Wall Street investment banks must take losses amid efforts to fix Puerto Rico's debt crisis, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Friday, adding that policymakers must focus on the island's people, not financial firms.
"These wealthy investors must take a significant haircut. The people in Puerto Rico should not be asked to suffer even more, so that a handful of wealthy investors can become even wealthier," Sanders said in a statement.
Puerto Rico is US$70 billion in debt, with major bond payments due in coming months. It also has an unfunded state pension liability of nearly US$44 billion.
A U.S. congressional draft bill to steer Puerto Rico through its economic crisis was released Tuesday which allows bankrupt entities under certain circumstances to force creditors to take reduced payouts.
Sanders’ comments are not the first time he has addressed Puerto Rico’s debt issue.
In October last year, the Vermont Senator outlined his support for debt restructuring in the Caribbean island and said that austerity is not the solution to the island's woes.
“The economic situation in Puerto Rico will not improve by eliminating more public schools, slashing pensions, laying off workers, and allowing corporations to pay starvation wages by suspending the minimum wage and relaxing labor laws,” wrote Sanders in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
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Last year Sander's campaign also released a statement following legal action by insurance companies over Puerto Rico's efforts at paying some creditors over others.
“It is unacceptable that Wall Street vulture funds have chosen to take Puerto Rico to court instead of working out a fair deal. Puerto Rico must be given the time it needs to restructure its debt and grow its economy,” he said.
During a rally in the Bronx Thursday the lawmaker lambasted Wall Street, telling supporters a nation is judged not by the amount of millionaires and billionaires it creates, but how it treats its most vulnerable. He also said he wanted to provide youth in the impoverished area with free quality school and college education.
As teleSUR reported earlier this week Sanders is now leading nomination rival Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary to be held next week, according to a Marquette Law School poll, overturning a 53 point deficit for a survey taken last October.