Bob Buckhorn co-authors op-ed with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in favor of Puerto Rico bankruptcy protections
Writing on Bloomberg.com, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have teamed up on an essay calling for Congress to restore bankruptcy protections for the struggling government of the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Buckhorn said Monday that de Blasio's people called him and asked if he would join an effort to speak up for the cause "because of the growing significance of the Puerto Rican population in Central Florida and the impact that that bankruptcy could have on them and their families back on the island."
Here's part of what de Blasio and Buckhorn wrote:
Time is running out for Congress to help save Puerto Rico from a financial debacle that could very soon turn into a humanitarian crisis. The magnitude of this emergency, and its effect on all Americans, cannot be overstated. We have heard from Puerto Rican, congressional and local leaders across the country that we need urgent action. We are joining a coalition of mayors representing more than 1 million Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland in urging Congress to help our fellow Americans by restoring the commonwealth's bankruptcy protections in the omnibus appropriations funding bill.
The problem is straightforward, and so is its solution: Most analysts agree that Puerto Rico has run out of money to pay its creditors and is deploying onerous and unsustainable emergency liquidity actions.
Governor Alejandro García Padilla has warned that Puerto Rico is close to defaulting on $72 billion in loans owed by the island and its public corporations. Forcing the island to pay this debt would lead to severe layoffs and furloughs. The failure to pay its obligations would result in the gradual collapse of local institutions, higher unemployment, further brain drain and loss of critical services — unless the federal government intervenes now.
Our obligation to support and protect Puerto Rico in its time of need — to help our fellow Americans — should be self-evident.
From Tampa to New York, from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, our cities are strengthened by Puerto Rican communities. This crisis creates unsustainable financial burdens for many of our cities’ families and touches us very closely.
It should also hit close to home for all Americans, as Puerto Ricans’ commitment to our nation is unwavering. We must not forget that more than 3.5 million Puerto Ricans residing on the island, and about 5 million living stateside, are U.S. citizens who have contributed immeasurably to this nation. Since World War I, they have given their lives for the U.S. when it has needed protection. It’s our duty to honor our shared bond and bring our brethren back from the brink.
The coalition Buckhorn and de Blasio joined includes the mayors or county executive of Milwaukee and Rochester, N.Y., plus Philadelphia, Allentown, Lancaster and Reading in Pennsylvania; Newark, Perth Amboy and Essex County in New Jersey; Hartford and Bridgeport in Connecticut; and Lawrence and Holyoke in Massachusetts.