Sanders Speaks on Puerto Rico Statehood

It is just a few weeks till the Democratic presidential primary in Puerto Rico, and both remaining candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are working toward gaining the Island’s delegates.

Sanders made several appearances in San Juan, and spoke out against the fiscal oversight board that has been proposed for Puerto Rico, and in favor of a direct bail out. “If the Federal Reserve could bail out Wall Street,” he said, “it can help the 3.5 million American citizens of Puerto Rico.”

Treasury officials have since reminded Sanders that the Federal Reserve doesn’t actually have the power to do this.  It is against the law for the Federal Reserve to give money to states, municipalities, or territories to help with financial crises.

However, Sanders spoke firmly against austerity measures, and that message resonated with voters. “I’m not going to lower the standard of living of the people in Puerto Rico, so that billionaires can have more profits,” he said. “It is unacceptable that venture capitalists are buying Puerto Rican bonds at a fraction of what they cost and they expect 100 cents on the dollar. Together we will not allow that to happen.”

Sanders spoke about energy costs and environmental issues and about the continued imprisonment of Oscar López Rivera.

He didn’t speak in favor of statehood, but he did say that “The people of the United States cannot continue a colonial-type relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”

If he becomes president, Sanders said, he will call for a binding referendum on Puerto Rico’s status. “Some people I know want statehood, some people want independence, some people want something else,” he said. “But that is a decision to be made by Puerto Rico.”

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