Making Good on a Bad Deal

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

If the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress had had its way, Puerto Rico would truly be a colony. The Republicans wanted to impose a regimen of rules and laws so tough, that the Puerto Rican Commonwealth would have had no sovereignty left. The Democrats wanted to give the Puerto Rican Commonwealth much more leeway in dealing with its debt crisis. In the end, the compromise bill was the best that could be created in a divided and politically-charged government situation. The legislation, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama, would not provide any more funds for Puerto Rico and would create a fiscal control board to make the Puerto Rican Commonwealth deal with its $70 Billion dollar debt.. At the same time, the legislation would protect Puerto Rico from its creditors who most likely would go to court to get their money back despite the Commonwealth’s default.

Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla is now working to implement the legislation already passed.. But what does all of this mean for the ordinary Puerto Rican? Puerto Rico, which already has an unemployment rate twice that of the United States (12 percent), means that there will be no job creation and this will force more Puerto Ricans to leave Puerto Rico for the United States.Since the Puerto Rican government default, the Commonwealth has closed 135 public schools on the island—that is 10 percent of all the island’s schools. Because of all the school closings, the average classroom in Puerto Rico is now 40 students per class, and the over-crowding will only get worse. The default will accelerate more school closings. Hospitals are also being closed, which will only compound the health care crisis in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican Governor also intends to raise the sales tax to as high as 11 percent. With Puerto Rican annual earnings being just $19,500, this will hurt. This deal for helping the Puerto Rican government will work to help restructure the island’s debt. Until then, for too many Puerto Ricans, it will be a struggle from day to day.

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