The Intercept Talks with Eric LeCompte about Puerto Rico

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

Puerto Rico is On Track for Historic Debt Forgiveness -- Unless Wall Street Gets its Way

By: Kate Aronoff

"'Now that the hurricanes have happened, and we understand the level of devastation that has taken place on the island, the bankruptcy process that’s in place under Swain now has to take into account this new reality,' LeCompte tells me. 'For Puerto Rico, that means a much bigger haircut than we were looking at beforehand.'

According to LeCompte, there are a couple of ways that forgiveness or cancellation could play out. Beyond outright forgiveness, one idea that’s been popular even among some bondholders is to repackage any remaining debt into a bond that would only be repaid once Puerto Rico crosses a certain threshold of GDP growth. A less likely scenario — though one LeCompte advised to look out forand Trump himself may have suggested — could see Congress pass a bail-out for bondholders, pouring federal funds into recouping their losses. Another recourse for creditors, he tells me, 'is trying to get Congress to amend or change PROMESA legislation to disempower the bankruptcy process.'"

Read more here.

Read More

Eric LeCompte Cited in Common Dreams

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently cited in Common Dreams speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

White House: When Trump Says "Wipe Out" Puerto Rico's Debt That Doesn't Mean "Bail Them Out"

By: Andrea Germanos 

"Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA, has also argued that the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria was worsened by the debt crisis.

'Puerto Rico can't recover with the debt it has,' he said. 'Puerto Rico was already undergoing a bankruptcy process that was going to substantially cut the island's debt. Now that bankruptcy process needs to access the hurricane damage and cancel even more of the debt,' he said."

Read more here.

Read More

Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island Religious Leaders Issue Debt and Aid Statement As President Trump Visits Islands

As President Trump visits Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, island religious leaders are calling for aid, debt relief and measures to end child poverty. The statement is issued by San Juan's Catholic Archbishop, Roberto González Nieves, St. Thomas' Catholic Bishop Herbert A. Bevard and Evangelical Bible Society Head Reverend Heriberto Martínez.

"Our islands can not pay debt until we've rebuilt and we see positive economic recovery. We need a debt payment moratorium, debts must be cancelled and reduced to sustainable payable levels," wrote González, Bevard, and Martínez in their statement. "When economies are already dealing with austerity policies and financial crisis, they are ill prepared to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Maria."

Before Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, both US territories were wrestling with financial crisis and high child poverty rates. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Island religious leaders express that since the hurricanes struck, many civil institutions and communication systems collapsed. 

"Before the hurricanes hit, we were dealing with a severe debt crisis on the islands with troubling austerity policies. Now we are dealing with a serious humanitarian crises," said Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who works with the islands' religious leaders. "The islands need sufficient recovery aid and debt relief to rebuild."
Here is the full statement from Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island Religious leaders:

Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island Religious Leaders Appeal for Aid, Debt Relief and Ending Child Poverty 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.‎" -- Jeremiah 29:11

‎"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.‎" -- Matthew 6:12

In recent weeks, hurricanes and powerful storms ravaged our homes across the Caribbean to the shores of the United States. We pray, mourn and hope with all of the victims from Dominica to Florida. In particular, we remember the most vulnerable were not prepared to cope with the storms and have fewer resources to recover.

In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands we are desperately trying to help our people survive amidst the most destructive natural disaster to visit our islands in a century. Bef‎ore the hurricanes struck our islands, we were wrestling with high child poverty rates and serious financial crises. On behalf of our people, we appeal to all decision makers:

  • In addition to hurricane relief, we need resources to permanently reduce the child poverty epidemic.
  • Aid must come in the form of grants, as opposed to loans that would further indebt our islands.
  • Relief monies must be sufficient to rebuild structures to withstand more powerful and more frequent storms.
  • US citizens living in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands must be able to have the same access to federal health care and child benefit monies that US citizens receive in US states. 
  • Our islands cannot pay debt until we've rebuilt and we see positive economic recovery.
  • We need a debt payment moratorium; debts must be cancelled and reduced to sustainable payable levels.

When economies are already dealing with austerity policies and financial crisis, they are ill prepared to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We ask that decision makers institute greater budget transparency and standards for responsible lending and borrowing to prevent financial crisis in US states, US territories and foreign countries.

As we struggle to recover from these terrible storms, we join religious partners from around our world in calling for an economy that defends and lifts the vulnerable. Our loving God intends for us all to have enough and to live in harmony with one another and our planet.

In the hope endowed by our Creator,

 

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

 

  

Most Reverend Herbert A. Bevard, Bishop of St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands

  

Reverend Heriberto Martínez-Rivera, Secretary General of Puerto Rico’s Bible Society and Coordinator of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalition of Puerto Rico

Read Eric LeCompte's statement on the crisis

Read religious leaders' statement in Englishen español 

Read More

Religious Development Group Releases Statement on President Trump Puerto Rico Visit

President Trump is scheduled to make a visit to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, October 3rd, to review disaster relief efforts. Trump may visit the US Virgin Islands which is also undergoing hurricane recovery efforts.‎

Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Executive Director, releases the following statement:

"President Trump has an opportunity to ensure Puerto Rico recovers, the island gets out of debt and ‎kids can live healthy lives.

"Not only is Puerto Rico reeling from the hurricanes, it was already wrestling with a financial crisis and nearly 60 percent of kids on the island lived in poverty.

"Going forward we need to be sure that Puerto Rico gets enough aid to rebuild and recover.‎ We also need to be sure that Puerto Rico gets ample debt relief to lift kids out of poverty.‎

"The US Virgin Islands needs more attention and more aid. The Virgin Islands were hit by two category 5‎ hurricanes, has a terrible debt crisis and high child poverty rate."‎

Read More

BuzzFeed News Talks with Eric LeCompte about Puerto Rico

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

It Wasn't Just a Hurricane that Destroyed Puerto Rico

By: Michael Sean Winters

"'Before the hurricanes, almost 60% of kids in Puerto Rico lived in poverty and the island was already reeling from hurricane-like blows in the form of austerity,' said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a faith-based nonprofit that focuses on debt issues in the developing world. 'Austerity measures cut health care, education, and social services on the island. Austerity bleeds hope and breeds despair among a people that have suffered so much.'

LeCompte has been working with religious, business, and labor leaders, both on the island and in Washington, for more than two years, helping them to craft solutions to the fiscal crisis that would not further harm the poor. He played a key role in fashioning PROMESA, the bill passed by Congress to address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, and he said critics of the legislation fail to grasp what it achieved at a time when there were no better options.

The law has two main achievements, he said. 'First, it prevented predatory vulture funds from buying the island's debt cheap to profit off the crisis and make a bad situation even worse. Second, the legislation created a bankruptcy process that can cut all of Puerto Rico's debt, a process that can take into account the impacts of the hurricane.'"

Read more here.

Read More

Religious Development Group Releases Statement on Debt Relief for Devastated Islands

Jubilee USA's Executive Director Eric LeCompte releases the below statement on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands debt crises after the hurricanes. LeCompte worked on Puerto Rico emergency debt crisis legislation, testified to Congress and Puerto Rico's oversight board on the debt crisis and serves on United Nation debt expert groups.

Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Executive Director, releases the following statement:

"Before the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, 60 percent of its kids lived in poverty and we already felt the island's financial crisis was deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis. After the hurricanes, we are facing absolute devastation made worse by the island's debt crisis.

"Too few eyes are on the US Virgin Islands. They've been ravaged by the hurricanes and they already were experiencing one of the worst debt crises in the Caribbean.

"Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are in no position to make debt payments until they rebuild and recover. Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands need deep debt relief after the hurricanes.

"Last year Congress passed emergency debt crisis legislation for Puerto Rico. Because of Congressional action, the largest bankruptcy process in US history is currently underway in Puerto Rico. That bankruptcy process can take into account the impacts of the hurricane and now provide even greater debt relief for the island.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a clear process for the US Virgin Islands to get debt relief at this time. We will need action from Congress and the creditors. In any case, the US Virgin Islands has no ability to make debt payments in the near future."

Read More

CNBC Cites Eric LeCompte on Puerto Rico Post-Hurricane Debt Crisis

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently interviewed by CNBC speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article. 

Puerto Rico Bonds Plunge Again as Investors Face Lower Recovery than Expected

By: Steve Liesman, Dawn Giel 

 "'No island should be making debt payments until they can recover, whether we are talking about US territories like Puerto Rico or ‎countries like Dominica,' noted Eric LeCompte, the executive director of the religious development group Jubilee USA."

Read more here.

Read More

National Catholic Reporter Cites Jubilee USA's work on Puerto Rico Debt

Jubilee USA's work on Puerto Rico was recently mentioned in National Catholic Reporter. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

There is a Justice Issue at the Heart of these Hurricanes

By: Michael Sean Winters

"Additionally, we must help rebuild these islands by requiring that the international community, and the U.S. specifically, write down the debt that they owe. This article at Truthout, which is not a Catholic publication, sheds light on the work being done by the Catholic Church to argue for a massive program of debt forgiveness for these poor islands, and especially the work of Jubilee USA." 

Read more here.

Read More

Politico Talks with Jubilee USA's Eric LeCompte on Debt Relief for Puerto Rico, Dominica and Hurricane-Hit Islands‎

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently in Politico speaking on debt relief for islands affected by the recent hurricanes. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Storm-battered Puerto Rico looks to Washington for help

By: Colin Wilhelm

"Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, a religious-affiliated organization that lobbied on behalf of debt restructuring for Puerto Rico last year, said his group would push for the Virgin Islands to be treated as Puerto Rico was in disaster relief legislation.

'Congress is going to have to step in in some new ways,' said LeCompte. 'At this point, no one’s going to get paid anyways.'

Jubilee, which has ties to about 650 faith-based groups and organizations, would also push for the U.S. to lead the charge on a temporary debt moratorium on money owed to the International Monetary Fund by non-U.S. Caribbean islands affected by the storms. The U.S. holds more votes than any other country in the IMF.

'We’re just looking at delaying payments for six months to a year,' during the disaster recovery, LeCompte said." 

Read more here.

Read More

Development Group Says Debt Relief Can Provide Quick-Recovery Aid to Dominica and Puerto Rico

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joins other religious and development groups in their call for ‎debt relief for hurricane-battered Caribbean islands. In a letter to the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the USCCB wrote, "Natural disasters in countries with extremely at-risk economies, like Antigua and Barbuda and others in the Caribbean, can wreak catastrophic and paralyzing impacts on their prospects for further development—including their ability to service their debt responsibly."‎ The letter echoed calls from Caribbean Catholic Bishops to temporarily stop debt payments so that troubled islands can recover.

"No island should be making debt payments until they can recover, whether we are talking about US territories like Puerto Rico or ‎countries like Dominica," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the USCCB and Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for USCCB, sent the letter to the IMF just after Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, Bishop of Roseau and President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference did the same. Malzaire sent the letter after Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean, but before Hurricane Marie struck his home island of Dominica.

"Sadly, since multiple hurricanes have ravaged the Caribbean, there are many islands in need of immediate aid. Delaying debt payments is one of the fastest ways to move money into recovery and reconstruction efforts," noted LeCompte who serves on UN expert working group‎s that focus on financial crisis.

Every street and every town in Dominica, home to roughly 73,000 people, was affected according to the island's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit who lost his own home. Dominica's government says the island is currently without running water and electricity. Power outages are occurring across hurricane-struck islands. The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are struggling to regain power. ‎Puerto Rico's power company stated that it could take 4 to 6 months to get power fully back in the US territory.

"The US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico need to ‎focus on the emergency needs of their people, not debt payments," said LeCompte. "Congress, creditors and the territory governments all have a responsibility to free the US citizens on the islands of debt as they recover from these hurricanes."

Read the USCCB's Letter to the IMF

Read Jubilee USA's Letter to the IMF

Read Bishop Gabriel Malzaire's Letter to the IMF

Read Jubilee USA's Petition for Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Read More