Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

devastation in puerto rico

Aerial photos of the island revealed extensive damage following Hurricane Maria. (Photo: Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/PRNG-PAO/U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Despite Puerto Rico Disaster, Vulture Firms Relentlessly Seeking Billions in Debt Payments

Exposé details how firms are banding together to take money from Puerto Rico despite the island's $95 billion in hurricane damage

Jessica Corbett

As Puerto Rico continues its struggle to manage $95 billion in Hurricane Maria-related damage stacked atop its $74 billion of pre-existing debt, investigative journalists have revealed the 10 biggest financial firms that "are still fighting to get billions out of the bankrupt island as it tries to rebuild."

After a months-long investigation by In These Times and Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI), the team published their exposé on Tuesday.

"The popular narrative of Puerto Rico's debt holders is that they are 'small' individual bondholders—rookie investors who trusted their savings to financial firms," they write.

"But our investigation reveals that some of the most aggressive players demanding debt repayment in Puerto Rico's bankruptcy court are so-called 'vulture firms,'" the report continues. "These hedge funds specialize in high-risk 'troubled assets' near default or bankruptcy and cater to millionaire and billionaire investors."

Some of the team appeared on Democracy Now! Wednesday morning to discuss their findings.

Watch:

In the segment, In These Times executive editor Jessica Stites said that although there are many debt holders, it's these vulture firms that are "fighting tooth and nail in court to try to get this money back"—and, along with the federal government, ignorning growing calls for debt relief.

"The financial firms have organized themselves into alliances to aid their quest to get paid," the report explains. "And with the exception of the Mutual Fund Group, these big alliances are dominated by vulture funds."

These alliances, as CPI's Carla Minet told Democracy Now!, "have the same legal representation. Also, they have the same lobbies. They have the same public relations firms."

This enables them to work together to try to recoup some money, even as the U.S. territory's local government warns that it could run out of money by the end of October, and many of its 3.4 million residents remains without electricity, food, and water.

And although, as the report notes, "the bankruptcy proceedings have been postponed while the island recovers from the hurricane.... while most of the island has been offline, lawyers for the bondholders have not stopped digitally submitting motions in the bankruptcy case."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo