Puerto Rico Activists in Boston Call on Federal Judge to ‘Keep Wall Street Hands Off Puerto Rico’s Pensions’

Apr 1, 2019
4:47 PM

Community activists in Boston on April 1, 2019

The following media release from organizers in Boston was shared Monday afternoon with Latino Rebels:

BOSTON — Community activists focused on Puerto Rico solidarity rallied on Monday outside a hearing on Puerto Rico’s $72 billion public debt at Boston’s federal courthouse, asking that the judge reject the request of bondholders to take funds from money that’s supposed to go to retiree pensions to pay part of the debt.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain, in charge of deciding what will happen to the island’s $72 billion debt, has been holding hearings in which bondholders are demanding to get paid. But these banks and financial institutions, like UBS, carried out practices that helped bankrupt the retirement system in Puerto Rico, and should not receive any money that rightfully belongs to retirees. Activists say that UBS owes retirees in Puerto Rico millions of dollars in ill-gotten fees and punitive damages.

“Even before Hurricane Maria, public pensions have been one of the last lines of defense for thousands of retirees who worked for decades to secure their future in the face of decades of economic crisis,” said Julio López Varona, Co-Director of Community Dignity Campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy, Coordinator at Hedge Clippers and Steering Committee Member at Vamos4PR. “The notion that bondholders want to use public pension contributions to pay the debt is outrageous and inhumane. We will speak up loud and clear until Judge Swain rules to stop these efforts and stand with retirees, and with the people of Puerto Rico.”

“Working families have worked hard their whole lives contributing to our country and investing in their pensions and retirements,” said Damali Vidot, Chelsea City Council President. “Given the injustices these banks have already caused, it is absolutely heinous that they now be expected to be bailed out by the very people they have stolen from.”

The groups marched in front of the courthouse, waving Puerto Rican flags and carrying signs asking for “Just Recovery” for Puerto Rico, and chanting “Judge Swain Get Off It, Put People Over Profit!”

In addition, activists have been asking that Judge Swain cancel $6 billion of general obligation debt that Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight Board declared “illegal,” as well as other parts of the debt that may have been acquired in violation of Puerto Rico’s constitution. And they are also demanding that the Financial Oversight Board reclaim funds from banks that profited from money acquired illegally that belongs to Puerto Rico’s people.

“Those of us in the Puerto Rican diaspora and those who care about what happens to millions of Puerto Ricans want Judge Swain to understand that we will not allow her to make decisions behind closed doors, thousands of miles from those most affected by these decisions, that threaten to hurt Puerto Rican working families for generations to come,” said Otoniel Figueroa-Durán, a member of Alliance for Puerto Rico and VAMOS4PR steering committee.

The next court hearing on Puerto Rico’s debt is scheduled for April 24.