Puerto Rico seeks protection from creditor suits under new Promesa law

A person carries a Puerto Rican national flag during a protest against the government's austerity measures as Puerto Rico faces a deadline on Monday to restructure its $70 billion debt load or open itself up to lawsuits from creditors in San Juan

New North Citizens Council Chief Operating Officer Jose Clauido confided in 22News that he has family members in Puerto Rico, who are experiencing extreme hardship during this financial crisis. Shown here is the capitol of the US territory in San Juan.

Puerto Rico announced a historic restructuring of its public debt, touching off what may be the biggest bankruptcy ever in the $3.8 trillion United States municipal bond market.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Wednesday that a federal control board overseeing the island's finances has agreed with his request to put the debts before a court.

Puerto Rico's filing occurred a day after several major creditors sued over defaults of its bonds.

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Puerto Rico's economy has been in a recession for almost 10 years, with an unemployment rate of about 11 percent.

On Wednesday, the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico announced they had moved to place the U.S. territory into federal bankruptcy court, making it the largest entity of the USA government to seek refuge from creditors in the courts in history. The population has fallen by about 10 percent in the past decade.

It's not clear yet just how much Puerto Rico will include in its filing, but it now has $123 billion in debt and pension obligations. As a US territory, the island can not follow the court process used by other USA municipal governments such as Detroit. Title III, which is similar to the Chapter 9 bankruptcy, allows Puerto Rico and other USA territories to restructure their debt under the supervision of a federal judge. But the case will likely greatly exceed Detroit's record insolvency of $18 billion to $20 billion in 2013. The restructuring through courts will once again protect Puerto Rico from such lawsuits.

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