Puerto Rico Victory, Senate Decides

Friends,

We are writing to share exciting news. After our win last week on Puerto Rico disaster aid, the House just included pandemic-related food aid for schoolchildren in Puerto Rico as part of the continuing resolution extending government funding.

Your calls and the leadership of Puerto Rico's religious leaders are moving forward all of our Jubilee USA Puerto Rico campaigns.

While we believe our efforts secured bipartisan agreement and this measure will pass the Senate next week, please make an urgent call to help address the reality that nearly 60% of all kids in Puerto Rico live in poverty.

Call your Senators and tell them to ensure that they join the House in supporting this funding vital for the most vulnerable in Puerto Rico.

On August 1st, Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) benefits that impact more than 1.5 million were reduced because funding ran out. 

The funding means that 300,000 children will have food.

Ask your Senators to support crucial food aid for the most vulnerable children as Puerto Rico recovers from hurricanes and wrestles with a debt crisis.

Below you can read more about our Puerto Rico campaigns, our disaster aid victory last week and the President's endorsement of the island's religious leader call for job creation.

We are so grateful for your partnership and that together - Jubilee USA continues to win our campaigns from Congress to the G20 to the IMF.

In hope,

Zach

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

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Aldo Caliari, Jubilee USA Network <coord@jubileeusa.org>
Date: Sun, Sept 20, 2020 at 8:30 AM
Subject: 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

Read More

G7 Finance Ministers Support Debt Relief for Poor Countries Combating COVID-19 Crisis

Washington DC - The G7 supports a process for debt cancellation for vulnerable countries, they announced this morning after Treasury convened a special Finance Ministers meeting. In a G7 statement, the ministers also encouraged an extension of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) into next year for the world’s 73 poorest countries.

"The G7 recognizes that some countries will need debt cancellation and now is calling for a process to cut debts," stated Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert. "With the poorest countries struggling with the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus, countries desperately need more aid and debt relief."

In April, the G20 agreed to a process for the 73 poorest countries to stop paying debts through 2020. So far, the initiative has allowed 43 of the poorest countries to free $5.3 billion for health and social spending to respond to the pandemic.

The G7 statement encouraged private creditors and banks to "voluntarily" participate in the debt payment suspension and seemed to criticize China for not fully participating in the initiative.

"Reading between the lines, the G7's statement is hard on China and weak on private creditor participation," said LeCompte. "All Chinese government entities should stop taking debt payments from poor countries and stronger action must be taken to ensure the private sector joins the coronavirus debt relief initiatives."

Earlier this month, several Finance Ministers joined the World Bank and IMF chiefs in calling to extend the DSSI into 2021 and arguing that private creditors should stop collecting poor country debts.

"It's time to extend debt relief initiatives to all developing countries, including Middle-Income Countries, struggling with the coronavirus pandemic," shared LeCompte. 

In October and November, G20, IMF and World Bank meetings will discuss the future of coronavirus debt suspension and relief efforts.

Read the G7 Statement here.

Read More

Reuters, Financial Post, and other outlets quote Eric LeCompte on G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting

Reuters, the Financial Post, and other outlets quoted Eric LeCompte as G7 finance ministers backed an extension of a G20 temporary freeze in debt payments. Read more here.

 

G7 ministers back extension of debt freeze for poorest nations, urge reforms

by: Andrea Shalal, Tetsushi Kajimoto, Leigh Thomas

“Pressure is mounting on China,” said Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert. “They’re being very specific here. All Chinese government entities should stop taking debt payments from poor countries.”

The ministers called again on private lenders to participate when requested, noting that their absence from the process has limited the potential benefits for several countries.

The G7 finance ministers’ backing for an extension will smooth the way for a decision by the larger G20, with a formal decision likely at their leaders’ summit in November.

Read more here.

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Developing Countries Lose Trillions from Crime and Tax Abuse, Says UN Panel

Washington DC – A high-level United Nations panel report says global policies are needed to prevent trillions of dollars escaping developing countries through tax abuse and corruption. The UN group includes former heads of state, past central bank governors, business leaders and prominent academics.

"As countries combat the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus, they could use the lost revenues from tax avoidance, crime and corruption," stated Eric LeCompte, United Nations finance expert and Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. "Countries can emerge from the pandemic with resilience and fund public services if we can curb these staggering revenue losses."

The United Nations High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel), reported that around $1.6 trillion is laundered per year. Due to corporate tax avoidance in the form of profit-shifting, $500 billion is lost to governments each year globally. The UN panel report comes only days after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the “FinCEN files," revealing that global banks moved more than $2 trillion over an 18-year period in suspicious transactions due to a lack of enforcement.

"Hopefully the report is a wake-up call," said LeCompte. "We must move forward global agreements and policies that increase transparency in the financial system."

The FACTI panel will release a final report in February 2021. 

Read More

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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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