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What's Your "Exit Plan", Mr. Acevedo Vila?

December 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All rights reserved. 



What's Your "Exit Plan", Mr. Acevedo Vila?

Puerto Rico's governor-elect, Acevedo Vila, is confronted with a murder rate roughly three times that of New York City. (NYC has twice the population, PR has a murder count one and one-half times greater than NYC, therefore a murder rate three times greater.) Puerto Rican youth are ravaged by drugs, slain in drug disputes and they are dying like flies on public roads. Island economy struggles as revenue from former naval installations has disappeared. And, what is Acevedo Vila's focus? The war in Iraq, of course. Death by murder in Puerto Rico closely equals American deaths in Iraq combat.

My wife and I serve as short-term missionaries to Peru, Mexico, our own community and to Cuba. Our love for Hispanics is a God-given affection. Our business earnings provide ministry funds for travel and service. On occasion to provide business service to an industrial project in Puerto Rico, I developed a burden for the youth of that beautiful island. Over time, I learned of drug problems, read news reports of auto accidents and communicated with Puerto Ricans. Internal struggles between those who want statehood and those who want independence were evident in every public forum: the news, small conversations, posters and even bumper stickers. One bumper sticker I remember well, said "Es su bandera tambien" (It's your flag, too). Small posters exclaimed "Fuera Marina" (Go away, Navy). Y, sí, para los que deseen saber, puedo comunicarme con puerto riqueños porque soy un hispanoparlante.

Social problems in Puerto Rico are enormous. Perhaps one could defend Governor-elect Acevedo Vila's position on Iraq. After all, he is powerless to change the hearts of his own youth. His supporters can readily rally to an anti-American stance and send surplus "Fuera Marina" posters to Iraq. What a splendid strategy: focus on something over which he has absolutely no influence and ignore problems in his own neighborhood! Borrowing a phrase from Colonel Klink (Hogan's heroes), the gang in San Juan can call it the "Acevedo Vila Plan"!

Here, in the States, our Bob Vila (a Puerto Rican) has a television program where he encounters a remodeling problem with someone's house. By the end of the program, Bob Vila provides solutions and everyone lives happily ever after. Acevedo Vila's plan is to foment opposition to American efforts in Iraq where we defeated a murderous dictator. Iraqis will have the same opportunity as Puerto Ricans to decide their future through democratic processes. Obviously, Mr. Acevedo Vila opposes this idea. What does this mean for his fellow islanders? Well, unlike Bob Vila, Acevedo Vila has no plan to solve problems within Puerto Rico. So, he uses the politics of distraction. What's your "exit plan", Mr. Acevedo Vila?

Whether Puerto Ricans choose statehood or independence, I will support that choice, because that will ultimately be a choice of a free and democratic people.

John White


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