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News :: International
Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Call for Federal Action to Address Financial Crisis
01 Oct 2015
Religious Leaders Call for Federal Action Regarding Financial Crisis
Prominent Puerto Rico faith leaders join members of Congress at a briefing on Capitol Hill to call for solutions to the island's financial crisis and for US government intervention.The Archbishop of San Juan, Roberto González Nieves, and the General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society, Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera represent a coalition of Puerto Rico religious leaders that wants Congress to extend bankruptcy protection to the island and for the Federal Reserve to intervene. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt, $20,000 for every resident on the island. In June, Governor Alejandro García Padilla called the debt "unpayable."

"We call for solutions to Puerto Rico's debt crisis that invest in its people," stated Archbishop González Nieves, "We want to see an economy that serves people, not a demand for people to serve the economy.

"The Capitol Hill briefing follows Puerto Rico religious leaders' August 31 statement laying out principles to resolve the crisis. This statement called for debt relief and increased budget transparency and citizen participation in economic decision-making and curbs to austerity and predatory financial behavior. The leaders asked for Congress to pass legislation (HR 870/S. 1774, the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act) to grant US municipal bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico's public entities. They called for the United States Federal Reserve Board to intervene if Congress doesn't act.

"As a Christian, I believe that we are closest to the Creator when we share God's abundant creation among us," stated Reverend Martínez Rivera, "This leads me to call for a Jubilee for Puerto Rico, and policies that protect the most vulnerable."

Representatives Raul Grijalva and Linda Sánchez will speak alongside the religious leaders at the briefing. Rep. Grijalva recently released a report addressing hedge fund behavior in Puerto Rico. A number of hedge funds own Puerto Rico's debt and a group of those funds released a report this summer calling for Puerto Rico to implement austerity and lay off teachers in order to pay back the hedge funds. Rep. Sánchez is the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

"Puerto Rico's religious leaders recognize the crisis their people face," noted Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA. Jubilee organized the religious leaders' visit to Washington. "They recognize this crisis requires a comprehensive solution that protects the most vulnerable and stops predatory behavior."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build 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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