Of late it seems that politics in Puerto Rico are moving in the direction of a crash at the busiest intersection of life. As people complain about the general conditions of life, and serious issues about the quality of life are continuously being exposed, the talk of the day is the concern about keeping a job. This is a situation I never experienced in all the years I lived on the island, nor during the time that I have lived stateside.
The current state of affairs is bleak
The current situation, where the economy is in shambles, unemployment runs rampant, while crime and drugs are the event of the day, add to the fact that many journalists are being fired, the local television stations have stopped production of locally based programs and the medium has become an amalgamation of what is seen outside of the island, totally lacking a native identity.
Currently, religious activism is becoming the norm, geared, of course, in the direction of a right-wing reactionary ideology, while censorship has openly reached the daily discourse as radical changes, both in content and direction, is becoming an integral part in the new agenda in the Department of Education.
The political repression has slowly reached its boiling point and is at its worst period in recent history. These conditions, clearly amount to the ingredients, at best for a full intellectual revolt, at worst for a full fledged civil confrontation.
Under the current conditions, the media has limited capacity to expose these arguments en masse. As it is today on the island, there has been a steady movement to control the media content by handing over control to those that seem to respond to the interests of the state, as is clearly the case at WIPR-TV and radio.
Like it was at the time of Hitlerian politics, the Goebbels in the Puerto Rican media, are showing their power and control, while, at the same time, the exposition of societal issues is blatantly and openly squashed by the silent forces of censorship.
Many are blaming this situation on the politics of Governor Luis G. Fortuño. Many, also state that he is the culprit behind a master plan to curtail the liberties of all in Puerto Rico, I disagree.
Governor Fortuño and his lackeys are not the causes, they, like most politicians, are the effects of a situation that has empowered the few at the expense of the many, for so long, in the daily affairs of Puerto Rico.
Paternalism and politics in Puerto Rico
Eventhough the policies exposed by his administration are the expression of the state’s control in its many forms and ways, the alleged repression that is beginning to curtail the basic intellectual freedoms that a democracy provides, is not, simply, the governor’s doing.
Nine months ago, Governor Fortuño was a powerless candidate. It was the popular vote, which placed him there, by a landslide, and gave him the power to do as he wishes, for as long as he holds the keys to the kingdom.
The keys are not his property, they are ours. As we can so easily do to our children, we can deny the keys to any governor, of course after his term is done. We love our kids and we do it to them when we feel they are at risk, we have no sentimental attachment to a politician, and they put all of us in much graver danger that our kids ever could. If they are bad, take the keys to the kingdom away from them!
Some on the island are beginning to realize that the citizens of Puerto Rico are now being led, just like cattle into the slaughterhouse, by forces that are flowing from all sides of the daily political and societal spectrum.
For example, the new changes proposed in the agenda of the local Department of Education, where a new policy of censorship is allegedly being imposed, seems to be leading the way.
Sounds a little like the early stages of Hitler’s master race rhetoric. Who is to define what is acceptable or not, in the language of the average citizen? Is this a recent isssue? Definitely it is not. Has this affected the fact that Puerto Ricans graduate a ton of professionals every year, and that the achievements of our people can be listed in a “who is who” list at any level or any endeavour? Hardly. Then what is the problem? “If is not broken don’t fix it,” reads the axiom, but who cares? This seems to be the way of the current administration.
An interesting blog by Roberto “Pachi” Ortíz Feliciano is available to all and can be accessed here.
There, an intersting parody seems to expose what’s inside the minds of the brainless proponents pursuing the changes that are now being faced by the Department of Education. A demonstration is scheduled there today, one of the many that surely await the decisions that this administration is bound to make during the next 3 years and 3 months.
Even the governor, when questioned on the matter, took the “wise political route” out of the controversial issue by expressing that, “I am going to talk as a father, not as a governor. We should have all types of books available, but there are books for children at 5 years of age, others when he is 12 or 13, still others when he is 18 to 20.” If we think about his answer, we must conclude that he didn’t say much about the issues at hand.
The problem here is we did not elect the governor to fill a position of father, but rather the head of the government of Puerto Rico. As the head of government, it is his responsibility to face these issues and express his opionions as a governor, not a parent. By the way, the books that he mentions that could be read at 18 or 20, will never be available at that age to the average citizen. And, once again, who can determine what people can or not read at a certain time in their life.
With his statements, the governor, is obviously, backing the trend of censorship, one that is equivalent to the book burning episodes that marked the Middle Ages. It is important to note, that even the Bible, has suffered from similar treatment, as many of the books intended to transcend time, were eliminated and burned as well by overzealous dogmatics.
The presentation of these patterns of governmental control goes hand in hand with a paternalistic attitude and thus, the situation becomes an even more serious problem to us all.
The attitude that is being presented by the current administration is not new to Puerto Rico.
This pattern of political paternalism assumes that the leader knows best, just like the Fuhrer in WW II Germany. This is an axiom that is as old as politics itself. It has been repelled by all since its very inception. It is definitely wrong; it is an archaic way of thinking, but it is being imposed by the government elected by the majority of Puerto Ricans in the new millenium. We can’t fault anyone but ourselves.
The elimination of books written by contempory authors of Latino heritage, is a direct affront to the cultural reality and the diversity of all the people in our country. If we don’t have the access to diverse literature, at the time in which reading is more accesible to all, how can we become balanced individuals? Balance, is achieved by diversity and choice, not by a blatant imposition of a curriculum that is not needed, nor wanted. If we let this happen, we can’t fault anyone but ourselves.
Soon we will expect that music that doesn’t fit into the pre-established patterns or “the mold” approved by the state would be banned from radio stations. Bye, bye, Reggaetón, should come next; the music that expresses political views should be banned after, let’s see… “déjenme reír, para no llorar, esto está cabrón, déjenme cantar pa que la pena no duela tanto.” Ok Ruben Blades will surely find his way to the banned list, and then the rest of the singers and composers, eventually we wont know which way is up. If we let this happen, we can’t fault anyone but ourselves.
Eventually the by-product of this strict political agenda will yield a group of robotic-like citizens that would be afraid to express themselves, unsure if they are abiding or not to the policies of the state. Yes, my friends, we are watching the beginning of the era of the ROBORICAN. If we let this happen, we can’t fault anyone but ourselves.
The reality is that we are being led by petulant geniuses of intellectual insufficiency; they feel it is their duty to lead us to the fountain of wisdom, as they define it, but don’t have an idea of what wisdom is, much less of its location. If we continue to let this happen, we can’t fault no one but ourselves.
It is our choice, we must take responsibility.
We have all experienced the failed promises of those that the people of Puerto Rico have elected to lead, on both sides of the political spectrum, this also, is not new.
We can attest to the many that went to jail after the fiascos of Governor Rosello’s administration, and we can go back to Cerro Maravilla, the sale of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company, a true cash cow for the country.
Also the situation at Navieras, Rosello’s medical plan, the effects of privatization are many. It’s a long story of abuse and political indiscretions that we seem to forget every four years.
We are too busy to remember, because we continue to elect ineptitude and abuse, over responsibility and civic duty. As long as we complain and listen to Democrats blaming the Republicans and viceversa, as long as we argue with our fellow Puerto Rican and dismiss his or her point of view simply because he is not a member of our preferred political party, as long as we continue with that communal behavioral pattern, we will never really look at the problems at hand, and we will never find a solution to our common problems.
As such, all the members of our society, with the exception of our children, are an integral part of all the problems that we face on a daily basis. As long as we take politics as a sporting event, when we are fans, instead of concerned citizens, and root for our preferred party regardless of the quality of our candidates, we are as much to blame, more even, than the people who we elect to govern.
It is our communal irresponsibility, at the time of the elections that creates these problems. It is our laisse-faire attitude towards everyday affairs that impedes our collective advancement. To end this pattern of collective irresponsibility we must take action. Continuing with our irresponsible pattern of innaction is the cause; the politicians are plain and simply, just the effect of our inability to act.
We can continue to argue in “the cafetín,” in the corner, and at the office, with our “adversaries,” all we want, the point, however, is moot. We can get as hot under the collar as our hot blood allows, it is all to no avail. Any interaction with our fellow Puerto Rican that does not reach some form of consensus simply amounts to intellectual masturbation and it has no effect on the destiny of our people.
We have allowed for our country to be sold piece by piece by our elected officials. The profits of these transactions have gone to the coffers of others, it being politicians, individuals or corporations, instead of bettering our economic and living conditions. We must place a STOP sign before these continuous patterns, where we allow the politicians to rob our country as we blindly argue with our brothers and sisters, over who is the better crook, while looking the other way.
This situation amounts to a royal screwing, yes all of us are being screwed daily by the soft spoken, smiling politician whose only interest is the survival of his platform so he can rob some more, both economically and intelectually.
There is only one solution. Only one way to stop all the tribulations of our country, and we have the solution. It is simple, as the founders of the Constitution, in their wisdom created “the power for the people and by the people” in the way of the vote.
If they are no good, send them packing
Just like in the times of ”Castilla la Vieja” when the sailors were sent to the viewing post, located at the highest point in the mast of the ship, called “el carajo”, we must take the bull by the horns, we must take responsibility.
If our candidate fails, it can be easily resolved in four years by sending him or her packing, “maleta and go,” send them “al carajo.” Or better yet, a one way ticket to Corot-7b will sure do.
That, my friends, is the only way in which we, as citizens, will regain the power that the constitution so amply and adeptly bestowed upon us.
Otherwise, we might be opening the door to a civil strife; we might be brewing a revolution that is not intellectual, but armed. We are opening the doors to the loss of the blood by our people in a fight for definition and determination, similar to the conditions that pervade all over the world today.
Nobody mentions this distinct possiblity, it is gross. I agree, and hate of even thinking about the possibility of it ocurring in our country. We must be aware of the fact that the relatively peaceful times of our people could be changed in a minute by the repressive and opressive tacticts that are blatantly coming into the surface on the island. That is certainly something we don’t want to experience in our lifetime, but a distinct possibility, never-the-less.
We are undoubtedly facing a serious crisis, a crisis that is defined as the battle for full political and societal control of the mores of our nation. It is our responsibility to make sure that, as is always the case, crisis will bring the eventual synthesis to the social situation of the Puerto Rican people. We must create the bridges, as well as the way, to full communication to all sectors of our society.
Independence, Statehood, Permanent Association, whatever means we choose, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that it is OUR RIGHT to pursue our destiny, and it is solely our decision. This right, however, is not a decision subject to the manipulation of political lackeys, who only have their best interests at hand.
We can have a revolution of the intellect, we can avoid the prospects of an armed fight for definition, we can prevent bloodshed and we can all join as Puerto Ricans and define what is best for us all. We can instill the true dialogue that the government is trying to deny us, simply by taking the responsibility for our destiny, for the eduction of our children and for the future of our nation.
There is an old statement that describes the situation of Puerto Rico perfectly. It states that, “each country has the government that it deserves.” I invite you to take this truism into deep consideration, and hereby invite you to take a proactive approach to change. It is time to go beyond party politics and do what is best for us, for all of us.
Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara used to say, “let’s be realists, let’s ask for the impossible,” he came from a different forefront, but his statement surely makes sense.
We have been lured by the state imposed dispositions of “baile, botella y baraja” since the days of the Spanish colonization. As a policy, “baile, botella y baraja” served as a way of keeping the Puerto Rican native in an absent minded state, so the political reality will not be a personal issue. It allowed the local to live in a state of comfortable personal and collective imagination. It has worked as the state of the average Puerto Rican seems to center aroung the cafetín, horse racing, the Lotto, and the regular Lottery, and of course the constant partying that is a prelude to drugs and alcoholism. Anything that keeps us away from facing the ugly realities of our country seems like a good alternative. However, although we have partied and drank ourselves into oblivion, while gambling recklessly for 600 years, things surely have not changed much.
It is time to leave behind the stupor and understand that we are responsible; let’s stop taking the example of the politician, by blaming others and passing the buck, let’s stand together and recognize that the buck stops here, with us; otherwise, we might be throwing away our destiny, and that of our children, as well as the future of our nation, out the window.
We must remember that, if we let this happen, we can’t fault anyone but ourselves.
Wonder what Corot 7b is? It is a planet, outside our Galaxy with similar conditions to Earth. Although at this point it is a lava based planet, just as Earth was millions of years ago, it shows potential as a final destination for the “vende patrias” that abound in our local politics.
Until next time…
by Juan A. Moreno-Velázquez