Finance Ministers and United Nations Discuss COVID Crisis Solutions

IMF Announces Access to Global "SDRs" Reserve

Washington DC - The majority of developing countries face deepening crises, IMF head Kristalina Georgieva told a global meeting of Finance Ministers. Georgieva spoke during, "Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond." The coronavirus crisis meeting was convened by the UN Secretary General and Finance Ministers of Canada and Jamaica.

"The economic and health impacts for poor people around the world are worsening," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte participated in the multi-month COVID-19 response process that created options for Finance Ministers to confront the crisis. "Unless we move forward additional aid and relief, too many countries could wrestle with lost decades of development."

Mahmoud Mohieldin, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda, explained during the meeting that while some advanced economies spend the equivalent of 10% of their economic output on pandemic response programs, poor countries cannot even reach 1% of spending.

Georgieva said the IMF is expanding the use of global reserve funds or Special Drawing Rights. Roughly, $176 billion of these monies are currently held by wealthy countries and could be transferred to poor countries.

“We welcome the IMF use of Special Drawing Rights to confront this crisis. As we count the impacts of this crisis in the trillions, G20 Finance Ministers should agree to issue trillions more in global reserve funds," said LeCompte.

The World Bank and several Finance Ministers joined the IMF in a call to extend a 2020 coronavirus debt relief initiative into 2021 to support the 73 poorest countries. World leaders also argued that private banks and creditors should stop collecting poor country debts.

"The bare minimum that world leaders must do now is extend debt payment suspensions for poor countries into next year," noted LeCompte. "Further actions are also critical to protect vulnerable communities and to help all of us emerge with resilience from this crisis. The private sector must be compelled to offer debt relief, more developing countries need aid and some countries need to see their debts permanently reduced."

Several high-level participants urged the need to address revenue losses of countries because of tax evasion, corruption and other illicit financial flows.

Heads of State meet during the UN General Assembly on September 29th to consider the crisis proposals discussed at the Finance Ministers meeting. In October and November, the G20, IMF and World Bank hold additional decision-making meetings.

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The Fed and Central Banks Seek Cure for COVID-hit Economy

Washington DC - On August 27 and 28, the US Federal Reserve and other government central banks meet for their annual retreat. Traditionally held in the picturesque location of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this year the meeting will take place virtually under the theme “Navigating the decade ahead: Implications for monetary policy.”

“Government banks are grappling with a global economy projected to worsen,” said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network. “The meeting will give us a view of what role central bankers wish to play in the battle against the economic impacts of the coronavirus.”

The global economy is expected to contract by almost 5%. Emerging market and developing economies already held historically high levels of debt before the COVID-related crisis. Latin America is expected to contract about 10%.

These economic forecasts translate to United Nations projections that poverty will increase for the first time in 20 years. Ultimately, more than 130 million people will fall into extreme poverty during the next decade.

“The fate of the economy and global poverty levels are intertwined,” said LeCompte.

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World Bank Says Bold Debt Relief Plans Needed to Confront COVID Crisis

Washington DC - World Bank President David Malpass called for debt cancellation for poor countries struggling with the coronavirus, in an interview he gave to The Guardian.

"The coronavirus crisis is both a health and economic crisis and many developing countries can't address the critical needs of their people while paying debts," noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious development group, Jubilee USA and a United Nations debt expert. "Many countries are experiencing both dramatic losses in revenue and rising costs to address the impacts of this crisis."

Malpass asserted that new World Bank data would illustrate that 100 million people were pushed into poverty by the crisis. He explained the crisis was worse than the crisis of 2008 and that more bold policies were needed from the G7 and G20. The G20 offered debt payment suspension policies for the 73 poorest countries in April that could save poor countries $12 billion in 2020.

"The only way for many developing countries to get on the otherside of this crisis is to cancel debts," stated LeCompte who monitors World Bank policies. "The private sector needs to participate in debt relief plans and shouldn't expect taxpayers of developed countries to bail them out."

Malpass shared concerns of private sector actors and China's development bank refusing to participate in current debt relief plans. He argued that these groups could get a "free ride" and take the debt relief and aid being offered by the United States and other advanced economies.
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G7 Calls for More Debt Relief to Confront COVID-19 Crisis

Washington DC - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin convened G7 Finance Ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to coordinate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the G7 supported the G20 to implement a plan to suspend debt payments for the 73 poorest countries in the world through 2020.

"The G7 called on the G20 to consider suspending debt payments beyond 2020 and into next year for the world's poorest countries," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director and United Nations debt expert, Eric LeCompte. "Developing countries need more debt relief to fight the serious health and economic impacts of the coronavirus."

By year-end, the suspension of debt payments could free up $12 billion for low-income countries to invest in health services and economic recovery. The Finance Ministers encouraged all G20 countries to fully participate in the debt payment freeze.

"The G7 is pressuring China to fully implement the debt payment suspension and agree to extend the debt payment freeze into 2021," said LeCompte. "Unfortunately, the G7 took no action to extend debt relief to more developing countries."

When the debt payment suspension began, the private sector was encouraged to participate. However, much of the private sector resisted participation. In July, G20 Finance Ministers released a statement with stronger private sector participation language, but still fell short of offering a plan to ensure participation.

Many developing countries reeling from the worst economic impacts of the crisis do not qualify for current debt relief plans because they are classified as "middle-income" countries.

"Beyond expanding relief and aid to more countries, we need to permanently reduce debts for many developing countries during this severe global crisis," noted LeCompte. "Emergency aid can be delivered to countries by accessing global reserve funds or what's known as the Special Drawing Rights."

The Ministers also discussed improving transparency for global debt data, distribution of vaccines for low-income countries and growing economic crisis in Lebanon.

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Stimulus Update: G20 Debts, Student Loans, Puerto Rico, Development Aid

Friends,

In spite of setbacks, negotiators continue to hammer out plans for another coronavirus stimulus package. The thousands of calls you are generating to the Senate and the White House are making a difference.

Because Jubilee USA is so well organized in red, purple and blue states - we are hearing everyday that your calls are making it to key decision makers.

Over the weekend, President Trump signed a binding executive order to extend the freeze of student loan payments and interest through December. This is welcome news for 45 million Americans. Now with stimulus negotiations ongoing - we can extend more student debt relief, ratify our G20 debt payment suspension for the world's poorest countries and move forward vital aid for Puerto Rico.

 Below find COVID Stimulus updates and please take these vital actions now. If you already called, please call again and share these actions with your family and community.

1.) Puerto Rico - Ahead of stimulus negotiations, Jubilee USA met with the White House and Senate leadership about a path forward for Puerto Rico relief for the debt burdened island. 60% of Puerto Rico's children live in poverty. As stimulus discussions began, Puerto Rico's major religious leaders - representing more than 95% of the island's people took action. Arguing Puerto Rico needs job creation, food security, child poverty reduction and disaster aid, the religious leaders wrote Congress.

Jubilee USA delivered this vital Puerto Rico religious leader letter to every Senator and Representative. Using the hashtag #stimulus, please share this letter and release on social media, Twitter and Facebook. Here's the press release, religious leader letter and the release and letter in español. Please share and use the hashtag #stimulus so Members of Congress see your shares.

2.) G20 COVID Debt Relief and Aid - In April, together we won White House and Treasury support for 6 months of debt cancellation for the 25 poorest countries and a debt payment suspension for the 73 poorest countries. Now Congress needs to ratify and expand this debt relief. Your call is urgently needed to your Senators to move this forward. Please keep calling - our thousands of phone calls put this on the stimulus agenda.

3.) Student Loan Relief - With the President's executive order, 45 million Americans won't pay student loans through the end of the year. This is a serious victory. Now as stimulus negotiations continue, we need you to call and urge your Senators to extend the student loan debt payment suspension into 2021, include the class of 2020, suspend private student loan payments and extend bankruptcy protections to student debt.

The coronavirus health and economic crisis, continues to take the lives of our loved ones and the lives of too many members of our Jubilee USA congregations. 14 million kids in the United States are experiencing hunger, 30 million people are out of work and a third of the US population can't make their rent or mortgage payments. Around the world, 265 million more people face famine because of the coronavirus. Across the developing world, countries do not have the resources to fight the growing health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Your calls and actions on the stimulus package are urgently needed and are making a powerful difference.

Thank-you,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director
Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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Tell the Senate to include Student Debt Relief in Stimulus Package

Urgent Student Debt Stimulus Action: Student debt relief is being negotiated in stimulus package negotiations on Capitol Hill. Thanks to Jubilee USA's bipartisan efforts, President Trump signed an executive order suspending student loan payments and interest through December. We need the next stimulus package to further extend debt relief for students.

Call the Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators. You will need to call twice to reach each of your US Senators. You can leave a message for your Senator 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need help finding your Senators, you can ask the Capitol Switchboard attendant by telling them what state you reside in or use this link.

LEAVE THIS MESSAGE: 

Thank you for taking my call. I live in your state, my name and address is______________.  I want the Senator to vote for a stimulus package with additional student debt relief. We need a stimulus package that:

1.) Extends student debt relief into 2021,

2.) Includes the class of 2020,

3.) Cancels student debt for those struggling most,

4.) Suspends payments of private student loans and

5.) Expands bankruptcy law to cover student debt."



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Student Debt Stimulus Negotiations, Call the Senate

Friends,

Student debt relief is now included in round the clock coronavirus stimulus package negotiations on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, President Trump indicated that student debt relief measures passed in the Spring could be extended in the final Congressional package that Jubilee USA is working on.

Over the last 10 years, Jubilee USA led critical campaigns to relieve student debt and keep interest rates low. We can now make big gains in the stimulus negotiations.

Please call your Senators now. During a crisis that rivals the Great Depression, the government can help 45 million Americans holding student debt. At minimum, Congress must extend debt payment relief through the end of the year. We'll need more relief, but this stimulus package should extend the student debt payment moratorium.

On September 30th, the student debt payment suspension that Congress passed as part of the CARES Act stimulus package in the Spring, expires. The Act put in place 0% interest rates and stopped federal collection of student loans. More than 92% of all student loans are federal loans and top 1.5 trillion dollars of debt.

We need to do more.

We need to extend student debt relief through 2021, create debt cancellation processes for those struggling most and make sure the class of 2020 can also be included in debt relief measures. While it's less than 8% of total student debt, it's critical that Congress also brings private sector student loans to the debt relief table too. Call your Senators so student debt relief is included in the stimulus package.

Private student debt amounts to $124.65 billion. The House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act stimulus package in May that included $10,000 of debt forgiveness for either federal or private student debt for borrowers deeply impacted by the crisis. The initial $1 trillion HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans this week did not include student debt relief measures.

Earlier this week student debt relief was not part of the debate. Because we acted, now we have a chance of including it in the coronavirus stimulus package. Tell your Senators, extend the debt relief moratorium and bankruptcy protection for student debt.

Over the last week, you generated thousands of calls to the Senate to ratify the global coronavirus debt relief and development aid measures we won from the White House and G20 in the Spring.

On Tuesday we sent a letter from Puerto Rico's major religious leaders to Congress to spur job creation, food security and disaster aid as part of the coronavirus stimulus plan. Religious leaders representing over 95% of Puerto Rico's people signed the Jubilee letter and it included leaders from the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Christian (Disciples) and Evangelical Churches. The Puerto Rico Council of Churches, Catholic Charities (Caritas) and the General Bible Society also added their names to the letter to Congress.

Your actions are making a big difference during these stimulus negotiations. As Congress negotiates the inclusion of student debt relief, please call your Senator now.

Gratefully,

Zach

Zachary Conti
Director of Policy and Advocacy
Twitter: @JubileeUSA
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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Stimulus Plan Negotiations Turn to Student Debt

Washington DC - Student debt relief is now included in round the clock stimulus package negotiations on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, President Trump indicated that student debt relief measures passed in the Spring could be extended in the final Congressional package.

"During a crisis that rivals the Great Depression, the government can help 45 million Americans holding student debt," stated Eric LeCompte who directs the religious debt relief group Jubilee USA. "At minimum, Congress must extend debt payment relief through the end of the year. We'll need more relief, but this stimulus package should extend the debt payment moratorium."

On September 30th, the student debt payment suspension that Congress passed as part of the CARES Act stimulus package in the Spring, expires. The Act put in place 0% interest rates and stopped federal collection of student loans. More than 92% of all student loans are federal loans and top 1.5 trillion dollars of debt.

"We really need to start working on extending student debt relief through 2021, create debt cancellation processes for those struggling most and make sure the class of 2020 can also be included in debt relief measures," noted LeCompte whose organization leads campaigns to keep interest rates low on certain types of federal student loans. "While it's less than 8% of total student debt, it's critical that Congress also brings private sector student loans to the debt relief table too."

Private student debt amounts to $124.65 billion. The House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act stimulus package in May that included $10,000 of debt forgiveness for either federal or private student debt for borrowers deeply impacted by the crisis. The initial $1 trillion HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans this week did not include student debt relief measures.

"Currently, student loans are not addressed in a bankruptcy proceeding. Congress should extend bankruptcy protection to include student debt," said LeCompte.

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El plan de estímulo fiscal debe incluir a Puerto Rico, dicen líderes religiosos de la isla

Washington DC - Líderes religiosos que representan más del 95% de la población de Puerto Rico escribieron al Congreso instando a que se incluya a la isla en el próximo plan de estímulo. La creación de empleos, el alivio para desastres y las protecciones para los segmentos más vulnerables fueron los planteamientos en una carta firmada por líderes de las iglesias católica, metodista, luterana, cristiana (discípulos) y evangélicas, El Consejo de Iglesias de Puerto Rico, Caritas de Puert Rico y la Sociedad Bíblica de Puerto Rico también agregaron sus nombres a la carta al Congreso.

"Casi el 60% de nuestros niños, ciudadanos estadounidenses, viven bajo niveles de pobreza en Puerto Rico. Nuestros niños necesitan una acción urgente en el Congreso", escribieron líderes religiosos que incluyeron a Roberto González, arzobispo católico  de San Juan y el líder evangélico, Heriberto. Martínez, "Alentamos al Congreso a implementar medidas inmediatas para devolver los empleos de manufactura a Puerto Rico, mediante la adopción de una legislación que promueva los productos farmacéuticos para estimular la recuperación económica y la creación de empleos en áreas de alto desempleo y pobreza", continuó la carta del líder religioso al Congreso.

A mediados de la década de 2000, el Congreso no renovó los incentivos para estimular empleos farmacéuticos en Puerto Rico y se perdieron aproximadamente 100,000 empleos. En la carta al Congreso, los líderes religiosos instaron medidas para restaurar estos trabajos y argumentaron que Puerto Rico tiene mano de obra calificada y capacidad para ayudar a satisfacer las necesidades de producción de equipos de protección personal y otros suministros para enfrentar COVID-19.

En 2015, los líderes religiosos de Puerto Rico fueron los primeros en dar la alarma sobre la crisis de deuda de la isla y notaron que la pérdida de empleos farmacéuticos, en parte, provocó la crisis. Más tarde, los líderes se reunieron varias  con los líderes de la Casa Blanca y el Congreso para avanzar en la reducción de la pobreza infantil y los esfuerzos de alivio de la deuda y los desastres que azotaron a la isla.

Esta comunicación al Congreso de los líderes religiosos, llega al Congreso en un momento donde el término para extender los beneficios de alimentos expira la semana entrante. Parte del financiamiento para el Programa de Asistencia Nutricional (PAN) de Puerto Rico vence el 31 de julio y puede dejar a 190,000 personas de los segmentos más vulnerables sin beneficios de acceso a alimentos. En la era del COVID-19 y continuos desastres naturales en Puerto Rico, provocados por el Calentamiento Global, el programa PAN (por sus siglas en inglés) apoya a 1.5 millones de personas o la mitad de la población actual de la isla.

"Estamos lidiando con una crisis como ninguna otra y Puerto Rico debería ser incluido en el plan de estímulo", dijo Eric LeCompte, Director Ejecutivo de Jubilee USA, quien asesora a los líderes religiosos de Puerto Rico. "El Congreso puede tomar medidas que beneficien al pueblo de Puerto Rico y la lucha contra el coronavirus".

Con las cadenas de suministro de productos farmacéuticos de coronavirus bajo presión ​​en los Estados Unidos, los líderes religiosos argumentan que la producción en Puerto Rico es una parte crítica para la solución de la crisis actual.

La carta fue firmada por Felipe Lozada Montañez, Presidente del Consejo de Iglesias de Puerto Rico y Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana, Miguel A. Morales Castro, Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo), Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal el Obispo de la Iglesia Metodista, Reverendo Enrique Camacho, Director Ejecutivo de Cáritas (Caridades Católicas), Reverendo Heriberto Martínez Rivera, Secretario General de la Sociedad Bíblica de Puerto Rico, Roberto O. González Nieves, Arzobispo Metropolitano de la Arquidiócesis de San Juan de Puerto Rico, Rubén González Medina, Obispo de la Diócesis de Ponce, Esteban González Dobles, ex Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana y Rafael Moreno Rivas, Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Metodista.

Carta de Lideres Religiosos de Puerto Rico al Congreso sobre Estimulo Fiscal


28 de julio de 2020
Jubilee USA Network
110 Maryland Ave. NE, Ste 210
Washington, D.C.20002

28 de julio de 2020

El honorable Mitch McConnell
Líder de la Mayoría
Senado de los Estados Unidos
Capitolio de EE. UU.
Washington, DC 20515

El honorable Chuck Schumer
Líder de la Minoría
Senado de los Estados Unidos
Capitolio de EE. UU.
Washington, DC 20515

La honorable Nancy Pelosi
Presidenta de la Camara de Representantes
Cámara de representantes de los Estados Unidos
Capitolio de EE. UU.
Washington, DC 20515

El honorable Kevin McCarthy
Líder de la Minoría
Cámara de representantes de los Estados Unidos
Capitolio de EE. UU.
Washington, DC 20515

"Será echado un puñado de grano en la tierra, en las cumbres de los montes;
Su fruto hará ruido como el Líbano, Y los de la ciudad florecerán como la hierba de la tierra.". --- Salmo 72:16

Estimado líder McConnell, líder Schumer, Presidenta de la Cámara Pelosi y líder McCarthy,

A medida que ustedes avanzan los planes para un nuevo estímulo fiscal y su agenda legislativa, le solicitamos que por favor implementen planes que, ofrezcan e incluyan alivio y oportunidades para el pueblo de Puerto Rico. Estamos agradecidos por los esfuerzos pasados del Congreso y creemos que las acciones de estímulo fiscal, no solo beneficiarían a los ciudadanos estadounidenses de Puerto Rico, sino que también, beneficiarían a todos los ciudadanos estadounidenses en los 50 estados y otros territorios que luchan contra la pandemia del coronavirus.

1. Alentamos al Congreso a implementar de inmediato medidas, para devolver los empleos en el sector de la manufactura a Puerto Rico, mediante la adopción de una legislación que impulse los productos farmacéuticos para promover la recuperación económica y la creación de empleos en áreas de alto desempleo y pobreza en la isla. Puerto Rico cuenta con mano de obra calificada, la capacidad y la infraestructura para inmediatamente fabricar equipos farmacéuticos y de protección personal adicionales, para la lucha contra el COVID-19. De modo que se podría aumentar los suministros en los Estados Unidos de estos equipos. A mediados de la década de 2000, Puerto Rico perdió más de 100,000 empleos bien remunerados que rotaron hacia India y China. Esta pérdida condujo a nuestra actual crisis de deuda pública y a muchos de los desafíos económicos que enfrentamos hoy, situación que se magnifica aún más por una serie de desastres naturales que han azotado la isla en años recientes. Dadas las limitaciones que existen en las cadenas de suministro globales y las necesidades críticas que enfrentan todos los ciudadanos estadounidenses, los planes de estímulo fiscal actuales, deben incluir medidas para traer empleos de fabricación de productos farmacéuticos de inmediato a Puerto Rico y revivir la economía de Puerto Rico, que está en quiebra y llena de deudas.

2. Casi el 60% de nuestros niños, ciudadanos estadounidenses, viven bajo niveles de pobreza en Puerto Rico. Nuestros niños tienen una necesidad urgente de la acción del Congreso. El sufrimiento que enfrentan nuestros niños y niñas, debido al alto nivel de pobreza, los desastres naturales recurrentes y ahora COVID-19, es simplemente una situación trágica. El 1 de agosto, muchos de nuestros niños y niñas perderán los beneficios del Programa de Asistencia Nutricional y casi 190,000 personas de sectores vulnerables quedarán excluidas de estos beneficios. La acción del Congreso debe buscar garantizar que, antes del 31 de julio, $ 1,236 mil millones de dólares estén autorizados para continuar este programa que, afecta a casi 1.5 millones de ciudadanos estadounidenses que residen en Puerto Rico.

3. El Congreso debe impulsar fondos adicionales, para la recuperación por desastres para Puerto Rico. El impacto devastador de los huracanes Irma y María, los terremotos y el coronavirus afectan a los ciudadanos estadounidenses en la isla. Estimados conservadores señalan que, Puerto Rico necesita $ 60 mil millones adicionales en ayuda para su recuperación. Esperamos que el Congreso pueda proveer esta ayuda para los ciudadanos estadounidenses que, viven en Puerto Rico, de manera que se logre impulsar una agenda comercial amplia, crítica para todos los ciudadanos estadounidenses que viven en la isla.

Los mantenemos a ustedes y su misión de servicio al público en nuestras oraciones diarias.

Sinceramente,

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

Rubén González Medina CMF Obispo de la diócesis católica romana de Ponce

Reverendo Felipe Lozada Montañez
Presidente del Consejo de Iglesias de Puerto Rico y obispo emérito del Evangélico Luterano en Puerto Rico

Reverendo Miguel A. Morales Castro
Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico

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

Reverendo Esteban González Dobles
Ex Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en 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

CC: miembros del Congreso

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Puerto Rico Religious Leader Stimulus Letter to Congress

Jubilee USA Network
110 Maryland Ave. NE, Ste 210
Washington, D.C. 20002

July 28, 2020

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

"May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field!" --- Psalm 72:16

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

As you move forward stimulus plans and your legislative agenda, please implement plans that offer both relief and opportunity for the people of Puerto Rico. We are grateful for many of the past efforts of Congress and we believe certain stimulus actions will not only benefit the US citizens of Puerto Rico, but could also benefit all US citizens across the 50 states and other territories battling the coronavirus pandemic.

1.) We encourage Congress to immediately implement measures to return manufacturing jobs to Puerto Rico, by adopting legislation that encourages pharmaceuticals to spur economic recovery and job creation in areas of high unemployment and poverty. Puerto Rico has skilled labor, the capacity, and the facilities to immediately take up additional pharmaceutical and personal protective equipment manufacturing, to aid in the fight against COVID-19 and increase supplies in the United States. In the mid-2000s, Puerto Rico lost over 100,000 good jobs to India and China. This loss led to our current debt crisis and many of the economic challenges we now face, further exasperated by a series of natural disasters. Given the constraints that exist in global supply chains and critical needs faced by all US citizens, current stimulus plans should include measures to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs immediately to Puerto Rico and revive Puerto Rico's failing and debt-burdened economy.

2.) Nearly 60% of our children, US citizens, live in poverty in Puerto Rico. Our children are in vital need of Congressional action. The suffering our children face from the high-level of poverty, the recurring natural disasters and now COVID-19, can only be described as tragic. On August 1st, many of our children will lose Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and nearly 190,000 vulnerable people will be cut from these benefits. Congressional action must ensure that by July 31st, $1.236 billion dollars is authorized to continue this program that impacts almost 1.5 million US citizens who reside in Puerto Rico.

3.) Congress should move forward additional disaster recovery monies for Puerto Rico. The devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, earthquakes and the coronavirus impact US citizens on the island. Conservative estimates note that Puerto Rico needs an additional $60 billion in recovery aid. We hope Congress can move forward this aid for the US citizens living in Puerto Rico and for the broader commerce agenda critical for all US citizens.

Please know we continue to hold you and your public service mission in our daily prayers.

Sincerely,

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 Felipe Lozada Montañez
President of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and Emeritus Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran in Puerto Rico

Reverend Miguel A. Morales Castro
General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico

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

CC: Members of Congress

Download the letter as a PDF here.

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Stimulus Plan Must Include Puerto Rico Say Major Religious Leaders

Washington DC - Religious leaders representing over 95% of Puerto Rico's population wrote Congress urging that the island be included in the next stimulus plan. Job creation, disaster relief and protections for the vulnerable were lifted in a letter signed by leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Christian (Disciples) and Evangelical Churches. The Puerto Rico Council of Churches, Catholic Charities (Caritas) and the General Bible Society also added their names to the letter to Congress.

"Nearly 60% of our children, US citizens, live in poverty in Puerto Rico. Our children are in vital need of Congressional action," wrote the religious leaders who included Roberto González, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Juan and Evangelical leader, Heriberto Martínez. "We encourage Congress to immediately implement measures to return manufacturing jobs to Puerto Rico, by adopting legislation that encourages pharmaceuticals to spur economic recovery and job creation in areas of high unemployment and poverty," the religious leader letter to Congress continued.

In the mid-2000s, Congress did not renew incentives for pharmaceutical jobs in Puerto Rico and tens of thousands of jobs were lost. In the letter to Congress, the religious leaders urged measures to restore these jobs and argued that Puerto Rico has skilled labor and capacity to help meet production needs for personal protective equipment and other supplies to confront COVID-19.

In 2015, Puerto Rico's religious leaders were the first to raise the alarm on the island's debt crisis and noted the loss of pharmaceutical jobs, in part, led to the crisis. Later, the leaders continually met with the White House and Congress leadership to move forward child poverty reduction and disaster and debt relief efforts.

The communication to Congress from the faith leaders comes as food benefits expire this week. Some funding for Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) expires on July 31st and leaves 190,000 vulnerable people without food access benefits. In the age of COVID-19 and continuing natural disasters in Puerto Rico, the NAP program supports 1.5 million people or half of the current population.

"We are dealing with a crisis like no other and Puerto Rico should be included in the stimulus plan," said Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who advises Puerto Rico's religious leaders. "Congress can take action that benefits Puerto Rico's people and the fight against the coronavirus."

With supply chains for pharmaceutical coronavirus products stressed in the US, the religious leaders argue that production in Puerto Rico is a critical part of the solution.

The letter was signed by Felipe Lozada Montañez the President of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and Emeritus Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Miguel A. Morales Castro the General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal the Bishop of the Methodist Church, Reverend Enrique Camacho the Executive Director of Cáritas (Catholic Charities), Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera the General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society, Roberto O. González Nieves the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Rubén González Medina the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ponce, Esteban González Dobles the former General Pastor of the Christian Church and Rafael Moreno Rivas the Emeritus Bishop of the Methodist Church.

Read the Puerto Rico stimulus religious leader letter to Congress here.

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We Won. Stimulus Debt Relief Happening Now

Thanks to your work for the last decade and generating tens of thousands of messages to Congress over the last year, Jubilee's Corporate Transparency Amendment passed the House. Your phone calls this week made a big difference. Now - during the Fall our transparency legislation to protect debt relief and prevent human trafficking can be negotiated in a final package with the Senate.

Today - I urgently write you as we enter final stimulus negotiations on global debt relief. With the support of the White House, all of the debt relief initiatives for the world's poorest 73 countries in April we won from the G20 and IMF - must now be ratified by Congress. Further, Congress can move forward debt cancellation and critical transparency initiatives.

Please call both of your Senators now. Tell them to support White House and Treasury plans to suspend debt payments for the world's poorest countries. Tell your Senators to support initiatives to cancel debt and increase transparency in debt relief measures. Tell them to support bipartisan efforts to help developing countries address the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Together, in April we won 6 months of debt cancellation for the 25 poorest countries. We moved forward a new process to suspend debt payments for the 73 poorest countries. As these countries all face growing infection rates and famine because of COVID-19, some of these countries have zero critical care units for their population. The lucky ones may have 50 to support millions of people.

Already, for countries that count their budgets in the tens of millions - $6 billion dollars in debt relief has been generated. It's possible as our plans move forward we can generate more than $20 billion.

But Congress must act and must include these debt relief provisions in the Stimulus and encourage permanent reductions of debt. Congress should include broader international development assistance. Stimulus negotiations on our plans continue through the weekend and the Capitol Switch board is open 24/7 so you can leave a critical message for your Senators when you receive this message.

Congressional Quarterly cites Jubilee USA's work as the last standing bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill. Together, we moved the White House. Now, we must move the Senate to include and increase our debt relief and debt cancellation efforts for developing countries so they can survive a pandemic that is taking lives and destroying livelihoods.

In addition to securing global debt relief and development aid in this stimulus package, we are also focused on measures to aid the 3 million people suffering in Puerto Rico and move forward student debt relief.

Please call both of your Senators now. Please keep calling through this weekend until we secure these critical Jubilee provisions.

We are so grateful for your support and partnership.

Best,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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

 

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