Chair Grijalva: Hearing Demonstrates That Austerity Is Destroying Puerto Rico, Fiscal Board Doesn’t Respect Needs of Puerto Rican People

Washington, D.C. – In the wake of yesterday’s hearing on the economic future of Puerto Rico, Chair Raúl M. Grijalva today questioned the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico’s one-sided focus on punishing austerity measures and service cuts to the island’s already shattered economy and questioned Executive Director Natalie Jaresko’s assertion that Puerto Ricans are unwilling to work if they receive government financial assistance. If the Board intends to maintain its credibility, both with the Puerto Rican people and with Congress, it needs to focus more on rebuilding Puerto Rico’s economy for the long term and less on cutting basic services, Grijalva said.

“The Trump administration has been looking the other way for three years while Puerto Rico suffers, and what should have been three years of rebuilding have already been lost to federal indifference,” Grijalva said today. “Suggesting that Puerto Ricans who receive meager government assistance just don’t want to work, and that’s why the economy is what it is today, is frankly outrageous. Members of the fiscal board are paid generous salaries with taxpayer money. Does that make them not feel like coming into work in the morning?” 

Witnesses and Democratic lawmakers at Thursday’s hearing underscored the devastating and counterproductive impacts three years of fiscal austerity have had across the island. As Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said to Ms. Jaresko, “Simply put, austerity doesn’t work. It didn’t work in Greece, it didn’t work in the United Kingdom, and it won’t work here. So you must look elsewhere to address the fiscal crisis. It cannot be on the back of the people of Puerto Rico.”

Video highlights of the hearing are available at http://bit.ly/2Ycai2L.

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