Washington - Leaders and Puerto Rican groups in New York will seek to raise the campaign profile in favor of auditing Puerto Rico´s public debt during the National Puerto Rican Day Parade this weekend.
Backed by the powerful 32Bj union, the Vamos4Puerto Rico coalition, LatinoJusticePRLDEF and New York Communities for Change, Puerto Rican leaders in the Big Apple asked yesterday to support the efforts to demand an audit on the more than
$ 70 billion debt of the island.
The campaign is also supported by journalist and filmmaker Naomi Klein, who was at the press conference.
"You cannot have a conversation about a fair recovery (from Hurricane Maria) without talking about debt cancellation and an audit process," said Melissa Mark Viverito, director of the Power4PuertoRico campaign and former president of NY City Council.
A delegation from the Citizen's Front for the Auditing of the Debt, led by spokesperson Eva Prados, will participate in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, which on Sunday will tour Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The Citizen´s Front has set itself the goal of raising $ 500,000 to finance the debt audit, an issue that Puerto Rican government has set aside.
The intention is to hire experts who can review the legality of government bond issuance, said Prados, in a telephone interview.
Prados recalled that, initially, the idea was to collect signatures to pressure the government of Puerto Rico to commit to a debt audit.
However, citizens themselves warned them that it would be up to the people to carry out this task, because they did not trust the government to allow full transparency on debt issues. So far, the Front has raised about $ 15,000.
The Oversight Board, which controls the public finances of Puerto Rico, has commissioned Kobre & Kim company to analyze the factors that contributed to the fiscal crisis and public debt of the island.
In April, John Couriel, of Kobre & Kim, said that they had already interviewed more than 100 witnesses and interested parties, including former governors and presidents of the Government Development Bank. But Kobre & Kim's analysis is not an audit.
Prados said that throughout the weekend - in talks and in the parade - they hope to obtain the solidarity of the Puerto Rican community in the United States. "The diaspora has expressed support for the recovery process in Puerto Rico, and the debt audit is a strategy to help the recovery process," she added.
In addition to raising money through the website auditnow.org (auditoriaya.org), the Citizens Front also sells campaign T-shirts.
With the slogan "Un Pueblo, Muchas Voces" (One People, Many Voices), the 61st edition of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York will have the backdrop of the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and will honor those who played key roles during..
But, the Parade, the largest Puerto Rican cultural event in the United States, should serve, said Mark Viverito, to stir up complaints in favor of transparency, which includes knowing with certainty the number of deaths that occurred due to the hurricane and the limitations that Maria caused in basic services to the people.
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