Puerto Rico News & Economy: Gov. García Padilla's Leadership 'A Failure', Says Hispanic Leadership Fund
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla and his administration's policies have been labeled as a "failure" by a non-partisan advocacy organization.
The Hispanic Leadership Fund (HLF), which claims to promote public policy solutions based on "free enterprise, limited government and individual freedom" for working families, released a fact sheet on the "reckless leadership" of the Puerto Rican governor. The HLF stated Puerto Rico's GDP declined by almost 2 percent during 2014 with a 14 percent unemployment rate and lowest labor force participation rate in the Western Hemisphere at 41 percent.
According to the HLF, the cost of living rate is 13 percent more expensive compared to mainland U.S., and 100,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island since Garcia Padilla's inauguration in 2013.
Garcia Padilla is reportedly meeting with members of Congress, but the HLF said Congress "should not be fooled" by the governor and his administration's facts and figures. HLF President Mario H. Lopez added, "Puerto Rico is an economic and fiscal mess under García Padilla. We urge Congress to institute a financial control board over Puerto Rico."
The HLF's fact sheet further claimed the island's rule of law has been eroded as Garcia Padilla's administration "refuses to honor the rulings of the island's judicial system, thus jeopardizing the livelihood of more than 1,000 employees of Doral Bank that live and work [in Puerto Rico]" and "Law 66-the Fiscal and Operational Sustainability Act-enables the Puerto Rican Government to cancel contracts unilaterally with private businesses."
The HLF has called for a Financial Control Board for Puerto Rico to analyze the island's financial and legal practices. The organization previously launched an advertisement campaign about Puerto Rico's economic issues, claiming Garcia Padilla's leadership resulted in high debt, tax increases, job loss and plant closures.
"Puerto Rico can no longer afford the policies of Governor García Padilla," said Lopez in a statement about the ad campaign. "With 14 percent unemployment, a jobless rate of 39 percent among younger Puerto Ricans, 80 new taxes implemented and 47,000 jobs lost under his watch, the Puerto Rican people have suffered enough."
"The erosion of the rule of law and the disregard for court judgments under Governor García Padilla have led many investors to question whether Puerto Rico is a safe place to invest and do business," added López, "This is unquestionably harmful for individuals and families trying to make a better life for themselves."
Latin Post contacted the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) for comment, but the organization did not respond as of press time.
The PRFAA represents Puerto Rico before local, state and federal governments. The PRFAA also promotes the Puerto Rican government's economic and public policy initiatives to "achieve a better quality of life" for approximately four million U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico.
UPDATE: Feb. 3, 2015, 3:50 p.m. EST: Latin Post received a statement from PRFAA Director Juan Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral in regards to HLF's report.
"The Hispanic Leadership Fund is leading a malicious campaign of attacks against the Government of Puerto Rico. With its deceptive advertising, the HLF is threatening to discredit the credibility of the Government and thus destabilizing the quality of life for all Puerto Ricans. In the meantime, Governor Garcia Padilla is hard at work improving Puerto Rico's economy, creating over 50,000 jobs and promoting economic development, bringing companies like Lufthansa to Puerto Rico."
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