Central Florida Community demands action as Puerto Rico defaults on debt payment
After seeing Puerto Rico miss a major debt payment in its ongoing fiscal crisis, local Puerto Rican leaders gathered yesterday at the Centro Borinqueño to share their concerns and demands for elected officials. This comes after months of the islands’ attempted negotiations with vulture funds holding much of Puerto Rico’s debt.
Hosted by Organize Now, the group stressed the need to demand immediate action by holding the people who created this humanitarian crisis accountable, and placing the people of Puerto Rico over the interests of vulture funds and Wall Street banks lobbying Washington with millions of dollars.
During the last few weeks, Organize Now has gathered nearly five thousand petitions from residents in Central Florida who believe more cuts to education, healthcare, and basic services are not the solution for Puerto Rico.
“The Puerto Rican community is coming together and organizing to make a difference for our friends and families still on the island,” said Frederick Velez, Latino Outreach Organizer at Organize Now. “We will be heard, and we will remember who stood up for Puerto Rico and who did nothing.”
“For months we’ve been hearing the heart-breaking stats and impacts of this spiraling humanitarian state of emergency,” added Christina Hernandez, local Hispanic community leader. “Many people don’t know the hardest thing to find on the island is a suitcase because over 11,000 economic refugees are fleeing each month in hopes of making their lives better, most of them relocating here to Central Florida.”
“This is a great opportunity for our community to unify and make change. For years, the Puerto Rican community has demanded fairness from our elected officials and representatives. This crisis makes it clear that Congress needs our organizations to come together in order to help Puerto Rico,” said Jimmy Torres, President of Iniciativa Acción Puertorriqueña.
The issue has direct implications in Florida, with over one million Puerto Ricans now making the Sunshine State their home, and thousands more arriving each week.
“With the economic situation in Puerto Rico deteriorating for years, the last couple of months have sent the island into a full-blown humanitarian crisis with no clear end in sight,” stated Denise Diaz, Director of Central Florida Jobs with Justice. “Congress needs to take action otherwise they have had a hand in the profiteering in this crisis with Wall Street.”
“Nowhere in America would you see government leaders stand by and allow the closing of over 40% of public schools, a 45% poverty rate, and electricity shut off in hospitals where the sick are being treated,” said Representative Victor Torres of District 48. “We cannot allow this to happen to our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico.