Esta página no está disponible en español.
The Puerto Rico Herald
Partido Puertorriqueno Independence Plan
January 26, 2003
TO: Puerto Rico Herald
RE: Partido Puertorriqueno Independence Plan
With reference to the article by Garry Hoyt, wherein he concludes that independence is the most natural course for Puerto Rico (he's right, of course), Mr. Hoyt neglects to mention the dilemma that his conclusion poses for Puertorriquenos, namely that independence for Puerto Rico today would be suicidal. The people of Puerto Rico understand this, and that is why the independence movement has gone nowhere in 50 years of Commonwealth.
Enter Partido Puertorriqueno with the plan that saves the day. It not only solves the Puerto Rican dilemma, but it extricates Uncle Sam from the quagmire that is Puerto Rico, a quagmire of the old boy's own making. The Partido Puertorriqueno plan marks the only road leading to independence for Puerto Rico today, short of a unilateral decision by the United States to cut Puerto Rico loose. But for the 4 million U.S. citizens resident here, I expect that we would already have seen that decision. Alas, the ensuing exodus would make the potato famine look like a Sunday outing ( a classic "catch 22" for Uncle).
Accordingly, I have attached the Plan Summary. It presents the key elements of the plan and the reasoning behind it.
As the de facto head of the revolutionary wing of Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno, I advocate a revolutionary trajectory based on ballots, not bullets. It is, however, no less revolutionary for that, as it aims to clear the decks of the usual suspects that presently populate the ranks of officialdom in San Juan.
In brief, I propose to supplant the plutocracy of the Commonwealth (government by the rich for the rich) with a democratic Republic, something that U.S. citizens have not seen for at least 200 years, if ever. The means by which representative government is established is certainly no secret. It is a subject of discussion in the U.S. Congress in practically every session of that august body. As you probably know, those discussions have resulted in nothing, and they will always result in nothing, so long as the foxes are left to guard the hen house. You can imagine my surprise, then, at Sila's request to the legislature of Puerto Rico for legislation to institute public campaign financing. Those are not the folks to ask for a solution to the problem - they are the problem! The solution is to be rid of them! And that solution requires only three elements of constitutional law: (1) 100 percent public campaign financing (solely from governmental revenue - no private money), (2) a strict prohibition, without exception, on legislation that inures to the economic benefit of any individual or corporation (no special-interest legislation), and (3) a provision that makes acceptance of a gratuity in any form (money, services, or property) by any candidate for public office, elected official or government employee a felony carrying the severest of penalties. With those three, you no longer have the best government that money can buy. You have, in its place, government in which elected officials represent the interests of the ordinary citizens who elect them. In short, you will have democracy. While there are any number of republics that might be conjured up, that democracy is the only Republic that is acceptable to yours truly. As for the rest, I've been there - done that!
I am hopeful of forging a bold new direction in the struggle for independence and a vigorous campaign to eradicate the widespread fear of independence that Puertorriquenos presently have. I believe that campaign should be waged on two fronts, in the news media and in a grass-roots campaign initiated on every university campus throughout the island via public forums and invitational debates, and moving subsequently from these focal points into the surrounding communities. I believe that these ideas can be distilled into an invincible argument for independence, one that can be taken directly and immediately to the opposition.
Having said that, it must be immediately clear that, as an outsider and one who has no fluency in Spanish, I am hardly the guy for the task at hand. What is needed is a cadre of young, intelligent and articulate Puertorriquenos, skilled in debate and dedicated to the propositions and agenda set out in the plan and the explanatory summary transmitted herewith, who are capable of taking this message to the people of Puerto Rico. I am curious to know the thoughts of your readership in this regard.
SUMMARY (Excerpt): Plan For Independence Of Puerto Rico
Authored By Dennis Simmons
As the architect of a Plan for the Independence of Puerto Rico in 30 years under a JOINT AGREEMENT with the United States, I am pleased to have the opportunity to present to you the principal elements of the plan and the arguments for them.
Before doing that, however, let me say a few words about myself by way of introduction. I am a resident of Puerto Rico since September of 1999, after a career in U.S. federal government service, the last 27 years of which I spent as a revenue agent with the Internal Revenue Service.
It is my view that, plebiscite results notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of Puertorriquenos want to secure their heritage. However, the specter of economic uncertainty that they presently and historically associate with independence, and the absence to date of any approach that successfully addresses the fear generated by that uncertainty, have so far prevented them from expressing that desire. The essence of my Plan for Independence goes directly to the heart of that matter by providing a mechanism that guarantees the economic self-sufficiency of Puerto Rico as a pre-condition to political sovereignty. Economic self-sufficiency, for this purpose, is defined to include full employment and a standard of living, in terms of average family income, comparable to that of the United States. Accordingly, my Plan for Independence is a vehicle for capturing the hearts and minds of the people of Puerto Rico. This is essential to advancing the cause of independence because, absent a clear expression of desire for independence by an overwhelming majority of Puertorriquenos, the government of the United States is unlikely to move in that direction.
Clearly, the matter of ECONOMIC SURVIVAL is the overriding issue that bears on resolution of the political status of Puerto Rico. In a word, Independence for Puerto Rico today would be suicidal, because Puerto Rico today is dependent on the United States for an astonishing forty percent of its total economy. In the face of such dependency, it is pointless to speak of independence for Puerto Rico now or any time in the near future. What is needed, therefore, is a plan to systematically reverse and eliminate this dependency on the United States. This is the essence of the plan that I have devised. Further, and most importantly, the mechanism by which independence is achieved under the plan guarantees that the independent Republic of Puerto Rico will provide an acceptable standard of living for its citizens. While the plan sets a thirty-year timetable for elimination of support payments from the United States, it might take 40 years, or even 50. It has taken 100 years to bring Puerto Rico to its present state of affairs. It can certainly take 30 years, or 40, or even 50 years to retrace those steps. The point is that, under the plan, Puerto Rico will not become a sovereign Republic until its economic independence is a reality. Economic independence, for this purpose, is predicated on full employment, an acceptable standard of living for citizens, and revenue resources adequate to fund the institutions of government and the social programs mandated by the Constitution of the Republic, including adequate reserves for disaster relief.
In my plan for the creation of an independent Republic of Puerto Rico, I have included the principal provisions of constitutional law that will shape that newly constituted society, a synergistic blend of capitalism and socialism within the context of a true democracy.
The Plan for Independence of Puerto Rico includes both the elements of a JOINT AGREEMENT with the United States and specific provisions for inclusion in the CONSTITUTION of the Republic of Puerto Rico. The CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS proposed under the plan follow generally the U.S. Constitution, with several significant exceptions directed at specific failures of social policy in the United States, or the absence of a critically needed social policy. My purpose in this presentation is not to discuss the plan in detail, but to present its key elements and the arguments for them.
The Plan for Independence of Puerto Rico calls for a JOINT AGREEMENT between the United States and Puerto Rico leading to sovereignty of Puerto Rico within an initial target period of 30 years, predicated on the establishment of its economic self-sufficiency over that period of time. The agreement will be executed by the President of the United States and the Governor of Puerto Rico, and ratified by the legislature of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Congress. A key element of that agreement, absolutely essential to the plan objective, is immediate elimination of all restrictions presently imposed by the United States on Puerto Rico with respect to worldwide trade, other than restrictions imposed generally on trade with the United States. In summary, the Plan mechanism is as follows:
1) A Joint Committee of US/PR experts (budget analysts, economists, etc.) will set inflation-adjusted GDP (Gross Domestic Product) targets for the economy of Puerto Rico both a 30-year target and incremental 3-year targets.
2) The GDP targets will be based on the estimated level of economic productivity that will generate the revenue needed for governmental operations, taking into account the constitutionally allowed revenue sources, and the funds required for administrative, legislative, and judicial functions, infrastructure, disaster reserves, and the constitutionally mandated government-administered programs (education, health care, etc.).
3) At 3-year intervals, the Joint Committee will either certify that the GDP target has been met, or take remedial action to bring the economy of Puerto Rico back on course.
4) Upon certification that the GDP target has been met, a corresponding incremental reduction of U.S. support payments will be made, so that, at the 30th anniversary of the agreement, U.S. support payments will have been reduced to zero.
I envision that economic self-sufficiency will be achieved through development of technology-based enterprise, owned and operated in Puerto Rico.
The objective of the struggle for independence in Puerto Rico, as I understand the historical trajectory of that movement, is not merely the creation of a new nation, but the creation of a nation that is worth having! A clone of the United States, in my view, is not a nation worth having. In this respect, the CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS of the Plan for Independence are the most important aspect of it, more important even than the means by which independence might be obtained. These CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS, if adopted, will insure the establishment of government that serves the interests of its people by putting the reins of government beyond the reach of wealth and corporate control.
The underlying premise of the CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS of this plan is that civilization requires a society, and that to have a society requires a "societal point of view".
Let me state plainly my inexorable opposition to the governmental establishment that exists in San Juan today, a governmental system that I would not perpetuate in a new Republic. The government of Puerto Rico today, just like that of the United States, is the best government that money can buy. It was created, after all, by the United States in the image of the United States. That government does not serve the people of Puerto Rico. The CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS of the Plan for Independence eliminate corporate control of government by prohibiting legislation that inures to the economic benefit of any individual or group and by instituting publicly financed political campaigns (specific sums for each political office, with limited additional amounts allowed from the contributions of individual citizens). In brief, these CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS reconstitute one-man, one-vote democracy. They take the money out of government and, in so doing, restore the reins of government to the hands of ordinary citizens.
Clearly, there are inherent in the U.S. system both good things and bad things. In brief, the CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS proposed in my Plan for Independence of Puerto Rico take the best from the United States and remedy the worst. For the most part, government involvement will be limited to funding and oversight of the government-administered programs. It is contemplated that many, if not the majority, of such services will be contracted out to the private sector.
Furthermore, as a former Revenue Agent with the Internal Revenue Service for 27 years, I am convinced that almost any tax system imaginable is preferable to that which has been installed in Puerto Rico under the auspices of the U.S. Treasury Department. The system of taxation that I propose taxes consumption, not income. It is a tax system vastly more equitable, enforceable, and less costly, both to government and taxpayers, than that of either the United States or the Commonwealth. In my view, installation of the current income tax system of the Commonwealth in a new Republic would be a colossal blunder having disastrous consequences for its citizens.
In summary, the proposed CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS establish a Republic of Puerto Rico that is institutionally democratic and that, unlike the plutocracy of the United States, actually does provide equal opportunity to its citizens. The economic engine of that society will be a free enterprise system. Moreover, the institutional remedies that I propose put to rest the absurd notion that an economy can somehow be "managed" through government subsidy.
It is important to note that the CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS enumerated in the Plan for Independence are only those elements deemed essential to the creation of a Republic that is everything that the United States is not. There are, of course, a host of additional provisions (not enumerated in the Plan) that would naturally be included in the Constitution for the new Republic (the Bill of Rights, for example).
Finally, I foresee a provisional or caretaker government to administer the transitional period from the date of execution of the Joint Agreement to the date of transfer of sovereignty, including the phase-in of Constitutional provisions. A Provisional Constitution will, therefore, need to be ratified and in place at the date of execution of the Joint Agreement.
My Plan for Independence is predicated on my belief that the willingness of the United States to support this plan will be based on (1) the express will of the people of Puerto Rico, and (2) realization by the United States that Puerto Rican independence is in the interest of the United States. The present welfare economy of Puerto Rico is politically untenable in the United States, in light of the many drastic reductions of welfare programs that have occurred over the past decade. While the U.S. doesnt admit it publicly, my bet is that they are desperate to find a solution, and that my Plan for Independence is exactly the solution that the United States wants and needs.
In summary, this plan is realistic, entirely workable, and entails no obstacle whatsoever to presentation to the United States today! It provides a clear answer to concerns of the people of Puerto Rico regarding their economic survival in an independent Republic. The very mechanism of the plan guarantees that Puerto Rico will not become a sovereign republic until its economic independence is a fact! On the other hand, on the day of execution of the Joint Agreement, independence for Puerto Rico is a fait accompli! Once out of the bottle, that genie will never be put back!
Excerpts From Full Plan For Independence Of Puerto Rico
r) Public Financing of Political Campaigns; Acceptance of Gratuity a Felony
There will be no private funds used in political campaigns other than the contributions of individual citizens to registered political parties or to the campaign committees of candidates whose candidacy has been certified by the Elections Commissioner, the annual amount of which contributions made to all such organizations by any citizen to be limited in the aggregate by law and indexed to inflation for subsequent years; the amount of public funds available to a certified candidate will be fixed by law for each political office and indexed to inflation for future elections (NOTE 8). The use or acceptance of private funds, property, or services by any candidate for public office, by any elected or appointed public official, or by any employee of the government of Puerto Rico shall be a felony punishable by disqualification of candidacy or loss of position, fine and imprisonment.
s) No Special Interest Legislation
The legislative branch of the government of Puerto Rico will not enact legislation that inures to the economic benefit of any individual, non-governmental corporation, or private group, including trade organizations and industry associations, or that serves the particular business or commercial interest of any such individual, corporation, or group.