Amid the ongoing political crisis and the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, the Federal District Court of Puerto Rico has ordered a four-month halt to all litigation filed this year under Tittle III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA).
The decision was made by Judge Laura Taylor Swain at a general assembly held in July. During this assembly, it was also stated that the government’s adjustment plan would be further delayed. Martin Bienenstock, the attorney for the Federal Oversight Management Board (FOMB), indicated that the adjustment plan would be handed in within the next few weeks, as opposed to within the “next 30 days” as he had stated at a meeting held on June 12th.
Bienenstock commented that they are still gathering information and that the delay is due in part to ongoing negotiations with creditors. He went on to say that, even after they turn in the adjustment plan, they will not request an immediate assembly because they intend to keep negotiating with creditors.
For her part, Judge Swain explained that the halt to litigation will also apply to a little less than twenty objections that were filed in the government’s bankruptcy case. She went on to say that this will allow the judge in that case, Barbara Houser, to identify which of these objections may best be resolved by negotiation. The halt, to which all attorneys agreed, lapses on November 30, 2019.
Judge Swain, who has overseen the bankruptcy process since 2017, took a moment to reaffirm her commitment to the island and said that the current situation is very important to the country’s history and that she has been moved by the hope, pride and worry that Puerto Ricans have expressed in the past few weeks.
“The goal should be to find a path that would allow the island to establish a solid education system, to give its people a reason to stay and that contributes to the creation of a solid economy that fosters investment and contributes to a safer society,” she said.
Swain also denied a motion from the FOMB that would establish an alternate resolution process to creditors’ claims that would normally be subject to litigation.
Leaders of more than 60 community organizations presented a letter to U.S. District Judge Swain on Wednesday requesting that the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings over the island’s debt should be paused.
“We are facing a historical situation that warrants an immediate stop to the bankruptcy proceedings. Currently, Puerto Rico does not have enough representatives in this legal process, from a government that has lost all political legitimacy and is about to collapse, to a Fiscal Control Board whose constitutionality is being discussed in the United States Supreme Court. We demand that the bankruptcy case be stopped, as happened after the impact of Hurricane Maria,” said Eva Prados, the spokeswoman for the “Construyamos otro Acuerdo” (“Let’s Make Another Agreement”), in a statement.