Header Image

Campaign Updates

06/19/2019 | Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond

Letter from Activists: Puerto Rico, Diaspora Call on Congress to Hold Hearings on FOMB

06.19.2019

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
United States Senator
Chairwoman
, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Sen. Joe Manchin
United States Senator
Ranking Member
, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

 

Dear Senators:

We write to you today as organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico and the United States. Our groups represent people that have been directly affected by Puerto Rico’s economic and humanitarian crises and who care deeply about the future of the island. We write to urge you to hold a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as part of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities of the Financial Management and Oversight Board (FOMB), and in particular before the Senate votes to confirm the appointment of the members of FOMB as recently re-nominated by President Trump.

Three years ago, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) to address the economic crisis in Puerto Rico. Under this law, the FOMB was created - despite public outrage - to supposedly oversee a process that ensured Puerto Rico regained access to the capital markets. The FOMB has taken over control of the public finances, exercises veto powers over any local law that might impact the budget, and oversees all debt restructuring negotiations and litigation. They have repeatedly attempted to expand the scope of their authority to exercise control over public agencies, entities and now municipalities, despite repeated objections by local officials.

In the aftermath of Hurricane María, we witnessed the life-or-death consequences of decisions made by members of the FOMB. Members of the FOMB have proven to have egregious conflicts of interest and have refused cooperation, outside of litigation, with the basic fundamentals of transparency and accountability for a body given so much governance authority, including providing their financial disclosures. They continue to make decisions that have drastic and long-lasting consequences for the people of Puerto Rico for generations to come with little to no public oversight, participation or input.

The Senate will soon have the opportunity to review the actions of all seven members of the FOMB in a confirmation process. Before any nominations are brought to a vote, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has the opportunity and responsibility to move forward with hearings that help the public understand and evaluate the work of the members of the FOMB, the impact of their decisions on the people of Puerto Rico and the economic future of the island, and decide whether or not they should continue serving in this role.

We see the effects of the FOMB's actions in our daily lives and the devastating impact they have had in curbing access to essential public services and the realization of fundamental rights, including:

  • Tens of thousands of our children in Puerto Rico's rural areas have seen their schools close over the last two years due to budget cuts in education;

  • Formal employment in the private sector was made more precarious and less attractive through the deregulation of labor rights in an open labor market that already has the lowest wages in any U.S. jurisdiction, pushing working families to move stateside for better job opportunities;

  • Millions of ratepayers could see their electric bills hiked by as much as 28% for a period of 48 years;

  • The University of Puerto Rico, the largest public university system on the island and one of the largest in the region, is one step away from losing its accreditation status due to budget cuts;

  • Retirees risk having their pensions cut to the federal poverty line by this time next year.

The impact of the deep austerity pushed and imposed by the FOMB cannot be understated. The FOMB is currently negotiating debt restructuring deals that will have an impact on the economic development of the island and the ability of Puerto Ricans to stay in their homeland for decades. While this happens, questions have been raised about the ability of members of the FOMB to remain impartial when negotiating restructuring deals because of potential conflicts of interest.

For the aforementioned reasons, the undersigned organizations urge you to hold a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where you may ask questions of the nominees before they are confirmed. This is one of the few opportunities members of the FOMB will be held accountable for their decisions, as they answer to no other body or institution, including the public or government of Puerto Rico.  We believe the role played by anyone appointed to the FOMB in crafting the future of Puerto Rico requires a thorough evaluation and honest critique, and we hope that you will undertake your duties of oversight and investigation with the responsibility with which they have been entrusted to you.

Thank you,

Action Center on Race and the Economy
Alianza Comunitaria Ambientalista del Sureste (ACASE)
Alianza de Salud para el Pueblo
Alianza for Progress
Alliance for Quality Education
Asociación Puertorriqueña de Profesores Universitarios
Boricua Vota Inc.
Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora
Campaign to Divest Harvard's Endowment from Puerto Rican Debt
Cancel The Debt

Center for Popular Democracy
Chicago Boricua Resistance
Churches United For Fair Housing | CUFFH
Coai, Inc.
Coalición de Coaliciones Pro Personas sin Hogar de PR, Inc.
Comisión Ciudadana para la Auditoría Integral del Crédito Público
CT National Puerto Rican Agenda
Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida- Miami Dade Chapter
Diáspora En Resistencia
Faith in Florida
Feministas En Marcha
Florida Immigrant Coalition

HedgeClippers
HERMANDAD DE EMPLEADOS EXENTOS NO DOCENTES
Instituto Caribeño de Derechos Humanos
Junta Comunitaria Calle La 23 y Las Gardenias
Junta comunitaria de residentes los usubales inc.
Junta comunitaria de residentes los usubales inc.
L 1996/SPT
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
LittleSis
Make the Road Connecticut
Make the Road Nevada
Make the Road NY
Make the Road PA
Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de Puerto Rico
Movimiento Unión Soberanistas
National Institute for Energy and Island Sustainability
New York Communities for Change
Organización Puertorriqueña de la Mujer Trabajadora
Our Revolution Puerto Rico
Pa’lante por Más
Pensacola Chapter of WMFL
Puerta de Tierra Camina
Puerto Rican Association of University Professors
Puerto Rican Women’s Council
Puerto Rico Citizen Front for de Debt Audit
SEIU 32BJ
Sindicato Puertorriqueńo de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras SEIU Local
1996

Somos Dign@s
Strong Economy For All Coalition

Taller Salud
UTIER
Vamos4PR

Women's March Central Gulf Coast Florida
Women's March FL - St. Augustine
Women's March Florida- Jacksonville
Women's March Florida, Florida Keys
Women's March Miami
Women’s March Florida - Palm Beach County Chapter
Womens March Florida
Womens March Jacksonville

 
Wednesday, June 19, 2019