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The issue of corruption affects everyone

By Arturo J. Guzmán

March 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 SAN JUAN STAR. All Rights Reserved.

The issue of governmental and partisan corruption continues to dominate almost exclusively media coverage assisting in the creation of a smoke curtain purposefully designed to distract our attention from the ineptness, incompetence and ineffectiveness of the Calderon regime. Unfortunately, this disproportionate and partial coverage is also influencing our self-perception and the perception others have about us not as individuals but as a society.

In past columns I warned against the dangers posed to our society if the issue of dishonesty in public administration continued to be treated and adjudicated in partisan and political terms. I tried to make evident that no group, party or organization had the exclusive franchise for either honesty or dishonesty. Elemental knowledge of human nature and behavior affirms that in every field of human endeavor there is good, bad, and mediocre; honest and dishonest; good and evil.

I also warned that an administration that had won an election almost solely based on the single issue of "corruption" and continued making its adversaries pay an almost insurmountable political price for the deeds of an infinite minority of its members would try to cover-up similar illegalities and misdeeds on the part of its members if it were to avoid an even worst partisan fate.

The events of the past few days have proven these warnings to have been well founded, and the consequences evident to the extreme of provoking a rarely public but stern admonishment on the part of former governor Hernández Colón, sadly later rebuffed by a vengeful Calderon implicitly accusing him of attempts at illegality during his own tenure.

Any public official that would have placed public interest before partisan or political expediency should have addressed the alarming issue of corruption on the grounds of the moral and social maladies it represents. But by taking the political instead of the moral course Calderon has become a victim of her own poison.

Furthermore, misuse, misappropriation, or downright theft of public funds should have been addressed exactly for the crimes they incurred. Instead, by using and abusing the broader term of corruption, the governor ironically included other acts that may not encompass theft, such as lying. And Calderon like Bill Clinton has proven incapable or unwilling to recognize truth in any form or manifestation.

Our governor, the champion crusader against self-defined "corruption", misled people during her campaign. She misled people about the budget deficit, 956, Vieques, the economy, her refusal to condemn local terrorism, and is now misleading people about a crass violation of electoral law amongst many other things. Are these not acts of corruption? Of course, but let’s be more direct and impartial and call the thieves and liars for what they are, and both equally corrupt!

Allow me an additional observation regardless of your individual political, partisan, or ideological orientation. Those of you that truly respect Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, must stop lending yourselves to repeating blanket accusations and insinuations that every person associated with the Rosselló administration or with the N.P.P. is or was "corrupt" because the message being conveyed elsewhere is that there are eight or nine hundred thousand "corrupt" Puerto Ricans. And when, as is presently the case, acts of corruption are uncovered in the Calderon regime and the counter-accusations and labels begin to be dispensed in return, the resulting impression will be that all Puerto Ricans are corrupt. Not a very truthful or edifying image of our society or of our people!

As a final personal note I want to assert my pride at having as a member of the board of directors of a public corporation, and thus a (pro-bono) Public Official. My pride will not subside, I will not be shamed, cowered, intimidated or defined either by those who committed the crimes, or much less by those whose actions and definitions have now made them equally corrupt. I do it not for myself but for the reasons outlined and out of respect for my fellow citizens and particularly for the hundreds and thousands of people who like I served in the Rosselló Administration with integrity, honesty and honor.

Arturo J. Guzman can be contacted at:

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