OP-ED: For Puerto Rico, enough is enough
When is it time to tell the world that enough is enough? For Puerto Rico, soon to be under the strict control of a federally imposed dictatorship, the time is now.
Just in case that someone would be naïve enough as to still doubt that Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony, the Senate will consider a bill, possibly this week, that would authorize the creation of a seven-member financial control board, supposedly to help Puerto Rico deal with its staggering debt. The bill also prescribes a lower minimum wage of $4.25, for newly-hired young workers in Puerto Rico, the lowest minimum wage in the U.S. The legislation, ironically known as PROMESA (“promise”), passed the House on June 9 in a bipartisan vote of 297 to 127.
The board, a word that translates into the Spanish term junta, with all its ominous connotations of military dictatorships, would trample Puerto Rico’s already badly battered sovereignty even more. The Washington-appointed junta will have absolute power.
“It will be the governor, banker, judge, jury, and pawnbroker of Puerto Rico. It will manage the entire Puerto Rican economy, and be accountable to no one on the island. It will tell the Puerto Rican government when to jump, and how high. It will issue debt, spend the money in any manner it sees fit, and leave Puerto Ricans to pay the bill,” as someone wrote in Facebook.
The new entity, whose real mission, far from helping Puerto Rico, is to function as a collection agency for the vulture hedge funds responsible for the island’s dire economic situation is, of course, legal according to the laws of the metropolis. But for Puerto Ricans on the island it is an immoral, humiliating and abusive imposition.
While the Puerto Rican crisis is so deep that it has forced the closing of 500 schools, the vulture funds stand to make a staggering $16 billion off the island’s crisis.
If all this wasn’t enough, also on June 9 the U.S. Supreme Court dispelled all doubts about who owns Puerto Rico. The language was very clear: “Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War.” And it added: “U.S. territories are not sovereigns distinct from the United States.”
So that is that. Say goodbye to the illusions of the commonwealth. A colony is just that, a colony. And Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world.
Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens by birth since 1917, but many of them are realizing the hardest possible way for the first time, that not all American citizenships are created equal. It
has become painfully obvious in the past few months, that the 3.5 million people that inhabit the island, are just second class citizens in the eyes of their masters in Washington.
Yet Puerto Rico is a Latin American country and the time has come for its people to claim their place in the roster of the world’s sovereign nations. Latin America will never be complete without Puerto Rico.
Enough is enough.