Debt Review

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Dec. 4 that it will review a lower court decision blocking Puerto Rico from restructuring portions of its debt. Puerto Rico’s lawyers had urged the court to take immediate action in light of the overall magnitude of the commonwealth’s debts, around $72 billion, which it says it cannot pay. In a letter to Congress on Dec. 1, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami urged a legislative response to the problem. He said, “The people of Puerto Rico are suffering from painful poverty and hunger, persistent joblessness, and other social problems, as a result of the financial crisis gripping the Commonwealth’s economy.” He added, “They bear little responsibility for the situation yet suffer most of the consequences.” Over 45 percent of the Puerto Rican population live in poverty. Archbishop Wenski urged Congress to advance the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act. That bill would give the Puerto Rican government the same bankruptcy protections afforded to American cities.

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