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June 22, 2018

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Back to Normal?

Source: Puerto Rico Report Actor Benicio Del Toro said in an interview with Steve Colbert that things are getting “back to normal” in Puerto Rico. “It’s taking time,” he said, and that has been a common theme in discussions of Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria, the most severe natural disaster ever to hit…

Senator Bill Nelson Demands Action on Evacuee Issues

Source: Puerto Rico Report Since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in September, 2017, FEMA has used the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA)  program to house some 7,000 Puerto Rican families in hotels in Puerto Rico and in 30 states. After four extensions, that program is coming to an end. On June 30, 2018,…

Panel to Investigate Hurricane Maria Response Proposed

Source: Puerto Rico Report A group of four Democratic members of Congress led by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced legislation to create a national commission to investigate the federal response to the 2017 natural disasters in Puerto Rico. Rep. Velázquez along with Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), the Ranking Democrat on the House…

Cell Phone Data Tracks Puerto Rico Migration

Source: Puerto Rico Report How many people have left Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria and where have they gone? How many have returned to the Island? The Census Bureau has no answers to these questions yet; their last population estimate for Puerto Rico is for July of 2017. Data on the subject has relied…

Puerto Rico Voted for Statehood

Source: Puerto Rico Report It has been a year since Puerto Rico voters last headed to the polls to vote for their preferred political status. On June 11th, 2017, 97% of voters chose statehood from the three options that the U.S. Department of Justice named as the “viable options” for Puerto Rico’s status: statehood…

Congress Seeks Action on Energy in Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report With Hurricane Season 2018 officially beginning, Congress is increasingly talking about Puerto Rico. A lot of the conversations focus on energy. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, has committed to holding a hearing on Puerto Rico in his committee before the end of the month. “We…

UN Report on Extreme Poverty Blames Puerto Rico’s Political Status

Source: Puerto Rico Report United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty Philip Alston has presented a sharply critical report on the USA to the UN Human Right Council in which he singles out Puerto Rico for its unique political problems. “Political rights and poverty are inextricably linked in Puerto Rico,” Alston continued. “If it…

Senator Bill Nelson Supports Statehood

Source: Puerto Rico Report Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has made a statement endorsing statehood for Puerto Rico. “I have always supported self-determination and equal treatment for all U.S. citizens,” said Nelson. “It seems to me that statehood is the answer.” Nelson has previously said that people living in Puerto Rico should decide the status…

New Estimate Puts Hurricane Maria Deaths in Puerto Rico over 5,000

Source: Puerto Rico Report The first estimate of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria’s landfall in Puerto Rico was 64. There were, at that point, just 64 confirmed deaths in the U.S. territory. Later, as communication with rural areas was restored, that number grew. Deaths from contaminated water, deaths of individuals in Intensive Care units…

Senator Orrin Hatch Speaks Up on Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) spoke last week about Puerto Rico and his new bill, cosponsored by Senator Marco Rubio. “Mr. President,” Senator Hatch began, “I am here today to discuss new legislation to help Puerto Rico gain a stronger fiscal footing.” “Last Thursday I introduced a bill cosponsored by Senator…

Memorial Day in Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Memorial Day, a day honoring those who died in active military service, is naturally important in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has sent more men and women into military service than most states: 18,000 in World War I 65,000 in World War II 61,000 in the Korean War 48,000 in the…

Will Puerto Rican Voters Rise Across the Nation?

Source: Puerto Rico Report Will enclaves of ethnic Puerto Rican voters tip the balance of power in Washington? Nationwide there are over 5 million Americans who are of Puerto Rican origin. It now appears that these Puerto Rican voters could emerge in the 2018 mid-term elections as a cohesive swing vote in battleground races…

Senator Hatch Introduces Proposal, Suggests Reforms for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) this afternoon criticized the administration of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares, the PROMESA Financial Oversight and Management Board, and recent statements of former Obama Administration officials regarding aid for the territory – with his harshest criticism directed at the Rossello Administration.…

GAO Report on Puerto Rico Calls for Realism

Source: Puerto Rico Report The General Accounting Office has released a report to Congress:  “Puerto Rico – Factors Contributing to the Debt Crisis and Potential Federal Actions to Address Them.” The report provides an update on the financial position of Puerto Rico, which includes $70 billion in outstanding public debt and $50 billion in…

Former AG Explains Why Puerto Rico Should Be a State

Source: Puerto Rico Report Jose Fuentes, former Attorney General of Puerto Rico and Chairman of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council, shared his views on Puerto Rico’s status in an NBC news “Think” segment. “The United States cannot continue to be the force for democracy around the world and still maintain this colony in the…

Hurricane Maria’s Effects on Puerto Rico’s Political Status

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico’s political status has had a significant impact on recovery efforts on the Island. Without the political power of a State, Puerto Rico is still struggling to restore basic services months after the 2017 hurricane season. With the 2018 hurricane season on the horizon, the territory is still living…

How Long Does Disaster Recovery Take?

Source: Puerto Rico Report In October, as the death toll from Hurricane Maria continued to rise, President Trump remarked that disaster recovery workers from the States couldn’t be expected to stay in Puerto Rico “forever.” “We cannot keep FEMA, the military & the first responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances)…

Melissa Mark-Viverito Misses the Mark on Puerto Rico Statehood

Source: Puerto Rico Report Melissa Mark-Viverito recently wrote an opinion piece at The Hill claiming that statehood for Puerto Rico is not a good idea. She used Florida Governor Rick Scott’s support of statehood as her starting point, but the post is not about Governor Scott or his views. Mark-Viverito is instead trying to…

Puerto Rico Is an Opportunity Zone

Source: Puerto Rico Report As tax policy experts dissect federal tax legislation enacted last year, one provision that is gaining increased attention may hold special promise for Puerto Rico:  Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are low-income areas that offer financial incentives to potential investors.  The goal is to build up distressed communities.  Areas must have at…

Rep. Rob Bishop on Statehood for Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report At a press conference in Puerto Rico on Friday, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) spoke out in favor of statehood for the U.S. territory. “I want to be very clear: I’m in favor of Puerto Rico statehood,” he said. “If people are willing to sit down, put partisanship aside, and do…

Governor Loses Top Aide, Others in Scandal

Source: Puerto Rico Report Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares last evening lost the services of his chief aide and deputy chief aide as well as three other senior officials of his administration because of a campaign scandal, an alleged cover-up attempt, and related ethical questions. The actions were taken after Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez Garced…

FOMB Sets Deadlines for Government, House Chairman to Visit Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report The PROMESA Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) late yesterday released a letter dated Monday asking the Puerto Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority for a timetable for past-due audited financial statements for the territorial government by next Monday. The statements would cover the fiscal years ending June 30, 2015, ‘16,…

Governor Rossello Plans a Political Movement in the States

Source: Puerto Rico Report Governor Ricardo Rossello was interviewed by Noah Trevor, host of the late-night news satire program The Daily Show. While speaking about the recovery efforts, his desire to “pivot from recovery to rebuilding,” and the value of statehood for Puerto Rico, the governor also spoke clearly about his plans to mobilize…

Why Is Restoring Power to Puerto Rico So Slow?

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Two Fab Femmes podcast interviewed Amanda Martinez, CEO of Bull Moose Energy Ventures. Bull Moose is focused on alternative energy, especially biomass, but also works with fossil fuels. “Puerto Rico has really become the center of my universe right now,” said Martinez. “The people are incredible — they’re industrious [but]…

With $8 Billion in the Bank, New Loans Not in Sight

Source: Puerto Rico Report The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority reported yesterday that the territorial Treasury’s main account had grown to $2.095 billion as of April 13th and that deposits in all government accounts had increased to $7.946 billion as of March 31st. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that…

Rep. Soto Asks for Transitional Shelter Assistance

Source: Puerto Rico Report Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) has written to FEMA administrator William Long asking for a further extension of the TSA (Transitional Shelter Assistance) program for people displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. The TSA program, described in Soto’s letter as the Temporary Shelter Assistance program,provides temporary housing for victims of…

San Juan Mayor Opposes PREPA Privatization

Source: Puerto Rico Report An influential Democratic Party-oriented ‘think tank’ in Washington DC published an article today by the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico opposing the privatization of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Territorial Governor Ricardo Rossello has proposed a privatization and the PROMESA Financial Board has agreed in general. The…

Jobs in Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Since Hurricane Mari hit Puerto Rico last September, the number of people working has increased each month. This should be no surprise. In September, companies on the island were posting on Facebook, asking their workers to contact them to make sure that everyone was still alive. By October, according to…

Major League Baseball Returns to Puerto Rico

Source: Puerto Rico Report Last week marked the first Major League Baseball games in Puerto Rico since 2010. Baseball players stayed away from Puerto Rico for fear of the Zika virus in 2016, and Hurricane Maria damaged the stadium in 2017. In 2018, though, baseball is back. The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians played…

Congressional Democrats Reject Fiscal Plan

Source: Puerto Rico Report Democrat leaders on Puerto Rico issues in the U.S. House of Representatives late yesterday rejected the fiscal plan for the Government of Puerto Rico adopted by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) Financial Oversight and Management Board. Representatives Nydia Velazquez and Jose Serrano of New York echoed…

Tension among leaders in Puerto Rico and Washington

Source: Puerto Rico Report A series of letters sent back and forth over the past few weeks highlights the tension growing among Puerto Rico’s elected leaders, the PROMESA oversight board (FOMB), and leaders in Washington. The FOMB was scheduled to approve Governor Rossello’s fiscal plan on March 30th of this year, but still has…

Governor Rosselló calls for deep tax cuts

Source: Puerto Rico Report Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares yesterday outlined a broad package of deep tax cuts that he has hoped to get enacted by June 30th. The reductions will save taxpayers $451 million next year and $849 million a year by 2023. Individuals would not have an income tax liability if…

Governor Reports to Congress on Recovery Plan

Source: Puerto Rico Report On April 10, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares provided a second monthly report to the U.S. Congress on the development of a recovery plan for the territory from last September’s hurricanes. The report comes in the form of a letter from the Governor to leaders of the House and…