An "unhappy" New Year looms ahead for Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island is going through its worst fiscal crisis. As a result, last year 85,000 people left the Island for places like Florida and New York. The population has dropped from 3.9 million to 3.5 million in the last few years. For me the issue is personal. I was born and raised on the Island. My mother lives in Puerto Rico as do most of my relatives and many close friends. I was there last week and noticed that the Christmas spirit the Island is known for was just not all there. People are worried about the future and rightfully so.
After months of lobbying efforts, the White House put together a package of solutions and sent it to Congress. Many of us lobbied Congress to approve it. But yesterday Republican leaders rejected that package and other last-minute attempts to allow Puerto Rico to tackle its $72 billion debt through bankrupcy restructuring which would not have cost a penny. The next payment of $957 million is due January 1st and there's simply no way to pay it. The choices on January 1st are clear: Puerto Rico can either a) close schools, hospitals, shut down government services and bring chaos to the Island, or b) default on that payment due to hedge funds and Wall Street investors. The Island's Governor said: "If they make me choose between Puerto Ricans and creditors. I will choose Puerto Ricans." I agree with the Governor and applaud his resiliency.
This will be the largest municipal bond default in U.S. history. But Congress was more persuaded by the hedge funds and other vulture fund investors who lobbied fiercely to stop any restructuring of the debt. Congressional leaders apparently believe that these investors are more important than the well-being of the 3.5 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico who have shed blood, sweat and tears in every war this Nation has fought over the last 117 years since the Island became a colony of the U.S. Call and write the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate and other Congressional leaders. And help me go to Congress to stop this second-class treatment of Puerto Ricans both living in the Island as well as those of us on the mainland.
Keeping the Faith,
Adam Clayton Powell
Candidate for Congress
NY - 13th C.D.