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The Time For Unity
by Luis Fortuño, Attorney at Law
September 17, 2001
The recent barbaric attacks in New York and Washington have provoked strong and emotional reactions throughout the Nation and the world. Expressions of mourning, condemnation and solidarity have come swiftly and without hesitation.
In the midst of this terrible tragedy, it has been heartening to read about, and listen to, leaders from around the world expressing their solidarity with our demands for an appropriate and proportionate response to what was not only an attack on our Nation, but a terrible transgression against our freedom, our democracy and our way of life.
These declarations have been forceful and emotional, some of them inspiring. Spains president, José María Aznar, has stated that Spain is "hand in hand" with the American people. Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany, has declared that at this moment "we are all Americans."
In the case of Puerto Rico, our pain and solidarity should be even greater. The victims of this tragedy are not only our fellow American citizens, but New York is home to the greatest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the world. Thus, there will be numerous victims with strong bonds to our Island. This act against humanity should touch all of us deeply.
How regretful to find some Puerto Ricans, American citizens after all, expressing themselves in ways that have paled us against the declarations of foreign dignitaries!!
As the days go by, my regret has turned to indignation and anger. I have heard truly conflicting notes. Some individuals have urged our separation from the United States so that we do not fall victims to a world war.
Others have gone even further. They have dared justify what can truthfully be labeled as genocide. It is indeed, deplorable to see that some Puerto Ricans -- blinded by anti-American nationalism, xenophobia and insecurity -- have joined the ranks of the President of Iraq, who recently stated these acts come as a result of the seeds the United States has sown with its foreign policy. "Despite our human feelings with regards to yesterdays events America is now feeling the spines its leaders have spread around the world," said Saddam Hussein.
The idea that individuals who call themselves separatists would use this terrible tragedy to promote the independence cause is truly pathetic. These advocates of fear, cowardice and disinformation forget that this is a time for reflection, a time to be firm in the defense of our common values. Moreover, they forget that we have been a part of this great Nation for over one hundred years, we share a citizenship and that nearly half of all Puerto Ricans reside in the Mainland. New York and Washingtons pain is also ours.
Fortunately, these statements do not in any way reflect the feelings of the majority of
Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricos pain comes from our shared history, our families bonds, and from the values that we treasure as American citizens and that a few are trying to destroy. The respect for our human dignity, freedom, democracy and the pursuit of happiness is now in play. The love of God, family, labor and kindness is now the target of hatred.
As Puerto Ricans, it is time that we openly articulate our feelings. More than expressing our solidarity, we should relish in our shared citizenship. We should show that we are united, not only in the pain and indignation, but also in the defense of those values and principles that are protected by our citizenship.
It is time we renew and strengthen our loyalty.
Regional stability: Good