Puerto Rico Politicians Weigh In on House Committee’s Approval of Promesa
SAN JUAN—The House Committee on Natural Resources approved House Resolution 5278, also known as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), through a 29-10 vote on Wednesday. The bill, which would create a fiscal oversight board in charge of restructuring Puerto Rico’s $70-billion-plus debt, will now move to the full House for consideration.
Caribbean Buisness got in touch with various local politicians to know their thoughts on the matter:
Jenniffer González (Puerto Rico representative and New Progressive Party pre-candidate to resident commissioner in Washington)
“The bill that was approved is a ‘broken promise’ for the Puerto Rican people. It unfortunately represents the best sample of the plenary powers that Congress has oiver Puerto Rico, and evidences that our colonial status ties up Puerto Rico’s economic development model.[Congress] is incapable of addressing the root problem, which is our political status, and it definitely cannot assign the necessary resources to activate the economy. [The bill] also doesn’t have concrete economic development measures that could help get the island out of the problem it is in.
I could say so many things that I find wrong about the bill, among them that it doesn’t guarantee retirement pensions, or that it doesn’t guarantee a minimum salary for young workers, but I believe that our colonial situation has never been as evident as it is right now.
There’s a definite reality involved, which is that this bill stems from a lack of credibility, of data, of the approval of local taxes such as the local bankruptcy act, a moratorium act, of a bevy of other laws enacted by this administration.
And, unfortunately, this is a response to all the mismanagement carried out by a terrible government administration and its lack of transparency. This is the federal government’s response, which effectively leaves us naked in our colonial rags because we don’t have the representative power of having five Congress people and two senators who could insert clauses into this bill that could really help Puerto Rico.”
Ángel Rosa (Puerto Rico senator and Popular Democratic Party pre-candidate to resident commissioner in Washington)
“The bill that was approved in committee simply lacks the positive effect it is after. A fiscal control board without a definite strategy or mechanisms for economic development and growth will not solve Puerto Rico’s problems. I think that the voting hos not been sufficiently broad to show that there’s enough support for this bill on the floor, so I would venture to say that the consideration of this bill on the full [House] floor could prove problematic.”
Héctor Ferrer (Popular Democratic Party pre-candidate to resident commissioner in Washington)
“It is terrible for the Puerto Rican people that the committee has approved a bill that doesn’t have any type of economic tool for the island. The board by itself is an affront to Puerto Rican democracy in light of the natural right of human beings to choose their own leaders. It’s a regression of more than 100 years in the struggle of our country’s democracy. I hope that the full floor of the House is able to carry out the necessary changes to the bill so that it becomes a vehicle to rescue the country’s economy and not the pockets of some parties who are lobbying for the bill to go through.”
Larry Seilhamer (senator and minority leader of the New Progressive Party)
“I believe that [Resident Commissioner] Pedro Pierluisi [supported the bill because] it provides us with a fair and organized mechanism to restructure the debt, although we may not agree on all of its dispositions. The worst thing that could happen to Puerto Rico is that nothing happens, for nothing to be approved. I believe it is a step in the right direction for us to carry out an organized restructuring of our debt.”
María de Lourdes Santiago (senator and gubernatorial candidate for the Puerto Rico Independence Party)
“This is something that should anger Puerto Ricans for two reasons. The first is that it shows the deep contempt that the United States feel towards our country, for it to approve such a profoundly antidemocratic and retrograde bill. It would form an organism comprised of [people from the US mainland] that would have the power to veto any decisions by the governor or legislative assembly of Puerto Rico. It would assume complete control of our resources and intervene with the state’s pending obligations.
But it should also anger us that this humiliation is being politically used by some who allege that they are offended by the board’s imposition, but nonetheless continue to defend the colonial regime that allows such a board to exist in the first place. For example, there’s the Popular Democratic Party candidate for governor [David Bernier], who says he will fight the board by drafting a letter, but he will continue with the same defense of the commonwealth status.”