Bernie Sanders, campaigning ahead of the June 5 Democratic primary, says Puerto Rico's $70 billion debt must be restructured on terms that do not harm the well-being of the people living there. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (no reporter narration) STORY: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a campaign rally in Puerto Rico on Monday (May 16) that the commonwealth's $70 billion debt was "morally unacceptable" and must be restructured on terms that will not worsen the economic crisis there. Puerto Rico defaulted on May 1 for a third time on some of its debt, missing a roughly $400 million payment owed by the Government Development Bank, the island's main fiscal agent. It faces a near $2 billion July 1 debt payment. Municipalities in Puerto have cut social services, including schools and medical facilities, as Puerto Ricans grapple with the effects of economic austerities intended to bring the debt under control. Puerto Rico holds a Democratic primary in the U.S. election on June 5. The Republican primary was held on March 6. Sanders decried that U.S. banks were dictating the terms of Puerto Rico's economic future and placing their financial interest ahead of needs of the population. Puerto Rico must be given the time it needs to grow its economy, to create jobs, to reduce the poverty rate and expand its tax base so that it can pay back its debt in a way that is fair and is just. "The economic situation in Puerto Rico will not improve by eliminating more public schools, by slashing pensions, by laying off workers and allowing corporations to pay workers starvation wages by abolishing the minimum wage and relaxing labor law," Sanders said.