Saint Sebastian – On May 9, 2019, the Fiscal Control Board unilaterally established that the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico are instrumentalities of the territory of Puerto Rico, covered by the PROMESA Law.
Also, it unilaterally selected 10 municipalities for a pilot program in which fiscal plans and budgets would be developed that would be reviewed and certified by the Fiscal Control Board.
These 10 municipalities are: San Sebastián, Barranquitas, Isabela, Cidra, Orocovis, Comerío, Villalba, Aibonito, Camuy and Quebradillas.
Protected by the illegality of PROMESA and, therefore, by the lack of authority of the Fiscal Control Board to force the Municipality of San Sebastián, on August 5, 2020, the Mayor of San Sebastián, Javier Jiménez Pérez, issued the Order Executive No. 2020-21- 004:
“TO EXPRESS STRONG REPUDENCE TO THE UNILATRAL ACTIONS OF THE BOARD OF FINANCIAL SUPERVISION AND ADMINISTRATION FOR PUERTO RICO, IMPOSED BY LAW [PROMESA], 48 USC SEC. 2101 ET. SEQ., TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE CITIZENS OF SAN SEBASTIÁN, AND LESS THAN THE DEMOCRATIC WILL EXPRESSED THROUGH THE VOTE THROUGH WHICH IT WAS DELEGATED TO THE ELECTED OFFICIALS MUNICIPALS THE FACULTY TO IMPLEMENT PUBLIC POLICIES IN BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY, AMONG OTHER PURPOSES. “
Through said executive order, the mayor of San Sebastián, Javier Jiménez Pérez, emphasized the fiscal autonomy that San Sebastián possesses by virtue of the Autonomous Municipalities Law (now the Municipal Code of Puerto Rico), and on the financial statements of the municipality, the which demonstrate the fiscal health of the municipality, which has allowed it to operate without any deficit for more than 15 years.
In addition, it empowered the municipal officials to hire the professional services necessary to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens of San Sebastián, their fiscal autonomy, and their government.
Through Resolution No. 4 implemented by the San Sebastián Municipal Legislature, said body joined the mayor’s statements contained in Executive Order No. 2020-21-004.
On June 30, 2020, the Fiscal Control Board certified the Fiscal Plan for 2020 and the Budget for 2021 for the Municipality of San Sebastián.
The Fiscal Plan certified by the Board for San Sebastián contains several deadlines by which the municipality must submit financial and public policy information to the Fiscal Control Board.
On August 18, 2020, the Executive Director of the Fiscal Control Board, Natalie Jaresko, sent a letter to the mayor of San Sebastián, through which she notified him of his non-compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Plan certified by the Fiscal Control Board, and extended the dates for the Municipality to comply with the requirements of said body.
Subsequently, on September 21, 2020, Natalie Jaresko, on behalf of the Fiscal Control Board, sent another letter to the mayor indicating his failure to comply with the dates established in the Fiscal Plan and in the letter of August 18, 2020, and again extended the deadlines for the Municipality to comply with the requirements of the Board.
Three days later, on September 24, 2020, Natalie Jaresko again sent a letter to the mayor, reiterating the authority of the Fiscal Control Board to certify the Fiscal Plan and Budget for the Municipality of San Sebastián, and warned him that if it did not comply, the Fiscal Control Board, protected by the PROMESA Law, would take the necessary course of action for the Municipality of San Sebastián to comply with the Fiscal Plan, the Budget and the requirements imposed by said entity.
In addition, it established October 15 as a deadline for the Municipality of San Sebastián to comply with the requirements.
In response to this correspondence from Ms. Natalie Jaresko, on October 14, 2020, the Municipality of San Sebastián, represented by the Emmanuelli Law Firm, told her that the PROMESA Law is based on racism and illegal discrimination, since Congress When implementing said law, it was based on the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution and on its judicial interpretation in the Insular Cases.
Said cases, based on racial and social distinctions, established that Puerto Rico is a territory not
incorporated that belongs to, but is not part of the United States.
Given this, PROMESA is unconstitutional under the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and under the
international regulations regarding human rights.
Therefore, the Law is not valid, and the alleged authority invoked by the Fiscal Control Board is inadmissible. Therefore, the position of the Municipality of San Sebastián is not to comply with what is required by the Fiscal Control Board and it will not be subordinate to the Fiscal Plan and Budget certified for the Municipality, since said body does not have a valid authority to oblige it.
The mayor assured that we will confront the Fiscal Control Board “to maintain the democratic government in the municipality and safeguard the fundamental rights of the residents of San Sebastián.”
For his part, Lcdo. Rolando Emmanuelli Jiménez, legal representative of the Municipality of San Sebastián, argued that “to the PROMISE being an unconstitutional law under the United States Constitution and illegal under international law, the actions of the Fiscal Control Board, protected by said law, are null and, therefore, they lack legal effect. “
This legal confrontation by the Municipality of San Sebastián is the first time that a government entity has questioned the PROMESA Law under the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and under international law.