May 15, 2016
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Dear Senator Sanders:
Allow us to welcome you to Puerto Rico. As you know, Puerto Rico is undergoing a deep fiscal, economic and social crisis. Since 2014, the Partido del Pueblo Trabajador (PPT) has argued that Puerto Rico’s public debt of close to $70 billion is unsustainable. It cannot be paid in the terms originally contracted without inflicting further and unacceptable social sacrifices on the Puerto Rican people and without depriving us of resources necessary for our economic reconstruction, thus perpetuating the present crisis. Further austerity measures to pay an unsustainable debt would be both unfair and counterproductive.
Regarding this emergency, the PPT has proposed an immediate program that includes:
- An enabling renegotiation of Puerto Rico’s public debts. We label it enabling since it should enable Puerto Rico to attain a path of sustainable economic development (including a transition to renewable energy).
- An audit of Puerto Rico’s public debts. There are excellent grounds to suspect that a significant portion of this debt is illegal, unconstitutional or otherwise illegitimate. This, in turn, is legal ground for annulling such portions.
- A suspension of payments on this unsustainable debt until an audit and an adequate renegotiation is completed.
- Congressional action to protect Puerto Rico against litigation (a stay of legal actions) in the case of suspension in payments.
- A plan of economic reconstruction that emphasizes reinvestment in Puerto Rico of the profits generated here, including a revision of the tax policies that now grant extraordinary privileges to U.S. corporations operating in Puerto Rico.
- Congressional support, including funding, to facilitate such an economic reconstruction, as part of similar projects to benefit U.S. working people.
In the recent past we have taken note of and applauded the fact that you have expressed your views in terms of:
- Puerto Rico right and need to renegotiate its debt.
- Opposing further austerity measures to pay an unsustainable debt.
- The need to audit Puerto Rico’s debt.
- Inclusion of Puerto Rico within your plan for a major job-creation and infrastructure renewal program (including a transition to renewable energy).
All of these proposals are in accord with ours. Similarly, our party and I, as its candidate for Governor, have supported and support:
- The $15 living wage.
- Increased taxes on corporations.
- Universal health insurance (Medicare for all)
- Free tuition in public universities.
- Campaign finance reform.
- Government funded job programs.
Needless to say, these have also been the central aspects of your campaign. We have thus expressed our satisfaction in your success in attracting mass support for these demands. While we are not part of the Democratic Party, on these issues, we stand on similar ground.
The so-called PROMESA bill, under consideration in Congress proposes the opposite path of further austerity (including reductions in the minimum wage for young people) without adequate relief in the debt front or a true commitment to economic reconstruction.
The initial article of this bill explicitly affirms the plenary powers of Congress over Puerto Rico as a territory of the United States. This dramatizes the need to address Puerto Rico’s status and of Congressional action to recognize and respect Puerto Rico's right to self-determination. This must include the liberation of Oscar López Rivera, a demand that is universally supported in Puerto Rico.
Working and poor people in the United States are suffering the consequences of several decades of pro-business tax, social and economic policies. In other words: it is not only Puerto Rico that today needs a plan of economic reconstruction in the interest of the majority. The struggle for economic justice in Puerto Rico and the United States must advance together, as part of the movement seeking social change in both lands as well as self-determination for Puerto Rico.
Our party includes proponents of independence, statehood and autonomy for Puerto Rico. There are among us different views on the participation in U.S. primaries in Puerto Rico as well as participation in the Democratic Party. Our party respects these differences and allows each member to adopt and express the position on this issue they consider appropriate. But we all recognize the points of convergence indicated above, which we feel correspond to the common interests of U.S. and Puerto Rico’s working people.
Candidate for Governor - Partido del Pueblo Trabajador
President - Partido del Pueblo Trabajador