Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island Religious Leaders Appeal for Aid, Debt Relief, End to Child Poverty
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 650 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners, including the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. As a member of Jubilee USA, and in the wake of the devastation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we stand in solidarity with the people of those islands and their religious leaders, urging the U.S. and international financial institutions to place a moratorium on existent debts. Columban missionaries work in many communities around the world that have been devastated by typhoons and hurricanes. In 2013, we joined Jubilee USA in advocating for a moratorium on the debt for the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Today we do the same for the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
October 3, 2017
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." -- Matthew 6:12
In recent weeks, hurricanes and powerful storms ravaged our homes across the Caribbean to the shores of the United States. We pray, mourn and hope with all of the victims from Dominica to Florida. In particular, we remember the most vulnerable were not prepared to cope with the storms and have fewer resources to recover.
In Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands we are desperately trying to help our people survive amidst the most destructive natural disaster to visit our islands in a century. Before the hurricanes struck our islands, we were wrestling with high child poverty rates and serious financial crises. On behalf of our people, we appeal to all decision makers:
- In addition to hurricane relief, we need resources to permanently reduce the child poverty epidemic.
- Aid must come in the form of grants, as opposed to loans that would further indebt our islands.
- Relief monies must be sufficient to rebuild structures to withstand more powerful and more frequent storms.
- US citizens living in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands must be able to have the same access to federal health care and child benefit monies that US citizens receive in US states.
- Our islands cannot pay debt until we've rebuilt and we see positive economic recovery.
- We need a debt payment moratorium; debts must be cancelled and reduced to sustainable payable levels.
When economies are already dealing with austerity policies and financial crisis, they are ill prepared to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We ask that decision makers institute greater budget transparency and standards for responsible lending and borrowing to prevent financial crisis in US states, US territories and foreign countries.
As we struggle to recover from these terrible storms, we join religious partners from around our world in calling for an economy that defends and lifts the vulnerable. Our loving God intends for us all to have enough and to live in harmony with one another and our planet.
In the hope endowed by our Creator,
Metropolitan Archbishop Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM of Catholic Archdiocese San Juan de Puerto Rico
Most Reverend Herbert A. Bevard, Bishop of St.Thomas in the Virgin Islands
Reverend Heriberto Martínez-Rivera, Secretary General of Puerto Rico’s Bible Society and Coordinator of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalition of Puerto Rico
Sign the Petition, Call on IMF for Relief for Islands Affected by Irma and Maria
Take action to call on the IMF, World Bank, creditors, White House, and Congress to provide relief and support for these islands.
Prevent Future Financial Crisis in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's economic crisis is at a critical moment. The island needs comprehensive debt restructuring and austerity prevention to grow its economy, protect its people and combat child poverty. Congress can help - Email your representatives and urge them to act for Puerto Rico today.