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05/31/2019 | Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond

CPD Network Takes Action to #CanceltheDebt for Puerto Rico

On April 24, Puerto Rican activists, CPD affiliates, and ally organizations took part in actions across several states and Puerto Rico to demand the cancellation of $6 billion in illegal debt owed by Puerto Rico to corporate entities. Even before Hurricane Maria made landfall in 2017, Puerto Rico was facing a fiscal crisis created by austerity measures that benefited a number of private corporate interests. That crisis was compounded in the aftermath of the hurricane by Wall Street banks capitalizing on Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts through predatory lending, in a violation of Puerto Rico’s constitution.

April’s actions were held as part of the #CanceltheDebt campaign, which seeks a just recovery for the island and works to ensure that no money is paid to bondholders and institutions that illegally profited from the Puerto Rico debt crisis. This year, the CPD Network participated in #CanceltheDebt actions in:

  • Allentown, PA and Hartford, CT: Make the Road PA and Make the Road CT held rallies in front of local Santander banks to protest the role that the bank played in financing illegal debt.

  • New York, NY: NYCC, CUFFH and Diaspora en Resistencia held a rally in front of the courthouse to demand that a federal judge take steps to cancel illegal debt.

  • Las Vegas, NV: Members of Make the Road NV sat down with members of Congress to talk about the #CanceltheDebt campaign.

  • Orlando, FL and Los Angeles, CA: Vamos4PR, Organize Florida, Alianza and other organizations in Florida and SoCal for Puerto Rico rallied in front of UBS banks in their areas to protest the role that the bank played in financing illegal debt.

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico: Construyamos Otro Acuerdo Coalition held a march in the financial district to protest the role that Banco Popular and Santander bank played in financing illegal debt.

On May 2, the federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) monitoring Puerto Rico’s financial recovery filed suit against a number of Wall Street banks that participated in predatory lending. As CPD organizer Jesus Gonzalez noted in a statement, this crucial step would not have been possible without sustained advocacy from Puerto Rican families and activists on the island and in the diaspora. And even in light of this recent lawsuit, Puerto Rico is still on a long road to a just recovery.

"While the FOMB has decided to pursue legal action," Gonzalez said, "there is much information we still need to analyze to ensure that proper action is taken against every single person who profited from the illegal debt."