4 REASONS WHY PUERTO RICO MATTERS
The story of Puerto Rico is a story of forgotten U.S. citizens.
Like Detroit, Puerto Rico is the story of a community that has given much to the U.S. but been forgotten by the rest of the country as it lost the resources to sustain its families. The 3.5 million people on the once booming island -- a territory of the United States -- are now suffering under a financial crisis that has cut deeper and longer than in any state in the U.S. For decades, corporations were able to profit from tax breaks that left little for investment. “Vulture funds” followed, preying on the island and securing millions in loans on the backs of services to Puerto Rican working families.
U.S. citizens are forced to abandon their families and homes.
The financial crisis has been devastating for many families in Puerto Rico. Because of policies created to benefit big banks and investors, Puerto Rico has been forced to make severe cuts to public services, including shutting down schools, laying off teachers and other public sector workers, and decimating hospital budgets. A record number of working families, young students, and skilled professionals have been forced to leave the island, seeking stability and a better future. In recent years, so many have settled in Florida that the state’s Puerto Rican population has passed the one million mark and will shortly be the largest outside the island.
Corporate foes are betting against real people.
Remember when Wall Street and big banks took advantage of homeowners, prompted the worst recession in American history, and thousands lost their homes? These corporate foes were betting against real people and their lives. Puerto Ricans share the same experience. The island's economy collapsed thanks to big banks and hedge funds that exacerbated Puerto Rico's debt. To pay back its creditors, Puerto Rico has resorted to extreme measures including delaying tax refunds to its citizens and making massive cuts to education, healthcare, and social services. No surprise, the people of Puerto Rico, especially its most vulnerable communities, have had suffer the consequences and shoulder the burden.
Puerto Rico’s treatment is a sign of what’s to come for all working people.
To date, the proposals to solve Puerto Rico’s economic crisis have included devastating cutbacks of public services that put people’s lives in danger and shortchange families’ futures, as well as measures to roll back hard-won rights for workers. Across the US, cities are faced with decisions about rising health care and pension costs for public workers who have sacrificed higher salaries for the promise of a secure retirement. Will they meet their commitments, or turn their backs on public servants and their communities? It’s up to all of us to take a stand.