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A protester flies a flag burned May 1, 2017, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the general strike against the cuts, which coincides with May Day, International Labor Day. EFE
A protester flies a flag burned May 1, 2017, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the general strike against the cuts, which coincides with May Day, International Labor Day. EFE

[OP-ED]: Puerto Ricans Are Not Taking It Any More

Message to all those self-righteous individuals in Puerto Rico who made a show of being scandalized by the stones thrown –God knows by whom—during the May 1st…

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Because for anybody who knows that after 119 years –119 years! --of being a U.S. colony almost half of the island’s population lives in poverty, with child poverty reaching 60% and unemployment at nearly double the average of the rate in the U.S., while facing a $650 million Medicaid funding gap, the indignation of the Puerto Rican people cannot be a surprise. 

Certainly, those are more than enough reasons for the Puerto Rican’s anger, not to mention something much more important: having been subjected to the U.S. neglect and arrogance, a colonial master that for more than a century has not respected their intelligence and aspirations. So, even though there are many indications that the vandals were not legitimate protestors but government infiltrators –it has happened before--, in case that a few real protestors had broken some bank windows, well, they were not about to throw flowers at those who have been complicit in plunging the island into economic chaos. 

After all, how can a few broken windows be compared to the damage caused by the federal law known as PROMESA, an acronym that seems chosen by Congress to mock the island and the more than three million American citizens that inhabit it? 

The legislation placed the island under the control of a federally-appointed financial control board whose primary function, far from helping Puerto Rico, has been to serve as a collection agency for a dubious $73 billion debt the Puerto Rican people is demanding be audited so everybody can find out how much is really owed and who are the debtors. As reported by TeleSur, “a mind-boggling report by the ReFund America Project found that nearly half of the debt the island owes is not borrowed funds, but interest on bonds underwritten by Wall Street firms, who are raking in big profits from predatory lending schemes.” Why should the people have to pay for such an outrage?

The PROMESA Authority is the governor, banker, judge, jury, and pawnbroker of Puerto Rico, as someone wrote in a Facebook post. It manages the entire Puerto Rican economy, and is accountable to no one on the island. It tells the Puerto Rican government when to jump, and how high. It issues debt, spend the money in any manner it sees fit, and leave Puerto Ricans to pay the bill.

Shamefully, governor “Ricky” Roselló and his clique, foolishly dreaming that Washington will make of Puerto Rico a full-fledged state, are happy, better yet, eager, to serve the masters and play their game. And if people’s jobs, rights, schools, proud university, even the families’ ability to make a living are threatened, so be it. No wonder protestors chanted “Ricky is selling the island” over and over.

By now Boricuas know that what the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Security Act, the infamous PROMESA, promises is only greater humiliation and hardship.  Yet again, when has an imperial power treated a colony with respect, not to talk about justice? And Puerto Rico is the longest existing colony in the world, which means that until the island becomes an independent nation, it will be at the mercy of Washington’s imperial designs. Shame on all those who care more about a few broken windows than the dignity of their own people.  

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