A busload of Puerto Ricans from Orlando is scheduled to travel to the nation’s capital next week to pressure congressional leaders to act on behalf of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
Buses will converge in Washington, D. C., from points north and south as part of a continuing effort among Puerto Rican groups – in concert with Puerto Rican elected officials in the states – to build momentum to solve the island’s economic problems, including a 10-year recession causing tens of thousands to flee each year in search of opportunities in Central Florida and elsewhere.
“The crisis in Puerto Rico has created a real sense of urgency for us to be talking to one another and coordinating our efforts,” said Zoé Colón, director of Florida and Southeast Operations for Hispanic Federation, a community advocacy group based in New York that opened an office in Orlando this year. “This is historical. It’s the largest exodus out of the island. All eyes are on Florida.”
Puerto Rico is facing a December 1 debt payment of nearly $300 million, a payment that island officials have said cannot be made without disrupting government services. In all, the island owes Wall Street more than $70 billion in debt, money borrowed over many years largely to fill budget holes and maintain government services. A nonpayment would make the island default on its debt.