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The San Juan Star

The New Year And The Ferdinand Mercado Affair

By Arturo J. Guzmán

January 4, 2004
Copyright ©2004
The San Juan Star. All rights reserved.

There is a traditional Puerto Rican song that is often heard during the December holidays whose lyrics remind us of "a year that comes, another year that goes" (Un año que viene y otro que se va). I am writing this column on the last day of 2003 aware that it will be my first new year’s publication so it is fitting that I should write not only about "un año que viene" but also about the "otro que se va".

Politically, at least until the November election, the old and new years are intrinsically interrelated. They are part of the same somber mediocrity, pessimism, and destructiveness that early on I forecasted would be characteristic of the Calderón regime. Unfortunately we have also been made to end a year and begin anew shrouded in the rotten decomposition and corruptness of the unresolved Ferdinand Mercado affair.

Consistently, I have always defended any citizen’s right to presumption of innocence so I refuse to try and judge the culpability of Mr. Mercado, his alleged presence or participation during and in the aftermath of an accident, nor misconduct that would denote criminality and cowardliness in addition to absolute amorality and total absence of conscience.

However, what becomes of primordial importance to our society are the discernible implications of this issue, which have been brilliantly skirted by Calderón’s propaganda machinery, denials, distractions, and half-truths. The fundamental issue is not Mercado’s conduct, but the possibility of a widespread cover-up that involves as active participants Calderón, Acevedo Vilá, Faz Alzamora, the Police Superintendent, and most of the governmental and political leadership of the Popular Democratic Party.

Considering the precedents of the announced members of the panel charged with the Mercado investigation I harbor no illusions that the final results will be based either on impartiality, factual information, depth, resolve, or conviction to allow the truth to prevail. This has all the appearances of a "made to order panel" ready to pre-absolve the accused and then proceed to investigate the accusation and persecute the accusers.

Tragically, for all but the immediate family of the accident’s fatal victim and his close acquaintances and friends, the results of the investigation will become irrelevant. As a matter of fact, after so many years even the most impartial and thorough investigation would find it very difficult to provide the victim’s loved ones with the closure they have for so long been denied and rightfully deserve.

For Mercado, his family and friends the same holds true. Unless he volunteers to undergo the thorough and impartial polygraph tests initially suggested by former governor Hernández Colón, his reputation will remain tainted for life. He will become a pariah and a candidate for exile in the hope of getting a fresh start in life, likely stateside thus allowing him to acquire the rights and obligations his ideology denies those of us who wish, can, or have to remain on this Island.

But what about Calderón, Acevedo Vilá, and the others who hold elective or appointed office and who will continue to rule over our lives and estates for most of the "año que viene"? Who is going to investigate their participation in this scandal and the evident possibility that they were conspiring individually or collectively to cover up the allegations against Mercado?

As soon as the Police Superintendent reluctantly provided a copy of the accident report fearing that other police officials may leak it if he did not, the cat was out of the bag. It left no recourse but for Calderón, Acevedo Vilá, and all the others to have to admit that they had known about the adverse information. Why did they persist in nominating and re-nominating Mercado, without complying with their ministerial responsibility and constitutional obligation to demand a thorough in depth public investigation prior to continuing the confirmation process? Is this not at least dereliction of duty? Is it not corruption?

Biblically it is stated "he who kills by the sword shall die by the sword" and Calderón and other members of her regime once more prove that they have never been an exception. As I’ve written before, Calderón tried to restrict the definition of corruption to thievery and misuse of public funds. Corruption is more encompassing than Calderón’s self-accommodating definition and by universal definition she has proven to be very corrupt. Any dignified public servant with integrity would resign and provide with their actions the example that they have so demagogically demanded of others!

¡Un año que viene y otro que se va; Calderón no viene y Calderón se va!

Arturo J. Guzmán can be contacted at

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