The newly created Puerto Rico economic oversight board holds its first meeting and will elect a chair on September 30 in New York City. Congress created the 7-member board as part of legislation to address the island's debt crisis. An independent group of academics, lawyers, finance experts and civic leaders formed a task force to monitor the oversight board and the progress of the Puerto Rico debt legislation.
"We need to make sure that the Puerto Rico legislation lives up to what we were promised," noted Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA's executive director who is joining the independent expert group. LeCompte is a UN debt expert and testified before Congress on the Puerto Rico crisis. "If the legislation and oversight board are successful, we should see the debt become sustainable, austerity prevented, greater budget transparency and positive economic growth recommendations."
The group of "monitoring" experts or Centro Round Table on Puerto Rico was formed by Dr. Edwin Melendez of Hunter College in New York and executive director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro) at Hunter College. The membership of the task force includes Carlos Cuevas, Esq., Law Practice; Hon. Luis A. Gonzalez, Justice of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department-Retired; Dr. Juan Lara, UPR; Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA; Rev. Heriberto Martinez, Coalición Ecuménica; Dr. Edwin Melendez, Hunter College-CUNY; Dr. Efraín O'Neill-Carrillo, PE. Energy Systems Researcher; Ricardo Oquendo, Esq. Puerto Rican Bar Association; Roseni Plaza, National Employment Lawyers Association of New York; Dennis Rivera, Unidos Por La Salud; Ruth Santiago, Esq., Legal Counsel, El Puente; Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts; Anthony Suarez, Esq., Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida; and Brenda Torres, San Juan Bay National Estuary Program.
In a statement about the independent task force, Melendez called Puerto Rico's pending debt restructuring the largest in the history of the United States. "Debt restructuring must be undertaken in a manner that takes into account the welfare of the most vulnerable segments of the population," Melendez noted.
Puerto Rico owes more than $70 billion in debt and avoided a large-scale default in July when Congress intervened.
Read more about the Puerto Rico economic oversight board
Read more about the Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation that created the oversight board
Read the Centro Round Table on Puerto Rico's press release
Read a timeline of Puerto Rico's debt crisis