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The San Juan Star

A Dangerous Trend

Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer

May 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The San Juan Star. All rights reserved. 

When you take stock of the events of the last few weeks here on the Island, it is obvious that we are in the midst of a dangerous trend.

Just a few days ago, Claridad published an incredible piece that has to be one of the most defamatory pieces of garbage I have ever seen. I am referring to, of course, to the piece that alleged that Governor Pedro Rosselló was under investigation by the FBI. The article had no byline, no attributable source and was full of innuendo and half-baked accusations. I am not a journalist, but it seems readily apparent to me that the article does not pass any serious journalistic standard. The thing was so scandalous that the very next day, the FBI refuted the article. .

And what did the press clubs do? Did they censure Claridad, the way they censured El Vocero and its reporter when they published the story about Sila Calderon’s nanny? Did they denounce Claridad the way they have denounced certain political analysts whose crime has been expressing their opinion? Of course not.

Before that, Sila Calderón had cancelled about $60,000 worth of ads in National Geographic because she did not like the way the story was written, even though government officials had accompanied the writer of the piece all along and had probably gotten him his sources. Now, if you remember, the last time a governor cancelled ads in a paper, all hell broke loose in the Island. The press clubs huffed and puffed about the sanctity of the first amendment, those poor persecuted souls, the Ferre-Rangels, sued the governor and his aides and proceeded to crucify him without mercy to this day. The lawsuit was eventually settled–making scant mention of the First Amendment. Believe me, I have a copy of the settlement agreement (which curiously, El Nuevo Día never published) and it deals more with getting construction permits and other aspects of the many companies owned by the Ferre-Rangels.

Once again, the press clubs, whom you might think would pounce on this obvious punishment of a media outlet, stayed quiet. No mention was made about Sila Calderón’s punitive tactic, no complaints, nothing.

And it should not surprise us, because we are witnesses to a dangerous trend that threatens the essential credibility that a free press must have. I’ll give you a few examples: Remember Leyla Andreu? She was the Press Association president during the El Nuevo Día-Rosselló fight. She took plenty of shots at Rosselló. And what is she doing today, you might ask? She’s the press secretary at the Department of Natural Resources in Calderón’s Government. What about Luis Torres, the former head of the EFE news agency. Today, he’s Sila’s official mouthpiece. And what about Ada Torres Toro? Remember her? She was the former beauty queen who became anchorwoman and reporter for Channel 4, where she had some memorable tete-a-tetes with Governor Rosselló. Guess what? As soon as Sila became Governor, she went off to become the press spokesperson at the Power Authority. These are just a few examples of how some people who brought us the news certainly appear to have had secret agendas that they did not bother to share with the public.

And what about the Ferre-Rangels? What have they done? What they have done is to stay quiet. And who can blame them? Sila’s government approved a law that gave them a monopoly over the cement produced in PR, which allowed it to sell their cement company to a Mexican one (funny how there was no Justice Dept investigation, as with the Wal-Mart buyout of Amigo, right?) and make a tidy $180 million profit in the process. The Education Dept is now buying about 40 thousand Primera Horas a day, keeping it alive in the process. And their printing arm, Advance Graphic Printing, is doing a fine business publishing Sila’s propaganda. So you won’t see any self-righteous editorials emanating from them.

So, as you can see, the Island is going through a very dangerous trend. The press plays a very important role in our society, as it is the medium through which the population at large finds out what is going on. But when the people involved in bringing us the news compromise themselves, or have hidden agendas, then we are all at peril, for then we are at danger of being manipulated to someone else’s design. And that is precisely what is going on right now. But we can all put a stop to it, rather easily, I might add. Just simply trust your instincts, and if you feel one particular media outlet has a hidden agenda, or is dangerously biased, stop sponsoring it. If enough of us do that, then you will positive results rather rapidly.

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