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Mission 2025 Gathers 170 Public And Private Leaders To Sketch Blueprint Of Islands Future
Final 100 Initiatives Could Become The Core Of The PDPs Economic Platform In 2004 Elections
By MARIALBA MARTINEZ
May 29, 2003
CARIBBEAN BUSINESS recently interviewed Popular Democratic Party Sen. Roberto Prats on Mission 2025: Legacy of a Generation, a group he organized to discuss Puerto Ricos future through the year 2025. Given the senators announcement last week that he will join Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral to head the PDP ticket in the 2004 elections, the 100 initiatives being gathered by the more than 170 young industry leaders in the group could become the core of the PDP platform.
"Mission 2025 was created in January with the purpose of promoting. . .a debate on ideas in 10 different areas which in my view are of vital importance to the future of our island," said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Roberto Prats, founding member of Mission 2025: Legacy of a Generation.
Although his project may sound similar to Gov. Sila Calderons Vision 2025 project--the development of a long-term economic, social, and academic development strategy for Puerto Rico that is free of political pressure so that the island can be globally competitive--Prats is quick to point out the difference.
"Last December, my staff and I were trying to identify issues that would help to define my tenure in the Senate, when I realized that what most concerned me was the future of Puerto Rico," said Prats during an interview before CARIBBEAN BUSINESS met with Mission 2025s executive committee and some of the other think tanks members.
"I looked on the Internet and saw that hundreds of governments and private companies already had long-term plans in the works. My campaign had been based partly on the fact that I represented a new generation of people in the process of making decisions in government and politics," said Prats. "I have spent two years in the Senate and seen that there isnt much time to think about the future because the day-to-day controversies, the trivialities tend to waste more time than one can imagine. If I really wanted to feel as if I were making a contribution as a member of the younger generation, I needed to shape a vision, create a blueprint."
Mission 2025 was established as a nonprofit organization in February 2003. The first members to be called by Prats were attorney Eliseo Roque, publicists Jorge Marchand and Efren Pagan, attorneys Jose Rodriguez Amorous and Ricardo Vaquero Castro Senior, and certified public accountant Thomas Garrity, who now make up the executive committee. Roque acts as Mission 2025s executive director and Garrity oversees the finances. Three organizations have also supported Mission 2025 since its inception: the Puerto Rico Bar Association, Puerto Rico Architects Association, and Puerto Rico Certified Public Accountants Association.
"Mission 2025 has 163 members [at the time of our interview, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce had said it would assign 10 members to the group]," said Prats. "They are divided into 10 think tanks, each led by facilitators who have been chosen because they are leaders in their particular industries. All of the other participants likewise have proven themselves to be successful leaders. These are members of a young generation whose achievements show how by making advances in their industries, they can improve the country."
Any and all ideas are open to discussion, except one: political status. "Political status is not included because we are looking for initiatives that are status-neutral, understanding that talking about our political status is something that divides us," said Prats.
"There are things the government should be doing regardless of whether it is a state, an independent nation, or an improved or unimproved commonwealth," said Prats. "We need to talk about urban planning or sales taxes, for example, no matter what our status. Were looking for 100 ideas not tied to political status."
The organizations agenda is simple. Between February and April, there were group discussions to answer three questions: What is the actual status of your industry or area? How could it be better in 20 to 25 years? What needs to be done to achieve this? Each group will generate 10 ideas about its vision for the industry and how to achieve it. A total of 100 initiatives will be the think tanks final result.
Between April and July, the 10 think tanks will be integrated into one. There will be discussions of overlapping areas. In July, the final document incorporating the 100 initiatives proposed by all the members will begin to be drafted. The deadline for Mission 2025s final report is September.
"In 2025, there will be 4.5 million people living in Puerto Rico," said Prats. "The median age of men will be 35 and of women will be 40. This means there will be a really young population running this country, which will require a lot of planning, and this falls on my generation.
"This is why I told Gov. Calderon that my generation has to have greater input in designing the future," continued Prats. "I wanted to do this and hand it to her and see how it could strengthen her Vision 2025 project."
During CARIBBEAN BUSINESS two-hour meeting with Mission 2025s members, significant ideas on telecommunications, technology, urban planning, transportation, health, economic development, and income distribution came to the fore. It was obvious members were passionate about their industries and pleased to have found a place to voice their concerns about Puerto Rico without corporate, social, or political restraints. Following are some of their comments:
"Most of those who are here are young leaders in different fields and we have a lot to offer. In 20 years, I hope to be executing the legacy of a new generation, which we will have shaped in the next few months. We all have the same yearning and purpose, and that is to make Puerto Rico a more competitive country; one that is more responsive and can generate a successful economic environment; that has transportation and infrastructure systems that generate more and improved businesses; and that has a health system accessible to all Puerto Ricans."--Eliseo Roque
"The telecommunications & technology group has more than 20 members and represents every imaginable group in the industry. Yet we had never met for this kind of exercise. This discussion has nothing to do with who is running the country, but about an industry that is now thinking out of the box, about the future, about a healthy and competitive industry."--Patricia Eaves
"I grew up with Alvin Toffler and was lucky enough to have dinner with him twice. When I read about [Sen. Roberto Prats] idea, I called him immediately to join. I saw Virginia change from a tobacco state to the center of the Internet industry in 10 years. This can be done with a vision of the future in which everyone joins in, agrees on a plan, and executes, apart from political views. Participating in Mission 2025 is a civic responsibility."--Stefan Antonmattei
"Some countries gross national product growth rate is 6%, while ours has been 2.6% for the past 30 years, so what is our benchmark? Do we compare ourselves to the U.S.? Its not reasonable that public corporations have the same short-term market value as General Electric or Microsoft. But it is reasonable for the performance of local stocks to be as good as--or better than--those of multinational corporations. Its not a matter of getting there. . .its just that we have to run faster."--Vincente Feliciano
"Our health system is going to be renovated. It will be improved for more regionalized systems. We will depend on information systems such as the Puerto Rico Health Data System, which locates health problems by geographic areas. Private enterprise will provide these systems to the government, but the government will have to define its role.--Dr. Carlos Diaz
"We have to take a closer look at the space remaining in Puerto Rico, because the island measures 100 miles by 35 miles and isnt going to give us another inch. What areas must definitely be protected, other than the obvious El Yunque and Bosque Seco? What about land for agricultural use? How do we start to recycle developed land instead of continuing to develop single-family housing units, to invade agricultural land, and to destroy the few flat-topped hills (mogotes) that remain on the island?"--Lisa Fernandez Rosselli
Mission 2025 Think Tanks & Facilitators
Wealth & income distribution: Karolee Garcia, Esq.
Economic development & globalization: Samuel T. Cespedes, Esq.
Technology & telecommunications: Stefan Antonmattei / Patricia Eaves
Conservation & environment: Michelle Rexach
Transportation & infrastructure: Francisco Pavia, Esq.
Health: Carlos Diaz, M.D.
Public safety: Allan Charllotten, Esq.
Education & culture: Cecille Blondet, Esq.
Urban planning: Lisa Fernandez Rosselli
Governmental structures: David Rive, Esq.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.