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The San Juan Star

"The Queen is dead! Long live...the Prince?"

By Philip Johnson

June 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The San Juan Star. All rights reserved. 

It was late afternoon and I was trying to catch a cab in rainy, cold, Washington, D.C. when my cell phone rang. "Have you heard the news?" the caller inquired. After a brief conversation and without giving me an opportunity to ponder the news, I received three more calls from Puerto Rico in quick succession. "Have you heard the news?"

Yes I had: After weeks of rumors and speculation, Sila Calderon had just made the official announcement that she would not seek a second term as governor. My immediate reaction was that even in parting she had lied, because just hours earlier she had vehemently assured the public she would be a candidate for re-election.

Inevitably rumors were rife about her reasons for making the decision and for making it public so unexpectedly. Poor health, an impending marriage, and poll results became topics of speculation, yet I have remained skeptical that any of these or even a combination could reveal the true reason.

Perhaps time will tell the full story, but at least partial considerations would be her dismal failure at governing, her intended micromanagement of a bureaucracy that thrives on complexity, inefficiency and gigantism, the generalized perception of do-nothingness, and the hatred and widespread malcontent engendered by the persecution of her political opponents and others who dared not to think or agree with her.

Additionally, an all-to-evident impending electoral defeat by her despised predecessor, a presidential administration and a congressional leadership painfully aware of her inability to deliver and her repeated deceit would be influencing factors. Another culprit is the ignorance exemplified in trying to convince the Washington republican majority to risk becoming political targets by providing Puerto Ricans with an economic corporate welfare package that would have left in great disadvantage out-of-work federal taxpayers in the rest of the nation.

All of these could become substantive but not determining reasons for her decision if one considers Calderón’s personal obstinacy and arrogant character. There is an old Spanish saying to the effect that it is easier to detect a liar than someone with a limp, and while it is true that Calderón doesn’t limp, her statements about having made the decision months before are contradicted by the fact that up to the last minute before her announcement she continued the assurances that she would run. Then, what was it really that made her jump ship?

Was she ever telling the truth, or was she lying about previous lies? We do not know, do we? I am not a gambler or a soothsayer, but given the clear suddenness of the decision, if I were to bet or divine, I would attribute her political "hara-kiri" as an acknowledgement of an impending scandal, spelled as in corruption scandal. But time may tell, and presently I do not care much beyond a friend’s joyous quotes of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz proclaiming, "The wicked witch is dead!"

Instead, allow me to acclaim that The Queen is Dead! So, long live...the Prince? Be damned! By imposing her successors she took the ball and bat home so that no one could play and much less win without her! An ambitious and candid José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral, a.k.a. Rafael Hernández Colón Jr., rushed and fell for the ruse that once and for all would settle Calderon’s old scores with the former governor and his family. A good future prospect for the governorship was sacrificed in a single selfish act of brilliant but obsessive vengeance and destruction. Did History record if Machiavello was borne by a Puerto Rican Popular?

Confronted by the generalized public incredulity and astonishment given his patent inexperience, the Prince followed tradition and also lied by stating: "Muñoz never had prior experience either." Hernández, Jr. responded to the urgent cry provoked by the enormous chasm in his resume by inviting and tempting a Lloyd Bentsen-type response: Puerto Rico knew Muñoz, and was led and governed by Muñoz but he is no Muñoz!

But Hernández, Jr. he is, and if he were elected given his dismal inexperience in governing, administering, and managing amongst other things, it would be his father and his father’s separatist agenda that would win an unprecedented fourth term in office. The Queen is dead! So shall it be long live the Prince or, more accurately, long live the King?

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