|This week, the Herald, begins a new feature entitled, "Hot Button Issues." The section will provide readers the chance to read and react to burning issues relating to Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans and the many ideas and events that affect the some four-million residents of the island and the nearly equal number of self-identified Puerto Ricans residing on the mainland.
As part of this feature, we will combine the present Herald Poll, giving you a chance to express your views on a given "Hot Button Issue." Typically, the feature will survey Puerto Rico related items reported in island, national and international publications and will reference current and previous Herald stories bearing on the issue. It will also encapsulate previous poll results showing how readers reacted to similar stories over time.
The issue chosen in any given week will be news-driven or derive from overarching trends that, in the opinion of Herald editors, warrant consideration. Our selection process will be influenced by reader preferences, ascertained by an analysis of previous poll results and from views sent directly to the Herald by email.
At the end of this article, categories are listed that encompass the universe of issues affecting Puerto Ricans in their daily lives or long-term aspirations. They include island politics; local governmental policies; the ubiquitous debate over Puerto Ricos political status; cultural, language and identity issues; the world of mainland Puerto Ricans and the interaction between official Washington and the Commonwealth government. We ask you to indicate the category that holds the most interest for you. Your response will inform us about future topics to be covered as "Hot Button Issues."
Following are the broad categories offered for your consideration.
U.S. GOVERNMENT & PUERTO RICO:
As reported the Heralds "Washington Update" column, there are on-going movements, debates and legislation that affect the lives of Puerto Ricos residents, ranging from keeping U.S. Navy warriors in fighting trim on Vieques to returning Puerto Ricos fighting cocks to the barnyard. Each Branch and every Department of the U.S. Government in some way shapes policies that have an impact on the island. Past Herald polls have offered the chance for readers to express views on U.S. Navy policy respecting Vieques, the new non-Puerto Rican U.S. Attorney assigned to San Juan, whether Puerto Ricans should pay federal taxes and if Puerto Rican on the island should be able to vote for the U.S. President.
Whos in and whos out? Whos greedy and whos "squeaky clean?" "Whats up" with La Forteleza; El Capitolio; Las Cortes? The doings and "dontings" of Puerto Ricos political establishment are fodder for reportorial appetites, not only on the island but also in mainland newspapers whose geographical areas of coverage include concentrations of Puerto Rican readers. The Heralds "Island Politics" offers an on-going archive of this reporting. Previous Herald polls have asked if Puerto Ricos Governor should also be the President of his/her political party and if Puerto Rican taxpayers should finance local elections. Are you a local political junkie? Let us know!
THE LOCAL SCENE:
Transportation! Crime! Health Care! Education! The Economy! John Marinos insights in the "Puerto Rico Report," Gabrielle Paese scorekeeping in her "Puerto Rico Sports Beat" and the views of the panoply of Herald columnists keep readers abreast of trends and happenings that shape island daily life. Each week they pose questions such as, "In the Governors annual budget, who gives and who gets?" A recent Herald poll asked if a new proposed lottery should be used to increase the salaries of public employees. 73% of the respondents said "No" and 25% said "Yes." Can you guess where most of that 25% work? The 2% that registered "Not Sure" no doubt prefer the horses at "El Comandante." Do your interests lie close to your island home?
CULTURAL & LANGUAGE ISSUES:
Are you Puerto Rican? If so, why? When we asked the question in a recent Herald Poll, the results were interesting. 58% of respondents said that it was most determined by birth on the island, while 49% associated it with birth to Puerto Rican parents. A surprising 44% of respondents said that self-identification was the key determinate. Only 12% cited legal residence on the island and 6% thought "other factors" most came into play. If you are Puerto Rican do you also identify yourself as "Hispanic" within the current U.S. political paradigm? How do you feel about the role of English in the school systems in Puerto Rico and Spanish in those of the mainland? How does your identity as a Puerto Rican relate to your American citizenship? If these questions are much on your mind, you need to let us know.
POLITICAL STATUS ISSUES:
Although the issues dont change much, the Puerto Rican political status debate is endless. Its partisan strategies are convoluted, its tactics Machiavellian and its rhetoric hyperbolic, but political status ranks with baseball and boxing as a favored Puerto Rico sport. The latest nuances are well reported in the Heralds "Status" section and our polls have solicited your opinion on H-395, the US Congress statement commemorating the jubilee year of the promulgation of the Puerto Rican Constitution and of the proposed establishment of the Commission of Puerto Rican Unity. So if any of the following questions are most on your mind, you need to let us know. "Commonwealth - Myth or Reality?"
"Enhanced Commonwealth If & What?"
"Statehood Why & When?"
"Independence How & What?"
"Self-Determination "Yea or Nay?"
MAINLAND PUERTO RICANS
Nearly as many self-proclaimed Puerto Ricans live on the mainland as on the island. New Yorks annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade along 5th Avenue, held last Sunday, is ample evidence of that fact. Unofficial counts put the number of marchers this year at 100,000 and spectators at over 3-million. After the singing, dancing and marching ends each year, most revelers go back home to a life different in many respects to Puerto Ricans living on the island itself. The politics, demographics and life styles are different in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and California than those in Mayaguez, Arecibo, San Juan and Carolina. If your concerns as a Puerto Rican living on the mainland more relate to national political movements and federal/state policies that affect you as residents of the continental United States, then you should choose this category as your top choice.