Action Center on Race and the Economy

Puerto Rico


Read the final report in our yearlong investigation into the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis, its underlying causes, what it means for communities on the island and in the United States, and what we can do to fight back.

The Puerto Rican
Debt Crisis

Puerto Rico is embroiled in a humanitarian crisis that is leading to a mass exodus from the island, with a planeload of people leaving with one-way tickets every day. Its unsustainable debt load, stagnating economy, astronomical cost of living, and high poverty rates have made it nearly impossible for many working families to remain on the island. Unfortunately, both the government of Puerto Rico and the US Congress have put the interests of bondholders ahead of residents by paving the way for harsh austerity measures to ensure that bondholders get paid. Our partners have written a series of reports exposing the Wall Street banks that targeted Puerto Rico with predatory and often illegal debt deals, the vulture hedge funds that are trying to profiteer off the crisis, and the public officials that are enabling this piracy.

Click here for information about Banco Santander's role in the Puerto Rican debt crisis.

The US Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) in June 2016, which created a Fiscal Control Board to oversee the Commonwealth’s finances. But in order for it to do its job fairly, the Control Board must understand how Puerto Rico came to be so deeply indebted in the first place. The ReFund America Project has conducted a yearlong investigation of Puerto Rico’s debt, releasing a series of reports about the banks that targeted the Commonwealth with predatory, and sometimes illegal, debt deals.

Wall Street's Power Grab in Puerto Rico

May 25, 2017
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority's debt restructuring has been disastrous for Puerto Ricans. Click here to read the report. 


Beware of Bankers Bearing Gifts

February 8, 2017
Wall Street banks targeted Puerto Rico with predatory financial deals like toxic swaps that helped pad bankers' bonus checks but added tremendous risk to the Commonwealth's debt portfolio. As the federally-appointed Fiscal Control Board decides how to restructure Puerto Rico's debt, it must put the interests of Puerto Ricans first. Click here to read the report. 

Goldman's Strong Man in Puerto Rico

April 28, 2017
Trump's Puerto Rico policy is a back door bailout for Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms Click here to read the report.


Scooping and Tossing Puerto Rico's Future

August 31, 2016
Wall Street banks convinced Puerto Rico to refinance the same debt over and over again, and charged hefty fees each time.
Click here to read the report.

Down the Wells

April 24, 2017
Wells Fargo sold Puerto Rico billions of dollars in predatory payday loans. Click here to read the report.


Puerto Rico's Payday Loans

June 30, 2016
Banks sold the Commonwealth capital appreciation bonds, which are the government version of a payday loan. Puerto Rico will pay $33.5 billion in interest on $4.3 billion of underlying debt. Click here to read the report.



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