Sunday, December 3, 2017

Stand with Sen. Sanders: Ask your Senators to Rebuild Puerto Rico

While most of us sat down to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, countless Americans in Puerto Rico were still going without power or running water.1
The Trump administration’s response to Puerto Rico’s crisis reeks of blatant disregard for the lives at stake. Even as the island slowly recovers, Wall Street vultures are moving in trying to profit off the privatization of valuable infrastructure.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has a bold plan to fix all this. Flanked by progressive champions like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he just introduced a $146 billion “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Puerto Rico – putting struggling people first and giving them the resources needed to build a more sustainable future.2 
The Trump administration has requested inadequate aid relief – with Texas and Florida getting first dibs and Puerto Rico getting the scraps.3 Trump appears to have spent more time in Twitter feuds with the mayor of San Juan and throwing supplies to suffering people in Puerto Rico like a bad game show host than doing anything to help.4
In contrast, Sen. Sanders’ bill would give Puerto Ricans the help they need to rebuild by:5
  • Tackling the immediate humanitarian crisis. The bill would remove logistical obstacles to providing the help needed now and help the farms and local food producers that were obliterated in the storm. It would also clean up the environmental risks created by the storm, make health care cheaper and more available to Americans in Puerto Rico, and ensure that federal aid does not put Puerto Rico any further in debt.
  • Banning privatization and promoting debt relief. Sanders’ plan would put control over the future of Puerto Rico in the hands of the people there, not Wall Street hedge funds and bank-backed control boards that demand austerity measures. It would prevent using the disaster as an excuse to privatize the electrical grid, water utilities and roads in order to profit from these once-public goods and push for full debt relief.
  • Rebuilding better. Under Sanders’ bill, the Puerto Rican power grid would be modernized and eventually draw 70 percent of its power from renewable sources. The plan also calls for a massive investment in VA hospitals and clinics; public schools, colleges and childcare centers; and infrastructure from roads and bridges to schools, public transit, clean water sources and broadband.
Every voice supporting this bill puts pressure on Congress to act – and exposes the sad Trump response to a real and ongoing crisis.
The crisis in Puerto Rico is decades in the making and the result of a racist, colonial approach to the island. Sugarcane industry exploitation was the start. Then, Congress turned Puerto Rico into a tax haven, suddenly allowed those tax breaks to expire and plunged the island into economic depression and debt. Now, Wall Street hedge funds have bought that debt and use that power to impose harsh austerity measures that line their own pockets.6
Puerto Rico does not need more colonial micromanaging. Sen. Sanders’ bill puts control back in the hands of the people of Puerto Rico and gives them the resources they need to rebuild sustainably and prosperously. We need to get behind it in a big way.
Stand with Sen. Sanders: Rebuild Puerto Rico. Click below to sign the petition:
- Murshed Zaheed, Political Director, CREDO Action
Add your name:
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  1. David Caplan and Joshua Hoyos, “As Puerto Rico continues to recover from Maria, many residents turn to charities for a Thanksgiving meal,” ABC News, Nov. 24, 2017.
  2. Jeff Stein, “Bernie Sanders to unveil a $146 billion ‘Marshall Plan’ for Puerto Rico,” The Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2017.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Alexia Fernandez Campbell, “Trump to Puerto Rico: your hurricane isn’t a ‘real catastrophe’ like Katrina,” Vox, Oct. 3, 2017.
  5. Office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, "Sanders, Colleagues Unveil Legislation to Rebuild Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands," Nov. 28, 2017.
  6. Juan Gonzalez, “Puerto Rico’s $123 billion bankruptcy is the cost of U.S. colonialism,” The Intercept, May 9, 2017.

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