Jubilee USA Urges Congress to Pass Puerto Rico Aid and Debt Relief Protections

Washington DC - As Democrats and Republicans head toward a budget showdown this week, several Puerto Rico amendments could be added to budget bills. More than a million US citizens in Puerto Rico could lose food assistance benefits if Congress does not authorize an additional $600 million for the Nutritional Assistance Program (NAP).

"Before Congress goes on recess, Congress must approve funding so that poor kids, the elderly, disabled and the most vulnerable can access food in Puerto Rico," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. On Monday, LeCompte's organization rallied more than 20,000 of its members to urge Congress to pass the NAP funding before year-end.

260,000 people will lose benefits and more than a million people will see their benefits cut if Congress does not take action this week.

Over the last year, Jubilee USA worked with Congress and federal agencies to secure more than $45 billion in rebuilding aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The religious development group worked closely with Republican and Democratic leadership to secure "better building" provisions so that Puerto Rico can rebuild to withstand future storms. According to estimates from Puerto Rico's Governor and oversight board, another $80 billion is needed to fully fund recovery efforts.

"In the coming days and months, Congress needs to fully fund the rebuilding needs of Puerto Rico," stated LeCompte. "We need to see action from Congress that provides transparency disclosures so we know when creditors are advising debt negotiations. We also need to prevent creditors collecting hurricane relief monies."

Debt negotiations in Puerto Rico received recent scrutiny because a subsidiary of a firm who owns Puerto Rico debt is advising debt deals. Puerto Rico religious leaders and finance experts also raised concerns that debt holders are trying to collect hurricane relief monies.

Read Jubilee USA's action alert to Congress

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Call Congress: Urgent Puerto Rico Action

Friends, 

Thanks to your actions, we've moved Congress consistently on Puerto Rico over the last three years. Jubilee USA successfully focused on cutting Puerto Rico's debt, preventing austerity, securing monies to protect the vulnerable and winning hurricane rebuilding aid.

Before Congress goes on recess Friday, Congress will decide the fate of 260,000 vulnerable US citizens living in Puerto Rico who rely on the Nutritional Assistance Program or NAP. The 260,000 low income people will lose their benefits and another million people in Puerto Rico will see their benefits cut.

Please call Congress now and urge that they fund the Nutritional Assistance Program to protect poor children, the elderly and disabled. Tell Congress to fund disaster assistance and support a transparent debt restructuring that reduces child poverty.

Your efforts so far have won more than $45 billion in rebuilding aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Our work over the next year is critical as we work to secure another $80 billion in funds needed for rebuilding. Because of Jubilee USA's work with Republican and Democratic leadership, we secured "Better Building" provisions so that Puerto Rico can rebuild to withstand future storms.

In the weeks to come our work together is critical as we move forward a debt restructuring in Puerto Rico that is transparent, prevents austerity, reduces austerity and ensures that Puerto Rico can have a sustainable economy.

As you receive this, the US Government is preparing letters for 260,000 people in Puerto Rico telling them that during the holidays, their food assistance monies will be cut. Another million people will see their food benefits cut. We can stop this additional austerity now. Call Congress now and tell them to fund NAP for the US citizens living in Puerto Rico.

On Friday, Congress goes home for the holidays. If we act now, we can make sure that many of our friends in Puerto Rico have a brighter holiday season.

Thanks for taking action.

Gratefully,

Kate 

Kate Zeller
Campaigns Director

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End of Year Report 2018

Friends, 

I am so grateful for your partnership. Together we continue to address the root causes of poverty, inequality, war, terrorism and migration.

When you read our 2018 year-end report, you'll read how we exceeded expectations in a challenging political environment. You'll see how we won new US and global debt, tax, trade and transparency policies that address the root causes of migration and poverty.

Remarkably, our efforts from Puerto Rico to NAFTA to the International Monetary Fund were covered in tens of thousands of news outlets. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, global television and your local newspaper covered our thoughts and work.

Major funders, partners and journalists all tell me they think our annual budget is in the millions. They are floored when they learn that our policy, organizing and media impact happens on a budget of a few hundred thousand. It's why every gift really, really matters for us. 

Together over the last year we launched 5 new campaigns and we won 6 major victories. In our 2018 year-end report, you learn how we won more than $45 billion in rebuilding aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.   

Because of our strategic efforts together, we moved Republicans and Democrats to ensure that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can rebuild to withstand future storms. 

In the new NAFTA, we stopped “vulture funds” from collecting on old debt and organized major religious institutions to demand that all people should be able to access life-saving medicine. After years of pressure, we moved the IMF to acknowledge the new debt crisis in Africa and the importance of preventing the next global financial crisis.

In our 2018 year-end report, you'll see why a gift really matters.

When you read our 2018 year-end report you'll see how we are one of few organizations that will move the White House, Congress, G-20, IMF and United Nations in 2019. You'll read in our comprehensive year-end report that we are poised to address the root causes of migration, poverty, terrorism, war and inequality in the year to come.

We are so grateful for your support.

Gratefully,

Eric


Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte

P.s. Please join me and make a tax-deductible gift to Jubilee USA today. Whether that gift is $5, $25 or $250 it goes a very very long way on our little budget.



 
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Fed Says College Students Have More Debt than Previous Generations

Washington DC - A study released from the Federal Reserve Board notes that 70 percent of college students are graduating with more than $37,000 in debt.

"Student loan debt has reached crisis levels," noted Eric LeCompte who heads the religious debt watchdog, Jubilee USA Network. "Current graduates are carrying higher debts than any previous generation."

The Federal Reserve Board study found that college student debt levels in 2017 were twice as high as student debt in 2004.

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Light Amidst Terror, Chag Sameach

Friends,

From my family and all at Jubilee USA, I wish you and your family every blessing as you celebrate Hanukkah.

In this time of terror, darkness and tumult, I struggle to simply send you a "Happy Hanukkah." Tree of Life weighs heavy on me. As a leader of an interfaith organization, I struggle with growing hate crimes against my Jewish mothers and fathers.

I'm a Catholic who celebrates on Sunday a "CliffsNotes" Shabbat. But, I reflect on the wicked king and we remember the resistance of the People of God and the light that this time celebrates.

This gives me hope. I am grateful to resist the sick wickedness with you. I am grateful to walk into the light with you. 

Chag Sameach,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director


 

 

 

 

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Eric LeCompte Featured by Profiles in Catholicism

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, recently spoke with Profiles in Catholicism about the history of his work at Jubilee USA and Jubilee USA's current campaigns. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

An Interview with Eric LeCompte

Gordon: When were you appointed as Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, and what have been some of the most rewarding experiences that you have had to date?

Eric: I took over the reigns of Jubilee USA in April 2010. Working at Jubilee USA is a fulfillment of my Catholic vocation. The most rewarding experience of my career is working with, supporting and advising Catholic and other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders. Working with the Bishops and Catholic religious orders of the United States, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Africa, and Latin America as well as major interfaith leaders in all of these regions can only be described as a gift.

Together this interfaith work has had unprecedented results. We’ve moved forward major policies to address the structural causes of poverty - debt, tax, and trade issues. In Africa, our efforts brought aid and debt relief monies to confront the Ebola epidemic that hit Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. We created a new process at the International Monetary Fund that strengthened healthcare and built new hospitals across the region.

In the Caribbean, we rallied religious leaders to deal with financial crisis and high poverty rates head on. In Puerto Rico, our work with religious leaders yielded new processes to address the 60 percent child poverty rate.

Globally, our work at Jubilee USA with the Holy See and interfaith religious partners won policies to address the causes of poverty worldwide. Together, we won new global policies to stop the exploitive behavior of vulnerable communities and decreased global corruption. It's been our efforts that called attention to the financial crisis and the reality that developing countries can't deal with poverty without dealing with high debt loads, budget transparency and tax evasion.

At the same time, the great reward of supporting and working with Catholic and other religious leaders in every corner of our world has also met challenges. While our successes together are myriad, our work must continue to address the root causes of poverty.

The same causes of poverty also spur inequality, human rights abuse, terrorism, war, and environmental degradation. I admire the teaching of our Holy Father who frames all of these issues in the economic issues that I am privileged to work on.

Gordon: You have been a tireless advocate for the reduction of poverty globally. Poverty may have a different connotation in different parts of the world. Please share your definition of poverty with our readers.

Eric: Global standards assume that anyone living on less than $1.90 a day lives in extreme poverty. But in the simplest of terms, poverty is not having enough healthy food to eat or receive basic education or health-care or have access to decent shelter. In every country of the world and on every continent, there are severe forms of need and extreme poverty.

As a Catholic and as someone who works on the causes of poverty, we can not separate these issues from the causes of inequality. The wealthiest 80 people in the world have more wealth the half of the world's population. 80 people on earth own more than the bottom 3.6 billion people in the world. The causes of poverty, that I work on, are debt, tax, trade, and transparency policies. It's why our work at Jubilee USA Network is so incredibly important.

Gordon: What are our moral obligations as Catholics to address poverty?

Eric: Our faith requires us as a moral obligation to not only be charitable but to address the primary causes of poverty. As Catholics, scripture and Catholic doctrine and the Holy Father call us to do everything in our power to end poverty.

The Catholic Church is at the forefront of articulating that we can not end poverty without addressing the structural causes of poverty.

Gordon: In your opinion and based on your testimony to the US Congress, how has the United States addressed the support of the people in need in Puerto Rico?

Eric: I think that the US Government has addressed the situation of Puerto Rico in a range of ways. I testified several times before Congress met with Puerto Rico’s former and current Governor and testified to the Congressionally installed oversight board of Puerto Rico. My message, rooted in Catholic teaching, is that it is imperative for decision makers to protect the vulnerable, limit austerity policies, protect the environment and reduce the nearly 60 percent child poverty rate on the island.

Our message is met with many responses. Both positive and negative.

Puerto Rico remains a colony of the United States and as such, decisions the US Government makes impact Puerto Rico. The Catholic Church, the Archbishop of San Juan and Caritas has been heroic in their advocacy for Puerto Rico’s people. Working with the Catholic and other interfaith religious groups on the island has brought a strong response from the Obama and Trump White Houses as well as Republican and Democratic leadership. The partnership of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has also been instrumental.

Because of our role with Catholic partners, we won a process to restructure the debt and reduce austerity. We’ve won rules for preferential treatment of poor communities. At this point, we’ve won more than 40 billion dollars in hurricane aid. We’ve ensured that policies are in place so Puerto Rico can rebuild to withstand the next storm.

With that noted, we still face enormous challenges. Creditor groups are successfully preventing positive debt restructuring and the island needs another 80 billion in aid. Our work as Catholics to lift and defend the people of Puerto Rico is so essential now and must continue.

Gordon: As a member of expert working groups to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, what is your experience can nations do to more effectively deal with life-threatening poverty wherever it occurs?

Eric: Life-threatening poverty is caused by structural policies. Debt, tax, and trade policies are why resources are poorly distributed and why poverty exists. It's why Catholic teaching is so important in terms of going beyond the important works of charity and working towards acts of justice. Our Savior reminds us of this when he declares the year of the Lord’s favor or the year of Jubilee, in his first public act in Luke’s gospel. He reiterates the call of the prophets: in order to live in harmony with one another, we must act for justice.

Countries must go beyond giving aid, we need to implement policies that will end poverty. The developing world loses a trillion dollars a year because of tax evasion and corruption. Countries around the world lose hundreds of billions annually because of a lack of public budget transparency and irresponsible borrowing. For every 1 dollar in aid developing countries receive, they lose 5 dollars in debt payments. At the United Nation, the IMF and in every country in the world, we can change these policies. Even minor shifts will release hundreds of millions of people from the bondage of poverty.

Gordon: You address the diverse challenges of religion, politics and economics often in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, McClatchy News Service, National Public Radio, Agence-France Presse, Market Place, CNN Money, the Financial Times and The Hill. What issues have resulted in the most feedback?

Eric: Sharing the Gospel with the media is critical for our efforts. Because we raise these issues in the mainstream media, there is a broader understanding of the actual structures that create global poverty.

Many of us don't realize how issues like debt, tax, and trade are the source of inequality and poverty. These issues impact our lives almost as much as the very oxygen we breathe. The media, just like most of us, is yearning to understand and communicate these issues. It's how why we spend so much time engaging with them.

Gordon: Jesus asked us to live our neighbor as ourselves Considering we are members of a global community and a global religion, who is our neighbor?

Eric: In our global community, we are all neighbors. In this global economy, what happens to one of us impacts all of us. We are called to love our neighbors, no matter who they are or where they call home.

Gordon: Thank you for this exceptional interview.

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Development Group Head Issues Statement on G-20 Communiqué

Washington DC - The G-20 releases their communiqué or "Leader's Declaration" at the close of their annual meetings held this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, releases the following statement on the G-20 Leader's Declaration:

"From a development perspective we agree with the G-20 that the current system of global trade is flawed. Trade dispute processes too often bypass a country's sovereign laws on labor and the environment. Reforms of the World Trade Organization and trade agreements are needed to protect vulnerable communities.

"We welcome the commitment for basic creditor transparency and for the IMF and World Bank to record public and private loans and debts.

"The G-20's commitment to tackle tax avoidance, tax evasion and corruption are important. We want to see the implementation of global tax and transparency laws as soon as possible. Currently the developing world loses nearly a trillion dollars annually due to tax evasion and corruption.

"The G-20 affirmation of the need to make voting more equal at the International Monetary Fund is critical.

"While the G-20 raises concerns about financial crisis, the G-20 as a whole is failing to push forward an international bankruptcy process. Without this process in place, we are failing to do all we can to prevent the next global financial crisis."

Read the full G-20 Leader's Declaration here: http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2018/buenos_aires_leaders_declaration.pdf

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G20 Discusses Preventing Financial Crisis and Small Island Economies

Washington DC - President Trump arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday for the annual G20 meetings. While trade, climate and tensions with Russia dominated press coverage ahead of the meetings, financial crisis concerns are taking center stage during the two-day meetings. The International Monetary Fund released a series of reports in October warning new financial crisis could be on the horizon.

"The concerns are whether or not we've done enough to prevent the next financial crisis," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who monitors the G20 and serves on UN finance expert groups. "There is broad agreement that the debts of many countries are out of control and we've not done enough to stop risky market behavior."

Recent analysis from the IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development suggest that a growing number of developing countries are wrestling with debt crisis. Almost 20 African economies are mired in unsustainable debts, according to the World Bank and IMF. On Monday, the IMF hosted Caribbean Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers to discuss debt concerns after the devastating 2017 hurricane season.

"During this year's G20, world leaders are discussing how small islands in particular are struggling with high debt loads in the face of natural disasters," said LeCompte who participated in Monday's IMF Caribbean meeting. "We are pushing the G20 to support debt relief when poor small islands are hit by hurricanes or other natural disasters."

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What your gift does, exactly. Why your gift is doubled.

On "Giving Tuesday," please join me and make a gift that supports our current campaigns.

Any gift to Jubilee USA is tax-deductible and is doubled now. Whether your gift is $5, $50 or $500 it will be doubled and will support our campaigns that will see action before year-end. 

Your donation supports effective and strategic campaigns that address the root causes of poverty.

Your gift right now means:

  • We will win debt and austerity relief for Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands wrestling with financial crisis. Our disaster-triggered debt relief processes will also gain momentum with your support
  • In the new NAFTA, we will gain more ground on stopping vulture funds, settling trade disputes in favor of vulnerable communities and ensuring people can access life-saving medicines
  • We will win more hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • We will prevent corruption from oil and extractive industries by implementing new reporting rules that will stop bribery, protect debt relief and curb tax evasion in the developing world
  • At the G20 and the IMF, we can move forward the implementation of new global responsible lending and borrowing rules
  • We'll continue to protect transparency rules in Dodd-Frank and protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from attacks
  • We can raise the alarm and push solutions on the growing debt crises in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America

Your support achieves success. Your contribution wins measurable results.

Please make your tax-deductible gift today. We are a small organization and your gift is critically needed now for us to be able to continue our work. 

Congressional Quarterly cites our Jubilee USA efforts as the last bipartisan efforts in Washington DC. Before the end of the year, we'll need you to join us as we take action. Several of the campaigns we are working on will see decisions in the coming weeks.

So grateful for your partnership,


Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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Debt and Tax Policies Needed to Prevent Crisis Says Finance Watchdog Group

Washington DC - Financial institutions, experts and economists fear a new wave of financial crises hitting countries from Ghana to Italy. The IMF and World Bank warn that nearly 20 African economies are wrestling with debt crises and on Wednesday the European Union chastised Italy on its debt-laden budget.

"Growing debt crises and the inability of countries to meet the social needs of their people is very concerning," stated Eric LeCompte who serves on United Nation finance expert groups and is the Executive Director of Jubilee USA. Jubilee USA monitors the debts and budgets of governments across the world. "Governments aren't raising enough revenue, we are failing to prevent corruption and the exports and currencies of many countries are losing value."

In October the IMF released a series of reports raising concerns that policies are not in place to prevent future global financial crisis. Last year's hurricane season devastated Caribbean islands from Puerto Rico to Dominica that were not prepared because of debt crises.

"If we follow the data, the solutions are conclusive," said LeCompte. "We need stronger policies on responsible lending and borrowing. We need a functioning permanent bankruptcy process for countries to work out their debts. We must implement some basic rules that can curb the trillion dollar annual loss to developing countries from tax evasion and corruption."

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