Our Fellow Americans in Puerto Rico Deserve Action

Puerto Rican flags are waved as Members of Congress call on their colleagues to take action on Puerto Rico’s looming debt crisis.

Three and a half million Puerto Ricans are witnessing their economy slide toward default. This past summer, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared that the commonwealth’s debt was “not payable.” While Obama administration officials have taken steps toward mitigating the situation, Congress, which is primarily responsible for resolving the issue, has left calls to address the looming debt crisis unanswered.

Yesterday, NCLR joined several legislators and other civil rights groups for a National Day of Action for Puerto Rico. Together with Latino leaders and allies, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía called on Congress to take real action to assist Puerto Rico in resolving its debt.

“It is long past time for the Republican leadership in Congress to step up and make the essential changes to policy that will help resolve this crisis,” Murguía said. “They need to show our fellow Americans, many of whom have served or have had family members serve this country proudly in the U.S. armed forces, that they are not forgotten.”

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NCLR President Janet Murguía at the Puerto Rico Day of Action on Capitol Hill.

Most aspects of life for the 3.5 million people on the island have been affected. Jobless rates are soaring, the quality of education has dipped, and health care infrastructure is crumbling. Yet despite the enormity of the impact of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis on our fellow Americans who live there, the crisis has not received the level of attention merited. The Obama administration has outlined a proposal to soften the economic ordeal, but congressional partisanship has kept legislators from taking any actionable steps.

“We cannot stand by and let so many continue to suffer the consequences of this fiscal crisis—it goes against our nation’s values to sit idly while so many of our own see their lives turned upside down by circumstances totally out of their control,” Murguía said.

NCLR will continue to work with its nearly 300 Affiliate groups across the country, many of whom work with the Puerto Rican community on the mainland, to help mitigate the effects of the crisis on those here and to press for the changes where they are needed: in Congress. To allow the situation to worsen is to turn our backs on American citizens in dire need of assistance.

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