Puerto Rico's debt crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Its people are our people - American citizens facing increased austerity, population drain, poverty and health crises.
In August 2015, we launched a campaign with Puerto Rico's religious leaders to address the crisis. The island's religious leaders called for Jubilee - debt relief, budget transparency and investment in Puerto Rico's people. They called on Congress and the White House to intervene. We organized high-level meetings for those leaders with the White House and Congress and joined them at the United Nations to call on funds that own Puerto Rico's debt to negotiate with the government.
In June 2016, President Obama signed bipartisan Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation that stops predatory behavior and prioritizes the payment of pensions and social services ahead of debt payments. It seeks to reduce child poverty on the island and provides strong bankruptcy tools to return the debt to sustainable levels.
This legislation would not have passed (or been significantly improved over earlier drafts) without the leadership of Puerto Rico's religious leaders - and your phone calls and messages to Congress. We are proud to have partnered with organizations like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Caritas Puerto Rico and religious leaders from across the US mainland and Puerto Rico to push for legislation that addressed the crisis and put Puerto Rico's people first.
Passing this legislation was an important first step toward building Jubilee in Puerto Rico - but it is not the last step. As our executive director Eric LeCompte told the Washington Post after the vote:
"I think in terms of the real issues facing the island, we are just getting to the end of the beginning. This is not the beginning of the end."
On May 3, Puerto Rico's Governor and oversight board initiated the Title III bankruptcy process. This is the only process in existence that can deal with 100% of the debt, protect essential services and stop vulture funds.
Now Jubilee USA is working to hold the new congressional oversight board and task force on economic growth accountable - to ensure that Puerto Rico can fully restructure its debt, grow its economy and reduce child poverty.
Jubilee USA remains one of the most active organizations working to end this crisis and prevent devastating austerity on the island. Working with Puerto Rico's religious leaders, we are urging Congress to reduce child poverty on the island by granting equal access to US health care funding and anti-poverty tax credits.
- Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis: A Timeline
- Take Action for Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rico Press, Resources, and Updates