Over the weekend, I spoke with the Mayor of San Juan – Carmen Yulín Cruz – and told her to keep up her heroic work and leadership for the people of Puerto Rico.
But Puerto Rico’s leaders don’t need thanks. They need help.
US citizens are dying and people need basic medical care now. On Friday, I met with people from Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke, and other cities and towns in Massachusetts. They are desperately worried about their loved ones in Puerto Rico.
Congress must take up an emergency appropriations bill to help the people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – and Donald Trump must do a heck of a lot more than bully the disaster victims who are begging for help. But while we wait for the Trump Administration and Republicans who control Congress to step up and do their jobs, you can help the people of Puerto Rico right now.
Long before the hurricane, Puerto Rico was in crisis. For more than a decade, the island has been under enormous economic pressure.
Puerto Rico has been at the mercy of so-called “vulture funds” – Wall Street hedge funds that wait until a borrower is in trouble to buy up their debt at a steep discount. Vulture funds don’t care about the well-being of the island or of the Americans who live there. They just want to squeeze the Puerto Rican government for every penny they can.
In 2015 and 2016, I urged the Treasury Department to do as much for the struggling people of Puerto Rico as they did for the Wall Street big shots that they bailed out in 2008. I traveled to Puerto Rico and met with the governor, other top officials, the Archbishop, unions, and local citizens in the territory to discuss a long-term plan for the island. They described the unfolding disaster due to the debt crisis: closed hospitals, shuttered schools, and difficulty finding work. I’ll never forget how furious it made me that these US citizens were suffering because of our federal government’s indifference.
Now Puerto Rico faces an existential crisis – and with every day that passes, I’m more outraged that the federal government isn’t doing much, much more to help. We’re using every tool in the toolbox to push the Trump Administration and Congress to step up. And we’re working with Puerto Rican leaders to do everything we can to hold back the creditors and make sure the federal relief aid goes to the people – not the hedge funds.
We don’t have time to play petty partisan politics. The people of Puerto Rico need help right now.