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Where's The Beef?

By Gene Roman

September 12, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

The last bold visionary of the Popular Democratic Party was Luis Munoz Marin. He laid the foundation for the future greatness of Puerto Rico by recruiting the best intellectual and organizational talent into government service. His strongest ally was another great civic entrepreneur of the 20th century and one of my political heroes, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Thanks to Sila Calderon this inspiring style of leadership is now temporarily dead in the water.

The Calderon strategic plan has the Island competing with countries like Signapore, Ireland and Malaysia. With all due respect to those countries, how far sighted is that? The major job creation engine of this administration is Section 956 of the IRS code. This provision was created for international corporations with headquarters outside the United States and leaves the Island with no major relationships or partners within the crucial U.S. governmental and private sector bureaucracy. In the previous administration, Puerto Rico was seen as the U.S. bridge to the Americas. A strategic vision that could net millions of dollars of tax revenue and thousands of jobs.

One of the reasons that Puerto Rico was a major player in national and international affairs during the Rossello & Munoz Marin administrations was the prominent leadership role played by both men in organizations like the Council of State Governments, the National Governors Association and the Democratic Party. During his eight years in office, Rossello served a term as Chairman of both the Council of State Governments and the Democratic Governors Association. For some reason, the PPD and its allies still think that Puerto Rico has some omnipresent international sovereignty residing in the United Nations that can permanently resolve many of Island's present challenges. This might explain the lack of concern in the Calderon camp regarding the Governor's absence at the annual meeting of the National Governor's Association in Rhode Island. Talk about a missed opportunity.

What does Calderon think she can gain by applying for membership in the Association of Caribbean States? How successful does the Governor expect she can be in advocating for her agenda the when she refuses to identify with a national political party and miss a meeting of an important national governors' conference?

One of the casualties of the last election was the loss of momentum begun under Governor Rossello. His paradigm for problem solving was rooted in an asset mentality. He came to the table with ideas on how Puerto Rico could help its friends and the Nation solve their problems. The old deficit mentality and quasi-socialist PDP welfare model of begging for help was buried forever, or so we thought. You may not have always agreed with Rossello, but as with all great men, he could almost hear him saying, "We can be great again. Let me show you the way!"

One of Calderon's first acts as Governor was the establishment of a commission to investigate all of the privatization initiatives of the Rossello administration. She conveniently ignored the fact that the selling off of inefficient and ineffective health care centers, telecommunications services and government monopolies saved residents millions of dollars and resulted in improved service delivery. Just last week Secretary of Justice Anabelle Rodriguez, announced her intention to appoint a fiscal monitor to investigate the financial stewardship of the Department of Education under former Secretary Victor Fajardo. Beyond confusing and obstructing the progress of the past eight years, what are they offering of real value to the Puerto Rican people? It would seem that they are so lacking in any substantial vision for the future that all they can do is investigate the past. Calderon's Puerto Rican Project for the 21st Century is really a 19th century initiative that would resurrect the era of government monopolies and poor service delivery.

It may be too early to say, but the Calderon gang strikes me as a temporary caretaker administration that will not win a second term precisely because they lack the chops to chart a substantial vision for the future of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has already demonstrated that it can do better.

Gene Roman is a NY Democrat and the former Massachusetts Regional Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. He can be contacted at

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