Religious leaders from Puerto Rico and the US mainland meet with Senators today and tomorrow to urge them to support legislation to restructure Puerto Rico's debt. The leaders, including Reverend Enrique Camacho, the head of Catholic Charities affiliated Caritas Puerto Rico, will hold a prayer service and a briefing at the US Senate. ‎
"Religious leaders know the urgency of the situation and it's religious leaders on the front lines of the humanitarian crisis," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA, which organized the Senate meetings and events. "Until we have a solution, every day that passes means more pain for Puerto Rico's people."
The briefing includes US House of Representatives members who supported companion legislation that passed in the House last week, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.
Senate leadership announced it wants to debate the Puerto Rico legislation before July 1. The bill allows the US territory to restructure its $72 billion debt and creates an oversight board to monitor Puerto Rico's finances. The House bill includes an amendment that addresses Puerto Rico's 56% child poverty rate. Some lawmakers ‎have raised concerns about labor protections.
"This is not a perfect bill, but it is an absolutely necessary bill," stated LeCompte. "Without immediate Congressional action, Puerto Rico's crisis will worsen."
Puerto Rico's religious leaders first called for action on the debt crisis in August, 2015. Archbishop Roberto González Nieves of San Juan published an op-ed in The Hill on June 7th calling on Congress to pass the debt legislation despite its flaws.
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