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Hatred, Lies, Fears Pollute Puerto Rico's Air
by Guillermo Moscoso
December 8, 1998
Most people in Puerto Rico are sick and indignant of the relentless
lies, hatred, fears, disinformation, venom and distortion of facts
in the political campaign leading to the December 13 status consultation.
They are equally indignant and sick of the constant drumbeat of
orchestrated anger and attacks against Governor Rosselló
and everything he says and does. To hate Rossello and to call
for his punishment on December 13 is the order of the day, to
say nothing about well-orchestrated and politically-motivated
I agree that there is something proper and patriotic about thoughtful
opposition. And there is nothing more Puerto Rican than criticizing
political leaders. But as it has been pointed out, what we have
today in Puerto Rico is beyond that. It is a sickly cynicism encouraged
by haranguers of the masses. The situation has gone beyond mere
political opposition and has come close to anarchy. Speaking of
the lies that pollute Puerto Rico's air today, what is being said
about statehood being dead and impossible for Puerto Rico takes
the prize! The misinformations, lies, fears and distortion of
facts about statehood, compel me to remind the people of Puerto
Rico what the late Senator Dennis Chávez (D-New Mexico)
said, as follows, in a speech delivered in San Juan 28 years ago:
"At no time has it been the intention of the U.S. Congress
to make the commonwealth status of Puerto Rico any other than
a transitory government leading to eventual statehood or independence,
and the Popular Democratic Party has been derelict in foisting
on Puerto Rico a status that is entirely unpalatable. Puerto Rico
as a state could contribute untold benefits as a leading link
or stepping stone toward close ties with Latin America, and as
an example for underdeveloped countries. The opponents of statehood
argue that statehood would be disastrous for Puerto Rico. Not
so. For Puerto Ricans themselves, statehood would bring incalculable
benefits. Full-fledged citizenship on a par with citizens of the
states of the Union would imply responsibilities, as well as privileges.
These responsibilities, electing senators and representatives
to Congress and paying taxes in support of the federal government,
far from being burdensome, would put Puerto Rico on equal psychological
footing with citizens of other states. We hear fervent arguments
to the effect that the tax concessions which Puerto Rico can offer
new investors are a decisive factor in attracting new industries
to the island. I believe, on the contrary, that the sense of political
insecurity growing out of the neither fish-nor-foul status of
the island, is a major barrier to investment of capital in the
island. It can be argued logically that among economic benefits
under statehood, come the elimination of many restrictions of
imports to the mainland, a larger share in defense contracts,
through voice and vote in Congress, plus increased capital investments.
These three factors should more than equal losses through federal
taxation. In balance, I hold that the economic, cultural, psychological
and strategic advantages weigh heavily in favor of Puerto Rico's
statehood. Regarding independence, it would be the most disastrous
step Puerto Rico could ever take". (end of quote).
It has been said that our Hispanic heritage, culture, and Spanish
language disqualify Puerto Rico from becoming a state of the Union.
No mention has been made, however, that in spite of multi cultural
history and languages, other than English, several U.S. territories,
such as New Mexico, California, Louisiana, Hawaii, Alaska and
Colorado, were admitted as states of the Union. In 1868, when
Colorado was a territory-like Puerto Rico is now-its territorial
laws were published in English, Spanish and German. So were all
public documents, governor's messages and codes of civil procedure.
A few years ago, when Colorado Congresswoman Patricia Schroader,
who opposed Colorado adopting English as the official language,
came to Puerto Rico, she said that "people need not be told
which language is official and which is not". This may explain
why the U.S. Constitution and Congress never established a U.S.
official language and left it to the states to decide this matter.
As to claims that under statehood we would lose our Hispanic heritage
and Spanish language, the following was said in 1937 by the late
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which actually represents U.S.
policy: "Puerto Rico is a densely populated island. Many
of its sons and daughters would seek economic opportunities on
the mainland. They would be greatly handicapped if they had no
command of the English language. It is obvious that they retain
their Spanish culture and heritage. Clearly, there is no desire
or intention to eliminate the enjoyment and usefulness of the
rich legacy of Spanish culture of the people of Puerto Rico".
Also to be remembered are the following words of the late Senator
Dennis Chávez: "It is my wish that Puerto Ricans learn
English so they don't live on the fringes of our political, social
and economic life. This, without losing an iota of the great values
of Spanish civilization, including the Spanish language.".
In conclusion, statehood for Puerto Rico is not impossible, it
is not dead, nor has it been defeated in the U.S. Congress because
it is a legitimate decolonization status option (integration with
sovereign state) approved by United Nations Resolution 1541 in
1960, of which the U.S. was signatory. Only Puerto Ricans can
defeat statehood. So, it is imperative to show convincingly on
December 13 that the majority of the people of Puerto Rico want
statehood and, as much as possible, integration in the U.S. political,
economic and social structures and patterns, without renouncing
and turning their back to their basic heritage. It must be realized
that there is a price to be paid for all good things in life.
If we want full political rights under our U.S. citizenship, we
must have statehood with all its privileges, benefits, as well
as obligations, and forget about such trivialities as having and
Olympic team and participating in Miss Universe contest as a separate