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Author: William-Jose Velez

Puerto Rico needs an economic miracle

God help Puerto Rico… #muniland — Cate Long (@cate_long) September 16, 2013 With that tweet Reuters columnist Cate Long has summed up the general sentiment about the Puerto Rican economy, which according to recent reports, shows no signs of improvement. In fact, most economic indicators are down, despite all efforts from the government to change the tone of the conversation. This week the government finally released its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (there was an unexplained 5 month delay in its release) which revealed a ballooning deficit during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and the consequences of the practice in the territory of issuing new debt to pay off old debt, without seeking a recurring payment source. The release of the report prompted the tweet from Long, and the markets’ reaction was just as bad. Local investors in Puerto Rico have seen unprecedented losses in the past 90 days, as they announced in the aftermath of the report, which compounded bad news that began some weeks ago with a flurry of bad reports that highlighted the challenges that Puerto Rico faces. Not helping the situation is that instead of clarifying its measures to address the fiscal issues the territory faces, the government has instead resorted to attacking publishers. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently called Barron’s report on Puerto Rico a “botched” work that was due to a hidden “political agenda.” Sergio M. Marxuach, from...

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Al Jazeera America’s The Stream to cover Puerto Rico’s status

New american cable news channel Al Jazeera America‘s program The Stream will cover the political status of Puerto Rico today in its 7:30pm broadcast. The Stream currently has Latino Rebels‘ Julio Ricardo Varela as one of its Associate Producers, who likely encourage the production of the show to pursue the topic. Over the past day, the program’s twitter feed has been asking questions regarding the status issue, and how it is affecting the US territory of 3.7 million Americans. On tomorrow's show: Puerto Ricans can’t vote, yet they are US citizens. Is it time for a 51st state? What do you think? #pr51 #hr2000 — Third Rail (@AJAMThirdRail) September 13, 2013 On the show’s Facebook page, the mere mention of the possibility of Puerto Rico statehood unleashed a barrage of pro independence supporters who, contrary to what their strong internet showing would show, are merely 5% of voters in the territory.   Post by The Stream – Al Jazeera America.   Pasquines could confirm that among the guests for the show will be Jose Hernandez Mayoral, Secretary of Federal and International Affairs for the Popular Democratic Party, Jose Cabrera, former President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association, Lynnette Acosta representing the Puerto Ricans in the states, who was also a National Chair for Obama for America, Rene Vargas Martinez, former student leader in the University of Puerto Rico,...

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Puerto Rico mired in troubling economic news

The troublesome economic news for Puerto Rico will not stop. Following a report by Barron’s on the territory’s fiscal woes, several publications have jumped on the bandwagon, reporting on the $70 billion in debt, and the more than $30 billion unfunded pension liability, which according to experts, threatens future bond offerings. Already the market has reacted harshly to the news, with reports coming in of a sell off of Puerto Rico bonds, with some reaching yields of 10%, a record high. Despite the efforts of the administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and Governor Luis Fortuño before him, it appears as if investors are not confident in the islands’ ability to fix its finances, especially when its unemployment remains in the double digits, and if it decreases it does so because of fewer people in the job market. The dire fiscal scenario has some calling for the drastic step of seeking a bailout from Washington, DC, an unlikely proposition at best. Congress has never bailed out a city or territory and doing so would open the floodgates of troubled governments seeking aid from an already highly indebted federal government. Reacting to the market sell off, the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico announced that it would revise its plan offering of more bonds in the market, up to $1.2 billion in new debt, over the next year. The GDB...

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UPDATED: Resident Commissioner Pierluisi comes out in support of US intervention in Syria

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi has announced his support for President Barack Obama’s plan for a limited strike against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrians. Pierluis is the first Puerto Rican official to issue comments on the matter. Post by Pedro Pierluisi – in Congress. “Although I cannot vote, it is important for my voice to be heard in this debate. I respect my colleagues in Congress and my constituents who wonder if the proposed plan will be effective in achieves our objectives. However, after deliberating on the issue carefully, I arrived at the conclusion that launching a specific military attack as President Obama propose is necessary and appropriate” said Pierluisi in a statement released hours before the possibility of a US strike on Syrian facilities became unlikely, following a proposed Russian plan for Syria to submit its chemical weapons to international control. The expressions by the Resident Commissioner would have most likely garnered attention from the national media as Congress discusses the possibility of authorizing the strike, but as a representative from a territory, Pierluisi cannot vote on the resolution. Despite Puerto Rico’s strong presence in US armed forces -the territory has one of the highest per capita participation rates in the military among all US jurisdictions-, island residents have no say on the use of military...

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PPD and Government of Puerto Rico continue sharing resources

In what can be classified as a pattern, the Government of Puerto Rico is now once again embroiled in a controversy over shared resources with the Popular Democratic Party, on this occasion, over its latest campaign for economic development, and the website Alerta Progresista, the media arm of the New Progressive Party uncovered that the domain of the website is registered to Luis Herrero and his company Explorer Company. Herrero is the nephew of former governor Anibal Acevedo Vila, and is the current Director of Media Campaigns of the PPD. After the allegations surfaced, the whois record was changed and the information was private. #EfectoPPD: Luis Herrero, sobrino AAV y Dir Campaña Medios PPD, es dueño del dominio página internet "Isla Estrella". — Alerta Progresista (@aprogresista) August 22, 2013 This is not the first time this type of situation arises, since a few days ago the NPP also criticized the use of the Puerto Rico by Puerto Ricans platform and API access for the Casa Grande initiative of the PPD. Like then, this time there are individuals with access and control of government resources despite not being on the government’s payroll or being in an official contract. So far there has been no response from Fortaleza or the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, which is the agency responsible for the new...

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