March 13th 2019 Make the Road Nevada (MRNV) and Puerto Rican members in Las Vegas came together to voice the concerns they have about the six billion dollar debt attributed to Puerto Rico. On September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the deadliest natural disaster to hit US soil. The hurricane amounted in a death toll between 3,000 and 4,600 according to some sources, in addition to severe damages to the Puerto Rican infrastructure that continues to plague Puerto Ricans to this day. As a result, many Puerto Ricans were left displaced and were forced to relocate. Puerto Ricans have had to struggle to receive disaster relief aid from the US government as they have not been as cooperative as the situation demands. Since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled for any true relief, constantly being met with obstacles.
Most recently, Puerto Ricans were given a 6 billion dollar loan by Morgan Stanley, which resulted in illegally acquired debt. The Puerto Rican constitution states that “appropriations” for any fiscal year “shall not exceed total revenues, including available surplus, estimated for said fiscal year, unless the imposition of taxes sufficient to cover said appropriations is provided by law.” Bonds were used to balanced the budget, which means that debt was acquired illegally. According to an article from The Hill “Appropriation bonds should not have been issued in the first place as their manifest purpose was to evade the constitutional balanced budget requirement and debt limit while burdening taxpayers”
— Make The Road NV 🦋 (@maketheroadnv) March 14, 2019
MRNV held an action with some of the local Puerto Rican community, some migrated to Las Vegas after the hurricane. The action started outside of the Morgan Stanley office as they were paid not only for underwriting fees but exit penalties on toxic swaps out of the proceeds of two of the bonds, $24 million in the case of the 2014 bond, and an undisclosed amount in the case of the April 2012 bond. Margarita Rebollal, Puerto Rican leader gave a letter to the manager expressing what this debt has caused to people back in the island.
Our goal was to urge Judge Laura Taylor Swain to declare the debt illegal and reversed any profit acquired from the issuance of the debt. If the loan is kept, Puerto Rico’s economy will suffer for approximately 40 years.As long as this debt exists, Puerto Rican families will be burdened with repaying the debt on top of dealing with the life changes caused by the hurricane.
The families deserve relief so that they may truly recover. As a community, we need to support our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters through these hardships. Canceling the debt and supporting local bills like S.B. 396, which makes it easier for Puerto Ricans and people from other US territories obtain their driver’s license in Nevada when they already have one from the territories.
Please join us at our weekly community meetings, Wednesdays at 6pm, to stay informed on issues dealing with Puerto Rican aid and support.