>> buenos d^as y bienvenidos. good morning and welcome, once again, to "tiempo." i'm joe torres. did you see it? here we are, at the start of hispanic heritage month and, on "tiempo," we debut a brand-new graphics look, bold, colorful. let us know what you think. you can reach out to me on twitter or facebook. all right, we move forward, now, to a topic that we have discussed before here on "tiempo," the financial crisis in puerto rico. it's in the news again because new york governor andrew cuomo visited the u.s. territory with a delegation of federal, state, and local leaders. the goal? to help puerto rico get attention and to get help with the enormous debt that seems to grow worse by the day. we traveled to san juan as well, for the meeting between governor andrew cuomo and his counterpart, governor
>> today, puerto rico faces a crisis that threatens the wellbeing of our children's generations. >> with those dire words, the governors of puerto rico and new york held a 2-hour exchange of ideas designed to help the u.s. commonwealth confront an enormous debt that grows worse by the day. >> i don't believe we're going to be able to solve any big problems today, but i think we can listen, we can learn, and we can then come up with a strategy. >> that strategy is already underway. the action plan unveiled by the new york delegation of federal, state, and local leaders involves several costcutting and revenue-generating measures. among them, the state will kick off a $5 million tourism campaign aimed at boosting travel between new york and puerto rico, fostering a partnership between private higher education and the private sector, reducing the cost of energy on the island,
make it more cost-effective. the presentation took place before a crowd of students at the university of puerto rico's medical sciences campus, students who are filled with questions about finding employment after they graduate. >> i know what's happening now that i'm going to graduate, but what's going to happen next? am i going to get a job and i'm going to get the money i need to do what i want in the future? >> i'm a u.s. army reservist and a student. i would like to find a job. i'm trying, but it's so hard because of the economy. >> legitimate concerns, for sure. here, to help us analyze what's happening in puerto rico, bronx assemblyman and island native marcos crespo. he is the chair of new york's puerto rican/hispanic task force. dr edwin mel\ndez, a guest on "tiempo" before. he's back. he's from the center for puerto rican studies at hunter college. they were both part of the governor's delegation. zo\ col_n from the hispanic federation's new florida office as well,
are going to central florida. good to see you. we accomplished quite a bit there, i thought, in a short amount of time. let me ask you about the tourism part. what is it that new york can offer puerto rico, besides $5 million, that, in the realm of tourism, will help them get more bang for their buck? >> quite a bit. new york saw a success story under governor andrew cuomo's leadership, with an investment of almost $250 million to promote tourism in the state, that really addresses more than just the city of new york as a touristic attraction, but the other amenities throughout the state of new york. i think the same could be said for puerto rico. it's one of the most beautiful geologies in the entire planet. it has so much to offer, more so than just a beach resort in the capital region, and i think more people need to know about that story and the marketing plan that new york undertook can really be replicated on the island. not to mention, the $5 million investment that's being proposed will help spur that expenditure. >> so you think a small investment will reap great reward. >> i believe so. >> in terms of dollars. >> it really can. >> 'cause that's what it's about. i want to ask you. edwin, good to see you again.
that part about fostering a relationship between the private sector and the public sector, higher education and the private sector and business. to me, that's been tried before. i want to say the previous governor, fortuo, tried that. why do you think it'll work this time? well, i think it will work because both cuny and suny, you know, specifically, have a lot of experience promoting economic development through investments in higher education. not only in construction, but also in partnership with the private sector. new york, especially upstate new york, is a great example for that. but, more importantly, i think, in puerto rico, there is a growing awareness of the role that we hear in new york, throughout the state and the city, can play, in terms of fostering this collaboration between private education and the private sector. >> how receptive were they to that proposal? >> well, i think they've been very receptive. we're talking about all kind of agreements about, you know, sharing courses, bringing exchange students, but, more
sectors of job growth are susceptible to that type of partnerships and engagement. >> you, at centro, with all your researchers there, you've done some great work, looking at the exodus of people who've left the island. many of them, zo\, going to central florida. the hispanic federation, our good friends there, now have an office there, right? it's relatively new. set up to meet this demand. share with me some of the stories that you've heard from puerto ricans who've left the island and come to the mainland, looking for bigger and better opportunities. >> so, as we all know, orlando now is the number-one destination for folks on the island and what we're seeing is the vast majority are professionals, white-collar folks, and then, some others are coming in to entry-level positions, although they have a bachelor's degree, for example. we have folks that are ready, who have planned well for their trip and their relocation. we have others that are living in hotels week after week, for months. some folks are living out of
that we have in new york simply doesn't exist in florida, which is why it's so important that the federation is there. we work, as you know, to strengthen nonprofits and so the idea's really to strengthen the sector to meet the needs of those that are not well-prepared, who may need a hand up, if you will. >> are you seeing some who come to florida and then end up in new york, only because the social services network might be a little greater here? >> we're also seeing that, however, orlando's one of the fastest-growing cities and so there's a lot of work opportunity there, job opportunity, whether it be entry-level or professionals. engineering, biotechnology, health, is a really large industry there, fast-growing. >> yes. sit tight. i want to ask you about that when we come back. the exodus of people and, specifically, what's called the brain drain, we'll talk a little bit about that when we come back on "tiempo." making ends meet on an island plagued with a shrinking economy and high unemployment. mom & pop businesses, they're disappearing. we spoke with some merchants who
explained how they survive. hear what they had to say, next. join the millions who have already switched. we switched. and now, we're streaming netflix. who knew time warner cable's internet was so fast! mom switched. and now, we can watch our favorite shows together, on demand. i switched. so i can connect to the internet just about anywhere with my free twc wifi hotspots. join the millions who switched to time warner cable.
for $89.99 a month, you'll get 100meg internet, and hundreds of hd channels. you'll also get unlimited calling across the u.s. and 34 other countries around the world. call today. i switched. now i have a free app that lets me watch tv whenever i have the time. for $89.99 a month you'll get tv, internet and phone. and if you call now, there's no risk, no contract, no catch, no kidding. i switched to time warner cable and knew exactly when they were coming. thanks to their one hour appointment window. switch to time warner cable today. and ask how you could get a $300 reward card.
>> welcome back to "tiempo." our trip to puerto rico. we talked to several business owners there, specifically in santurce, vendors at a local market who are working hard, really hard, to survive. >> my husband makes the cigars himself. >> after a quick meet and greet with the governors of new york and puerto rico, vendors at a market in santurce shared with us the growing challenge of surviving in a shrinking economy and a vanishing customer base. >> antes eramos m*s y ahora somos s_lo tres de vegetables. >> "before, we had more merchants," second-generation vendor jorge rivera told us. "now, in this plaza, there are only three of us selling vegetables." austerity measures put in place by governor alejandro garc^a padilla, such as increased taxes and
only increased the despair across an island of 3.5 million americans, taxpayers who have no voice in congress, meaning their distant pleas for federal help often go unheard. >> is part of your advocacy and your political pressure in washington convincing congress to allow puerto rico the benefits of bankruptcy protection? >> there is no reason for them not to have bankruptcy protection, none! none! how do you justify cities, states, counties, but not puerto rico? there is no justification. >> what we are asking is to have the same chance, the same opportunity, the same frame of law. >> both governors also cited a medicare funding formula that's far less favorable to puerto ricans than it is to people in the 50 states and that has actually saved hector ruiz haeussler. the vendor of alternative medicine says more and more people are coming to him for a
less-expensive path to healing. >> trying to get remedies like in the old times, you know, so they come here. it's cheaper than getting some medication. >> a little niche business trying to survive there. we've been discussing the current situation in puerto rico with bronx assemblyman and island native marcos crespo, dr. edwin mel\ndez from the center for puerto rican studies at hunter college, zo\ col_n from the hispanic federation's new florida office. a lot to talk about coming out of that story. let's start with bankruptcy. does puerto rico dig itself out of this hole without bankruptcy protection from the federal government? >> i don't think so. i think the creditors have made it very clear they have no interest in assisting in this issue. they're looking for their money. they want to make their profits and it's unconscionable that the island is left in this situation without the ability and threat of bankruptcy in order to renegotiate those terms. >> you say the threat because the governor talked about it. even if you have the ability, just having the threat to do it is often enough to convince the creditors to get involved. >> at that point, the creditors benefit more from renegotiating
on better terms for the island, rather than dealing with bankruptcy, where they might lose some of their profit margins. >> i think that's how new york got out of it, you know, in the '70s. absolutely. >> no voice for puerto rico. that's a big part of this, is it not? i mean, because it's a u.s. territory. and we mentioned that several times because these are americans we're talking about, but they have no representation in washington, so part of this trip was voice. >> yes, and the voice is very important. i think, even within the context -- and we are, as a territory of the u.s. -- it's important that we in the diaspora raise that level of noise about what's happening in puerto rico and, listen, it's not really about pinpointing a specific solution. it's really about saying it has to be more equally distributed, in terms of the effects that it will have on the various sectors of the population. >> is healthcare one example of that "equal distribution"? >> it is a good example because the disparity in reimbursements
has no basis, other than an act of congress and it needs to be remedied. we're not here advocating for any specific solution, but we really want to raise awareness about the inequities that affect puerto rico because it's a u.s. territory. >> before i get back to zo\, share with me a little bit more on the inequities in the realm of medicare and funding for puerto rico. >> oh, i'm so glad you asked 'cause i think it's the perfect example. it doesn't get into the issues that have always been used to not have this conversation, which is the future status of puerto rico. here are 3.5 million americans who pay the same medicare/medicaid taxes that anyone else across the country, but, in terms of reimbursement, on the medicaid side, they receive less than 70% reimbursement to what other states receive. on the medicare side, they're receiving 40% less than what everyone else receives. the utilization rate of these programs is highest in puerto rico than anywhere else. to add insult to injury, they have a cap that no one else has. the state is only allowed coverage reimbursement for up to
per patient, which means, if you have dialysis, if you have cancer or some other ailment that requires long-term expenditures, the island is on its own. a lot of the debt that's been created has been borrowing on the part of the island to make up the difference on healthcare. this is all happening while, in the middle of this crisis, the federal government approved, cms approves, an 11% cut for puerto rico, while giving other territories a 3% increase. we need the federal government, we need this administration, the obama administration, to react immediately and to redecide the formula in how much reimbursement puerto rico is getting. >> it can't continue the way it is. it just can't. >> it cannot. it cannot. >> it just can't. a lot of the people who are heading to central florida, brain drain. we mentioned it earlier. engineers, doctors, lawyers, are they not? yes? >> absolutely, yes. that's the largest influx that we're seeing in central florida. we're all concerned about the issues around equity and absolutely the impact, losing talent, right? and folks that don't feel that they can survive in puerto rico. it's absolutely an issue for
local governments in orlando, in orange county, in osceola, where most of the folks are settling. we're looking at, you know, the need to build new schools, right? we have thousands of children being registered, new children being registered into those school districts. >> and what's happening are the people left behind in puerto rico are the older generation, who are at the end of their income-earning ability and it's on their backs that the government's going to try and lift itself out of this. sit tight. a couple more questions coming up on "tiempo." we'll continue our discussion on the financial crisis in puerto rico. we'll get back to small businesses. i don't want to let that go.
>> welcome back to "tiempo." we have been dedicating the whole show today to puerto rico. we've been discussing the current financial situation there. i wanted to get back to you to talk in the realm of small businesses. i heard it over and over during the visit there. go to caguas, go to guayama, go to ponce, humacao, wherever. all the plazas that have the mom & pop businesses there, they're disappearing left and right. the only people who can survive are lowe's and walgreens and rite aids. what a shame. why has it become so difficult for them? >> i think people need to also realize the austerity measures that the island has already taken, in order to alleviate their own conditions. i mean, one of them was the highest sales tax in the country. >> i think it's over 11%, yeah. >> as well as a new requirement to small businesses to report every transaction and sales tax collection and what it's done is put such a pressure on small businesses that they're closing
their doors. a lot of small mom & pop stores across the island cannot meet those requirements, cannot make up the difference with their sales, and so they're losing businesses, they're losing an opportunity. that's the other angle to why the tourism component by the state of new york can be very helpful in getting visitors out into these towns as well to help offset some of the need for folks spending money. >> and, edwin, one of the ripple effects of that is every time a business closes, three or four people lose a job. so unemployment is one of the ripple effects, is it not? crime, regretfully. >> crime, poverty, and the end result of all that is migration to the u.s., in part. the other part is the people that stay there really suffer the consequences of the financial crisis. so it's no longer about numbers, it's about people and, when people come to the states, the diaspora, they affect everybody, okay? they affect the conditions in which they come. the middle-class, the professionals, probably do not have the same kind of conditions, but other people are unemployed, they're living in
hotels, as was mentioned before, and it has reshaped the puerto rican community in the u.s. here in new york, for example, we're getting a wave of newcomers. they come and then, they move again, along with other new yorkers, who are searching for jobs. one of the most interesting elements of all this is that puerto ricans have shown a lot of resiliency. migration is about getting jobs. it's about surviving and they've really shown a lot of character. while before, people were saying "oh, they don't work," i think this is evidence that they not only work, they work very hard and they move anywhere in search of jobs. >> we heard that from the vendor. we asked him "how do you survive?" and he said "i work really hard, harder than ever." you talked about resiliency. i would bet the hispanic federation offers additional training, job opportunities, continued education, so that people can master a craft or get the knowledge they need to go into a sector that's growing. is that part of the things that you're doing at the
hispanic federation? >> absolutely. this is why this issue needs to stay front and center. we need the federal government to really take action and we need to keep pushing. we've empowered communities on the ground to keep this as a top agenda item across the nation and we're looking to, you know, other puerto rican hubs in new york, chicago, and other places to really have a unified front on this, that puerto rico's crisis needs to be front and center and we need to move forward. >> you mentioned the austerity measures. the governor's put them in place. you know, raising taxes, cutting schools, cutting pensions and there's an election next year. you're not going to win office too often when you're raising taxes to that level. and the result -- and edwin and i were talking about this -- is that, every four years, there's a new governor who comes in with new ideas and new plans but the continuation of what's working doesn't move on. do we continue to bump into that problem, unless this gets fixed, that every governor who tries to comes in and make changes gets elected out four years later? >> yeah, but i think the crisis has really spurred a new opportunity for puerto rico that hasn't been seen in a long time,
which is that people are just standing above the fray on the political arguments. they understand this is a crisis that needs immediate attention. there are issues that have brought both parties together. well, three parties together like never before, on the healthcare crisis. so there's a lot of opportunity here to get things right, to voice these issues, and i think those of us who live, whether it's in the state of new york, florida, and others, need to understand there is a moral argument to why this is the right thing to do. these are 3.5 million americans who have given the best of their land and their people to fight for this country. we deserve it. but there's an economic argument for those that are still not understanding that's going to have an impact on our state budgets as well and so i think it's important and i commend the governor and the delegation for working to create this partnership and help puerto rico through this while the federal government does what it has to do. >> all right, our final few minutes regarding the financial crisis in puerto rico when we come back on "tiempo."
>> aqu^ estamos. we've been discussing the current situation in puerto rico, the financial crisis there. let's talk solution. in your estimation, how do we get out of this hole? $72 billion. what has to happen? >> first thing is federal government has to take action. they have to provide the island the ability to have bankruptcy, chapter 9, which, there's a bill in congress already. they have to address the healthcare crisis by addressing the reimbursement rates for medicaid/medicare and eliminating the cap, and other investments in infrastructure needs throughout the island. energy resiliency, environment. there are a number of areas where the government makes expenditures and puerto rico's always getting the short end of the stick. i think they need to start looking at puerto rico as what it is, a territory with american citizens residing on it. >> you know, it's often said "we can't kick the can down the road any further," right? there's no more can to kick. >> well, i think the realization, both in the island and in the united states, that there are not many
you know, we can't borrow our way out of this, so we really have to face the situation. we have to find equitable solutions to the problem. and here in the diaspora, we need to up the activism to raise awareness so that congress and the president act on behalf of puerto rico and i think we're organizing the national gallery and maybe zo\ can say a few more words about that. >> yeah, i mean, there's a petition, i think, the hispanic federation, that says what? >> it's a white house petition we need 100,00-0 signatures by the first of october -- >> what does the petition ask for? >> it asks for federal government to take action. if you care about puerto rico and you want something done, you know, there's so much urgency to this, you really need to log on to our website, hispanicfederation.org. and we're also working on a national convening in orlando october 13th and 14th. the host committee is unidos por puerto rico out of orlando, central florida, and we're encouraging all
leaders from across the nation to come together to talk about the urgency. >> but the beautiful thing about the petition is, you know, people watching, they want to get involved, they want to know how they can help. there you go, right? go to the website. >> and sign the petition. you'll get an email and just respond to that email to confirm your signature. >> and you get 100,000 signatures, right? and then what happens, it goes to the president and he has to respond, yes? >> absolutely. >> and that gets back to pressure and voice, does it not? >> absolutely, and i think the organization that the doctor was talking about, i think puerto ricans and other latinos and americans, in general, need to understand that puerto rico deserves better. we need to be a part of that advocacy. they do not have -- residents on the island do not have the ability to vote for president, so it's incumbent upon us to speak for them, to fight for them. there's been national leaders, state leaders, local leaders, at every level really fighting on this issue, but it's shameful that the administration has dragged its feet, so to speak, and, in the midst of this political campaign, all these presidential candidates, we need them to start addressing more directly what their views are on puerto rico. the community in orlando, as it's growing,
is a political force. >> the bottom line is they're americans and people seem to forget about that. you know, it's not greece, you know, this is totally different. we're talking about our own people here, so. thank you to the three of you for coming on and shedding a little light about the situation there. before we go, we want to take a quick look at the "tiempo" community calendar for this week. and how about the timing here? the brooklyn puerto rican day parade and festival takes place today, graham avenue & broadway to grand street. there will be live bands. there will be dancers, food, vendors. plenty of salsa, for sure. the festivities begin at noon and wrap up at 5:00 this afternoon. today, in manhattan also, the new-york-based cuban charanga orquestra yerason trio will perform at the havana central times square, located at 151 west 46th street. you see the times there. starts at 6:00 and runs through 9:00 pm. also, continuing tonight, further north, westchester county... there will be aerialists, acrobats, stiltwalkers,
clowns, musicians. that all gets underway at 6:00, so there you go. much^simas gracias. we thank you for spending part of this first sunday of hispanic heritage month with us and, again, we hope you like the new look. you can always tweet me, let me know what you think. if you missed any part of our show, no se apures. you can watch us at abc7ny on the web, on your tablet, or even your smartphone. that that wraps up another edition of "tiempo." i'm joe torres. thanks for watching.