Rally for Puerto Rico held in Orlando

Local 6 News at 7:00p
Local 6 News at 7:00p

ORLANDO, Fla. – In several cities Tuesday, Latino leaders held what they're calling a unity gathering. In Orlando, about a dozen people got together, holding signs, hoping to send a message to President Barack Obama and Congress urging them to help Puerto Rico.

"We're talking about families, about the financial stability of an island where 3.5 million U.S. citizens reside and who's options for work and survival will only shrink by the minute if we don't act," said Zoe Colon, a Director with the Hispanic Federation.

Puerto Rico is facing bankruptcy with a debt of $73 billion dollars and major unemployment.

"Right now, the island is a house on fire, quote on quote, and the only viable short term solution is federal action," said Colon.

The population on the island is draining and Central Florida has become a hot spot for Puerto Ricans to call home. Tuesday, many of them got together to bring attention to the issues.

"Our message is clear, the federal government needs to step up. The house has still not allowed for a change in the bankruptcy laws to allow Puerto Rico to be able to negotiate with their debtors," said State Senator for the 14th District of Florida, Darren Soto.

Recommendations they're making to the president and congress include a federal investment plan that addresses underlying fiscal issues that lead to the crisis, well paying jobs to help grow the economy and investment in medicaid and healthcare.

As we approach the 2016 election, Puerto Ricans, who will have a huge impact on the outcome in Florida, are appealing to all politicians.

"We call upon our elected officials and those aspiring for office to take a stance. Florida is key. The Puerto Rican population continues to grow rapidly at a historical rate in our state," said Colon.

Critics, like bondholders and hedge fund managers, say the Puerto Rican government should increase taxes and use that money to pay back creditors. Some also say the government should cut public programs and privatize education.