Over 200 Organizations Protest Promesa’s Fiscal Board
SAN JUAN – Members and representatives of some 200 organizations that make up the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Fiscal Control Board repudiated Saturday the federal Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, a bill that would establish a financial oversight board for the island.
With posters, banners and cries, hundreds of people arrived in the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, where they discussed a declaration to establish a work agenda if President Barack Obama approves the fiscal board.
Civil disobedience, demonstrations, denouncing the United States at international forums and a protest in front of the Federal Court are part of the plans.
Among those present were San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, and the speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Gutiérrez and Mark-Viverito were booed by some of those present due to their dissatisfaction with the U.S. government.
“Just like our unity expelled the Navy from Vieques, it will expel the fiscal control board. Just like we rose up together to stop the Gasoducto [natural gas pipeline], we will expel the board,” People’s Assembly demonstration.
“We would place children and the elderly, women and men in jobs ahead of payments to the vultures of Wall Street,” Gutiérrez said, adding that “the same blood as Ramón Emeterio Betances, Pedro Albizu Campos and compatriot Oscar López Rivera runs through my veins.”
“They want Puerto Rico to eat austerity for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and what we are going to do is fight, fight and fight,” the congressman denounced.
Gutiérrez compared the proposed financial board, which would comprise seven members, to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” but said the dwarves would be sent by the “Republican Party’s Snow White” in this case.
“I’ve learned not to expect much from the congress members of the Republican Party,” he said while some in the crowd jeered.
He criticized that the U.S. Senate is coincidentally discussing the matter nearing the Fourth of July, when the United States celebrates its Independence Day.
“On July 4, when the United States celebrates freedom and democracy, they will approve a board against the people of Puerto Rico, and I am here to say, ‘No,'” he said.
Gutiérrez has also pointed to reductions in the minimum wage, the exemption from overtime rules, questionable protections for pensions earned by Puerto Rican workers, and expedited permitting of energy and construction projects without environmental checks as reasons he opposes the legislation.
Spokespersons of the Puerto Rican Coalition Against Federal Fiscal Control Board noted that there are people ready to launch a civil disobedience movement against the proposed body.
“We already have trained groups,” union leader Luisa Acevedo Sambrana before the assembly began.
Caribbean Business contributed to this Inter News Service report.