Ahead of a likely House vote this week, San Juan's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Roberto González Nieves OFM, announced his support for Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation in an op-ed to The Hill.
"I support the current legislation because it gives Puerto Rico breathing space – so the payment of pensions and social services are made first, before debt payments," the Archbishop wrote in his op-ed about the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act's debt restructuring provisions. "The legislation stops exploitative behavior of so-called vulture funds and has a process to bring our debt back to sustainable levels."
While supporting the legislation as "protecting the common good," González expressed concern about the economic oversight board that the Congressional action establishes. In The Hill, he noted the roots of the crisis are found in Puerto Rico's political status and the religious leader called on Puerto Rico's people to "see this visitation of a control board on our island as a wake-up call."
"Fundamentally, Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States," wrote González. "Before our island faces the next crisis, we must self-determine who we want to be and our relationship with the United States."
González encouraged creditors and Puerto Rico's government to work together and resolve the debt crisis through direct negotiations. In his article, he related that he has met many of the creditors.
The island's senior Catholic leader also heralded and named Congressional leadership from both major parties for working together and "putting Puerto Rico's people first."
"Archbishop González is a courageous advocate for his people," shared Eric LeCompte, who testified to Congress on the pending legislation and is the executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. "I share the Archbishop's support for action in Congress. I also share his hope that we will see strong wording around child poverty reduction when the final legislation passes."
Read Archbishop Roberto González Nieves' op-ed: Congress Can Solve Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis, But Colonial Status Remains a Problem
Read more about the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act
Read a timeline of Puerto Rico's debt crisis