In the Red: Puerto Rico's Fiscal and Democratic Deficits Laid Bare

Quaderni Costituzionali 2017 No. 3

8 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017

Date Written: August 18, 2017


Once touted for its political and economic exemplarity during Cold War ideological contests, Puerto Rico — a United States territory in the Caribbean — is in dire financial straits. Currently the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico struggles to fulfill social needs of the roughly 3.4 million persons that populate the island, most of whom are U.S. citizens, while seeking refuge in special territorial bankruptcy proceedings in U.S. federal court. Puerto Rico’s multibillion dollar debt raises the specter of a genuine humanitarian crisis. Yet, the situation reveals much more than economic vulnerability. Puerto Rico’s economic predicament also lays bare the undemocratic nature of its political arrangement with the U.S., as two Supreme Court decisions and one Congressional enactment made clear in 2016. This Note provides context to these developments and briefly assesses Puerto Rico’s democratic and economic deficits.

Keywords: puerto rico, territory, PROMESA, human rights

Suggested Citation

Melendez-Juarbe, Hiram, In the Red: Puerto Rico's Fiscal and Democratic Deficits Laid Bare (August 18, 2017). Quaderni Costituzionali 2017 No. 3, Available at SSRN:

Hiram Melendez-Juarbe (Contact Author)

University of Puerto Rico Law School ( email )

Ponce De Leon Avenue
Puerto Rico
787-999-9602 (Phone)


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