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Cuomo travels to Puerto Rico to discuss commonwealth's finances

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo leads a delegation to

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo leads a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with local officials and discuss the Puerto Rican governments' ongoing healthcare crisis and economic challenges. Credit: Philip Kamrass/Office of Governo

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and a delegation of New York politicians and labor leaders arrived in San Juan Monday night for a brief visit to show solidarity with Puerto Rico during its economic crisis.

The group was to attend a welcome reception at La Fortaleza, the official residence of Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.

Cuomo before the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade Monday in Brooklyn said New York City has the largest number of Puerto Ricans outside of the island itself.

"Puerto Rico has real trouble," he told reporters. "We have a great delegation and we're going down to see what we can actually do to help. . . . We have a lot of heavyweight horsepower."

Cuomo has said that those in the group have expertise in the region, in health care or in finances. They include state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem). The "solidarity delegation" was to be on the island for about a day.

Puerto Rico is struggling with about $72 billion in debt, which García Padilla has said is "not payable." Its leaders are seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection -- an option for states, but one for which the commonwealth isn't currently eligible.

"The connection between New York and Puerto Rico is one that stretches back over generations," Cuomo said in a statement later Monday, adding he wants to help García Padilla "find a path to prosperity again."

One person who was not invited on the trip was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been in a lingering war of words with the governor.

De Blasio Monday spoke separately to reporters before the parade, but downplayed the slight and wished the group well.

"Governors and mayors do different things," he said. "They go on different trips. They give different speeches. . . . I wish them well on this trip and I hope it'll be helpful. I think it's a good cause."

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