"DEBUNKING SOME OFTEN-REPEATED MYTHS"
THE SAN JUAN STAR, VIEWPOINT, MONDAY, AUGUST 25, 1997, PAGE 82.
It breaks my heart to see my dear island continue sinking, despite relentless efforts by the Rosselló administration and federal agencies operating here to stop it to the extent possible.
There is not only a sea of crime (mostly drug-related), drugs, alcoholism, fatal automobile accidents (mostly alcohol-related), violence, and corruption, but also a sea of lies, distortion of facts, misinformation, and disinformation. All of which seems to be the order of the day in the political scenario and purgatory in which we live.
That is to say nothing about the ideology, hate and fear mongering, opportunism, and obstructionism, as evidenced in the flowery oratory and writings aimed at dominating and swaying public opinion to achieve selfish political objectives, which fail to give priority to the progress, security, and well-being of Puerto Rico and its people on realistic and long range stable basis.
The following are examples of the things that are repeatedly said and which lack truth and substance, and are impregnated with fanaticism, false and misguided nationalism, as well as lacking a true sense of patriotism and Puerto Ricanism.
nPuerto Rico is a nation in the full juridical meaning of that word and is recognized as such by local and federal courts, the international Court of Justice in the Hague and the United Nations. It is not true what is said that Puerto Rico is an ethnic and sociological entity called "pueblo," and still is a possession and an unincorporated territory of the U.S. subject to the sovereignty of the U.S. Congress.
nThe U.S. citizenship of Puerto Ricans is statutory, revocable by the U.S. Congress, imposed by Congress in 1917 in order to draft Puerto Ricans for military service in World War I. It is not true that U.S. citizenship is an irrevocable acquired constitutional right, and a person can only lose his or her citizenship if treason is committed against the U.S. or the citizenship is renounced. It is not true either that under the U.S. Nationality Act all persons born in Puerto Rico in 1941 and after are considered natural born U.S. citizens under the protection of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Nor is it true that Muñoz Rivera, De Diego, Barbosa, Degetau, and Santiago Iglesias relentlessly requested the U.S. Congress to grant U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. Nor is it true that regardless of citizenship, all those legally domiciled on U.S. soil are subject to military service in case of an emergency.
nIn case Puerto Rico is granted statehood, English will be the official language of Puerto Rico; teaching of English in public schools will be required; all churches in Puerto Rico will be required to offer mass in English; the words of "La Borinqueña" will be translated to English and the singing of this hymn in English will be required; only the U.S. flag will be displayed; the Three Kings celebration will be eliminated; participation of Puerto Rico in international Olympic Games and Miss Universe contest will be eliminated.
nPuerto Rico can sign a free association treaty with the U.S. without first becoming an independent republic, as required by the three decolonization options established in the 1960 United Nations Resolution 1541, of which the U.S. is signatory.
nPuerto Ricans did not push for the U.S. invasion of the island in 1898, which was rejected and unwanted by Puerto Ricans. It is not true that Puerto Ricans showered U.S. troops with flowers upon landing in Guánica and were given warm hospitality. It is not true that Eugenio María de Hostos was among the 25 Puerto Ricans who in New York City, on June 13, 1898, and as members of the Puerto Rico Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, signed a manifesto addressed to people on the island saying that the U.S. armed forces were coming to emancipate Puerto Rico from the Spanish yoke. It is not true that on July 14, 1898, the president of the Puerto Rico Section, Dr. Henna, wrote U.S. Secretary of State, William Day, saying that Puerto Ricans on the mainland were willing and ready to accompany the U.S. invading forces.
nThe U.S. thwarted Puerto Ricos political development, attained from Spain under the 1897 Automatic Charter. It is not true that under said Charter the king of Spain appointed the governor of Puerto Rico; that laws passed by Puerto Ricos Legislature were subject to revision by the Spanish Parliament; that the governor appointed 11 of the 15 members of the Senate and that in the preamble of the Charter it was indicated that Spain retained its sovereignty over Puerto Rico. It is not true that the U.S. established in Puerto Rico a civil government after 400 years of military government under Spain, and that all inhabitants of Puerto Rico who were Spanish subjects were considered as non-citizen U.S. nationals with a Puerto Rican citizenship for residency purposes only.
Space limitations do not permit to refute a length the above-mentioned absurdities and distortions of historical facts.
But these absurdities and distortions should serve as a wake-up call to the imperative need to bring the truth and facts to our people not only on a one-time basis, but continuously and repeatedly.
The aforementioned may also serve to explain a recent public opinion survey, the results of which vividly showed that those interviewed voted more on emotional than rational basis, essentially basing their answers on the lies, distortion of facts, and the bombardment of emotional appeals to which they (and the rest of the people of Puerto Rico) had been subjected more vigorously in recent years than ever before.
To conclude, the opinion survey also served to highlight the following.
First, the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans still reject independence for the island.
Secondly, there is an alarming ignorance of the blessings of statehood for Puerto Rico, and that informing and educating people on statehood is a must for statehooders. Equally important for statehooders is to educate and inform our fellow citizens on the mainland of the positive side of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, which has been ignored and shattered recently in mainland newspapers.
With all of the above in mind, I cannot help saying: ¡Ay, bendito, mi pobre Puerto Rico!