Puerto Rico Win! Hurricane Maria Anniversary Actions

Friends,

As we near the three-year anniversary of Hurricanes Maria and Irma slamming Puerto Rico, we remember the 3000 lives lost and more than $100 billion in damages across the island.

The White House announced on Friday that FEMA will award $13 billion in Puerto Rico disaster aid to rebuild the power grid and schools. The President also said he supported the call of Puerto Rico's religious leaders and Jubilee USA to bring pharmaceutical jobs back to the island.

You made this possible because of the tens of thousands of e-mails, phone calls and letters you sent to the White House and Congress since the hurricanes hit. Now - three years after the hurricanes hit, Puerto Rico is still trying to recover and wrestles with a debt crisis. Please join me and call your Senators to approve the remaining relief that Puerto Rico needs.

Since 2015, Puerto Rico's religious leaders and Jubilee USA pressed Congress and the White House on debt relief. When Hurricanes Maria and Irma decimated Puerto Rico in 2017, disaster recovery efforts became intertwined with debt relief.

Because of our work together with Puerto Rico's religious leaders, we've won $44 billion in relief aid. With Friday's White House announcement, $26 billion of those $44 billion are now moving forward.

Call the Senate now. We need to move forward the rest of the relief we won and move forward an estimated $50 to $80 billion in disaster assistance. The Senate is considering proposals to reduce Puerto Rico's child poverty rate and job creation.

The US Territory dealt with a series of earthquakes earlier this year and continues to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic.

Puerto Rico needs Senate action to rebuild from hurricanes, multiple natural disasters, a debt crisis and rising joblessness and poverty. In order to fully recover, Puerto Rico will need more disaster aid and debt relief.

Last July, 11 religious leaders representing more than 95% of Puerto Rico’s population wrote Congress on the growing challenges facing the island. The letter asked for additional disaster recovery monies, measures to bring back pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs to Puerto Rico and the authorization of $1.2 billion for Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that impact 1.5 million people on the island. The letter was 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.

Puerto Rico's debt crisis and natural disaster vulnerabilities are flip sides of the same coin. Debt crisis solutions must ensure Puerto Rico is prepared to respond, withstand and recover from natural disasters and external shocks.

Your actions continue to make a big difference and as the Senate considers a range of Puerto Rico proposals, your action is needed now.

Up to this day, thousands of family homes remain damaged or destroyed, with residents living under blue tarp roofs. Please call your Senators and urge them to act.

Gratefully,

Aldo

Aldo Caliari
Senior Director of Policy and Campaigns
Jubilee USA Network
aldo@jubileeusa.org
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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White House Announces Puerto Rico Disaster Relief on Hurricane Anniversary

Washington DC - The Federal Emergency Management Administration will award $13 billion in Puerto Rico disaster aid to rebuild the power grid and education facilities, announced the White House. The announcement comes near the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria slamming the island, taking 3000 lives and causing more than $100 billion in damage. 

“Puerto Rico needs these funds to rebuild from hurricanes, multiple natural disasters, a debt crisis and rising joblessness and poverty,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. “In order to fully recover, Puerto Rico will need more disaster aid and debt relief."

The US Territory dealt with a series of earthquakes earlier this year and continues to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic.

Last July, 11 religious leaders representing more than 95% of Puerto Rico’s population wrote Congress on the growing challenges facing the island. The letter asked for additional disaster recovery monies, measures to bring back manufacturing jobs to Puerto Rico and the authorization of $1.2 billion for Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that impact 1.5 million people on the island. The letter was 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.

Since 2015, Puerto Rico's religious leaders and Jubilee USA pressed Congress and the White House on debt relief. When Hurricanes Maria and Irma decimated Puerto Rico in 2017, disaster recovery efforts became intertwined with debt relief.

“Puerto Rico's debt crisis and natural disaster vulnerabilities are flip sides of the same coin,” LeCompte added. "Debt crisis solutions must ensure Puerto Rico is prepared to respond, withstand and recover from natural disasters and external shocks."

According to the White House, the additional recovery funds bring total Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria relief to $26 billion.

Read Jubilee USA's Puerto Rico religious leader press release.

Read the Puerto Rico religious leader letter.

Read the Puerto Rico release and letter in español.

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Les Echos quotes Eric LeCompte on election of IDB President

Les Echos, the first and one of the largest daily financial newspapers in France, featured Eric LeCompte's comments on the recent election of Mauricio Claver-Carone as the president of the Inter-American Development Bank. Read the full article here.

Le candidat de Trump élu à la tête de la BID

By Thierry Ogier

Mauricio Claver-Carone devient le premier Américain à présider la Banque interaméricaine de développement (BID), au terme d'un scrutin controversé et dans une conjoncture particulièrement délicate.

Réglé comme du papier à musique. Le stratagème conçu par Donald Trump pour faire élire un de ses conseillers à la tête de la Banque interaméricaine de développement (BID) a parfaitement fonctionné. Mauricio Claver-Carone, un Américain d'origine cubaine âgé de quarante-cinq ans, a été porté samedi à la présidence de l'institution avec 68 % des voix.

Candidat unique, il est parvenu à surmonter les critiques de ses opposants qui auraient préféré reporter le scrutin en mars, en raison de la pandémie. Malgré le retrait de la candidature de l'Argentine, farouche adversaire de Washington, le taux d'abstention de 25 %, qui aurait permis d'invalider le scrutin, n'a pas été atteint. L'administration Trump a notamment fait pression sur le Mexique et les Etats d'Amérique centrale.

Ainsi, et pour la première fois en 61 ans d'histoire, un ressortissant des Etats-Unis va diriger cette institution, qui est l'une des principales sources de financement pour l'Amérique latine et les Caraïbes.

Faucon

« On n'a jamais vu ça dans l'histoire de la BID, assure Roberto Simon, directeur du Council of Americas, mettant en cause le profil idéologique du vainqueur. Ce n'est pas seulement le fait que ce soit un Américain qui l'ait emporté (NDLR : en violation d'une règle non écrite qui réserve la présidence de la BID à un Latino-américain), mais Claver-Carone est vraiment quelqu'un qui a travaillé à la Maison-Blanche sous l'administration Trump, dont il était le conseiller pour l'Amérique latine, avec des vues très radicales sur Cuba, le Venezuela et le Nicaragua. »

De quoi plaire toutefois à l'électorat hispanique en Floride, voire même aider Donald Trump dans la course à la Maison-Blanche… Le secrétaire d'Etat américain Mike Pompeo n'a pour sa part pas tardé à saluer la victoire d'un « grand défenseur des institutions démocratiques ». Cette mainmise sur l'organisation lui permettra également de freiner l'influence grandissante de la Chine dans la région.

Pandémie

Mauricio Claver-Carone va succéder au colombien Luis Alberto Moreno dès le 1er octobre. « Le rôle de la BID n'a jamais été aussi crucial qu'à présent. L'Amérique latine, qui est l'épicentre de la pandémie, subit le choc économique le plus sévère de l'histoire », affirme Roberto Simon.

Le Brésil, qui avait retiré sa candidature pour soutenir celle des Etats-Unis, souligne que « la BID aura un rôle pour mobiliser les ressources nécessaires et appuyer la reprise économique de la région, essentiellement par le biais du secteur privé et des infrastructures ».

Elections américaines

Certains ne dissimulent guère leurs craintes. « Claver-Carone devra administrer la banque sans prendre parti afin que les pays de la région puissent échapper à cette crise », estime Eric Le Compte, directeur de Jubilee USA Network, une ONG catholique à Washington.

Autre interrogation : en cas de victoire de Joe Biden à l'élection présidentielle de novembre, le nouveau président de la BID, soutenu par Donald Trump,  pourrait se retrouver en porte à faux. « Cette polarisation au sein de la banque risquerait de l'affaiblir », affirme un observateur, et ce précisément au moment où la banque aura besoin d'une augmentation de capital pour faire face aux nouvelles demandes de financement.

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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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