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The San Juan Star
"The State of the Colony"
Viewpoint, Arturo J. Guzmán, Commentary, The San Juan Star
Monday, May 2, 2005
The local November election extinguished what little hope remained for the future of our society not only because it brought the questionable imposition of Aníbal Acevedo Vilá as governor but because it exposed as corrupt an electoral system which was one of the few remaining bastions of our public confidence. To spite ourselves we abused the election as a democratic subterfuge to institutionalize anarchy and turmoil for at least four years. This mockery perpetrated upon ourselves invites a paradoxical "State of the Colony" appraisal to try and determine exactly where and how it left us.
The concept of "shared government", difficult even in the more civil ambience of the federal structure, is simply unattainable under the ideological chasm separating Puerto Rican political parties. The Popular Democratic Party must subsist by governing within the restraints of its political agenda, and has consistently proven its willingness to act against the best interests of Puerto Ricans if any initiative may be even remotely perceived as "statehood-like". Samples abound ranging from the substantive (replacing excise for sales taxes) to the ridiculous (opposition to the adoption of Daylight Savings Time). What remains, if anything, of the Independence Party must sabotage as usual any effort that may bring about orderly democratic change and economic growth.
Our economic window of opportunity began to close since the Congress began to sever our umbilical cord by grandfathering the scandalous "936"corporate welfare program and it should have made evident that Puerto Rico could waste no time to radically change its economic model. Streamlining government gigantism and its resulting waste, facilitating private investment in the Island by vastly improving its infrastructure, and eliminating red tape were priorities immediately adopted by the Rosselló administration that were later shunned and ridiculed by the Calderón regime.
Whatever little economic development remains with the gratuitous added effects of worldwide downscaling, is often stymied by environmental terrorism politically motivated to stagnate prosperity and growth. The resulting endemic unemployment and underemployment force "the best and the brightest" to continue to migrate stateside in droves, leaving Puerto Rico with an increasingly growing aging population and the less productive segments of society to contend with world class competition.
Those remaining, ever more cynical or ignorant of our predicament have even lost their social cohesion and substituted it by the selfish gratification of individual materialism. Criminality is so rampant that we leave our homes daily with the fear of not knowing if we will be able to return and survive a society that produces more casualties each year than there are American troops killed in the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our beautiful Island is filthy, with hardly an inch of land even in the more remote sectors free from abandoned wrecked cars and appliances, and every conceivable object that can potentially become trash. In our beaches additional portions of broken glass are added, to ensure that the visitors can return home with a permanent reminder of their stay. Stray animals abound and attack the innocent.
The public school system, perennially in shambles, is even more inept and amongst its many crass deficiencies generalized English language proficiency has been further reduced, producing yet another generation of American citizens purposely handicapped to serve as peons for the masters of the colonial economic regime. The University of Puerto Rico continues to be ruled by a numerically insignificant gang of Marxist thugs, subsidized with US grants, who dictate their "anti-imperialist" campus agenda.
Puerto Ricos contribution to the national defense, one of very limited factors once justifying billions in federal transfers, was severed by the expulsion of the Navy from Vieques and the subsequent capitulation of Roosevelt Roads, clearly exposing to the Congress our intransigence to share only federal benefits but no obligations and dooming Puerto Rico as a long term unsustainable and loosing economic and political proposition.
Taxes, proportionately higher than any other US jurisdiction, asphyxiate the economically productive citizenry and are increased while conversely the government services which they are supposed to cover continue to be eliminated or reduced. Public utilities and corporations which should have been privatized years ago to foster needed competition, absorb more and more of the limited economic resources in order to justify a political system that requires low productiveness in order to provide bloated employment to the party faithful.
We pay government in fees, charges, patents, and taxes for the same things over and over never realizing their actual cost. Adding insult to injury, there are many other hidden additional taxes such as having to buy bottled water, make extreme sacrifices to send children to private schools, car repair bills resulting from eternal potholes etc., etc.
If the future looks bleak we have no one but ourselves to blame. The interminable list of our failures extends to the extreme of giving our politicians the free reign of unaccountability, excepting perhaps politics and ideology, in order to flee from our own responsibilities as citizens. These characteristics will become our legacy to western civilization as chaos becomes the supreme rule and the indispensable attribute of our emerging Puerto Rican nationhood.
But do not despair! Empowered with our enhanced patriotic values and priorities hope lies ahead and we may yet produce another world boxing champion or perhaps even another Miss Universe as an answer to our problems!