Puerto Rico, Diaspora Call on Congress to Hold Hearings on FOMB
Updated: Jun 25, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Over 60 organizations today released a letter to the United States Senate urging oversight of Puerto Rico’s Financial Management and Oversight Board (FOMB) before the Senate votes on the members President Trump has nominated.
The letter, submitted by groups including the Center for Popular Democracy, 32BJ SEIU, LatinoJustice, PRLDEF, Diaspora en Resistencia, and Boricuas Unidos en La Diáspora, among many others who represent the interests of hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico and the United States who have been directly affected by Puerto Rico’s economic and humanitarian crises. The letter raises concerns about the role that the FOMB has played on the recovery of the island. The FOMB was created to oversee a process for Puerto Rico to regain access to the capital markets, yet in reality, it has seized control over public finances and exerted its power over local budgetary decision making, hurting hundreds of thousands on the island and throughout the diaspora.
Signers encourage the Senate to hold a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to properly investigate the conflicts of interest on the body and the level of accountability and transparency achieved by the public agency. They note a series of offenses the FOMB carried out, including: deregulation of labor rights, significant budget cuts in education and pensions, and electric bill hikes.
“The role that the Senate can play in overseeing the confirmation of the members of the FOMB cannot be overstated. Over the last 2 years, the FOMB has taken control of Puerto Rico's finances and pushed measures that will impact the economic development of the island and the ability of Puerto Ricans to stay in their homeland for decades. The conflicts of interest that have plagued the members of this board are well recorded and raise serious questions about their ability to make decisions based on the best interest of Puerto Ricans. We hope that the Senate can understand the importance of this moment and hold hearings that allow the members of the board to be held accountable before any confirmation vote” stated Julio López Varona, co-director of community dignity campaigns at the Center For Popular Democracy.
“From the moment the FOMB members were given their positions, the Puerto Rican community has held a close watch on the decisions that they’ve made. So far, they are setting us up to fail. We have had families in the diaspora and on the island who have felt the burden of restructuring deals that line the pockets of Wall Street investors. As the administration re-nominates the same FOMB members, we are demanding an audit of their work to date. The nominees must not be voted forward in light of the detrimental actions they’ve made on behalf of our community” said Luis Ponce Ruiz, Co-founder, Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora.