The unincorporated U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is currently over $70 billion in debt, with a May 1st debt restructuring deadline bearing down on it. In the meantime, the poverty rate has risen to 45%, more than 150 schools have been shut down, and the government has dramatically raised sales taxes to 11%. One hospital recently had its power shut off because it hadn't paid the bill. "Right now, Puerto Rico is like the last Tower Records," John Oliver said last night in a Last Week Tonight segment on the crisis. "Everything's overpriced, everyone's been laid off, and there's still a really weird number of Ricky Martin CDs."
The segment culminated with a surprise appearance from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and co-star of Broadway smash hit Hamilton. Miranda, whose parents hail from Puerto Rico, pleaded with Congress last month to help the territory restructure its debt—even promising impossible-to-get Hamilton tickets to any elected official who agreed to help.
“A commonwealth with not a lot of wealth, a not-quite nation, $70 billion topic of conversation,” Miranda sang last night during the Last Week Tonight appearance. “Hoping to God John Oliver’s comical dissertation resonates with the Congress that got us in this situation. Along with suicidal tax incentive declarations, ‘Yeah we’ll pay your bonds first, close the hospital, fuck the patients. This is an island, 100 miles across. A hurricane is coming and we’re running up a loss.”
Miranda also promised Paul Ryan that he would personally come sing at his house while wearing "my Hamilton blouse." Puerto Rico is saved.