Less than a week after Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives approved a bill to request a bond issue for $225 million, the islands main newspaper is reporting that Puerto Ricans have been misled about the government debt, with a dramatic headline reading “Puerto Rico is bankrupt” (Puerto Rico esta en quiebra).
Puetro Rican daily “El Nuevo Dia” reports that the islands debt is close to $168 billion. The government has been telling the public that the debt was $72 billion. The latest figure includes accumulated interest, retirement funds, and medicaid costs.
Ali Rosario Alicea from Ponce is not surprised: This is debt that has been accumulating throughout the years.
Puerto Rico has been suffering money troubles for more than a decade. The government keeps borrowing money it cant pay back; just think of it as trying to pay back a high interest credit card. Its an endless debt cycle that has affected many Puerto Ricans pensions.
Pensions and population drops in Puerto Rico
I lost $500 from my retirement p last year, says Alicea, a retired school director.
The cycle is also sending many people packing to the U.S. mainland — an exodus that’s been happening for years. The most recent census shows that Puerto Ricos population is dropping. From April 2010 to July 2014, Puerto Rico has lost 177,392 people. If this trend continues through 2015, the islands population will be less than 3.45 million.
The Puerto Rican governments due date for this expensive credit card is coming up. Officials need to cough up $627 million by the end of the year to start paying back loans; however, El Nuevo Dia is reporting that government officials dont know where this money will come from. Last week, the House approved the new bond that will pay for community programs, adding more debt to the mix.
They keep borrowing money they cant pay back, says Alicea, You cannot run a country on borrowed money. This is why Puerto Rico needs to be a state.
Last year, U.S Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M) filed the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act into the U.S. House of Representatives; a step toward possible statehood.
For more information on the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, following El Nuevo Dias hashtag, #quiebraPR