Puerto Rico needs freeze on lawsuits to face debt crisis: governor
Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla is now saying Congress must legislate a freeze on lawsuits against the territory to address the economic crisis. Garcia Padilla is alleging that the islands’ financial problems it cannot properly confront issues such as the Zika virus outbreak currently plaguing the residents of the United States territory.
Leaders in Congress agree that Puerto Rico needs an independent board to help face $70 billion in debt and a 45 percent poverty rate, but Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island needs more urgent help.
“Congress can legislate a stay on any legal action until that oversight board kicks in,” Padilla told reporters on a conference call.
Financial woes mean Puerto Rico cannot confront the Zika virus as it should, Padilla said, citing estimates that more than 20 percent of island residents could be infected this year with the virus linked to birth defects.
School septic tanks, a mosquito breeding ground, are overflowing in Puerto Rico, which lacks money to pay contractors to empty them, Padilla said.
“The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico is real and continues to grow with each passing day.”
The government of Puerto Rico highlighted the territory owes vendors, including those who provide gasoline to police and fire departments and maintain schools, $1.9 billion. In addition, it has yet to pay out $50 million in 2014 tax refunds.
The situation in Puerto Rico is only getting worse, and while Congress seems to be moving towards action, whatever law it may pass may be too little, too late for problem-weary Puerto Ricans.