Puerto Rico Archbishop, Religious Leader Statement on Debt, Disaster Aid and Pensions

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
- Matthew 18:6

Since 2015, with the support and advice of the religious Jubilee USA Network, we called on decision makers, our people and the faithful to work towards a Jubilee for Puerto Rico.

In the face of a debt crisis and a 60% child poverty rate, we called for debt relief, stopping austerity policies, protecting public pensions and reducing child poverty on our island.

We've been concerned about corruption in our own government. Congress made a promise that in exchange for debt relief and a "super bankruptcy process," a fiscal oversight board would be imposed on Puerto Rico.

After Congress passed emergency debt relief legislation in 2016, we felt debt relief was in sight. Early plans created by Puerto Rico's oversight board saw debt payments cut by 80%. Congress passed protections for the pensions and the official audit process. Congress began to move forward measures to reduce child poverty.

We hoped that the promises made to our people would be kept.

Sadly, in the Fall of 2017 when Hurricanes Maria and Irma ravaged our island, our hopes for debt relief and child poverty reduction became additional victims of the hurricanes.

Because of rosy economic growth projections from potential federal aid and construction monies, the oversight board negotiated to pay more debt. While there were some innovations in PREPA and COFINA debt proposals, they fell short in delivering enough debt relief—they fell short in the promise of a Jubilee.

When proposals fail to offer enough debt relief, the cost is paid by our people—especially by our children.

We also saw the official debt audit process dismantled. Congress failed to pass all of our recommendations to reduce child poverty.

Recovering from hurricanes, wrestling with debt crisis, we still are a people of hope—a people that know that our hope is tied to the Paschal Mystery. Resurrection conquers death and light always illuminates the darkness.

Last week, President Trump signed a bill to deliver more disaster relief to our islands. Now more than $50 billion is allocated for recovery and we call on Congress and the White House to continue this effort and deliver the additional $70 billion that we still need to recover.

This week as the oversight board met and workers voted on new pension proposals, we appreciate that the oversight board kept the promise to protect the pensions. We stand with labor leaders in urging the passage of pension plans that protect the vulnerable and protect the pensions of most of our people.

As the bankruptcy process and negotiations with creditors continued this week, we are grateful that discussions focus on higher debt cuts again.

We call on our Governor, the oversight board and the creditors to agree on debt haircuts similar to pre-hurricane debt plans—debt cuts of 80 cents on the dollar. Because of the work of noted economists and our partners at Jubilee USA, we know we cannot risk an overall debt cut of less than 80%.

Our people and our government officials must unite around ending our child poverty and migration epidemics. Our future is in our people and it is a social sin that so many of our children live in poverty.

In hope and solidarity, we also stand with our friends across the developing world wrestling with debt crises and high child poverty rates. We support the proposals of our religious partners across the Caribbean calling for debt relief in the face of hurricanes and natural disasters. We stand with our global partners and the United Nations calling for debt relief, transparency, responsible lending and borrowing, anti-corruption efforts and the right to a global bankruptcy process that lifts the vulnerable.

In Puerto Rico, we are reminded that we lack the tools to fully deal with many challenges—let alone crises created from unpayable debts and unavoidable disasters.

We remain trapped because Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States.

Our ability for resiliency, recovery and resolving our own challenges is tied to our political and colonial status. We call on our people and our officials to begin a new and creative dialogue to resolve our political status.

Our future and the future of our children rely on dealing with these questions. Our lives depend on right relationships with one another and with the United States—on fulfilling the Creator's promise of Jubilee.


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

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

Reverend Enrique Camacho, Director, Cáritas de Puerto Rico (Catholic Charities Puerto Rico)

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Conferencia de prensa: el Arzobispo de San Juan y líderes religiosos emiten una declaración sobre la deuda, la ayuda para desastres y las pensiones de Puerto Rico.

DE QUÉ SE TRATA: La junta de supervisión fiscal de Puerto Rico y la corte se reunieron esta semana en San Juan. Los maestros votaron sobre los acuerdos de pensiones el miércoles y la semana pasada, el presidente Trump autorizó un paquete de ayuda  adicional para Puerto Rico. Este viernes, en una conferencia de prensa, el arzobispo de San Juan, Roberto González Nieves, el secretario general de la Sociedad Bíblica de P.R., Rvdo. Heriberto Martínez Rivera y otros líderes religiosos emitirán una declaración sobre la deuda pública, el paquete la ayuda para desastres y las pensiones de Puerto Rico.

QUIĖN CONVOCA: Rvdo. Heriberto Martínez Rivera, secretario general de la Sociedad Bíblica de Puerto Rico; El Rvdo. Enrique Camacho, director de Cáritas de Puerto Rico; Eric LeCompte, Director Ejecutivo de Jubilee USA Network

CUÁNDO: 11: 00 AM, el viernes, 14 de junio de 2019.

DÓNDE: Catedral San Juan Bautista (Viejo San Juan)
151 calle del Cristo
San Juan, PR 00902

Para confirmar su asistencia, favor de comunicarse con Kate Zeller en kate@jubileeusa.org o al (503) 936-7553

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Press Conference: Archbishop, Religious Leaders Release Statement on Puerto Rico Debt, Disaster Aid and Pensions

WHAT: Puerto Rico's oversight board and court bankruptcy process convened in San Juan this week. Teachers voted on pension agreements through Wednesday and last week President Trump authorized additional disaster aid for Puerto Rico. On Friday, at a press conference Archbishop Roberto González Nieves, Bible Society General Secretary Heriberto Martínez and religious leaders will release a statement on Puerto Rico debt, disaster aid and pensions.

WHO: Reverend Heriberto Martínez, General Secretary, Puerto Rico Bible Society; Reverend Enrique Camacho, Director, Cáritas de Puerto Rico; Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network

WHEN: 11: 00 AM – 11:30 AM ET Friday, June 14

WHERE:  San Juan Bautista Cathedral
  151 Calle del Cristo
   San Juan, PR 00902

To RSVP, please contact Kate Zeller at kate@jubileeusa.org or (503) 936-7553

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 700 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

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Financial Transparency Legislation Clears House Financial Services Committee

Washington DC - A bill that requires anonymous shell companies to reveal their true owner was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday by a bipartisan vote of 43-16. The Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 2513) creates a federal registry and could pass the House of Representatives this year.

"Anonymous shell companies too often facilitate the theft of revenue from the developing world and poor communities across the United States,” said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. “The bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act takes important steps in tackling tax evasion and corruption.”

Shell companies contribute to an estimated 1 trillion dollars leaving the developing world annually. In the United States, anonymous shell companies contribute to Medicare fraud and human trafficking.

"Some anonymous shell companies supported dictatorships and others stole development aid and debt relief aid from poor countries” stated LeCompte. "We are hopeful that this financial transparency legislation will pass Congress this year.”

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President Trump Signs Disaster Aid Package for Puerto Rico, US States and Territories

Religious Development Group Releases Statement

Washington DC - President Trump signed into law a $19.1 billion disaster relief package to aid Americans recovering from flooding, wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters. The package includes more than $900 million in emergency food and housing assistance for more than a million people living in Puerto Rico. 

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, releases the following statement:

"Millions of Americans are suffering from natural disasters and this relief package is urgently needed. 

“For the last 8 months, we worked hard to secure disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico. Now that emergency relief will be delivered.

"Today we celebrate the bipartisan efforts of Republicans and Democrats who reached across the aisle to deliver relief for Americans living in Puerto Rico and States across our country."

 

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Eric LeCompte Quoted in Alabama Political Reporter on Puerto Rico Disaster Relief Aid

Eric LeCompte was recently cited in the Alabama Political Reporter on the recently passed disaster relief aid package. Read the excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

House passes disaster relief bill

“The passage of disaster relief for Americans from California to Puerto Rico is so needed,” said Eric LeCompte, the executive director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization. “We’ve worked for months for the passage of disaster relief, and now it’s a reality.”

The legislation includes more than $900 million for Puerto Rico recovery including $600 million in emergency disaster food assistance for vulnerable communities. The disaster package expedites the release of $8.9 billion already approved by Congress for Puerto Rico disaster relief.

Read more here.

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Eric LeCompte Cited in El Nuevo Dia on Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

Eric LeCompte is cited by El Nuevo Dia on disaster aid legislation passed by the House of Representatives and funding for disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

La Cámara federal aprueba un proyecto que asigna cerca de $1,400 millones en asistencia para la isla

La coalición Power4PuertoRico destacó que el Congreso haya pasado por encima de las objeciones del presidente Trump, quien falsamente alegó que Puerto Rico ya había recibido $91,000 millones en fondos para mitigar el desastre causado por el huracán María. Erica González, directora de Power4PuertoRico, sostuvo que al final se escuchó el mensaje de que “no podemos dejar al presidente seleccionar qué grupo de ciudadanos estadounidense merece más ayuda que otros”.

Para el director ejecutivo de la red religiosa Jubilee USA, Eric LeCompte, “la aprobación del proyecto encamino alivios muy necesitados desde California a Puerto Rico”.

 

Read more here.

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Congress Passes Disaster Relief for Puerto Rico, US States and Territories

Washington DC - The House of Representatives voted Monday night to pass a $19.1 billion disaster bill for Puerto Rico, US States and Territories recovering from disasters.

"The passage of disaster relief for Americans from California to Puerto Rico is so needed,” Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, said Monday. “We've worked for months for the passage of disaster relief and now it's a reality.”

The legislation includes more than $900 million for Puerto Rico recovery including $600 million in emergency disaster food assistance for vulnerable communities. The disaster package expedites the release of $8.9 billion already approved by Congress for Puerto Rico disaster relief.

President Trump committed to sign the disaster legislation into law. 
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Breaking: We won Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

Friends,

We won!

Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated Puerto Rico in 2017, we've generated tens of thousands of calls and emails that moved Congress to pass disaster relief for Puerto Rico.

In recent months, your actions generated thousands of messages that convinced President Trump and the Senate to pass $19.1 billion for US States and Territories recovering from disasters in Puerto Rico, Iowa, California, Florida, Nebraska and Guam.

As we faced obstacles at the White House, Senate and House of Representatives - you never took "no" for an answer. Because of your actions - we won.

Next week Puerto Rico faces the next phase of debt restructuring and it could be over in less than 6 months. Now that we've won more disaster relief - we now need your support to win debt relief. For the next week all donations to Jubilee USA are doubled by an anonymous donor. Please make a tax-deductible donation to Jubilee USA today.

The legislation we just passed includes $600 million in emergency food assistance for Puerto Rico benefiting more than a million people. In total more than $900 million in disaster assistance for Puerto Rico passed the House and Senate. We also expedited the release of $8.9 billion we already won for Puerto Rico disaster relief.

We have a commitment after 6 months of work from President Trump to sign disaster assistance into law.

We are so grateful for your partnership - your partnership continues to make the impossible, possible. Your support makes the unattainable - attainable.

Gratefully,

Eric
Eric LeCompte
Executive Director
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Disaster Relief Fails to Pass House of Representatives for Third Time

Washington DC - For a third time in a week, the House of Representatives failed to pass a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill to benefit disaster troubled US States and Territories. Because Congress is on recess, votes in the House of Representatives require "unanimous consent" and any Member of Congress can block a vote. On Thursday, Tennessee Rep. John Rose (R) blocked the disaster package. 

"Americans are struggling to recover and are waiting for this disaster assistance," said Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization. "We have agreement for disaster assistance from the Senate and the White House. Now the House needs to pass disaster relief."

The Senate passed the disaster package last week. President Trump committed to sign the package into law after it passes the House. After recess, the full House of Representatives is expected to pass the aid package.

"We are waiting on the House of Representatives to move forward critically needed aid for US citizens that live from California to Puerto Rico," said LeCompte.

The disaster bill includes over $900 million in funds for Puerto Rico and expedites the release of $8.9 billion already approved for Puerto Rico disaster relief.  

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