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Puerto Rico Herald

by Arturo J. Guzmán


All generalizations tend to be unjust and erroneous. Political and ideological generalizations are not an exception to this norm even though habit, partisan tribalism and other reasons frequently make intelligent, reasonable and equable people generalize unjustly. Thus, often time we hear exclamations and assertions, not only amongst the people, but also in the political-ideological leadership that tend to blame a whole group or party for the actions of a reduced nucleus.

Who in Puerto Rico has not heard, or worse personally exclaimed, pejorative phrases in reference to their political adversaries? "The Populares" are this or that; that "they" have or have not done, etc. Unfortunately, and as could be expected, there is full reciprocity in this undesirable practice, and mud flies between, from, and to each of the three sectors that dispute political power under the subterfuge of their ideological preferences.

I point out to "The Populares", not because they possess the exclusive franchise of being the target of unjust accusations and generalizations, but because they perhaps represent the least understood segment in our society. I recall that during a recent interview I was asked what was my opinion of "The Populares", and without pause I replied: "I can assure you that the large mass of people who are militants of the Popular Democratic Party is integrated by good Puerto Ricans who have the bests interests of Puerto Rico as their goal. They are people of good faith who have deposited their absolute, and often blind trust, on leaders who have abused it by making erroneous and false representations of the political-economical relationship that exists between the United States and Puerto Rico".

That is my opinion and I reiterate it.

It is affirmed that if a lie is frequently repeated, it can be converted to a truth, or a half-truth, and that has been the case of many of the different representations that have been made by the majority of the Popular leaders. Not all; I exempt many of their first generation, who if faulted can only be for committing the same sin as that of their mass of sympathizers in giving too much trust and accepting any expression from their top leadership as unquestionable dogma. The problem strives in that their top leadership has always expressed itself in two languages, not because of the distinctions between Spanish and English, but for the distinction they always made between what they had to say in Washington, and what was expedient to say, admit to, or represent in Puerto Rico.

As an anecdote, I recall an exchange I had years ago in Washington with then governor, Rafaél Hernández Colón, while he complained about the "enemies of Commonwealth " in the 1989-1991 plebiscite process, in a veiled reference to the Bush Administration. I assured him that the adversaries or much less the enemies of "Commonwealth" were not., "Bush, or the Congress, or the local opposition parties, but the massification of communications which were allowing "Juan del Pueblo " to see and hear for the first time, live and in living color, the expressions and participation of each and every proponent and witness" . As a result of Hernández Colón's inquisitive look I continued explaining, "Governor from now on it is not going to be possible for you and your leadership members to say one thing here (Washington), another in Puerto Rico, and possibly deny both versions two weeks later ...."

In effect the passage of time has proven me right, particularly during the Congressional process of these past three years. Indistinctly of personal political or ideological orientation, any person of average intelligence that is able to impose their intellect over their passion, has been able to witness "live and in living color" the "deflowering" and demystification of the "Commonwealth" relationship that was locally represented to the people of Puerto Rico, and seen it substituted with the often crude image of the true "Commonwealth" that was actually approved by Congress in 1952 with the full knowledge and consent of the Popular leadership of the time who were in fact responsible for its proposal, negotiation, and acceptance.

What has been revealed as the naked truth is a "BILATERAL DECEIT", for which equal responsibility must be shared by those who lied about it here, as well as the Congress of the United States whose silence for more than four decades converted it into their accomplices.

To "The Populares" what remains is a question of human sensitivity and sensibility on their part and individually, and also for the rest of us as well. It is "they" who have to conquer over two of the must difficult barriers for any human being: the admission of being wrong, and more difficult, the recognition of having been deceived. It is "us" who are called upon to act in a civic manner, and to facilitate this self-recognition without any rancor, recrimination, hostility, or much less, mockery. We are all compatriots, and ample majorities are gained by opening, not closing, our arms. Majorities are accomplished by the stretching of hands, because from either perspective, reconsideration is the trait of the wise.

What becomes important is not in determining who new the truth first, but in acknowledging and accepting truth no matter how adverse. Truth liberates us humans, and part of that liberation is in the recognition that evidently the immense majority of "The Populares" have not been the perpetrators, but like us victims of the same deceit.

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