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50 Years Later, Commonwealth Still Is Political Fiction

By Arturo J. Guzmán

July 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE SAN JUAN STAR.
All Rights Reserved.

Nearing the fiftieth anniversary of the enactment of the local constitution there are still people who at the expense of their credibility persist in affirming the notion that "commonwealth" is not a name but a political status.

Likewise, there are others that continue to lament that the "commonwealth "definition that has deceitfully been portrayed by the Popular Democratic Party was not included as an option in the 1999 plebiscite. They know, and privately acknowledge, that it was excluded for the simple reason that it does not exist or could ever juridically exist unless the U.S. Constitution is amended to comply with their fantasies and lies.

This fiftieth anniversary should serve to stimulate us into appraising the reality of what we have and what there is: The hard fact is that Puerto Rico has never surpassed its political status as that of an "un-incorporated territory of the United States subject to the plenary powers of the Congress under the U.S. Constitution’s Territory Clause". Uninterruptedly since the 1898 our sovereignty has resided in the legislative body of the U.S. Congress where we have no voice or vote

After fifty years of local enfranchisement, Puerto Rican children of modest family means who have to rely on public education continue to be deprived of the educational and employment opportunities that would be made accessible by the learning of the English language. Statistics reveal that we have a higher effective unemployment rate today than we did in 1952, and when our local economy is compared with the national averages in the fifty states it shows that the gap has widened instead of narrowing.

Five decades later, the descendants of those who served the nation with valor at every armed conflict since WWI, continue to serve with equal valor and also with the same prohibition of their right to elect their Commander- in- Chief. Once again, the mass migrations of the forties and fifties have been renewed; only this time the target is Orlando, not Chicago or New York. Instead of striving to empower us locally, our Governor spends public money to register voters stateside while denying us that provide the funds these same basic citizenship and civil rights.

Our legislature, which once upon a time gave prestige to our society regardless of individual partisan, political or ideological differences, is now the subject of scorn, ridicule, and extremism. The judiciary often time act more like political commissaries than respected jurists, and even some local branches of the federal government have lost the people’s confidence by violating their impartiality.

We have suffered and endured fifty years of deterioration of family and individual values and the fabric that makes our people has forever changed for the worse. In this history, a single five-year period has produced more casualties to violent crime, than Puerto Rican loses incurred during WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam.

Drug "puntos" have replaced neighborhood social institutions as focal points and religious leaders have become involved in promoting separatist politics, in the hope that separation will make us once again slaves of a church instead of slaves of the government. Meanwhile, teen pregnancies, drug use, school desertion, theft, murder, and corruption are on the rise filling the vacuum left by religious, civic and social leaders who prefer political controversy than to work anonymously for the common good.

At the culmination of these fifty years, with full support and encouragement from the ruling order, we are experiencing a dangerous rise in the type of local neo-nationalism that eventually brought other peoples to war or to civil war and which is understandably deteriorating an already strenuous relationship with the United States. In an intent to create the false image of a superior people and race, anything and everything is best and better only if it is Puerto Rican, devaluing individual accomplishment in favor of common mediocrity. Is this brainwashing intended to make our people confront this induced image with reality in order to preserve the inferiority complexes that constitute the backbone of colonialism?

But yes, we have a local constitution! Let’s celebrate despite of the fact that it was only be enacted after it was changed and amended unilaterally, and despite the fact that the U.S. Congress continues to possess the power to act similarly again even to the extreme of repeal. And yes Virginia, there is a "commonwealth, and like it’s equally illusory counterpart-Santa Claus-it is fat, it dresses in red and white, and it lives in the imagination of the gullible and at the expense of American taxpayers money.

I realize that it is not polite to spoil such a grand celebration with the nuisance of truth, so concluding I can’t help but be reminded of a song made popular by the late singer Peggy Lee that went something like this: "Is that all there is, is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing, let’s bring out the booze and have a ball. If that’s all there is..." And that is exactly what they will do on the 25th of July.

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