tv Tiempo ABC April 3, 2016 11:30am-12:00pm EDT
rest of your day. >> buenos d^as y bienvenidos. good morning and welcome once again to "tiempo." i'm joe torres. new york city is stepping up its efforts to help undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes -- help in the form of special visas. we'll talk to the commissioners behind this push and the specific requirements needed to qualify for those visas. that's coming up a little bit later in the show.
we have discussed quite extensively here on "tiempo" -- the financial crisis in puerto rico. senate democrats, led by robert menendez of new jersey, recently put out their version of a plan to tackle the island's growing debt crisis. it calls for the creation of a financial stability and reform board to provide much needed transparency and oversight, among other things, all aimed at getting the u.s. territory out of its $72 billion in debt. what an honor for us this morning here on "tiempo" to have via satellite new jersey senator bob menendez, the main sponsor of the legislation. he's in washington, d.c. good to see you this morning, senator. thanks for being with us. >> good to be with you, joe, and your viewers of "tiempo." >> let me jump right into it, 'cause there's a lot of ground to cover here. senator, if i can summarize it correctly, i know that there's a $400-million payment that puerto rico has to pay on may 1st, and then another big one in july. this stability and recovery package wants to provide
a wide restructuring authority, correct, that allows for the readjustment of all its debt. senator, from my vantage point, it looks like bankruptcy, it sounds like bankruptcy, but it's not? >> well, it's not quite bankruptcy because restructuring is an element of the bankruptcy law, a actual part of the law that puerto rico was part of and years ago was stripped out. no one knows why. i try to look at the legislative history. so it had the right to restructure its debt, and it is the essential element of any package for puerto rico to be able to have a future of prosperity to start off with restructuring the $72 billion, and that's what we allow to do under the legislation. >> now, this nine-member financial stability and reform board would have a chief financial officer aimed at providing technical assistance to this restructuring.
to maintain its, if you will, governmental independence? >> it does in this regard. first of all, the appointees for the board overwhelmingly will be puerto rican. the governor will appoint, the two parties of the puerto rican legislature will appoint, the supreme court of puerto rico will appoint, and the president of the united states will get appointments, as well. but the majority of that board will be puerto rican, but what we require is individuals who have a financial experience so that they can come together, review the plan that the governor has to submit to the board, have the board's approval -- if they approve of it. they could reject it, in which case it has to go back to the drawing board, and then go to the puerto rican congress for its ultimate vote, and then ultimately move forward. so we create a system that ultimately provides transparency, which is much needed, provides fiscal oversight in terms of giving
out of the type of economic circumstances that the government of puerto rico has faced over, now accumulated well over a decade, but at the end of the day, it maintains, in essence, the element of sovereignty for the puerto rican people. >> senator, i can almost hear the resistance now -- not just from republicans, which we'll get to in a second, but perhaps, also, from investors who will, in fact, probably argue that you're changing the rules here midstream regarding restructuring, that years ago when they threw their money into puerto rico's bonds, restructuring was impossible. now you want to say, "wait. it is possible." my question is, is that fair? >> well, if we don't allow puerto rico to restructure its debt and prioritize it, then no one is going to get much money, if anything. as you mentioned, joe, puerto rico's on the verge of not being able to pay its next set of payments, and so
and what we're going to have is a rush to court and years of litigation that will provide very little money either for bondholders or pensioners or the very future of the 3 1/2 million united states citizens who live in puerto rico. so, i believe that there are other times in our history in which we have permitted restructuring. those who made investments did so understanding that there's always a possibility for a law to change, and so, therefore, as far as i'm concerned, this is the very essence of a survival for puerto rico, as well as for bondholders being able to get any money, money. >> speaking of those 3 1/2 million residents on the island, senator, the economists have long wanted to extend the earned income tax credit to those residents, a benefit that they do not enjoy on the island, but they would enjoy if they were on the mainland. does your plan address that? >> it does.
we want people to enter into the formal economy. to do that, the earned income tax credit has been heralded by both republicans and democrats alike here in congress as probably the single biggest tax provision to incentivize work. we think the 3 1/2 million american citizens in puerto rico deserve the same opportunity. we believe that they also deserve access to the child tax credit to help them raise their families in puerto rico. we also believe that the healthcare system in puerto rico is treated unfairly in medicare and medicaid compared to those who live in the united states, and a flight to florida changes the whole dynamic for you. that shouldn't have to be the reality for puerto ricans living in puerto rico. >> all right, senator. sit tight. a few more questions for you. when we come back from this break, we'll get the senator's thoughts on bipartisan support to make his plan a reality, and also, the president's trip to the senator's ancestral homeland -- cuba -- and the presidential election, as well.
>> welcome back to "tiempo." senate democrats led by robert menendez of new jersey recently put out their version of a plan to tackle puerto rico's growing debt crisis, and we've been discussing the plan this morning with senator menendez, the main sponsor of that legislation. he's in washington, d.c. with us this morning. senator, time is of the essence here. we kind of illustrated that. however, do you think this is gonna get through the house? because republicans are for sure gonna put up their arms and present their own plan. >> well, first of all, joe, we welcome any initiative that basically deals with what puerto rico fundamentally needs. it needs broad restructuring. anything short of that doesn't help, and then, secondly, it needs equity and growth and opportunity in how its treated as american citizens. so i'm willing to work with anyone, republicans or democrats
republicans have a majority in both houses, here in the senate, because of the rules, they will need democrats to approve any provision. so there is plenty of room for negotiation and compromise as long as the goodwill to help the people of puerto rico actually have a future is the basis of that foundation. i'm willing to adjust any of these elements as long as what is necessary for puerto rico to succeed is provided for. >> no doubt that both sides can agree that something needs to be done and something needs to be done soon. let's move on to another topic, senator. cuba -- the president about to land if he hasn't already on the island there in the caribbean -- your homeland. let me get your thoughts on his visit, especially in the light of the fact that just this last week there were more restrictions that were loosened for people to visit the island a little bit more freely, remittances continue to pour in, there's a u.s. hotel chain, starwood, that's getting close to approval to manage on the island there. i know that your opposition is well-founded and well-based, but many would argue that the horse is out of the barn and it's time for the senator
what's your response to that, senator? >> [ chuckles ] you know, for 24 years, joe, in the house and in the senate, sitting on the respective foreign relations committees of both houses, one of my primary advocacy has been democracy and human rights globally -- >> yes. >> ...in china, in burma, in cuba. and so the bottom line is, what we have here is the president visiting a country that is a dictatorship, that doesn't permit its people its basic human rights, it doesn't permit any elements of democracy. it beats the damas de blanco, women who march every sunday to church peacefully dressed in white to protest that their sons and husbands are in jail, and they're arrested and beaten savagely. 1,400 arrests have taken place already this year, and we're only through 2 1/2 months of the year. some of the people who the president got released originally when he made this deal have not been rearrested
so, the bottom line, unlike when the president said to burma, "before i go visit burma, i want to see your leaders who are arrested be released, i want to see elections," which took place -- flawed -- but they took place. "i want to see certain changes." there are no changes taking place in cuba as it relates to democracy and human rights. so i'm not gonna get on board in cuba, in burma, or in china, or any other place when we are willing to forgo the very essence of democracy and human rights, and the final point as to that hotel, that hotel management is going to be manage of hotels that the cuban regime and the military own, some of which have been confiscated of u.s. citizens. it's incredible that we will allow that and send a message that confiscated properties can now be used by another american company and facilitate the castro regime doing such things. >> we've got about 30 seconds left before we let you go, senator. the presidential election and latinos in particular --
your support behind a particular candidate, but if you want to make some news here on "tiempo," we're willing to hear it. anyone you want to support? >> i haven't, but i will say this, joe. we as a community are gonna be decisive in this election. four years ago from today, we have grown 17% in the number of latino voters in this country. >> we have. >> one out of every three voters in this election is going to be a minority voter, racially or ethnically, and we are in the states that are most necessary and up for grabs for the electoral vote. we can decide the course of events and who gets elected the next president of the united states, and we have many interests to do so -- in education, on income equality, on immigration, even on who is in the supreme court deciding these issues. >> all right, senator. always a pleasure. thank you. yes, the time for latinos to make a difference is now. >> good to be with you. >> thank you, senator. coming up next on "tiempo," new york city's commission on human rights stepping up its efforts to help undocumented immigrants in our area who are victims of crimes.
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>> "here and now," the program featuring the news and interests of the african-american community. here's your host, sandra bookman. >> coming up, time for a new year's resolution reboot? dr. ian smith on why the shred power cleanse may be just the thing. also ahead, changing lives in sub-saharan africa. we'll talk to the founder of the people project foundation. this year's national black writers conference taking on issues of race in literature.
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