By Robert A. Vella
Puerto Ricans went to the polls yesterday to choose between Democratic Party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. First and foremost on their minds was how each candidate would respond to the island commonwealth’s disastrous debt crisis. Here’s an update.
From Raw Story – Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico primary election:
After reports of long lines at the polls, the AP is reporting Hillary Clinton is the winner of the Puerto Rico primary election.
Early reports had Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by just over 1,000 votes, according to results tabulated by CNN. With 38 percent reporting, they showed Clinton in the lead with 62 percent of the vote.
From The Guardian – Puerto Rico’s Democratic primary reflects debt crisis engulfing island:
In many ways, Sunday’s Democratic party primary in Puerto Rico perfectly encapsulates the $73bn debt crisis that is seeping into every corner of this poverty-stricken Caribbean island.
To cut costs, voting was scheduled for the same day as local elections. In April, as the elections commission and treasury department tussled over the $3m tab of printing and counting papers, the ballot was at risk of not happening at all.
Now, further austerity cuts have slashed polling stations to fewer than one-third of the 1,115 sites originally announced last month, sparking accusations from supporters of Bernie Sanders of voter suppression.
To some voters, the decision comes down to the candidates’ stance on a controversial proposed rescue package currently before the US Congress that would, among other measures, appoint a federal oversight board to control the handling of the giant public debt. In May, the island’s government defaulted on a $422m loan repayment.
Clinton said she had concerns but backed the bill while Sanders, in a speech at San Juan’s University of Puerto Rico, said it was “morally wrong” to hand control of decisions that affected millions on the island to a Washington-appointed unelected body that was “accountable to nobody”. He used the same address to suggest the hedge fund owners of the majority of the territory’s debt needed “a massive haircut”.
Related story: Puerto Rico rescue bill advances to full House vote