Mark-Viverito says Puerto Rican debt crisis may call for civil disobedience
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she was prepared to engage in civil disobedience while pushing the federal government to assist Puerto Rico with its fiscal crisis and that such a strategy may make sense.
Mark-Viverito said it was time to publicly press for action, especially at a rally planned for Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C.
“We really want as many people to show their faces there and be present and be vocal in D.C. to talk about the crisis,” she said in an exclusive interview at an event hosted by City & State and sponsored by HITN, the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network. “I don’t think, at this point, that civil disobedience should be off the table. And I think that that’s a tactic that we need to start thinking about and strategizing. We need to create a space for the president to do what he needs to do. You know, obviously, Congress is going to be difficult.”
Bronx Assemblyman José Rivera, like Mark-Viverito a native of Puerto Rico, had floated the idea of chaining himself to the fence of the White House to draw attention to the issue earlier in the day during an interview at City & State's livestream coverage from the Somos fall conference. The City Council speaker said she was ready to stand beside Rivera.
Mark-Viverito has praised the president’s proposal to let Puerto Rico file for bankruptcy, revamp Medicaid funding to ensure the territory gets a similar amount of resources as states do and extend the earned income tax credit to its residents. However, she maintains the White House should explore executive action and other alternatives.
“There are other efforts that the president can engage in to make headway on this issue, whether it’s the department of the Federal Reserve or the Treasury Department,” Mark-Viverito said. “There’s ways that maybe something can be included for Puerto Rico in those budget negotiations. We have the State of the Union coming up in January. If we don’t see movement in one way or another, then I really don’t think that civil disobedience should be off the table…this is a humanitarian crisis.”