Screengrab via LastWeekTonight/YouTube

Lin-Manuel Miranda explains why you should support bailing out debt-stricken Puerto Rico

'Help Puerto Rico, it's just 100 miles across!'


Michelle Jaworski


Published Apr 25, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 9:43 pm CDT

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver and Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda teamed up on Sunday night to explain just how badly Puerto Rico needs the United States’s help.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is facing a crisis fueled by a $72 billion debt. People are moving out of the country every day; schools and hospitals are shutting down; the poverty rate has hit 45 percent; the Zika virus has already produced hundreds of cases; and, because of an obscure 1984 law whose passage no one understands, Puerto Rico isn’t covered by bankruptcy protection.

The crisis arose in part because of decades of tax breaks, and now hedge funds are looking to make a swift profit off of the people most directly affected. Puerto Ricans are American citizens, which means that millions of Americans badly need relief. And while Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that would let Puerto Rico renegotiate some of its debt, there’s a push to stop that bill from passing.

Miranda, whose parents are from Puerto Rico, spoke about the crisis at a congressional hearing last month and wrote about it in a New York Times op-ed. Now he’s taken his case to Oliver’s show, making an impassioned case through song.

“It’s nonpartisan, the hard part is in convincing Congress Puerto Rico matters so their heart is in the fight for relief,” he said. “Not a bailout, just relief.”

Miranda even promised to perform Hamilton for House Speaker Paul Ryan if the speaker got the bill through his chamber.

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*First Published: Apr 25, 2016, 11:15 am CDT