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The Final Vote To Determine Puerto Rico’s Future Is Coming And Trump’s Administration Wants To Sabotage It

For the better part of the last 10 years, Puerto Rico has gone through one of the worst economic crises the island has ever seen. As a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have the same financial protections as American states and cities, which means it is sinking into a debt hole for which there is no bottom. The island’s debt currently sits at about $72 billion.

Normally, a U.S. state, city or other municipality in the same financial situation could declare bankruptcy and begin the process of halting the debt and figure out how to get out of it. In 2013, the city of Detroit filed chapter 9 bankruptcy and was allowed to shed $7 billion of their debt and begin the process of bringing back services and spend 1.7 billion in order to do so. Another way to address the debt would be with a bailout, the way the U.S. did for the banking industry and then the auto industry back in the late 2000’s.

According to an article out by NPR, Monday was the last day for a deal to be made before creditors began filing lawsuits. No deal was made, and as of Tuesday May 2nd, the lawsuits began to pour in. On Wednesday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló, petitioned for relief under Title III of a new federal law, but it’s a law that has never been used and requires approval from a judge, which has yet to happen. Either way, it’s a sticky situation.

And it doesn’t seem like President Donald Trump’s administration plans to do anything about Puerto Rico.

During his presidential campaign in 2016, Donald Trump made it sound like he and his business friends saw Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as a great opportunity to be cashed in on.

Credit: CNN

“I’m the king of debt, I love debt.” It sounds like he had no plans then to help Puerto Rico directly, and it seems like he still has no plan now.

Recently Trump tweeted about what he thinks is going on in Puerto Rico.

Apparently to scare tax-payers into thinking they were on the hook.

Former mayor of Puerto Rico Hernán Padilla responded to Trump directly.

This has been a typical Trump tactic, using the fear that foreigners, outsiders or “others” are taking tax dollars from the American public. He’s counting on people who still don’t know that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. or that Puerto Ricans are born citizens, to rally sentiments against doing what is right, which would be to help the Island of Puerto Rico.

A proposed referendum that could have helped Puerto Rico was nixed when Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied the island the $2.5 million needed for it.

The referendum could have been a major turning point, as the U.S. currently has the Fiscal Control Board (or “la junta” as it’s known) in place overseeing all major financial decisions on the island.

With the referendum to decide Puerto Rico’s independence de-funded, a financial board many feel doesn’t represent the people and a president who is inciting fears, students have taken to the streets.

According to The Nation, since taking over in January, the Fiscal Control Board has cut $512 million in funding from the University of Puerto Rico through 2025, which students feel puts the university in serious jeopardy. According to the article, a first year law student named María de Lourdes Vaello, said it best while protesting last week: “The purpose of the university is to provide a high-quality education to the middle and lower classes, but now we’re facing cuts that threaten the very existence of the institution.”

A change is still possible though.

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