Quantcast

Ripping 'Greedy Wall Street Vulture Funds' Profiting From Misery, Warren and Sanders Introduce Bill to Cancel Puerto Rico's Debt

Politics
Sen. Bernie Sanders walks though the Playita community during a visit with the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 27, 2017. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

As advocacy groups urgently warn that Wall Street firms are moving to capitalize on Puerto Rico's plight in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria by extracting debt payments and pushing for the privatization of public services, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and several other Democratic senators on Wednesday to introduce a bill that would "provide an avenue to comprehensive debt relief" for the island.


"Greedy Wall Street vulture funds must not be allowed to reap huge profits off the suffering and misery of the Puerto Rican people for a second longer," Sanders said in a statement on the new bill, which would also provide debt relief for the U.S. Virgin Islands and other territories ravaged by recent hurricanes. "It is time to end Wall Street's stranglehold on Puerto Rico's future, return control of the island to the people of Puerto Rico, and give the territory the debt relief it so desperately needs to rebuild with dignity."

As reporter David Dayen noted in The Intercept, the senators' new legislation is a striking departure from efforts to address Puerto Rico's debt crisis under President Barack Obama, who in 2016 signed legislation that "led to punishing austerity proposals, mass protests and a wave of privatization, with assets sold off to finance interest payments."

Following Hurricane Maria, Dayen wrote, Puerto Rico is now "in the impossible position of rebuilding, attracting economic investment, and paying down debt simultaneously."

The legislation introduced by Sanders, Warren, and other prominent Senate Democrats would partially lift the island's massive burden by making most of its $73 billion in debt eligible for cancellation.

"Puerto Rico was already being squeezed before Hurricane Maria hit and will now have to rebuild under the weight of crushing debt. Our bill will give territories that have suffered an extraordinary crisis a route to comprehensive debt relief and a chance to get back on their feet," Warren said in a statement. "Disaster funding and the other resources in struggling territories' budgets must not go to Wall Street vulture funds who snapped up their debt. Congress should pass this legislation right away—our fellow U.S. citizens are counting on us."

The new bill—officially titled the U.S. Territorial Relief Act of 2018—has been endorsed by dozens of advocacy groups, including LatinoJustice, Amor Para Puerto Rico, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Alliance for Puerto Rico-Massachusetts, CREDO and Grassroots Global Justice.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less