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The Governors Hypocrisy
By CARLOS ROMERO BARCELO
March 24, 2005
It seems many people in Puerto Rico believed the governor when, right after the elections and before he was declared winner against all reason and electoral tradition, he proclaimed that he wanted to share the government with the Senate and the House. Why would anyone believe him, when throughout all his years in politics he has demonstrated that he is a first-class hypocrite and willing to do anything necessary in order to achieve his goals? He has shown a complete lack of respect for the law and he believes that the end justifies the means.
He has raised money illegally for his campaigns, has betrayed his own party members, and used all means at his disposal to smear his opposition candidates, whether they are members of the opposition or his own party in primaries. Over and over again, he has negotiated with whomever it has been necessary in order to get what he wants. However, his promises and commitments are not necessarily carried out, particularly if he thinks it is not to his benefit.
With such a history, why did so many people believe him? Simply, because they wanted to believe him. Because they wanted a government that would work after four years of the worst economic, financial and administrative disaster in our governments history. Because they wanted to believe that we could now have an opportunity to re-energize our economy and do the many things that were not done during the Calderón administration. People believed that it was impossible to have any governor worse than Sila Calderón. They failed to see what to others, like me, was obvious. A liar and a hypocrite is not only unreliable, but is a liar and a hypocrite because he cannot succeed with the truth and with sincerity.
Not only did many people believe in him, but many of the New Progressive Party members and leaders felt that he had good intentions and should be given a fair opportunity. That was wishful thinking. We witnessed some of our New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders attending his inaugural activities and thereby legitimizing his ill-gotten victory at the polls. He promised our elected mayors that he would support the local governments financing of their pet projects. Projects that required legislative action and which they should have discussed with our legislative leadership in the House and the Senate, they discussed with him and thanked him publicly, thereby reinforcing his position, while they unwittingly weakened ours.
What did it cost him to promise his endorsement of projects, which he could not approve by himself? He needed support of the Legislature. Yet, instead of our mayors talking to our legislators and thanking them for their support, they were swept into acquiescence and submission by the machinations of Acevedo and his public relations consultants. While our mayors thought they were helping their own public images, they were instead, serving as the useful tools of a scheming governor. His promises meant nothing, and if it serves his purpose in the future, he will not hesitate to break his promise and blame someone else for not keeping his word.
The majority of the media took up on his alleged intention to "share the government with the New Progressive Party legislators." They supported him strongly and pressed our mayors and legislators to accept a "shared government." However, what most people failed to see was that his real intentions, as far as sharing was concerned, was to share the legislative power of the NPP legislators and the municipal power of the NPP mayors. He did not, nor does he have, any intention whatsoever of sharing his executive powers or the powers of the Popular Party mayors. Ample evidence of that has already been provided.
Even as he was being sworn in, during the inaugural celebrations at Parque Muñoz Rivera, Acevedo said in his speech: "We must forgive, but we must not forget." That is a statement that shows clearly his intentions to avenge whatever he feels needs avenging. Why should you not forget if you are forgiving? Obviously for a purposeto get even (for whatever) when your opponent least expects it. "Pardon me, your slip is showing." However, no one, including the media caught on to his real intentions.
As soon as he began carrying out the duties of his office, he started making appointments without consulting the leadership of the New Progressive Party. How can you share government if you dont share the process of appointing persons to direct and administer the departments, agencies, and public corporations? Not only has he been unwilling to share his power and authority to appoint, but the only member of the New Progressive Party that he has appointed to head any department, agency or public corporation has been Pedro Toledo, as Superintendent of Police. And he did that, not in the spirit of sharing government, but because he couldnt find a candidate within his own party who could do as good a job as the public felt Toledo had done. In the past 20 years, no superintendent has done such a good job as Pedro Toledo. Since public safety was the number one issue of concern in Puerto Rico, he felt forced to appoint him. However, no one else from the New Progressive Party has been appointed by him to lead a department or government agency.
As time has gone by, Acevedo has shown his determination not to share his governmental authority. His continuous expressed intention to "share the government" is mere lies and hypocritical expressions, which he knows the majority of the media support, and many of the people still believe.
He has shown his hypocrisy about shared government, not only with his appointments, but with his stance at insisting that his appointments be considered even though the New Progressive Party senators do not believe certain appointees have the academic requirements, personality, attitude or moral qualifications necessary to be in charge of public policy, as head of a department or agency. One glaring example is the candidate for secretary of Justice, Sánchez Ramos, who has shown his partisan political fangs, his hypocrisy, his political partisanship, and tendency to persecute all statehooders; yet Acevedo refuses to withdraw the appointment. Is that the attitude and demeanor of a governor who honestly wants to share government?
In dealing with the proposed bill to hold a referendum to decide whether to have a unicameral legislature and the status referendum bill, Acevedo has again shown an unwillingness to accept the elimination of the unicameral referendum and to accept a referendum in which people will be voting to demand from Congress an expression of which fully democratic, noncolonial and nonterritorial status it is willing to support. In other words, his position is that we accept what he proposed, or else we will have nothing, because he will not accept what we propose, even when it is the result of a compromise with the Independence Party. Is this the attitude and demeanor of a governor who honestly and sincerely wants to share government with the opposition?
Another important issue on which Acevedo is unwilling to accept anything but what he wants is the sales tax issue. Almost all professional and business groups that have analyzed our consumption taxes agree that the most efficient, least expensive and fairest tax is the sales tax. However, for purely political reasons, Acevedo is adamant about not supporting the sales tax. Is this the attitude and demeanor of a governor who honestly and sincerely wants to share government with the opposition? Definitely no.
Its about time that the media recognize the hypocrisy of the governor and that he be shown for what he is.
Carlos Romero Barceló is a two-term former governor of Puerto Rico (1977-84), a two-term former resident commissioner (1993-2000), and a two-term former mayor of San Juan (1969-78). He was president of the New Progressive Party for 11 years.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.