Green Party: Send international human rights observers to Puerto Rico
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party leaders declared their support for a recent demand by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) for "international human rights observers [to be] sent to Puerto Rico to witness the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and whether the recovery efforts are putting poor people before profits or are further contributing to Puerto Rico’s economic crisis.".
A follow-up statement from PPEHRC is appended below. The organization's co-founder and leader is Cheri Honkala, the Green Party 2012 vice-presidential nominee.
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Scott McLarty, Media Director, 202-904-7614, [email protected]
Puerto Rico needs more emergency aid, not new debt imposed by Congress's aid package, say Greens
"It's becoming clear that, for the financial industry and other corporate sectors and the politicians who support them, maintaining Puerto Rico as a cash cow is eclipsing the provision of emergency relief for Puerto Ricans. Congress's idea of recovery for Puerto Rico is an aid package that increases the island's massive, unpayable debt," said Dr. Tony Affigne of Providence, Rhode Island, a spokesperson for the Green Party's national Latinx Caucus.
"The loan is a new economic burden for people already facing extreme hardship and loss of life. What's happening in Puerto Rico isn't just a disaster, it's a global warming crisis and now a human rights crisis," said Dr. Affigne.
The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a bill for relief and rebuilding projects in the wake of recent hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. The bill authorizes grants for several states, but $5 billion of the funding for Puerto Rico is a loan that the island will have to pay back.
The Green Party has called for cancellation of Puerto Rico's debt ($74 billion in 2016) and an end to austerity policies imposed on the island and endorses independence, decolonization, and self-determination for Puerto Rico. Greens said that the severity of recent storms confirms that climate change is now a global emergency, with Puerto Rico and other islands and mainland areas in "Hurricane Alley" facing more catastrophes in the coming years.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called for debt relief and recognition of the right to food, health, housing, and other necessities for Puerto Rico.
"The U.S.'s immediate priority should be sending food, water, medicine, fuel, power generators, supplies for shelter, and repairs for damaged infrastructure to help Puerto Ricans rescue themselves from the nightmare they're dealing with. Instead, we're seeing the crisis turn into an entrenchment of Puerto Rico's 119-year colonial status and second-class citizenship of Puerto Ricans," said Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign Calls for International Human Rights Observers in Puerto Rico
Cheri Honkala, [email protected], 215-869-4753
Edgardo Gonzalez, [email protected]
On Monday, October 2, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) visited the offices of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. to demand that international human rights observers are sent to Puerto Rico to witness the extent of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and make sure resources are reaching those that need them the most.
Former city Philadelphia council member and attorney for PPEHRC’s petition Angel Ortiz, Marta Moreno-Vega (Caribbean Cultural Center, NY), Maricruz Rivera Clemente (executive director of Corporación Piñones se Integra, PR), Cheri Honkala (PPEHRC, Philadelphia), Edgardo Gonzalez (Board Chair of Taller Puertorriqueño, Philadelphia), and others concerned about their Puerto Rican family members gathered at the OAS offices to hand deliver a Serious and Urgent Petition to the Commission on Human Rights asking that international human rights observers be sent to Puerto Rico immediately.
Additionally, PPEHRC has posted a form on their website for those who are unable to reach their loved ones in Puerto Rico so that we can submit their names and contact information to the Commission.
Even before Hurricane Maria, due to centuries of colonial dispossession, Puerto Rico was facing an economic crisis with high unemployment rates and the highest migration to the mainland in the history of the island. Our Puerto Rican friends and family are now facing the fiscal devastation and physical destruction of Hurricane Maria. They do not have drinking water and their homes, shelters, and hospitals are still without power. There is intense flooding in neighborhoods that do not normally experience floods.
Our loved ones are not receiving the necessary food, water, clothing, medicine, and fuel that they desperately need to survive. Those of us on the mainland of the United States are increasingly worried and frustrated because the resources we are collecting are not getting to those that need them most on the island. The bureaucracy created by the U.S. government is preventing the transport of assistance to Puerto Rico. Eliminating the Jones Act for ten days is not good enough.
The U.S. government needs to bail out Puerto Rico the way they bailed out U.S. banks. We call on the U.S. Congress to sufficiently fund emergency relief efforts, allow for the transport of resources, and stop putting profits over our people and abolish Puerto Rico’s debt immediately. Recovery efforts should also be placed directly in the hands of the Puerto Rican people and Puerto Rican-owned businesses, so that they can rebuild their communities themselves. Failing to provide necessary resources or issuing the contracts to rebuild to companies outside Puerto Rico is setting up our Puerto Rican people for continued economic crisis and displacement from their homes.
Imagine a Puerto Rico recovery designed by Puerto Ricans
By Elizabeth Yeampierre and Naomi Klein, The Intercept, October 20, 2017
Puerto Rico relief bill cancels $16 billion in debt -- but not for Puerto Rico
David Dayen, The Intercept, October 11, 2017
Green Party: President Trump and Congress must remove all barriers to emergency relief for Puerto Rico
Press release: Green Party of the United States, September 27, 2017
Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States
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