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Trump says Puerto Rico in trouble after hurricane, debt 'must be dealt with'

Reuters
September 25. 2017 9:07PM
A line of people wraps aroung the Banco Popular in San Juan as people are desperate to get cash on Monday. Nearly one week after hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, residents are still trying to get the basics of food, water, gas, and money from banks. Much of the damage done was to electrical wires, fallen trees, and flattened vegetation, in addition to home wooden roofs torn off. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)



WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday Puerto Rico is in “deep trouble” after being hit by Hurricane Maria and that its billions of dollars of debt to the Wall Street and banks “must be dealt with.”

“Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” Trump wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.

“It’s (sic) old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

Trump did not offer a pathway for dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt. The U.S. territory, struggling with $72 billion in debt, filed the biggest government bankruptcy in U.S. history earlier this year.

Maria, the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, devastated the Caribbean island when it struck the U.S. territory with ferocious winds and torrential rains last week.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello on Monday asked for more government aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the island, which is home to 3.4 million people.

Puerto Rico’s government on Monday asked a judge for up to four extra weeks to meet key deadlines in its bankruptcy case after Hurricane Maria brought its fragile infrastructure to its knees.

In court papers filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in San Juan, the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority sought “urgent” permission from federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain, who oversees the $72 billion bankruptcy, for a four-week extension on so-called discovery in a slew of legal disputes in the case.

The authority also requested that Swain reschedule an upcoming court hearing to Oct. 18 from Oct. 4, and move the hearing from San Juan to federal court in New York, where Swain is based.

Earlier this month, a source familiar with the bankruptcy proceedings told Reuters that a team of judges advised parties in the bankruptcy to put their legal issues on hold indefinitely in the storm’s wake.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Washington that the administration was engaged in a fact-finding process to figure out how much help Puerto Rico needs.


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