Lin Manuel Raises Awareness About Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis | Gradient

Lin Manuel Raises Awareness About Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Pulitzer-winning playwright of hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” took to “Last Week Tonight” for a cause dear to his heart. The why: Puerto Rico’s massive, debilitating debt crisis.

Manuel, a Washington Heights, New York native and son of Puerto Rican migrants, joined John Oliver on Last Week Tonight to stir needed attention to Puerto Rican’s dire economic straits. The Commonwealth, just 10 miles long and home to only 3.5 million people (for context, that’s less than Los Angeles), owes over 70 billion dollars. Many of their creditors are highly predatory vulture funds unwilling to structure their debt constructively, confirming everything you just thought when you heard the phrase “vulture funds.” Sales tax on the island is up to 11.5%, far higher than any of the 50 states. Poverty is over 40%, over 130 schools were shut down the last few years, and the island is hemorrhaging both social services and needed workers, losing about one doctor a day. (Great timing, because the Zika virus is reportedly heading their way.)

The situation is atrocious, but as Oliver explains with his signature blend of humor and English-tinged outrage, a complex set of legislative loopholes have choked Puerto Rico’s ability to relieve their debt, including using Chapter 9 bankruptcy like any of the 50 states.  Laugh along with John Oliver and scroll to the 19-minute mark to listen to Lin’s vivid and poignant lyrics.

You can read Manuel’s rhymes here

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