Aesop’s Puerto Rico

MG,Jr. in Puerto Rico in August 1967.

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Aesop’s Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, conquered and taken during the Spanish-American War has been part of the USA as a Commonwealth since 1898; prior to that is was a Spanish colony for four centuries. The people of Puerto Rico were given U.S. citizenship in early 1917, during the Wilson Administration, a few months before the U.S. entered World War I on the side of the Allies: Britain and France. So, men from Puerto Rico could be drafted for that war, as they were in subsequent US wars, like WWII and the Vietnam War.

The people of Puerto Rico have elected representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, but those Puertorriqueño representatives cannot vote in nor introduce legislative bills to the U.S. Congress; they can only observe and lobby. Puerto Rico is neither a state of the U.S. (like New York, and Hawaii), nor an independent country (like Cuba). A 2017 referendum in Puerto Rico, hoping to show a popular majority in favor of either statehood or independence, showed an overwhelming preference for statehood (97.18%) but only among the 23% of the electorate who actually voted. Those opposed to statehood for a variety of reasons (whether preferring some form of Free Association, or the status quo, or — least popular — pure independence) boycotted the referendum.

The Republicans in the U.S. proper are against the idea of letting Puerto Rico become a U.S. State, because that would introduce two new senators (to the U.S. Senate) and several new representatives (to the U.S. House of Representatives), all fully enfranchised and who would certainly all be Democrats. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote for the U.S. President and Vice President, only for their local representatives and governor within the island itself, and for the observer representatives sent to Washington, D.C. People from Puerto Rico can vote in US presidential elections and for active members of the US Congress only if they move to the mainland (or Alaska or Hawaii) and establish residence there.

I, among others, think that the Republicans (and many Democrats) want Puertorriqueños to emigrate as economic refugees seeking jobs on the mainland so as to depopulate the island of its ethnic population, and make it easier for real estate speculators and developers (people like Trump) to move in and buy up land cheap, and then make big profits on hotel and vacation property developments. Because the people of Puerto Rico lack direct representation in the U.S. Government, they are dependent on the charity and goodwill of the US President, Senators and Congressional Representatives of the fifty US States to address their island-wide needs, such as hurricane disaster aid, and island-government financial security. It has been evident that there is not much of such charity and goodwill available to Puerto Rico from its US master.

In early 2017, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the island government. The outstanding bond debt had climbed to $70 billion at a time with 12.4% unemployment. The debt had been increasing during a decade-long recession. This was the second major financial crisis to affect the island after the Great Depression when the U.S. government, in 1935, provided relief efforts through the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration. On May 3, 2017, Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board in the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico filed the debt restructuring petition which was made under Title III of PROMESA. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) is a 2016 US federal law that established an oversight board, a process for restructuring debt, and expedited procedures for approving critical infrastructure projects in order to combat the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis. Through PROMESA, the US Congress established an unelected Fiscal Control Board (FCB) to oversee the debt restructuring. A draconian austerity program had been imposed on the island, and by early August 2017 the debt was $72 billion with a 45% poverty rate. In late September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing devastating damage. The island’s electrical grid was largely destroyed, with repairs expected to take months to complete, provoking the largest power outage in American history. Recovery efforts were slow, and over 200,000 residents had moved to the mainland State of Florida alone by late November 2017. The island population was 3.7 million in 2010, and 3.2 million in 2018. [This last paragraph is taken from wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rico, and edited with additions by me.]

Among several major pro-independence Puertorriqueños was the great singer (and disobedient WWII US soldier) Daniel Santos [Porque Soy Boricua, https://youtu.be/tfZXaAnwNdk]. Independence would be better for Puerto Rico, even if that island-nation were poor, because at least it could then direct its own affairs, like Cuba. The con of Commonwealth is that being totally dependent on the paternalism of the U.S.A., the promise of “protection” and “prosperity” handed down from Uncle Sam can be (and has been) withheld, leaving Puertorriqueños poor (except for those connected to the high-end capitalist classes), unprotected (as with Hurricane Maria and from vulture capitalists) and politically powerless (they can’t go on their own to get loans and foreign aid on the world market).

The sad state of Puerto Rico is an example of Aesop’s fable of The Wolf And The Dog. A gaunt Wolf almost dead with hunger happened to meet a well-fed Dog out for his daily scamper. “Cousin Wolf,” said the Dog, “why suffer with such an uncertain life when you can work regularly under the protection of my patron for certain meals, as I do.” “I would have no objections,” replied the Wolf, “show me how.” So, they set off together to the master’s estate. On the way, the Wolf noticed the worn and ruffled fur around the Dog’s neck, and asked about it. “Oh, that’s nothing,” said the Dog, “it’s just from the collar master puts on me to keep me chained up every night. It chafes a bit, but you soon get used to it.” “Oh, is that so,” said the Wolf, “well then, goodbye to you. Better to starve free than be a fat slave.”

The tragedy for Puerto Rico is that it is both collared and chained, and starved.

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52 State Flag (proposed); if add Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

The Tragedy of Puerto Rico

The Tragedy of Puerto Rico
30 September 2017

The tragedy of Puerto Rico is that it assumed – incorrectly – that it would be protected and prosperous as an American colony because America is so rich and powerful, and that from there it could eventually become the 51st American state, thus gaining voting representation in the American Congress, which determines how the benefits of American wealth and power are distributed.

What Puerto Rico failed to realize is that both individuals and nations that are rich and powerful did not become that way by being generous and inclusive.

Puerto Rico assumed there were only three modes of existence it might experience:

(1) a protected, prosperous, US state (like Florida)

(protected by US military power, prosperous by being a domestic participant in the US economy, and having a state’s voice in the crafting of national policy and legislation affecting it);

(2) a protected, prosperous, US colony

(a protected and prosperous captive of the United States, being reliant on American benevolence but without any political power to shape the nature and magnitude of that benevolence);

(3) an unprotected, poor, independent nation (like Cuba).

Option 1, statehood, is blocked by the apartheid mentality of the white supremacy anti-Latino bigotry that is the primal glue bonding the majoritarian clan controlling the American republic. The Republicans are not likely to vote for the addition, from a new state of Puerto Rico, of five more Democrats in the House and two in the Senate.

Option 2, a colony, is the status quo for Puerto Rico because that status most suits the colonizer.

Option 3, independence, entails the hazards of self-protection against all threats, whether natural, military or economic.

In this view, US statehood is a distant hope and perhaps only an illusion; but being a US colony is preferable to independence because a US colony is assumed to have much greater security and comfort than a likely poor, independent Caribbean island nation, like Cuba, Jamaica or Haiti.

However, as a result of the bankruptcy of the colonial government of Puerto Rico ($73B in May 2017), and its massive devastation from Hurricane Maria (in September 2017), both of which the Trump Administration has shown a singular hostility and indifference to help with, Puerto Rico has awakened to its actual mode of existence: an unprotected, poor and destroyed colony; essentially a disinherited dependent, a captive castoff.

If Puerto Rico were an independent nation instead of a colony, even with its current dual crisis of bankruptcy and hurricane devastation, it would have the freedom to direct its own efforts for humanitarian, physical and economic recovery, and of seeking international help, which efforts are now restricted by US law (e.g., Jones Act) and control-oriented obstructionism by the Trump Administration.

From the perspective of Puerto Rico’s present situation, being another Cuba can no longer be seen as a worse fate.

The current tragedy of Puerto Rico is accelerating (as transport becomes more available) the already high rate of emigration from the island and its failed economy, to the US mainland (a net emigration of 64,000 in 2014, 84,000 left and 20,000 returned, for a population loss on the island of 1.8%).

Perhaps the current tragedy of Puerto Rico will reinvigorate the independence movement among the island residents who do not wish to use their American citizenship as a free pass for escaping. If so, they would join the ferment for gaining control over their national fate, shared today by Catalonia, Kurdistan, and Palestine.

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The Tragedy of Puerto Rico
1 October 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/10/the-tragedy-of-puerto-rico/

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I Am Puerto Rico, So Are You

I Am Puerto Rico, So Are You
26 September 2017

The island of Puerto Rico has been destroyed by Hurricane Maria, and remains in ruins and with little outside assistance for about a weak now. What should be done?

The U.S. could (if it wanted to) send an aircraft carrier (or two or three) to Puerto Rico, and use its nuclear reactor as a power source for basic needs in San Juan (where it would most likely dock). It could offload mobile hospital units (MASH) and truck and/or helicopter such units to more remote locations; such units would include gasoline/diesel generators. Additionally, there are Marine units designed to set up helicopter landing zones and other forward bases (as in Vietnam), which today include the ability to set up some solar power systems (for very local electric power), as well as drone systems (for reconnaissance) to search for and locate places/people most in need of help. The US military also has hospital ships (as in Vietnam, during the US war), that could treat the most seriously injured, transported (by helicopter) from “the field.” The U.S. military, as well as the oil companies, have tankers that can bring in needed fuel (oil, gasoline). The US Corps of Engineers (basically the Army construction industry) can have units dispersed throughout the Island, to clear debris, repair and open up roads, and repair power lines. The combat engineers of the U.S. military (with the Navy, the famous Seabees) can also make amphibious landings and create temporary airfields and clear debris (they are intended to go into landing zones before the troops and clear mines and obstructions against amphibious assault).

One use of remote solar collector-to-electric power systems would be to power cell phone towers, and provide local cell-phone charging power outlets, so people isolated in the wrecked hinterlands can at least communicate, for both family/personal matters as well as financial matters. Establishing housing locations in sanitary conditions, with clean water and safe food available – “refugee camps” – can and should be established ASAP by combinations of the resources/forces I have mentioned. Basically, what is needed is the network of extended support services needed by US troops in a war zone – again, as in Vietnam during the US war there – only this time those being supported are Puerto Rico’s people, the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Had I been US President this would have been called into action as soon as Hurricane Maria’s winds had died down to below 60 mph at each locality on the Island. What we have now is that 6-7 days after the passing of the Mega-Weedwacker of Hurricane Maria, Trump has been prodded to make a speech – mainly to moan about the fact that bankrupt Puerto Rico “owes” billions to the vulture capitalists on Wall Street.

In my view, the abject failure to safeguard, or at least speed the rescue, of Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans during the administration of George W. Bush, and now particularly the case of Hurricane Maria devastation in Puerto Rico during the Trump Administration, is above the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for impeaching the Trump executive branch (too late for impeaching GWB, but not indicting him), and the congressional leadership, minimally of the Republican Party and probably also the Democratic Party. For Trump, I think such intentional negligence (how could it not be intentional?) rises to the point of being indictable for murder.

Would my emergency “invasion” of Puerto Rico by the US military cost money? Hell yes, a lot! But then there never seems to be a lack of billions and trillions to bomb dark-skinned people to smithereens all over the world for decades at a time. The Washington D.C. government is treating Puerto Rico like the Israelis treat the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Spanish is the primary language in Puerto Rico, and that island was conquered by the U.S. in 1898 (The Spanish American War). The residents of Puerto Rico were given US citizenship on March 2, 1917, and the U.S. (Wilson Administration) entered World War I on April 6, 1917; and men from Puerto Rico were drafted into the US military for that war and for every US war thereafter till the draft was replaced by voluntary induction in 1973. Tellingly, Puerto Rico was not given US statehood, nor allowed to have voting congressional representatives in the US government.

Realize what is happening here, the high rollers who have bought out the US government really only care about lining their pockets, and getting megalomaniacal orgasms from exercising power, and they really don’t care much about the well-being and security of the US population outside their class – the 1%, and also outside their clan-race affiliation (so Blacks, Muslims and Latinos are largely out of luck). Unless you are in one of the cared-for wealth classes, or favored “race” classes, you are only one hurricane, or tornado, or flood, or epidemic, or earthquake, or landslide, or fire away from ruin and very possibly survival.

So, instead of giving up and letting yourself end-it-all by instant gun-cop-shootout suicide, or not-so-fast suicide by opioids, or slow motion suicide by junk food, cigarettes and TV, wake up enough to find out who is actually worth voting for (let Bernie Sanders’s example be a template) and stop giving the usual pricks and prickesses your attention and ignorant support. If enough do this maybe in time we will see an improved people-oriented administration of the American Republic.

Look at the photos and news videos from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and sear this thought in your mind: I am only a 24-hour catastrophe away from those people, I am on hold to be the next destroyed Puerto Rico, we are all Americans, therefore I AM Puerto Rico.

Now, focus your outrage where it will do some good for us all.

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25 September 2017

The devastation caused in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria is shown in a series of photographs published by The Atlantic. As a matter of Constitutional duty, and simple human decency, it is essential that the Trump Administration move its ass and get assistance to the Island, much more and much faster. There are still people living in wreckage who have not been contacted since the Category 5 hurricane hit the Island about 5 days ago. The suffering and privation are universal (or almost nearly so), unsanitary conditions will spawn diseases for many if too little is done too late, and there could easily still be isolated injured and trapped people whose lives hang in the balance. Here is a clear emergency that requires a US President to act presidential, and an American government to actually demonstrate it is “exceptional.” The US news media has focused its sympathy and coverage of hurricane victims to Texas, Florida and the US Virgin Islands, and much less on Puerto Rico – where English is the second language. I see many parallels with the Palestinian Territories under Israeli Occupation. I would like it if the US Government acted so as to dispel that image from my mind.

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/09/disconnected-by-disasterphotos-from-a-battered-puerto-rico/540975/

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I Am Puerto Rico, So Are You
27 September 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/09/i-am-puerto-rico-so-are-you/

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