World View: Germany’s Angela Merkel Under Pressure to Restrict Migrants

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The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Germany’s Angela Merkel under pressure to restrict migrants
  • Puerto Rico’s debt problem even worse than expected

Germany’s Angela Merkel under pressure to restrict migrants

Anti-Merkel rally. Sign reads: Merkel, take your Muslims with you ... and get lost!!!' (Der Spiegel)
Anti-Merkel rally. Sign reads: Merkel, take your Muslims with you … and get lost!!!’ (Der Spiegel)

With her poll numbers falling and regional elections scheduled for March, members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel are pressuring her to reverse her policy on migrants. According to the dissenting deputies:

In light of the developments in recent months, we can no longer speak of a great challenge — we are on the verge of our country being overwhelmed. […]

We do not want to divide the CDU parliamentary group — we are only asking for the law to be applied.

“The law” in this case is the European Union’s Dublin asylum regulations, which say that refugees must seek asylum in the first member country that they land in. In that case, any refugee reaching Germany would already have been processed in Greece or Italy, and those not qualifying for asylum would already have been deported.

Germany has had to deal with an influx of 1.1 million migrants in 2015, and thousands are still arriving despite the winter weather. That volume may increase substantially when the warm Spring weather arrives.

The recently reported incidents of hundreds of alleged sexual assaults by Muslim migrants in Cologne on New Year’s Eve have been explosive, and increased pressure on Merkel.

Merkel has suggested several solutions. She has attempted to persuade other EU countries to take in quotas of refugees, and she has pushed for reception centers to be built on Europe’s external borders and for Turkey to be paid to keep refugees from entering Europe. However, none of these solutions has worked.

On the other hand, the solution proposed by CDU party dissidents may not work any better. If 5,000-10,000 migrants arrive every day in Greece, then it will be impossible to process that many asylum applicants, and attempts to prevent them from surging northward may result in violence and become politically impossible.

In other words, the migration of millions of refugees from Asia, the Mideast and Africa into Europe may be an unstoppable historic force of nature. AFP and Der Spiegel and Gwynne Dwyer

Puerto Rico’s debt problem even worse than expected

Puerto Rico’s government issued a new report saying that the territory’s financial situation is worse than the previous estimate, made in September of last year, and that its deficit estimate over the next five years has widened to $16 billion from $14 billion since September. The debt deficit has occurred due to lower than expected tax collections. This means that Puerto Rico will not be able to reduce its $70 billion debt load, but that in fact it will increase. The governor has said that it’s in a “death spiral.”

Many officials were surprised that Puerto Rico was able to make most of the bond payments that were due on January 4, but it did that by delaying over $100 million in tax refunds and not paying government suppliers. Puerto Rico faces a $923 million negative cash balance in June just as the commonwealth and its agencies must pay $2 billion in principal and interest July 1. The cash crunch is so bad that Puerto Rico’s prison system is no longer paying the vendor that supplies food for inmates, and some special education instructors have stopped getting paid.

According to Puerto Rican Secretary of State Victor Suar the welfare of the citizens of Puerto Rico is at risk, because the government cannot deliver proper public services:

The failure of the government to make timely payments for the delivery and provision of essential government services is putting at risk the health, welfare and safety of the people of Puerto Rico. […]

Continuation of these measures is neither sustainable nor in the interest of any stakeholder, as they will only deepen the financial gaps that the commonwealth and its creditors will need to resolve.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has promised some action on Puerto Rico by the end of March. Still, many Republican members of Congress and some creditor groups have been leaning on Puerto Rico do more to pay its loans without restructuring its debt. They say the island should further cut government spending, tighten its administrative processes and look into privatizing government property before asking creditors to take a hit. Latin One and Bloomberg and Washington Post and Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Germany, Angela Merkel, Christian Democratic Union, CDU, Puerto Rico, Victor Suar, Paul Ryan
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