Puerto Rico religious leaders sent a letter to Judge Laura Taylor Swain as she presides over the first bankruptcy proceeding in San Juan to restructure more than $70 billion in debt.
“We are grateful you are here and we hold you in prayer as you arbitrate this crisis impacting nearly 60% of our children who live in poverty,” write San Juan's Catholic Archbishop González and Reverend Heriberto Martínez, the Evangelical head of the Puerto Rico Bible Society. "You are in our prayers as you take on this important task to help restructure our debt, prevent austerity and protect our people."
The Title lll bankruptcy process was signed into law last summer by President Obama as a part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
“Puerto Rico has a comprehensive bankruptcy process that can restructure all of the debt and protect essential services,” noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. LeCompte is in San Juan today to observe the proceeding and he helped create the PROMESA legislation. “Congress designed this process to ensure that Puerto Rico could emerge from debt crises and not be held hostage by predatory vulture funds who prevented Argentina from restructuring their debt.”
A small group of "holdout" investors prevented Argentina from returning to the markets for nearly 15 years. LeCompte argues that the Puerto Rico process could be a model for both states and countries who need to work their way out of financial crisis.
"It is important that the venue for this trial is here in Puerto Rico, Nuestra Patria. Our people who are most affected by this crisis need to be able to monitor these proceedings,” said the religious leaders in their letter to the judge. “We hope you will be able to hear their stories and their struggles.”
Link to religious leader’s letter in English and en español.