A religious development organization is running radio spots focused on resolving Puerto Rico's debt crisis on 238 stations across Florida. The ads air in Spanish and English continuously ahead of the state's March 15th presidential primary. More than 1 million Puerto Ricans live in Florida and their turnout could sway important presidential contests.
"There are counties in Florida that decide presidential races," noted Jubilee USA's executive director Eric LeCompte. "The turnout of Puerto Ricans living in Florida could decide not only who wins the primaries but also who wins in November."
Both parties held debates in Miami this week - the Democratic debate was hosted by the Spanish language Univision network.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio won Puerto Rico's March 6 Republican primary. The election itself highlighted the island's economic troubles. Partly due to lack of funds, officials reduced the number of polling locations for the territory's GOP primary from 3,226 in 2012 to just 110 in 2016. Roughly, 25,000 voters participated this year, compared to approximately 130,000 in 2012.
Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt and is cutting education, health, law enforcement and pension funding to pay its debt. Congress is debating solutions to the crisis ahead of a March 31 House deadline set by Speaker Paul Ryan.
"The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens and they should have the rights as citizens living on the mainland," stated LeCompte. "Puerto Ricans are voting in key swing states and will make their voices heard."
Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and former Republican candidate and Florida Governor Jeb Bush support giving Puerto Rico access to Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Senator Rubio opposes Chapter 9, while fellow Republicans Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich have not addressed the island's crisis in detail.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 550 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org