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Detroit becomes largest US city to declare bankruptcy

(Vatican Radio) The United States city of Detroit has become the largest ever US city to file for bankruptcy. The city’s name is synonymous with the nation’s auto industry, and was the home of the Motown sound, which shaped popular music throughout the world.

Once having a population of nearly 2 million in the 1950’s, the Michigan city has suffered a decades long decline, much of which is blamed on the decline in jobs with the big-three US automakers.

Detroit lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010. Today, the population is about 700,000.

“It’s really a city that’s on its knees,” said Kishore Jayabalan, the Director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, and a native of nearby Flint, Michigan.

He told Vatican Radio poor governance is to blame for Detroit’s decline, and will hurt its attempt at recovery.

“It hasn’t really fixed its fundamental problems,” Jayabalan said. “There’s no real economic diversity. The city is still run by a very corrupt administration. It’s got all kind of pension and health care liabilities… It’s really a sad and embarrassing situation for people from that part of the United States.”

He said the city has to change its “political and economic” infrastructure to come back from the brink, and that right now, much of the population has “given up.”

“People have moved out to the suburbs, which are as nice as any in the country, but they have also moved to the southern United States and places where you have a chance of improving your life,” Jayabalan said. “Unfortunately, for most people in Detroit, that’s not the case.”

Listen to the full interview with Kishore Jayabalan: RealAudioMP3