Billionaire hedge fund managers are coming at Puerto Rico like Rih in BBHMM. In “For Puerto Rico, There Is a Better Way,” a report that’s really only watching out for hedge funds, the solutions to help the country pay off the $72 billion it owes lenders include selling public buildings, collecting more taxes, and reducing the number of teachers. The report, which was put together by Centennial Group, an advisory firm the 34 hedge funds hired, says there should be fewer teachers to “fit the size of the student population.”
Jose Fajgenbaum, one of the three people who put together the report, told The Guardian that P.R. is spending too much money on education while school attendance has dropped in the last decade. But compared to the United States’ average $10,667 spent per student, Puerto Rico spends $8,400 per student. The government has already closed down nearly 100 schools to date this year.
Víctor Suárez, chief of staff to Puerto Rico’s governor Alejandro García Padilla, explains why these solutions won’t work. “They are proposing teacher layoffs, cuts in higher education and health benefits, as well as increased taxes,” he said. “These proposals have been a disaster for Latin America and would be so for Puerto Rico. Sure, Puerto Rico could pay its debt, but at what cost? We are literally cutting off our own limbs just to stay afloat.”
Puerto Rico, as a United States property, cannot file for bankruptcy without congressional approval, and many are complaining that the U.S. is not doing enough. On Tuesday, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez called out Congress for their lack of urgency. “And apparently, the responsibility to govern Puerto Rico falls to the Congress and not to the Executive Branch, because for the last six months or more, I have talked with Obama Administration officials at every level about Puerto Rico and their response has been that they cannot or will not do anything,” he said. “The message I received loud and clear–anything to help Puerto Rico had better happen in Congress. But there is no sense of urgency in Congress or anywhere else in Washington for real solutions.” Watch his entire plea below.
He also had more to say one day later.
Photo by: Anjanette Delgado