Religious leaders from Puerto Rico have asked the US Federal Reserve to re-structure the island’s $73 billion debt, in order to avoid drastic austerity measures.
On Monday, August 31, eighteen Christian leaders cited the biblical concept of “jubilee” to call for debt relief. They also advocated for HR 870 – a congressional bill that would confer some limited bankruptcy powers to Puerto Rico.
HISTORY OF HR 870
Pedro Pierluisi, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, submitted HR 870 to the US Congress on Feb. 11, 2015. It remained unread and untouched, and was not assigned to any committee, until five weeks later on March 16.
The bill then sat in that committee until July 31, when Congress broke for a six-week summer vacation.
In other words, HR 870 went nowhere.
HAIL MARY PASS
Since Pres. Obama and the US Congress both refused to take any action on behalf of Puerto Rico, its top religious leaders appealed to the conscience of the US Federal Reserve.
They wrote a letter to the Federal Reserve stating that: “As Isaiah and Jesus called, we call for a jubilee of Puerto Rico’s people.”
The letter added: “In the absence of Congress extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico, we must call for greater involvement from the Federal Reserve to act and arbitrate our debt.”
The letter was signed by the Archbishop of San Juan; the Bishops of Ponce, Mayaguez, Caguas, and Fajardo-Humacao; the Secretary General of the Puerto Rico Biblical Society; and twelve Christian ministers from all areas of the island.
Here is the letter:
The appeal from these religious leaders is courageous, compelling…and very sad.
Eighteen Christians are throwing a Hail Mary pass at the Federal Reserve, hoping that somebody…anybody…is there to catch it.
After 117 years, Puerto Rico should not have to beg the US, or plead for biblical justice, in order to save its economy.
The US government is doing nothing.
The Puerto Rican government is powerless.
The colonial relationship between the US and Puerto Rico, must be resolved as soon as possible.