de nuestra isla y con la colaboración de distintos sectores sociales, en la isla y en los Estados Unidos, se alcanzó una legislación para atender la emergencia de la crisis de deuda. La promesa fue legislar la reducción de nuestra deuda a niveles sostenibles y proteger a nuestro pueblo.  En este momento reconocemos, que aunque algunos aspectos de esta promesa se cumplieron, otros todavía no se han logrado para beneficio de nuestro pueblo. Reconocemos la reducción alcanzada de la deuda y de algunas protecciones que se consiguieron para nuestra niñez y jubilados.

    La promesa de Jubileo para nuestro proceso de bancarrota y la condonación de la deuda comenzó; luego en 2017, los huracanes Irma y María devastaron Puerto Rico. Luego sobrevinieron los terremotos, la crisis de salud y el impacto económico del coronavirus añadieron nuevos desafíos a la resolución y recuperación de la deuda. 

    Como personas de fe, creemos que el compromiso y el diálogo son principios fundamentales de nuestras tradiciones. Apreciamos los esfuerzos de nuestro gobierno, los acreedores y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal para encontrar un terreno común para trabajar la crisis financiera. Aunque esperábamos ver recortes mayores, destacamos la importancia de la reducción alcanzada de la deuda. Puerto Rico tiene ahora la oportunidad para salir adelante y de forjar una estrategia comprensiva para la recuperación y el desarrollo económico.

    Como líderes religiosos, hacemos todo lo posible por ser pastores de nuestros rebaños, consolar a nuestra gente y buscar la justicia para ellos. Amando y caminado con nuestra gente, hemos aprendido que nuestros feligreses realmente nos guían y nos enseñan. De la necesidad, en los pasados siete (7) años hemos aprendido como la deuda, los impuestos y las problemas económicos recrudecen la pobreza y la desigualdad en nuestro pueblo. Con nuestros socios en el Caribe, África, Latinoamérica, Asia y a través de los países en desarrollo, aprendimos una lección magistral: la historia de la deuda es un proceso que frecuentemente requiere de varios intentos de reestructuración antes de llegar a un acuerdo final y duradero. Aunque reconocemos los avances en los acuerdos sobre quiebra de Puerto Rico, sabemos que nuestro trabajo no ha terminado, sino que debe continuar.

    Las siguiente medidas son esenciales para prevenir que Puerto Rico vuelva a renegociar la deuda una y otra vez, y para garantizar que atendamos las dificultades que genera el cambio climático y superemos la epidemia de pobreza infantil:

    • En primer lugar, nuestro gobierno, el Congreso, la Casa Blanca, los acreedores y todas las partes interesadas deben dar prioridad a la financiación y a las medidas que nos ayuden a superar la pobreza infantil en Puerto Rico y proteger nuestra isla de los impactos del cambio climático.
    • Priorizar el desarrollo económico ampliando las oportunidades de trabajo en el sector manufacturero y el desarrollo de infraestructuras sostenibles y de calidad.
    • Adelantar por lo menos $50 billones de ayuda adicional para la recuperación de los desastres naturales y acelerar el desembolso de los $55 billones que el Congreso estadounidense ya ha asignado.
    • Como asunto de justicia, Puerto Rico y los demás territorios de EE.UU. deberían otorgarles, de forma permanente, la paridad con los estados de EE.UU. en materia de nutrición, reducción de la pobreza infantil, Medicaid, Medicare y programas de alivios contributivos.
    • Insistimos en la importancia contundente de realizar una auditoría de la deuda como mecanismo para acabar con la corrupción y la impunidad. La transparencia y la rendición de cuentas deben ser eje central de cualquier democracia real.
    • Hay que aprobar los beneficios del Seguro Social Suplementario (SSI) para auxiliar a 300,000 ciudadanos empobrecidos y vulnerables de la isla.
    • Dada la preocupación que tenemos por la sostenibilidad de la reestructuración de la deuda, la necesidad de prevenir futuras crisis y reestructuraciones económicas y alcanzar cuatro (4) años de presupuestos balanceados para prescindir de la supervisión de la junta instaurada por el gobierno federal - pedimos un alto grado de rendición de cuentas y una amplia participación en el desarrollo, la ejecución y el cumplimiento del presupuesto, incluyendo la creación de un comité independiente de ciudadanos/as autorizados/as para solicitar, revisar e informar públicamente sobre los asuntos presupuestarios.

    Mientras se aplaude el fin de la quiebra, seguiremos insistiendo en un verdadero Jubileo: un mundo en el que todos poseamos lo suficiente, podamos vivir con dignidad y honremos la grandeza de nuestro creador.

     

    Firmantes

    Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM
    Arzobispo Metropolitano de la Arquidiócesis de San Juan Puerto Rico

    Rubén González Medina, CMF
    Obispo de la Diócesis de Ponce Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal
    Obispo de la Iglesia Metodista de Puerto Rico

    Reverenda Idalia Negrón Caamaño
    Obispa del Sínodo del Caribe de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América

    Reverenda Zodet Zambrana
    Moderadora del Sínodo Boriquén, Iglesia Presbiteriana (USA) en Puerto Rico

    Reverenda Hilda Robles Florán
    Pastora General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Edgardo Caraballo Marín
    Ministro Ejecutivo de las Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Edward Rivera Santiago
    Pastor General de la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Héctor Soto Vélez
    Director Ejecutivo del Concilio de Iglesias de Puerto Rico

    Reverenda Eunice Santana Melecio
    Directora del Instituto Ecuménico de Acción y Formación del Caribe

    Reverendo Felipe Lozada Montañez
    Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Esteban González Dobles
    Pasado Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Rafael Moreno Rivas
    Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Metodista de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Heriberto Martínez Rivera
    Secretario General de la Sociedad Bíblica de Puerto Rico

    Reverendo Enrique Camacho
    Director Ejecutivo de Cáritas (Caridades Católicas) de Puerto Rico

     

    Adherentes

    Reverendo Paul S. Coakley
    Arzobispo de la Arquidiócesis de la Ciudad de Oklahoma
    Presidente del Comité de Justicia Doméstica y Desarrollo Humano
    Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos

    Reverenda Elizabeth A. Eaton
    Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América

    Reverendo Dr. John C. Dorhauer
    Ministro General y Presidente de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

    Reverenda Teresa Hord Owens
    Ministra General y Presidente de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en Estados Unidos

    Reverendo Marco A. Cable
    Presidente, División de Ministerios en el Exterior y Co-Ejecutiva, Ministerios Globales de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) y la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

    Reverenda Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson
    Ministra General Asociada para Ministerios y Operaciones Globales de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos; Co-Ejecutiva, Ministerios Globales de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) y la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

    Reverendo Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
    Secretario Permanente de la Asamblea General, Iglesia Presbiteriana (USA) en Puerto Rico)

    Obispa Teresa Jefferson-Snorton
    Presidente de la Junta de Gobierno del Concilio Nacional de Iglesias de Estados Unidos

    Reverenda Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
    Secretaria General, Junta General de la Iglesia y Sociedad de la Iglesia Metodista Unida en Estados Unidos

    Donna J. Markham OP, PhD, ABPP
    Presidente & CEO de Caridades Católicas de Estados Unidos

    Eric LeCompte
    Director Ejecutivo, Jubilee USA Network


    Lea la declaración en PDF en españolinglés.


  • Puerto Rico and US Religious Leaders Statement on Debt Settlement and the Way Forward

    Read the statement as a PDF in English and Spanish.

    "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” --- Luke 4:18-19

    Since 2015, as religious leaders, we called for a Jubilee for our sacred island home, Nuestra Patria, Puerto Rico. We sought to raise the alarm that our children and our homeland were and continue to be in crisis - Puerto Rico held debts that could not and should not be paid as nearly 60% of our children struggle in poverty. We still call for a Jubilee - our loving God's demand that we live in a fraternal relationship with one another and that all of us, especially our children, should live in a world of enough and dignity.

    With our partners from Jubilee USA Network - we continue to confront the colonial, debt and economic crises that face our people. Since 2015, we met with all parties to seek a permanent solution to our crises that cuts the debt, protects the vulnerable and sets the island on a path of prosperity. Working with the White House, our island's government and Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress, with the efforts of many social sectors, on the island and in the United States, we collaborated with others to achieve legislation to address the emergency debt crisis. The legislation was a promise to cut our debt to sustainable levels and protect our people. Today we acknowledge that while some aspects of this promise were fulfilled, other aspects of the promise never came to benefit our people. We acknowledge the debts that were cut and some of the protections that were won for our children and retirees.

    Our bankruptcy process with a promise for a Jubilee, a forgiveness of debt, began and then in 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated Puerto Rico. Then came the earthquakes and the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus added new challenges to debt resolution and recovery.

    As people of faith, we believe engagement and dialogue are central tenets of our traditions. We appreciate the efforts on the part of our government, the creditors and the Financial Oversight and Management Board to find common ground. While we wished to see deeper debt cuts, we greatly appreciate the importance of the debt reduction achieved. Puerto Rico has now the opportunity for a path forward, and to forge a comprehensive strategy for recovery and economic development.

    As religious leaders we do our best to be pastors of our flocks, to comfort our people and to seek justice for them. Having loved and walked with our people, we have learned that our flocks truly guide and teach us. Out of necessity these past 7 years we had to learn how debt, tax and economic issues exacerbate poverty and inequality for our people. With our partners in the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Asia and throughout the developing world, we learned a sobering lesson: the history of debt is that it often takes several restructuring attempts before reaching a lasting settlement. While we acknowledge the progress in Puerto Rico's bankruptcy accords, we know our work has not ended, but must continue.

    The following measures are essential for preventing Puerto Rico from having to renegotiate the debt again and again, and to ensure that we deal with the impacts of climate change and end our staggering child poverty epidemic:

    • First and foremost, our government, Congress, the White House, creditors and all stakeholders must prioritize funding and measures that end child poverty in Puerto Rico and protect our island from the impacts of climate change.
    • Prioritize economic development by expanding manufacturing jobs and building quality, sustainable infrastructure.
    • Move forward at least $50 billion of additional disaster recovery aid and accelerate disbursement of the $55 billion that the US Congress already allocated.
    • As a matter of fundamental justice Puerto Rico and the other US territories should be moved to a permanent basis of parity with the US States on nutrition, child poverty reduction, Medicaid, Medicare and tax relief programs.
    • We insist on the utmost importance of conducting a debt audit as a mechanism to stop corruption and impunity. Transparency and accountability must be a central axis of any real democracy.
    • Supplemental Security Income payments that benefit 300,000 poor and vulnerable citizens on the island must be unblocked.
    • Given the concerns we have about the sustainability of the debt restructuring, the need to prevent future restructurings and economic crises, and have 4 years of balanced budgets to remove the oversight of the federally installed board - we call for a high degree of accountability and broad participation in budget development, execution and monitoring, including by the creation of an independent citizen accountability committee empowered to request, review and publicly report on budgetary information.

    As the end of bankruptcy is lauded, we continue to call for a true Jubilee - a world where we all have enough, can live in dignity and honor the greatness of our creator.

     

    Signatures

    Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM
    Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico

    Rubén González Medina CMF
    Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ponce

    Reverend Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal
    Bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

    Reverend Idalia Negrón Caamaño
    Bishop of the Caribbean Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    Reverend Zodet Zambrana
    Moderator Boriquén Synod, Presbyterian Church (USA) in Puerto Rico

    Reverend Hilda Robles Florán
    General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico

    Reverend Edgardo Caraballo Marin
    Executive Minister of the Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico

    Reverend Edward Rivera Santiago
    General Pastor of the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico

    Reverend Héctor Soto Vélez
    Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Puerto Rico

    Reverend Eunice Santana Melecio
    Director of the Caribbean Institute of Ecumenical Action and Formation

    Reverend Felipe Lozada Montañez
    Emeritus Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran in Puerto Rico

    Reverend Esteban González Dobles
    Former General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico

    Reverend Rafael Moreno Rivas
    Emeritus Bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

    Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera
    General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society

    Reverend Enrique Camacho
    Executive Director of Cáritas (Catholic Charities) of Puerto Rico


    Endorsements

    Paul S. Coakley
    Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
    Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
    United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

    Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton
    Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    Reverend Dr. John C. Dorhauer
    General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

    Reverend Teresa Hord Owens
    General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

    Reverend Marco A. Cable
    President, Division of Overseas Ministries and Co-Executive Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

    Reverend Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson
    Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations, Co-executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

    Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
    Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA)

    Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton
    Governing Board Chair of the National Council of Churches

    Reverend Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
    General Secretary, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

    Donna J. Markham OP, PhD, ABPP
    President & CEO, Catholic Charities USA

    Eric LeCompte
    Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network

    Read the statement as a PDF in English and Spanish.


  • The Tablet Quotes Eric LeCompte on Restructuring Ukraine's Debt

    Eric LeCompte is quoted in The Tablet on restructuring Ukraine's debt. Read the full article here.

    US Catholics express solidarity with Ukraine

    By Michael Sean Winters

    Eric LeCompte, executive director of JubileeUSA, a Catholic non-profit organisation that seeks to reduce the sovereign debt of developing nations, called on international financial institutions to restructure Ukraine’s estimated $94.7 billion debt. “In terms of reality, Ukraine is going to start defaulting on its various debt payments as soon as this year,” LeCompte said.

    LeCompte said that Ukraine has remained current with its debt payments until now, but that the chaos created by the war will make it difficult for the country to meet its obligations. LeCompte indicated that $22 billion of Ukraine’s debt is held by international institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


  • Eric LeCompte Comments on Ukraine's Debilitating Debt in Barron's

    Eric LeCompte writes for Barron's on Ukraine's debilitating debts. Read the full article here

    Ukraine’s Debts Will Be Debilitating, Unless the World Helps

    By Eric LeCompte

    The images of families fleeing and the decimation of Ukraine are heartbreaking. 

    Not since World War II have we seen a humanitarian crisis in Europe on this scale. Unlike World War II, we are witnessing the human suffering in real time as it unfolds on screens and social media. While the United Nations reports around 750 civilians have been killed and injured, including children, they assert the numbers are likely much, much higher. 

    Unfortunately, while there are critical things that must be done, our failure to implement full financial crisis solutions limits the scope of the financial crisis response for Ukraine.

    Ukraine currently holds $94.7 billion in debt. Ukraine will fail to pay external debts while the humanitarian crisis rages on.
    The G7 can lead the suspension of Ukraine debt payments. Governments around the world can offer debt relief and implement efforts to protect Ukraine from paying private creditor debt. While the Biden administration has been heroic in leading financial sanctions on Russia, a Biden executive order would help stop a major portion of the $28 billion of the overall private creditor debt payments that is registered under U.S. law. This action would follow precedent when George W. Bush halted private creditor and oil obligations for Iraq’s recovery.

  • Congress Votes Pandemic, Ukraine, Vaccines

    Dear Friend,

    Our hearts and thoughts are with Ukraine and the media is covering our additional requests to the IMF, Congress and White House to support Ukraine, that you'll see below. First - in the next days, Congress votes on our pandemic response aid as part of the big budget vote scheduled to take place by March 11th. 

    Thanks to your petitions and phone calls, we already put legislation in front of Congress that requests $22 billion in pandemic response aid and debt relief, and another $5 billion to help poor countries provide vaccines and treatments. Now we need to make sure it passes. Please call your Senators now.

    In a recent commentary in the major Christian magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, Ambassador Sam Brownback and Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte made the moral case for extending Special Drawing Rights aid and vaccines to developing countries. We speak about Africa, where less than 11% of the population are vaccinated and the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. You can read our column on pandemic response here.

    As we write in Our Sunday Visitor, developing countries are facing a terrifying economic and humanitarian crisis. Please call your Senators now and ask them to support our Jubilee pandemic response package. Your calls now can make a big difference.

    While your voice is needed now on pandemic response, we also see the growing suffering in Ukraine. Jubilee USA's Eric LeCompte offers our thoughts and analysis on what the IMF, Congress and White House can do now to aid and move forward debt relief for Ukraine. Our views are covered by CNN, Fox News and you can read Eric's conversations with Reuters, Catholic News Service and Devex

    In the Catholic News Service feature, we highlight that many of the challenges we face with global pandemic response and the Ukraine crisis is because world leaders failed to implement the crisis response tools that Jubilee USA called for since the 2008 crisis.

    Thanks for taking action ahead of the Senate voting. Next week we'll need you to do more as we prepare for Puerto Rico votes in Congress.

    In partnership,

    Aldo

    Aldo Caliari
    Senior Director of Policy and Strategy
    Jubilee USA Network
    [email protected]
    www.jubileeusa.org/support-us


  • KFGO News Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's Debt

    KFGO News quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's debt. Read the full article here

    Ukraine tapped lion’s share of IMF reserve allocation, debt pressures building

    By Andrea Shalal

    The U.S. Treasury Department and the IMF could take several steps to ease Ukraine’s debt burden and avert a payments crisis, Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, told Reuters.

    Treasury could seek congressional authorization to freeze the $2 million in service payments Ukraine owes the United States this year on its $790 million bilateral debt, he said.

    Doing so, he said, would send a “strong signal of support for Ukraine beyond the really good things that the administration has already been doing”.

    It would also ensure that private creditors don’t “use this moment to try and exploit Ukraine”, he said.

    LeCompte said the fund could freeze debt service payments as it has for low-income countries during the pandemic, or extend the loan so payments wouldn’t be due for several years. Although Russia is a shareholder of the IMF, the United States and Europe hold more power and could push through such a decision, he said.


  • Detroit Catholic Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's Debt

    Detroit Catholic quotes Eric LeCompte on the need for debt relief in Ukraine. Read the full article here

    Relief sought on Ukraine's debt to prevent global financial disruption

    By Dennis Sadowski

    Jubilee USA is calling on international financial institutions and the United States to signal additional support for Ukraine by restructuring the debt the war-ravaged nation owes before payments come due later this year.

    Restructuring a large chunk of Ukraine's estimated $94.7 billion debt is necessary so the beleaguered country can avoid defaulting on loans, an outcome that would reverberate through the international economy, explained Eric LeCompte, executive director of the alliance of faith-based development and debt-relief advocacy organizations.

    While welcoming the financial sanctions rapidly imposed by the U.S. and much of the world on Russia, LeCompte urged the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United States to act soon on the debt question.

    "In terms of reality, Ukraine is gong to start defaulting on its various debt payments as soon as this year," LeCompte told Catholic News Service.

    LeCopmpte identified critical needs such as streamlined procedures to restructure debt, address bankruptcy and distribute economic aid to developing countries that would prevent a severe financial crunch like the one facing Ukraine.

    For years, Jubilee USA has partnered with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and its predecessors as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to urge global financial institutions to set in place procedures to quickly respond to crises, but has not seen significant movement, LeCompte said.

    Despite financial challenges as an emerging economy, LeCompte said Ukraine has been able to make its required debt payments over the years.

    Russia's invasion throws the country's finances into chaos, however, he said.

    Ukraine's $94.7 billion debt is held by domestic and international institutions and individual countries. A breakdown provided by Jubilee USA shows that the World Bank, IMF and international development banks hold about $22 billion; the IMF alone holds more than half of the amount, or about $13.4 billion.

    The World Bank is scheduled to debate an aid package for Ukraine March 4. The organization is seeking rapid approval for an emergency loan to help Ukraine defend against Russia's incursion, LeCompte said. Reuters reported the amount to be $350 million.

    LeCompte said his organization is urging President Joe Biden's administration to ask Congress to pass an appropriation to cover the payment.

    LeCompte said Biden can issue an executive order to delay payments to the private sector in the U.S. during a time when the country needs to spend its resources to respond to the growing humanitarian catastrophe in the country. President George W. Bush took a similar step regarding Iraq's debt during war in the first decade of the 21st century.

    That leaves debt payments to Ukrainian banks and individuals. Defaulting on those payments would harm the Ukrainian economy, LeCompte said.

    He reiterated the need for the world to be able to quickly respond to crises in whatever form they may take.

    "While there's a lot of things that are happening and can happen," LeCompte said, "we're not able to do everything we need to be able to do with the Ukraine crisis or the global pandemic because we still don't have the tools in place that we and the church have been calling for since the last crisis."

     


  • Crux Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's Economic Recovery

    Crux quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's economy recovery. Read the full article here.

    Catholic expert says if you want to help Ukraine, restructure its debt

    By John Lavenburg

    “In order for Ukraine to get through the current crisis in terms of recovery and its economy, it’s essential they have access to resources. One of those resources is being able to have debt relieved and restructured, in addition to whatever kind of other aid they could get,” Eric LeCompte, the executive director of Jubilee USA Network, told Crux.

    Ukraine’s total debt is about $94.5 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund. LeCompte said that as Ukraine faces the crisis of the Russian invasion, there are important steps the IMF, World Bank, and United States can take to alleviate some of its economic challenges.

    Ukraine’s debt to the IMF is about $13.4 billion, more than $2 billion of which has to be paid this year unless it’s restructured.

    “That’s a particular action the IMF has to look at now, and it would send a strong political signal in support of Ukraine if they were to restructure and move those debt payments to the future,” LeCompte said. “Even if they don’t act now, it’s very likely it’ll be something they have to do [eventually], because Ukraine isn’t going to have the money to pay that debt.”

    Of the numerous, tough sanctions that the U.S. and world have placed on Russia in recent weeks, LeCompte said that “in the short term it’s something good to put pressure, but we also need to recognize that in some ways they’re kind of blunt instruments.” He added that the way the global system is set up will ultimately limit the amount of resources Ukraine receives.

    “It’s unfortunate that we lack the tools and the financial system to really be able to support countries in crisis because all of the actions that we can take, which are important, are piecemeal, and without some kind of adequate bankruptcy and aid process we’re not going to be able to deliver the full amount of resources Ukraine needs,” LeCompte said.


  • Eric Speaks with Devex on Ukraine's IMF Loans

    Devex quotes Eric on Ukraine's IMF Loans. Read the full article here

    China-based AIIB and NDB halt work in Russia as sanctions hit

    by Shabtai Gold

    The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has stopped “all activities relating to Russia and Belarus” pending a review, citing the war in Ukraine.

    Separately, the New Development Bank — which finances projects in emerging and developing markets and is sometimes known as the “BRICS bank,” in reference to founding members Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — said Thursday that it had “put new transactions in Russia on hold” amid “unfolding uncertainties and restrictions.”

    Eric LeCompte, executive director at the Jubilee USA Network, told Devex that Ukraine has payments due on IMF loans, which the country will now struggle to make given the dire circumstances.

    IMF could “give Ukraine some breathing space,” by agreeing to delay repayments, said LeCompte, whose organization advocates for poverty reduction around debt issues.

    “The IMF will likely take that action, but it should do it sooner rather than later, to signal support,” he said.


  • Reuters Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine

    Reuters quoted Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's debt burden. Read the full article here

    Ukraine tapped lion's share of IMF reserve allocation, debt pressures building

    By Andrea Shalal

    The U.S. Treasury Department and the IMF could take several steps to ease Ukraine's debt burden and avert a payments crisis, Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, told Reuters.

    Treasury could seek congressional authorization to freeze the $2 million in service payments Ukraine owes the United States this year on its $790 million bilateral debt, he said.

    U.S. President Joe Biden could also issue an executive order deferring debt payments to private creditors located in the United States, he said, citing a similar move made by former President George W. Bush during the Iraq war in 2004-2005.

    Doing so, he said, would send a "strong signal of support for Ukraine beyond the really good things that the administration has already been doing".

    It would also ensure that private creditors don't "use this moment to try and exploit Ukraine", he said.