Bernie Sanders may not know Spanish, but that prevent the President hopeful from visiting Puerto Rico on Monday and speaking before crowds of his supporters.
“If elected president of the United States, you will have an ally in the Oval Office” promised Sanders, who began a day of campaigning in the island prior to the Democratic primary which is to take place three weeks from now.
Throughout his campaign trail, Sanders mostly talked about the “greed” seen on Wall Street which may have been a strategy by the Sanders campaign considering the debt crisis currently plaguing Puerto Rico.
When it comes to making its debt payments, the country of Puerto Rico has defaulted on millions in debt payments over the last year and will likely continue to default if Congress does not act soon.
“I’m not going to lower the standard of living of the people in Puerto Rico, so that billionaires can have more profits,” Sanders said at a rally held Monday evening, “It is unacceptable that venture capitalists are buying Puerto Rican bonds at a fraction what they cost and they expect 100 cents on the dollar. Together we will not allow that to happen.”
According to Sanders, for the country to bounce back from its debt crisis it should not be met by strict measures that will further harm the lives of the people living in the county economically when it comes to facing the country’s budget issues.
“Austerity will not solve this crisis. We must vigorously oppose all efforts at austerity,” he said. “In the midst of this massive human crisis, it is morally unacceptable that billionaire hedge fund managers have been calling for even more austerity in Puerto Rico.”
Rather than simply impose measures on the country’s budget issue, Sanders called for an independent audit of the island’s debt and addressed the U.S. Federal Reserve System to aid the country by using its emergency authority to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its debt through bankruptcy court.
In-addition to the country’s economic crisis, Sanders also addressed the country’s relationship with the United States of America.
“The people of the United States cannot continue a colonial-type relationship with the people of Puerto Rico,” said Sanders during a morning event.
In-regards to the country’s relationship with the U.S., Sanders vowed that as President he would increase the island’s political autonomy. Sanders also promised to bring a “binding” vote during his first year in office; this binding vote would allow the people of Puerto Rico to decide their own political status.
“Some people I know want statehood, some people want independence, some people want something else. But that is a decision to be made by the decision of Puerto Rico,” Sanders stated, during a town hall event held at an elementary school.
Sanders also laid out his plans regarding healthcare, education, and the environment.
Before his supporters on the island, Sanders proposed a “Medicare-for-all health care system,” and free public college tuition that would expand to the island country and benefit Puerto Ricans as well. As for the environment, Sanders talked about cutting Puerto Rico’s dependency on fossil fuels and bringing a renewable energy sector to the island.
“His environmental platform is so much more eco-friendly than that of Republicans and also his opponent, Hillary Clinton,”said Wilson Santiago, a 31-year-old a Ph.D. student and a supporter of Sanders who attended one of his rallies.
While campaigning in Puerto Rico, Sanders rarely mentioned his democratic opponent Hillary Clinton who tends to have a higher approval rate among the Latino community, specifically Puerto Ricans hailing from New York City. However, Sanders has drawn an impressive crowd of supporters in the mainland.
During an evening rally at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras it was estimated that an additional 3,000 supporters had to wait outside the rally in the dark after the large theater in-which it was held in reached capacity.
To see how much Puerto Ricans on the mainland are behind Sanders we will have to wait until the primary results in three weeks.