Things That Matter

Puerto Ricans Bring The Receipts As They List Priorities For The Island Under A Biden Presidency

For years, the island of Puerto Rico has been neglected or outright ignored by the federal government. Following a series of natural disasters (earthquakes and hurricanes), Puerto Rico struggled to get the attention and resources it so desperately needed from federal officials on the mainland.

Now, with a new president set to take office in January, progressive leaders from the island are working hard to make sure they have President-Elect Joe Biden’s attention.

Progressive leaders sent a letter to Joe Biden detailing their priorities for Puerto Rico.

More than thirty progressive organizations have signed a letter calling for the Biden-Harris administration to establish clear priorities for Puerto Rico. Officials on the island are hopeful that after decades of neglect, the island has a real chance at achieving genuine change under a Democratic president and, hopefully, a Democratic-controlled Congress.

The letter sent to President-Elect Biden includes several policy initiatives for the island – including a full repeal of PROMESA and debt cancellation, the promotion of a just recovery for Puerto Rico, and immediately initiating a process of decolonization and self-determination.

The letter asks the Biden administration to support the U.S. Territorial Relief Act of 2019, which provide much-needed debt relief for the island, while also ensuring a proper audit of the causes and sources of Puerto Rico’s debt.

In ensuring a just recovery for the island, the letters asks that all emergency relief bunds (from HUD and FEMA) be immediately released so that infrastructure, agricultural, educational, and economic projects get the critical assistance they need to help rebuild the island.

And, perhaps most importantly, the letter requests that the Biden-Harris government support the AOC-sponsored Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020. The bill recognizes Puerto Rico’s legal right to establish its own constitutional convention to determine the island’s future relationship with the United States.

The letter was released the same day that other progressive organizations headed to Delaware to get the president-elect’s attention.

Although the community was successful at electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the offices of president and vice-president respectively, there remains so much work to be done.

We must hold the future administration accountable to promises made during the campaign and that work starts now. Many progressive organizations are already on the ground in Delaware (Joe Biden’s home state) working to ensure that he works to protect immigrant communities, Black lives, worker’s rights, and the rule of law.

Puerto Rico has long suffered under mismanagement and neglect.

From Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, which absolutely devastated large swathes of the island, to the ensuring political crisis and recurring earthquakes of 2019 and 2020, Puerto Rico has suffered for years.

Even within the island’s own elected government, a crisis of mismanagement has plagued Puerto Rico. Following the initial recovery, scandal after scandal was uncovered which forced the island to go through a series of governors after each was forced to resign. Puerto Ricans took to the streets in record numbers, demanding change from their elected officials and help from the mainland.

Despite pleas from Puerto Ricans across the country, the federal government has been slow to help the island. Federal dollars have often been tied to painful austerity measures that would only further hurt the island’s economy and community.

Now is the time for real change. And Puerto Ricans – both on the mainland and the island – are hoping that a Biden-Harris administration will finally be able to deliver the much-needed relief the community so desperately needs

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