• The Star Staff

Pro-statehood lawyer asks oversight board chairman for support to fix island’s financial problems

By The Star Staff

Pro-statehood lawyer Gregorio Igartúa has asked the Financial Oversight and Management Board in a letter to chairman José Carrión to support statehood for Puerto Rico as a way to resolve the island’s financial problems.

Igartúa has taken several cases to court seeking to obtain equal rights for Puerto Rico. He also currently has a case pending before the Organization of American States related to the presidential vote.

“The Financial Oversight Management Board for Puerto Rico you are presiding over is working hard in good faith, in attempting to restructure and improve Puerto Rico’s fiscal challenges as ordered by Congress,” Igartúa said. “Notwithstanding, in my view, its fiscal exercise will be one of futility unless it acknowledges the real cause of the economic problems it is attempting to solve. Within this context, the real cause is the unequal and discriminatory treatment given to the American Citizen residents of Puerto Rico by the three Branches of the Federal Government.”

Igartúa noted that the judicial branch as well as Congress have imposed discriminatory policies historically against Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory receives less in federal funding than U.S. states.

“Notwithstanding, within the Board’s work perspective, there is no way Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems will ever be solved under a federalist structure in which it is at a disadvantage by being treated unequally by way of lower transfer of payments in economic aid as compared to those to States,” Igartúa said. “These are the source of the serious problems with Puerto Rico’s fiscal structure, budget execution, public administration, and tax structure. There is no way you can restructure economic policies to solve our financial crisis under the unequal treatment scenario to which we are subjected, and/or under such an economic labyrinth.”

“I believe it is long overdue for the Board to demonstrate it is working with Puerto Rico’s financial crisis within the correct perspective, that it is aware of this reality, and to inform the President, Congress, and the Governor of Puerto Rico about it,” the attorney added. “Equal treatment to Puerto Rico under equal footing as that given to those in the States is the only road to the solution of the fiscal crisis. If you deem it pertinent, I am willing to appear personally before the Board to explain and support my analysis and proposition with evidence.”

The oversight board, following a request made by this newspaper, declined to comment on the letter. Puerto Rico is slated to vote on whether it supports statehood or not in a “Yes-No” plebiscite on election day.

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