June 13, 2018

12:00 P.M. - 1:00 P.M.

Young Scholars Initiative


As an unincorporated territory of the US, Puerto Rico’s ongoing bankruptcy process has been designed by US Congress through special legislation, which put a Federal Oversight and Management Board in charge of the main policy decisions. The board is in charge of approving a Fiscal Plan – which sets the policy agenda for all fiscal policy decisions for the island. Prior to the storm, the board had certified a 10-year austerity plan that most economists believed was unrealistic and bound to fail. This plan was revisited in the aftermath of the storm. However, the board has chosen to double down on austerity measures and reforms that do not address the roots of Puerto Rico’s crisis or take into account the particularities of Puerto Rico’s economy and political status.

This presentation covered the background of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis, its decade-long recession and inability to respond to it. In this context, it becomes clear that the measures proposed by the oversight board are sure to harm the most vulnerable citizens of Puerto Rico, without a clear plan on how to fix the economy. The webinar discussed the particularities of Puerto Rico’s status, which undoubtedly played a central role in the debt crisis. Puerto Ricans are US citizens, yet they cannot vote while on the island, have no representation in US Congress, and do not enjoy some of the same benefits citizens residing on the mainland have. While there is no easy solution to the problem, there are some steps to assure that ordinary Puerto Ricans are not punished for this crisis and are not treated as second-class US citizens.


• Lara Merling, research assistant at the Center for Economic and Policy Research

• Amarilys Abreu, organizer, Finance, Law, and Economics working group, Young Scholars Initiative

Audio, video, and further information are available on the Young Scholars Initiative site.