Police Pepper Spray Debt Crisis Protesters in Puerto Rico as Bankruptcy Looms

Clashes were reported between police and protesters outside government buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 18, as leading government figures discussed the restructuring of the US territory’s $70 billion debt ahead of a May 1 deadline.

According to local reporters at the scene, police used pepper spray against some protesters.

Hundreds had gathered calling for a debt audit. The Citizen Front for Debt Audit (FCAD), a recently-founded collective which claims to have found “several irregularities and violations of law” with regard to the debt, was seeking entry to the government buildings to lobby for such an audit, and to witness the talk. Lines of riot police blocked the entrance to the buildings while the rally took place outside.

The US Congress last year passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management & Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), freezing creditor lawsuits until May 1, with the aim of allowing a federally-appointed oversight board and creditors to negotiate the restructuring of the debt, Reuters reported. Failure to restructure the debt by the beginning of May could lead Puerto Rico to bankruptcy. Credit: Myrna Liz Rodríguez via Storyful