Responsability shares are diverse in the Puerto Rican government multi-million-dollar debt, but each has its own weight on the bankruptcy of the Island, with cases that go back more than four decades and still represent payments to be made.
They go from issues made by the administration of Governor Rafael Hernández Colón in the 70s, to the last visit the Commonwealth (ELA) to the municipal bond market in 2014, with governor Alejandro García Padilla.
As part of the Medios por Puerto Rico (Media for Puerto Rico) initiative, specific debt cases or their link with it were addressed, with five of the seven governors who issued it in the last 50 years, at least those who were available to be interviewed by El Nuevo Día and El Vocero. These are Rafael Hernández Colón, Sila M. Calderón, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Luis Fortuño and Alejandro García Padilla.
Governors Carlos Romero Barceló and Pedro Rosselló were not available. Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares has not issued any debt.
Rafael Hernández Colón
During his administration(three terms) debt was issued for $ 8.634 billion. One of these was to acquire Navieras de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Shipping company), having still an outstanding balance of $ 132 million.
When asked if it was a mistake to buy Navieras, Hernández Colón answered with a categorical "No". "The mistake was to sell it, because if we had Navieras, shipping companies would not have the current monopoly, and freight rates could be controlled at a much more reasonable level for the Puerto Rican consumer".
Sila María Calderón
Governor for a term with $ 10.274 billion of debt issued. A part of the debt is associated to the program of Special Communities, a transaction that had its impact on the Government Development Bank, now gone.
The former governor defined as "a myth" that the special $ 500 million dividend by the GDB and the issuance of $ 500 million to finance the initiative, would have affected the capitalization of the former fiscal agent. At the end of 2004, and after the special dividend, she said that the GDB had a capital of about $ 1.962 billion, about $ 230 million more than in 2001. She mentioned that her administration's debt is only 8.8 percent of the total outstanding debt.
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Governor that issued $ 15.959 billion in debt, with a third of this corresponding to the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corporation (Cofina, Spanish acronym), created under his administration.
"I take my share of resposibility," he said about the public debt. He stressed that he created Cofina to manage old debt without a source for payment and that, if he hadn´t done so, GDB would have collapsed earlier. "I left Cofina at $ 5.3 trillion. Luis Fortuño left it at $ 16 billion, and it is to a large extent part of the crisis," he said.
His administration issued $ 16.555 billion. He argued that it was not new debt, but to handle those that had no source of payment and stressed that " Standard & Poor's and Moody's credit rating agencies understood that we were doing that and improved our credit".
"But look, that is not the important thing, the important thing is how we got out of this. We can devote ourselves to discussing the past even if the evidence is contrary to that. It is how we got out of this," Fortuño stressed.
Alejandro García Padilla
He is the last governor who was able to go to investment markets, where he obtained around $ 5 billion. It was under his administration that the Oversight Board was established.
"Little has been said of what would happen if there was no PROMESA Title III (debt adjustment). How many federal courts would have issued embargoes on our accounts, embargoes that were already requested, in lawsuits, that is the truth, about which little is discussed. That nobody wanted to have the Board imposed as a price to have the protection, nobody wanted it. I had to make the decision I made the decision I had to make in order to protect the government so it could provide basic services," he said.
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