Congress' most recent Puerto Rico bill, which would create a new process that could enable the island to enter court-supervised debt restructuring, has prompted some to express their concerns over the bill. And Lin-Manuel Miranda is joining in.
The "Hamilton" creator published an op-ed in both English and Spanish titled "Making Lemonade From Lemons" in New York's El Diario/La Prensa newspaper on Tuesday. In it he addressed the legislation, passed on May 25 by the House Natural Resources Committee.
Miranda stated it was "agonizing" to write on the topic of the island's crippling debt crisis but felt the need to voice his concerns over the bill and what he feels the legislation must accomplish to truly benefit the people of Puerto Rico:
In a Congress known for its gridlock on any number of important issues, any legislation that deals with Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring by July 1st, must be perceived as a glimmer of hope -a faint hope, but hope nonetheless.
Many people say that the legislation does not do enough. I agree.
Many are concerned that the creation of a fiscal board is essentially an unelected government parallel to the one democratically elected by voters on the island. I share their concern.
The Nuyorican then went on to list three things he thinks the legislation "must" do, which includes allowing the commonwealth to restructure its $70 billion debt, protecting Puerto Rico from lawsuits from bondholders and not cutting the minimum wage.
"My cousins in Puerto Rico are barely out of their teens," Miranda wrote. "They love the island and wish to stay, but cutting wages for those under 25 (as the legislation currently proposes) will result in an entire generation leaving the island for the U.S.mainland. How can Puerto Rico prosper if it creates a financial environment hostile to the well-being of its youth, its next generation of homeowners, teachers, doctors and artists?"
His concerns echo some Democratic lawmakers' worries that the bill could lead to the established oversight board voting against debt restructuring and result in cuts in Puerto Rico's health care system, schools and government agencies. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) are currently fighting for the legislation to be amended before it passes in the Senate.
But Miranda, who has gone as far as rapping on John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" to bring attention to the Puerto Rican debt crisis, says the current legislation might be the best the island can hope for in its time of need.
"In spite of its many shortcomings, the legislation proposed is the only option that Congress is currently willing to pass. That is the sad reality," Miranda wrote. "In Spanish, there is an expression: 'haciendo de tripas corazones.'...Its nearest English equivalent is 'making lemonade from lemons' The idiom speaks to a resolute conviction to make the best of a less-than-ideal lot."
Read Lin-Manuel Miranda's full op-ed here.