The video above details the responses of Puerto Rican workers to the new Law 66, which protesters believe will threaten public services in Puerto Rico. This is just the latest in a series of public protests against Puerto Rico’s austerity measures.
Some of the new financial laws have less sweeping consequences: free event tickets for the elderly have been eliminated along with four public holidays, and neither of these laws has been met with strong reactions. Neither is expected to have significant economic impact, either.
The same cannot be said of the law allowing agencies like PREPA to restructure their debt.
Puerto Rico’s new bankruptcy law, introduced and pushed through in a single day with no opportunity for discussion, is getting plenty of reaction now. Two of Puerto Rico’s creditors have sued the territory on the grounds that the debt restructuring law violates the U.S. Constitution. They claim that the law usurps the power of Congress over U.S. territories like Puerto Rico.
The Fed warns that Puerto Rico is heading for “a painful adjustment.” Their new report says that Puerto Rico can either get its economy back on track, “or wait for outmigration and the discipline of the market to force an even more painful adjustment, particularly for those unable or unwilling to leave the island.” The report points out that the economy of Puerto Rico has been stagnant since 2013, and that the new bankruptcy law just extends the current unsustainable reliance on debt. “Puerto Rico’s unique status,” the report points out, “means that it is one of the few places in the world where finances are not regularly surveyed by a public agency.”