Puerto Rico governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced an executive order yesterday (May 1) that suspends debt payments owed by the commonwealth’s Government Development Bank. This suspension means that Puerto Rico will likely default on nearly $422 million in bond debts owed today (May 2).
Padilla announced the executive order in a televised Spanish-language speech, livestreamed via YouTube:
“Faced with the inability to meet the demands of our creditors and the needs of our people, I had to make a choice,” Padilla said, according to a Wall Street Journal translation of his remarks. Padilla added that making that payment would jeapordize funding for health and other public services.
Today’s missed payment, the largest one yet, comes after an August 2015 default on debts owed to the island’s creditors—many of whom are continental U.S.-based hedge funds and financial institutions—and a decade’s worth of financial recession. Reuters reports that Puerto Rico owes $1.9 billion in debts by July 2016. Padilla announced Friday (April 29) that the island could face further lawsuits over these missed payments. Puerto Rico’s economic crisis compelled what CNN reported today as the island’s ”highest net migration recorded in the past decade.”
Padilla criticized Congress for lack of action regarding the U.S. territory. Members have yet to agree on a plan for restructuring the debt payments. “If Congress fails to authorize a mechanism to restructure our debt, the 3.5 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico will continue to suffer,” Padilla said.