Editor’s note: Amongst the many serious ethical issues before the American public during this campaign season, a desperate situation in our most populous U.S. territory seems to get overlooked. Elsa Ford of Suffolk County, New York, wrote to her Senator about a situation that seems to grow worse every month. Below is the text of her letter for your consideration.
Dear Senator Schumer,
In 1917 the people of Puerto Rico were granted American citizenship, which allowed them to be drafted into military service on the brink of World War I even though Puerto Rico is a territory.
In the face of Puerto Rico’s current fiscal crisis the United States House of Representatives has passed a bill to create a Financial Management Control and Oversight Board to allow restructuring of some of Puerto Rico’s debt. But will this board be too powerful and favorable to creditors? Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro Gracia Padilla, the spokesman for Puerto Rico’s people, is concerned. He sees that 41% of the population is living below the poverty line with serious impacts on health and education.
The Congressional Research Service noted that the Puerto Rican government needs “to pursue economic development strategies more in line with the Island’s economic comparative advantages, rather than its economic tax advantages.”
Presently Governor Padilla is a proposed non-voting member of the financial control board. His input would be key to a full view of any proposed strategies so that the Board will be acting collaboratively rather than authoritatively. When the bill comes before the United States Senate it needs to add Governor Padilla as a voting member of the Financial Control Board.
Ethical Culture Society of Suffolk