Puerto Rican Legislator: Cease Debt Payments and Reject a Wall Street-Run Financial Control Board
March 1, 2016 (EIRNS)—In proposals made to Puerto Rico’s legislature, legislator Manuel Natal Albelo of the governing Popular Democratic Party (PPD), called yesterday for ceasing payment of the island’s government debt, until a full auditing can be carried out to determine the debt’s legitimacy, the Spanish news service EFE reported. Rep. Natal also denounced the proposal to impose a Wall Street-controlled financial control board on the island, now under discussion in Washington.
Natal issued his call on the same day that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla warned in his State of the State address that the island’s $72 bn. debt is "unpayable," and that unless the U.S. Congress acts before May to authorize restructuring, Puerto Rico will fail to make debt payments due in May. "There is no money for those payments," he said.
Natal was blunt:
"Whether or not the U.S. government admits it, Puerto Rico’s debt must be restructured, and cannot continue to be paid in its current state. There is no other alternative but to force through, by legislative means, a cessation in the payment of government debt which hasn’t been audited."
Nor can Puerto Rico continue to wait for the U.S. Congress to act, he underscored, while bondholders receive their payments but citizens suffer from slashing of essential services.
Puerto Rico is in a "fiscal emergency," Natal warned. He proposed that the Commission for Comprehensive Auditing of Public Credit be adequately funded so it can audit the entirety of the debt, and then
"proceed to restructure that which the Commission deems was issued legally and legitimately."
Rep. Natal also introduced a resolution calling on the legislature to reject the imposition from Washington of any financial control board "whose only purpose would be to protect the financial interests of the bondholders" and undermine Puerto Rican democracy.
"It would be contrary to the nature of a Wall Street-run control board to act on behalf of the interests of the Puerto Rican people,"
he stated, and warned of the role of vulture funds who are "buying influence" in Congress to ensure that any control board set up will defend their interests.