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jueves, 27 de agosto de 2009

The lies and distortion of the truth and the deterioration of law and order

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CARIBBEAN BUSINESS CARLOS ROMERO BARCELÓ Hitler’s rise to power was achieved, among other things, by his exploitation of the Germans’ fears and of the humiliation they suffered as a result of the terms they had to accept when they lost World War I. He promised to avenge Germany’s humiliation and that he would lead Germany to recover all the territory that had been taken from them. While promising the rise of a new Germany, he would rave in his fanatical diatribe against the Jews in Germany, blaming them for all the economic woes. While he spoke publicly of his desire to strengthen bonds of friendship with all of Europe, he plotted the takeover of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. His Nazi party platform and his ultra-nationalistic speeches gained him enough support to elect sufficient Nazi Party members to the Reichstag, which gave him enough power to get himself appointed chancellor in 1933. Soon thereafter, members of the Nazi party set fire to the Reichstag building and Hermann Goering, second in command in the Nazi Party, publicly accused the communists of setting fires to the Reichstag as part of a revolutionary plot. Hitler made use of the alleged communist revolutionary plot to convince Von Hindenburg, Germany’s president, to issue a decree that put an end to civil liberties in Germany. Mass arrests of people “suspected of plotting against Germany” were carried out. Soon thereafter, Hitler proposed an Enabling Act, which empowered him as chancellor, with all the Reichstag’s legislative powers. In other words, the Reichstag gave Hitler dictatorial powers through a legislative act. As he always did, he once again lied to the German people telling them he would use those powers “only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures.” However, he never explained to the people what he meant by “vitally necessary measures.” In other words, Hitler had achieved what he set out to achieve: absolute power. Through lies, words of appeasement and cunning, Hitler managed to swallow up Austria and Czechoslovakia without having war. It wasn’t until he invaded Poland, after having signed an agreement with Britain’s prime minister, which was proudly referred to by Chamberlain as a guarantee of “peace in our time,” that England and France declared war. Hitler’s continuous rise to power and his expansion of German territory were always achieved by use of lies and distortion of facts. He firmly believed the bigger and more outrageous the lie, the easier it was to make people believe it. While he expanded his German empire, he continued his fanatical diatribe against all Jews. Then he took away their rights and privileges as German citizens, next their property, then their freedom and finally their lives. While persecuting, torturing and “exterminating” the Jews, he denied any such persecution, abuse, torture and extermination was happening. Most of the outside world either believed the Nazi propaganda or wanted to believe it. It wasn’t until the death camps were found at the end of the war that the horrible truth was accepted and believed by most of the world. You may ask: Why does Romero Barceló write about Hitler and the Holocaust? What do Hitler and the Holocaust have to do with Puerto Rico’s problems today? My answer to that question is that Hitler was able to become a dictator in a democracy, swallow up countries without war and exterminate millions of humans for years before the world realized what a monster he was. The reason he was able to do what he did was because he lied and people wanted to believe him. In Puerto Rico, we have seen an unprecedented deterioration of people’s respect for the law, the rights and privileges of others and a lack of appreciation for what they receive. The most troublesome thing in our society is the deterioration of the respect for law and order. The deterioration was accelerated during the administration of Sila Calderón and, even more, during the disastrous four years of Acevedo Vilá. When Sila Calderón decided to challenge the agreement that President Clinton and former Gov. Pedro Rosselló signed, regarding the end of the Navy bombing and target practice in Vieques and the clean up and return of land to Puerto Rico, she declared support for “civil disobedience” but, in fact, supported violent destruction of property and violence against those who didn’t agree with the government. In the presence of the police, including the superintendent of Police, a Navy vehicle and a guardhouse were pounced upon and severely damaged. The police did nothing. When I went to campaign against the meaningless and distorted referendum on the Vieques issue, I was threatened, the protesters threw stones, sticks and other projectiles at us, but the police did nothing to stop or prevent the unlawful attacks. Obviously, the message that Sila Calderón and her administration sent to the people was that violent acts against citizens and their property would be allowed as long as the criminal aggressors supported the governor. In other words, the governor, who took an oath to enforce the laws and protect the constitutional rights of the people, failed to abide by her oath. Why then, should citizens respect the law and the law enforcers if the governor doesn’t? To make matters worse, the majority of the press distorted the facts when they reported the news and made comments favorable to the criminal aggressors. Another glaring example of the government’s failure to enforce the law and protect public property was the failure of the police and the Justice Department to take action against the vandals and rioters in the Capitol building during Acevedo Vilá’s administration, where furniture and other property were damaged and legislators were physically threatened. There was a full-fledged riot in the Capitol building and the police had photos and also knew who some of the vandals and rioters were. However, not a single case was brought against any of the perpetrators. What kind of a message does this government behavior send to the people? Obviously, people are being told they can violate the law openly and nothing will happen to them. The latest occurrence where the majority of the press is defending the perpetrators of unlawful acts and finding fault with the government officials who are trying to enforce the law, is the Villas del Sol illegal trespass. The unlawful squatters in Villa del Sol have illegally set up houses on floodable land, which they don’t own. In addition, many of the land invaders, if not a majority, are illegally in Puerto Rico. In other words, they are illegal immigrants who are in Puerto Rico in violation of the law and have illegally appropriated land and set up homes on floodable land. They are stealing water and electricity, which increases the cost of supplying both to the subscribers who pay for it. The media should be explaining to the public why these people can’t be allowed to stay where they are and why they must leave or be evicted. However, most of the press are trying to portray the invaders as victims. They aren’t investigating who made the illegal electric power and water connections. They were probably made by Prepa [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] and Prasa [Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority] employees in violation of the law. Most of the press is failing to report all the opportunities these invaders have been offered but refuse to accept. If violators of the law and other criminal offenders are protected and stimulated to violate the law, we are going to keep seeing an increase in crime and a growing lack of respect for the rights of others. Unless the media stops supporting and excusing criminals and those who disregard the law, our quality of life and the number of good citizens will continue to be reduced..

miércoles, 19 de agosto de 2009

Fifty years after winning statehood, the Aloha State looms larger than ever on the American cultural -- and political -- landscape ( You must read )

Image and video hosting by TinyPic San Francisco Chronicle Jeff Yang A half-century ago this Friday, the territory of Hawaii was granted status as the 50th, and so far final, member of the United States. And while most residents of the Eastern 49 are likely to let this anniversary pass without so much as an "Aloha," Hawaii's joining of the union is well worth raising a glass in commemoration of a state that both complicates and reaffirms the very meaning of America. This is, after all, the state that stretched our nation's reach a quarter of the way around the globe: Sitting some 2,400 miles off the coast of California, Hawaii is nearly midway between the U.S. mainland and Asia -- it's just another 3,850 miles as the crow flies from Hawaii to Japan. But Hawaii's uniqueness extends far beyond its location. It's the only state that's always been majority nonwhite -- as of 2005, according to the U.S. Census, nonwhites represented 73 percent of Hawaii's population -- and it's also the only one that's majority Asian American, with 55 percent of Hawaiian residents claiming Asian ancestry. That includes people of multiple races, who make up 20 percent of the state's inhabitants. "Interracial marriage was being practiced in Hawaii from the middle of the 19th century onward," says Tom Coffman, who moved to Hawaii in the mid-'60s and spent much of his early career as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, documenting the fledgling state's political development. By the 20th century, notes Coffman, so-called "mixed" marriages didn't even raise people's eyebrows: "Of course there was still racial tension, but at the same time you saw the foundation of something new to America, the beginnings of a working multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural society." While it may be naive to call Hawaii a glimpse into America's future, President John F. Kennedy suggested exactly that in a speech on June 9, 1963, declaring that "Hawaii is what the United States is striving to become." The speech, Kennedy's first to focus on the raging topic of civil rights for black Americans, took place in Honolulu during what would be Kennedy's final tour of the Western states. Two months later, a baby boy was born at that city's Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children who would grow up to exemplify the ideals cited in Kennedy's speech -- America's first multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural president, Barack Hussein Obama. Born in the U.S.A. It's a sign of our times that this indisputable fact -- President Obama's birth in Honolulu -- continues to be disputed; according to a July 31 poll by Research 2000, one in 10 Americans believe he wasn't born in the United States, and, as a result, should have been ineligible for the presidency. That's a staggering statistic, but it reflects the degree to which a certain segment of the American populace feels alienated by Obama's election, and the dramatic and irrevocable changes to our culture and society that have made it possible. Consider that the last American commander-in-chief to have faced widespread conspiracy theories regarding his legitimacy was, ironically, JFK; still the only Catholic president in U.S. history, Kennedy was subject to scurrilous but widespread slander that his faith placed him in a position of divided allegiance -- to his country and to the Vatican -- with the latter tie threatening to put a Kennedy-led America "under the foot of Rome." It was fear, not hatred, that led many to whisper about Kennedy, and a similar fear is visible in the eyes of protesters raging against Obama's agenda. The fear then was of the unknown changes a racially integrated America might bring to the lives of white Americans. The fear today is of the next logical step beyond integration, into a future where the lines between peoples and nationalities are blurred entirely by racial blending and globalization. "We shouldn't diminish the genuine concern some people have about issues like health care reform, but if you look at the big picture, there's a common thread linking these protests -- the desire to maintain a status quo that hasn't existed since the 1950s," says Christopher Lee, Hawaiian-born producer of films like "Valkyrie" and "Superman Returns," and founder of the University of Hawaii-Manoa's Academy for Creative Media. "America is changing, the world is changing, and the biggest symbol of that change is the guy who's the president of the United States today." Fear of a Flat Planet The 1950s, after all, were when America began a half-century reign as the world's preeminent superpower, yet they also represented the last chapter of European-dominated immigration to America. By the end of the '60s, following the passage of the landmark Hart-Celler Act of 1965 -- which eliminated quotas restricting non-European immigration -- most new arrivals to the U.S. came from the East and South. From 1955 to 1964, 50 percent of U.S. immigrants were from Europe, with just 8 percent coming from Asia; since Hart-Celler, some 38 percent are of Asian origin, versus just 17 percent hailing from Europe. For nativists seeking to a return to the Fifties, the narrative around this surge in Asian immigration has frequently used the propaganda imagery of World War II, emphasizing the exotic and opaque nature of Asian cultures, and suggesting, in poorly veiled terms, that this inscrutability hides the potential for disloyalty -- intimating, in essence, that people rooted in Asia can never truly be American. It's fascinating to see how those seeking to impugn the president have relied on similar suggestions. He is inscrutable, some say. He has roots outside of America. He comes from a hopelessly alien background that includes not just a Luo tribesman father and an Indonesian stepfather, but also birth and upbringing in volcano-studded, tropical, mostly-Asian Hawaii. "People can't help but think of Hawaii as 'exotic,'" notes Chris Lee, ruefully, citing Cokie Roberts' suggestion that Obama vacation in a less "foreign-seeming" place than the Aloha State. "You always have visitors here saying things like, 'Well, when I get back to the States,' and you have to gently remind them that they're actually still in the States. Whatever our landscape or the majority of our people might look like, we've been a state now for 50 years, with full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution." The State of the Nation That status -- full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution -- represented the culmination of a fight that began decades before the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled America into World War II. As fear and anxiety mounted on the mainland, it was evident to the population of the territory, about 40 percent of whom were Japanese Americans, that drastic and dangerous proposals were under consideration. During that period, a diverse group of the island's community leaders fought to maintain ties across racial and ethnic lines, to forestall a mass internment of Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry, and ultimately, to pave the way for Hawaii's second-class standing as a territory to be replaced with the protected status of statehood. "When you think about it, Hawaii evolved from the crisis of World War II into a state in just 18 years, a relatively short period of time," says Coffman, whose film "The First Battle" explores efforts by Hawaii's leaders of that era to protect their unique society. "And that's in large part due to the efforts of these visionaries. What they did not only laid the foundation for Hawaii to become a state, it also ultimately shaped postwar America." Five years after the ratification of Hawaiian statehood, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was before the Senate, and facing devastating resistance from the same forces that had opposed Hawaii's admission to the union. The final confrontation came in the form of a 14-hour filibuster, enacted by West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd. The filibuster was finally defeated by a bipartisan group that included Hawaii's first two elected senators, Hiram Fong and Daniel Inouye. "From its very beginning as a state, Hawaii has served as the template for an increasingly cosmopolitan, increasingly diverse idea of America," says Coffman. "Back in the Sixties, I quite clearly felt that what I was seeing in Hawaii was the future of our nation -- look at California today, at New York City. Hawaii sparked people's imagination that that kind of society could actually be possible." Nothing, of course, comes without a struggle, and even today, Hawaii faces unresolved questions regarding the status of Native Hawaiians, whose rights as a sovereign people were trampled in the territory's original annexation, and who remain without redress for the losses they've suffered. But many Hawaiians believe these challenges can be overcome if the fundamental concept underpinning Hawaiian society is preserved. "At the core of Hawaiian culture is the spirit of aloha, an ideal of love, openness, nonjudgment and generosity," says University of Hawaii-Manoa professor Anne Misawa. "After the statehood bill passed, Rev. Abraham Akaka, the elder brother of Sen. Daniel Akaka, delivered a sermon at his church in which he acknowledged that fears and challenges remained, but that these represented an opportunity for the people of Hawaii to show they had the spirit of aloha. It was that sermon that led to our nickname, the 'Aloha State.'" Looking at today's American landscape, one wishes that the aloha spirit would spread to the mainland. And that, certainly, is worth a toast. To 50 years of the 50th state: Bottoms up -- Okole maluna. ----------------------------------------------------- PopMail While researching this column, it struck me that the newfound prominence of Hawaii on our political scene is part of a subtle, outward migration of influence -- away from the nation's middle and the central coasts, and to its "emerging edges." It's worth noting that two of the key personalities in last year's presidential election, President Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, hail from the two newest and farthest-flung states in the Union. In some ways, this speaks to the game-changing role of electronic media, which over the past 50 years has made it possible to play a significant role in the American dialogue, regardless of the remoteness or obscurity of one's physical location. The power of connectivity to overcome geography is what led Chris Lee to found U. of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media, a program that provides training in film, video and multimedia production to Hawaiian undergrads. The program has expanded to more than 300 students, who have collectively produced over 500 short films and animated works. "If Hawaii's going to thrive into the next century, we need an alternative to the service industry," says Lee. "And I look at places like Singapore -- like New Zealand, even -- and I think, that's where we need to go. Now that the world's connected up by broadband, there's no reason why we can't be core players in film production, digital media, animation and gaming. We don't have to be seen as nothing more than a tropical backlot -- we have a lot more going for us than blue skies and beaches." Lee has been pushing for Hawaii to invest in the kind of infrastructure that would draw media-related businesses to the state. "It's what Singapore has been doing now for the past decade, very successfully," he says. "And we have a lifestyle advantage: If you're a media creator and you have the choice, would you rather live in Hawaii or in Singapore?" Another interesting topic that arose in the course of writing this piece was the question of whether there might ever be a 51st state. There are a number of candidates, the most prominent being Puerto Rico, recently in the news for being the ancestral home of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "Do I think America is ready for Puerto Rico to become a state? Yes, I do," says Rafael Rodriguez, president and founder of the Center for Puerto Rico Equality and Advancement. "If you think about it, we're much physically closer to the U.S. mainland than Alaska or Hawaii. If Hawaii is a 'bridge to Asia,' we have a strategic location that makes us a bridge to Latin America. But we've been dealt with very differently in our history than Alaska or Hawaii, which were incorporated as U.S. territories immediately in 1898. Puerto Rico was not, and the language used to deny that status was frankly very racist." Of course, many of those same strains continue to exist in American political discourse -- they were evident during Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. "I'm a Republican, and I frankly was dismayed," says Rodriguez. "There were gross misrepresentations made about Judge Sotomayor -- not least of which was people referring to her as an immigrant. First of all, she was born in the Bronx, and even if she were born in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Coming from Puerto Rico to the U.S. is migration, not immigration, and that's a critical difference.". Rodriguez confident that in the next few decades, Puerto Ricans will enact a referendum embracing statehood. "We just want to be part of the club," he says. "We eat the same food, we watch the same movies, we're the same as people on the U.S. -- and we want to be treated equally, as a part of this great nation. We just have to get back on the agenda, and I believe that the end result will be statehood for Puerto Rico."

sábado, 15 de agosto de 2009

El PNP educará sobre Estadidad

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Alba Y. Muñiz Gracia El PNP se apresta a iniciar un proceso de orientación para educar a sus huestes de cara a una posible consulta electoral sobre el status político de la Isla. La iniciativa está en manos de la vicepresidenta del Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), Jenniffer González, quien bautizó la iniciativa como “Tertulias de marquesina”. “En términos ideológicos, yo voy a mover al PNP a tertulias de marquesina, a readiestrar, dar charlas de educación, de estadidad con los representantes y con varias personas que estudiaron esto en el pasado”, declaró la líder azul en entrevista a este diario. La también presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes prevé que las visitas comiencen en septiembre. Aunque la Pava lleva semanas presionado al PNP a debatir sobre la estadidad y lo que este status político representa para Puerto Rico, González rechazó que “las tertulias” hayan surgido en respuesta a ese reto. “Esto yo lo llevo trabajando hace cuatro meses y es una meta ideológica que tengo desde que ingresé al PNP. Es lo que he estado haciendo en reuniones y estamos listos para ir a la calle”, dijo. Según González, la iniciativa responde a la discusión que ha generado en el Congreso, y en Puerto Rico, el proyecto de status del comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi. El HR 2499 propone dos consultas electorales. En la primera los puertorriqueños expresarían si quieren o no continuar con el status actual. De ganar el “No”, habría una segunda consulta entre varias alternativas de status avaladas por el Gobierno de Estados Unidos. Al preguntarle sobre la posibilidad de que presente legislación criolla sobre el status, respondió: “Vamos a trabajar con el proyecto del Comisionado”. Durante la pasada sesión, la delegación popular en la Cámara sometió una pieza legislativa que propone un plebiscito “estadidad sí o no” y ha mantenido una ofensiva constante sobre las consecuencias de la estadidad, como el pago de contribuciones federales, la imposición y la pérdida de la identidad cultural y deportiva. “El PPD no dirige la agenda legislativa. El PPD perdió las elecciones. Le prometió al País buscar una soberanía alejado de Estados Unidos y el pueblo la rechazo dramáticamente”, indicó..

viernes, 14 de agosto de 2009

Obstruccion 101

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Alba Y. Muñiz Gracia El Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) se apresta a presentar al Congreso de Estados Unidos una pieza legislativa para desarrollar el Estado Libre Asociado (ELA), como parte de su ofensiva contra el proyecto de status del comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi. Aunque rehusó ofrecer detalles, el presidente de la Pava, Héctor Ferrer, adelantó que la medida atendería el desarrollo económico del ELA dentro de su relación con Estados Unidos. “Con ese desarrollo económico del ELA podemos cumplir con el contrato social que yo delineé el 25 de julio (aniversario de la Constitución de ELA)”, explicó el portavoz de la minoría cameral a El Nuevo Día. La pieza legislativa aún no está lista, pero Ferrer ya realiza “acercamientos” en el Congreso en busca del legislador federal que presentaría el proyecto. A la par, el PPD se propone revivir el concepto de “cabilderos del pueblo”, que nació en el 1998 como estrategia ante el llamado Proyecto Young. “Fue un grupo compuesto mayormente por jóvenes, legisladores y alcaldes populares que visitaron el Congreso y se reunían con los congresistas y les explicaban el proyecto Young”, explicó. El proyecto Young, que proponía un plebiscito entre estadidad, independencia, ELA y república asociada, se aprobó en la Cámara, pero murió en el Senado federal. La reunión en la que se determinará cuáles personas participarán en el cabildeo contra el HR 2499 tendrá lugar la semana próxima. Ferrer enfatizó que los propios cabilderos del pueblo costearán sus viajes a Washington. Hace cuatro días, el partido envió la tercera ronda de cartas, esta vez a los congresistas del Partido Demócrata, en las que Ferrer resume las razones del PPD para oponerse al proyecto de Pierluisi, que propone dos consultas electorales. En la primera votación, los puertorriqueños expresarían si quieren o no continuar con el status actual. De ganar el “No”, se realizaría una segunda consulta entre estadidad, independencia y asociación soberana. “Este proyecto es exclusivo y divisivo porque no tiene el apoyo de todo el espectro ideológico de Puerto Rico. El HR 2499, no sólo pone en peligro los principios democráticos que son la base de Estados Unidos, sino que tampoco toma en cuenta el deseo de la mayoría de los ciudadanos de Puerto Rico”, expresa Ferrer en la carta fechada al 10 de agosto. La agenda incluye visitas personales a los líderes legislativos, y a la delegación del partido de oposición. “Yo he visitado a republicanos personalmente, como también lo han hecho los senadores Alejandro García Padilla y Juan Eugenio Hernández Mayoral”, dijo. En Puerto Rico, el liderato popular se enfocará en orientar sobre las consecuencias de la estadidad que, según Ferrer, incluyen el pago de contribuciones federales y estatales, la imposición del inglés como idioma oficial y la pérdida de la identidad cultural y deportiva, entre otras cosas. “Esto es para que la gente sepa que lo que buscan con este proyecto es darle una victoria a la estadidad cuando nunca ha tenido los votos en Puerto Rico para ganar un plebiscito. El caso es que el proyecto es exclusivo y no nos queda otro remedio que combatirlo, y ese proyecto jamás se convertirá en ley”, dijo..

jueves, 13 de agosto de 2009

The ‘Compact’ is the ‘Big Lie’

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Caribbean Business CARLOS ROMERO BARCELÓ From the time the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was enacted, amended and approved by Congress and put into effect in 1952, the leaders of the Popular Party have been misinterpreting and twisting the meaning and result of what was approved. The biggest lie of all is the claim that by virtue of Public Law 600, passed in 1950, and Public Law 447 of 1952, a bilateral compact was established and Puerto Rico achieved a full measure of local government. That is the No. 1 lie, not only to the people of Puerto Rico but to the world and the United Nations as well. If it were true that Puerto Rico had achieved a full measure of local self-government, it would mean we wouldn’t be subject to labor laws, health and sanitation laws, transportation laws, commercial laws, banking laws, housing laws, communications, tax laws, criminal laws, environmental laws and others that weren’t approved by our own local Legislature. That is, we wouldn’t be subject to federal laws enacted without our participation. We know we are subject to all laws approved by Congress unless specifically excluded by Congress itself. All federal laws are enacted without our participation, yet we must abide by them. As a matter of law and of fact, the U.S. Constitution and federal laws not only are enforceable, but if a discrepancy or difference exists between a federal law and our local constitution or a local law, the federal law prevails. The second (No. 2) big lie has been to allege we became fully autonomous in tax matters and Congress couldn’t impose any taxes on us without our consent. Particularly, they couldn’t impose a federal income tax on us. To support their claim of irrevocable local tax sovereignty, they would cite Sections 901 and 936 of the Internal Revenue Code. Their claim to full local tax autonomy has never been supported by any bilateral compact, but by sections of the Internal Revenue Code, which could be and have been repealed and amended without our consent. As a matter of fact, the tax credits, which in effect granted full income-tax exemption to corporations or their subsidiaries operating in Puerto Rico, were eliminated in 2006 and they now have to pay federal taxes on income earned in Puerto Rico. To be able to take advantage of the available income-tax credits, they have to reorganize themselves as Foreign Corporations. The Internal Revenue Code identifies Puerto Rico as a “possession” and grants tax credits to all corporations organized in U.S. “possessions,” which includes the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Samoa, none which are commonwealths. This year, under President Obama, Congress is considering eliminating the Foreign Corporation Tax Credits. The government of Puerto Rico is now lobbying to convince Congress not to eliminate the Foreign Corporations Tax Credit in Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories. Obviously, there is no tax autonomy as alleged by the Popular Party leaders and their lawyers, accountants and financial analysts. If Congress wanted to impose federal income taxes on us, now they have the constitutional and legal authority to do so. However, if they did so, then we would be entitled to parity in all federal programs. Puerto Rico would gain billions of dollars in Medicaid, Medicare, education and many other federal programs where we now aren’t treated as a state. The main reason why Congress shies away from imposing income taxes on us is because of the revolutionary tenet of no taxation without representation. However, we do pay the Social Security tax, Medicare premiums, unemployment-benefit taxes, federal excise taxes and federal import duties. Obviously, we don’t have any fiscal autonomy and, if Congress wanted to, it has the authority to impose federal income taxes on all Puerto Rico residents and corporations. The third (No. 3) big lie, which the Popular Party leaders continuously fed the people, particularly its staunchest defenders, the tax-exempt companies, was that Puerto Rico was fully autonomous and had full authority to control minimum wages and that federal minimum wages couldn’t be put into effect in Puerto Rico without our express consent. Muñoz Marín and his cohorts instilled fear of federal minimum wages so effectively that even unions were afraid of having federal minimum wages imposed on Puerto Rico because the result would be massive unemployment. In the early seventies, as mayor of San Juan, I was able to convince the Senate Labor Committee Chairman Harrison Williams (D-N.J.) that Puerto Rico workers were being exploited. I explained to him that we lived in the same economic system as all of the 50 states and that our cost of living was higher than any state except Alaska and maybe Hawaii. Yet, our workers were being paid as little as $1.00 an hour in factories, which paid no less than $3.25 an hour, the then-federal minimum wage in the States. Sen. Williams understood, filed and obtained enactment of a law that established a schedule to bring Puerto Rico up to the federal minimum wage in several years. As a result, another big lie about the so-called full measure of local self-government in minimum wages had been unmasked. The fourth (No. 4) big lie is the name given to the Commonwealth in Spanish, “Estado Libre Asociado.” We are neither a state, nor are we politically “free” nor are we associated to the U.S. We are a “territory” of the U.S. which, from the beginning of the century, the U.S. Supreme Court called a “nonincorporated territory.” Although some people, including lawyers, professors and other professionals still insist on denying that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, the vast majority of the people of Puerto Rico today acknowledge the island is a territory and we can’t continue to accept such a relationship any longer. The majority of the people today are clear that we must achieve equality through full sovereignty as a republic or through shared sovereignty as a full-fledged partner with the 50 states of the union. The fifth (No. 5) lie has been that if we want to be a state, we will no longer be allowed to use Spanish as an official language. In the first place, we have the precedents of New Mexico and Hawaii. In New Mexico, where the percentage of the population who spoke Spanish as a first language was much smaller than the percentage who speak Spanish as a first language in Puerto Rico, the state constitution establishes that Spanish and English are both official languages. In Hawaii, both English and Hawaiian are official languages. More and more, Spanish is spoken all over the U.S. In cities such as Miami; Orlando, Fla.; San Antonio; El Paso, Texas; Los Angeles; New York; and others, both Spanish and English are spoken. In North, Central and South America, the two languages spoken by the majority are Spanish and English. No matter what status solution we choose, it is to our advantage to be bilingual. To think otherwise is to go backward and limit our opportunities. Finally, if we wish to really honor our “Commonwealth Constitution,” we must repeat to ourselves the words in the preamble, which declare: “The democratic system is fundamental to the life of the Puerto Rican community.” The beginning of the last paragraph of the preamble, which declares: “We consider as determining factors in our life, our citizenship of the United States of America and our aspiration continually to enrich our democratic heritage in the individual and collective enjoyment of its rights and privileges.” Yes, we have a serious deficit in our democracy in Puerto Rico. The most serious of all, our disenfranchisement in the presidential and congressional elections and the consequent lack of representation in our nation’s Congress. Let’s get going and let’s solve this deficit as well..

lunes, 10 de agosto de 2009

Jóvenes demócratas respaldan la estadidad

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Jose A. Delgado WASHINGTON – El brazo juvenil del Partido Demócrata de Estados Unidos dio su respaldo a que Puerto Rico se convierta en otro estado de la Unión norteamericana. Los miembros de la organización – que concluyeron ayer en Chicago su convención, incluyeron en su programa de trabajo “la admisión de Puerto Rico como el estado 51 de la Unión, después de un proceso de libre determinación sancionado federalmente que tenga lugar durante los próximos años”. Más de 1,000 demócratas participaron de la convención, que tuvo lugar entre el 5 y 9 de agosto, dijo Francisco Domenech, quien es parte de la junta de directores de la organización estadounidense. Anteriormente, la organización se limitaba a expresarse a favor de un proceso de libre determinación, regulado por el Gobierno federal, que incluyera opciones no coloniales. El presidente del Partido Demócrata de Estados Unidos en Puerto Rico, Roberto Prats, sostuvo que la posición oficial demócrata es la del Comité Nacional Demócrata, que se mantiene neutral en este debate. Prats sostuvo que los estadistas demócratas son los que participan de los trabajos de los “Young Democrats”. “Siempre, en Puerto Rico, han sido sólo activistas del Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP)”, indicó.

domingo, 9 de agosto de 2009

In Puerto Rico, Sotomayor’s rise sends signal of hope

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Boston Globe Bryan Bender SANTURCE, Puerto Rico - “At Last, Sonia!’’ cried the cover of Primera Hora, a leading tabloid, capturing the sentiment of many of the 4 million living on this American territory as Sonia Sotomayor, a fellow Puerto Rican, was sworn in yesterday as a US Supreme Court justice. For Puerto Ricans of all political stripes and economic conditions - who enjoy US citizenship but are denied representation in Congress and cannot vote for president - Sotomayor’s elevation to the high court offers hope that their longing for a greater voice in the US political system isn’t a pipe dream. At his newsstand a few blocks from the governor’s mansion in Old San Juan, Rafael de la Torre, 63, said having a Puerto Rican on the Supreme Court - even if her parents moved to the mainland many years ago - “is a powerful thing.’’ “She feels like she’s from here,’’ said de la Torre, whose newspaper sales have been brisk. “She feels like she is one of us.’’ Sotomayor’s rise from a Bronx housing project to the Supreme Court is a special source of ethnic pride for Puerto Ricans, who proudly displayed “Confirm Sotomayor’’ buttons during her nomination hearings, celebrated her confirmation with parties, and gathered in homes and sports bars to watch her swearing in. But some also believe that having a Puerto Rican at such a high level could one day have practical implications in the debate over whether Puerto Rico should become a state or whether its citizens should be given the right to vote in presidential elections. “There is a feeling that at some point in the not-too-distant future the Supreme Court may weigh in on the status question,’’ said Manuel Alvarez-Rivera, a political analyst in Mayaguez on the western side of the island, where Sotomayor’s family comes from and where nearly 100 of her relatives gathered for a celebration Thursday night. “That would be a positive development to have someone who knows the island and has special insight. She could play an important role.’’ Puerto Rico became a commonwealth of the United States after it was captured at the end of the Spanish American War in 1898. At times it has had a tortured relationship with the United States, an issue that remains the primary driver of its politics. The island remains fiercely patriotic, sending a disproportionately high number of men and women to serve in the US armed forces, including thousands who have died in wars stretching from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan. But those soldiers cannot vote for their commander-in-chief, unlike the 4 million Puerto Ricans who live on the mainland. Those living on the island and on the mainland are US citizens. If the island were a state it would be the poorest in the nation. The availability and quality of medical care and education lags behind the mainland. And its infrastructure needs are often an afterthought because its nonvoting delegate to Congress wields little political clout. Polls show that a slim majority of Puerto Ricans favor statehood, followed by those who support the status quo. A small portion wants Puerto Rico to be an independent nation. Sotomayor has been silent in recent years on the issue of Puerto Rico’s status. When she was a student at Princeton University, she supported outright independence - still considered a fringe position. Later, she argued at Yale Law School that statehood was “inevitable’’ and that Puerto Rico should be granted exclusive rights to offshore oil and minerals, something no state has. One thing is for certain: Her nomination has been a source of rare agreement across the political divide. “People from all political factions supported her nomination,’’ said Alvarez-Rivera, a former elections commission official who now runs www.electionspuertorico.org. In a place where politics is a blood sport, he said, “that kind of unanimity is rare.’’ But while bursting with pride at her achievements, some Puerto Ricans express doubt that things will change as a result. Mildred Hernandez, 53, was shopping at the central market in this working-class enclave outside of San Juan yesterday. “We are very proud of her,’’ she said of Sotomayor. “She has had to deal with a lot of discrimination.’’ But Hernandez, a self-described supporter of Puerto Rican independence, shrugged when asked if Sotomayor’s position could help resolve the island’s status. Pending legislation, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009, would establish a process to allow Puerto Rico to decide its status, ultimately resulting in a referendum sanctioned by Congress. Some legal experts, however, believe that only the Supreme Court could resolve Puerto Rico’s status. Juan Torruela, a federal appeals court judge, has argued that Supreme Court decisions in the early 20th century first helped define the territorial status of Puerto Rico. And three years ago a lawsuit filed in federal court over a law barring Puerto Ricans from voting for president was referred to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. At a minimum, Sotomayor’s presence at the top of one of the nation’s three branches of government is a needed reminder that Puerto Rico’s unresolved political status remains a stain on American democracy, according to Charles R. Venator Santiago, a professor at the Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut. “I find it ironic that the Obama administration nominated a Puerto Rican judge who identifies with Puerto Rico, a place that is legally subject to discriminatory law,’’ he said. “Judge Sotomayor represents a citizenry that is partially excluded from the political process.’’

sábado, 8 de agosto de 2009

Obama habla del status de Puerto Rico y mas......

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Jose A. Delgado WASHINGTON - El presidente estadounidense Barack Obama confirmó ayer que ha decidido aumentarle las tareas al grupo interagencial de la Casa Blanca sobre Puerto Rico, que tiene en formación, para asignarle, además del tema del status, asuntos económicos, de salud y bienestar social. Y se expresó a favor de que se armonicen los proyectos de reforma de salud para que se incluya a Puerto Rico en el centro de intercambio de seguros, que es la pieza clave de esa legislación. En una mesa redonda con El Nuevo Día y otros medios que publican en español, el presidente Obama consideró que Puerto Rico favorece mantener una “relación estrecha con los Estados Unidos continentales”. Pero advirtió que no está listo para tomar una posición sobre el proyecto 2499 en torno al status político de Puerto Rico que ahora se quiere llevar ante el pleno de la Cámara de Representantes federal. Por 40 minutos, relajado y de buen ánimo, Obama tomó preguntas de 10 medios que publican en español y fueron invitados a una mesa redonda en el salón Roosevelt de la Casa Blanca. Obama llegó a la reunión minutos después de haber ofrecido un mensaje en la rosaleda de la Casa Blanca en el que destacó que el más reciente informe sobre la tasa de desempleo refleja una pérdida menor de puestos de trabajo y que “vamos en la dirección correcta”. El Nuevo Día le preguntó cuáles son los requisitos que debe tener cualquier mecanismo de status para que pueda representar un verdadero proceso de libre determinación para Puerto Rico. Y si el proyecto 2499, del comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi, cumple con esos requisitos mínimos de un proceso de libre determinación. “Siempre he sido claro en que le corresponde a la gente de Puerto Rico decidir su status. No he estudiado los detalles del proyecto que ha sido presentado en la Cámara y debido a que este es un asunto complicado y contencioso, quiero estar seguro de que escucho de todos los lados. Pero al final debe haber un mecanismo que incluya la participación directa de Puerto Rico en la decisión sobre cuál debe ser su status”, indicó Obama. El Presidente, sin embargo, se expresó “confiado en que la gente de Puerto Rico va a querer mantener una relación estrecha con los Estados Unidos continentales”. “Pero, reconozco que las pasiones son altas en ambos lados (en aparente referencia a estadistas y estadolibristas). La clave es dejar que la gente decida cómo quiere acercarse a este asunto”, agregó. Según la orden ejecutiva aún vigente, el grupo interagencial de la Casa Blanca -cuyos integrantes tienen que ser nombrados- deberá rendir su próximo informe sobre el status de la Isla en diciembre próximo. En junio pasado, fuentes de la Casa Blanca habían adelantado la intención de Obama de ampliar la agenda del ‘task force’ sobre la Isla. En una carta enviada en febrero de 2008 al entonces gobernador Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, el entonces precandidato presidencial Obama se había comprometido a incluir temas económicos en las asignaturas del ‘task force’. Obama, quien habló de temas internacionales y nacionales, advirtió que cuando el Congreso reanude sus sesiones, en septiembre, debe estar dedicado a la reforma de salud. En ese sentido, dijo conocer que el proyecto de la Cámara -contrario al Senado- no incluye a Puerto Rico en el centro de intercambio de seguros que la reforma busca crear. “Eso se va a tener que resolver”, dijo Obama, sin responder la otra parte de la pregunta que se le hizo, en el sentido de que los proyectos de ley tampoco mejoran el acceso de la Isla al programa federal Medicare. La legislación de la Cámara baja, sin embargo, incrementa en más de $800 millones, a partir de 2011, los fondos que recibe Puerto Rico a través de Medicaid. Mientras se debate la inclusión de Puerto Rico en la reforma de salud, Obama sí reclamó como un logro que la ley federal de estímulo económico haya incluido fondos para “clínicas de salud y mejoras a la infraestructura” en la Isla.

jueves, 6 de agosto de 2009

Sonia Sotomayor confirmada como nueva juez asociada en el Supremo de los Estados Unidos

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Jose A. Delgado WASHINGTON – En una votación histórica, el Senado acaba de confirmar a la boricua Sonia Sotomayor como la primera persona hispana y sólo la tercera mujer en ocupar un puesto en el más alto foro judicial estadounidense. La votación concluyó con 68 votos a favor y 31 en contra. Obtuvo el respaldo de 59 demócratas y 9 republicanos. Sotomayor se emocionó mucho cuando fue confirmada como la primera hispana en el Tribunal Supremo estadounidense, dijo hoy una amiga. Ellen Chapnik, amiga de Sotomayor, fue una de las pocas personas que estuvo con la jueza y otros miembros del Segundo Circuito de Apelaciones federales, en Nueva York, observando la votación en el Senado. “Estaba muy emocionada”, indicó Chapnik a la cadena de televisión MSNBC. La candidatura y el proceso de confirmación de Sotomayor ha generado un sentimiento de orgullo especial en la diáspora puertorriqueña, en particular, y en la comunidad hispana, en general. "La ven como parte de su familia", ha indicado el congresista demócrata José Serrano, elegido por un distrito de El Bronx, donde se crió la nueva jueza de la Corte Suprema estadounidense. De 111 jueces que ha tenido el Tribunal Supremo estadounidense, sólo tres han sido mujeres. Sólo dos han sido afroamericanos. Sotomayor sería la segunda mujer en el actual tribunal, uniéndose a Ruth Ginsburg. “Este es un voto que va a resonar por años”, dijo el demócrata Tom Carper (Delaware), cuando se dirigió al pleno del Senado previo a la votación. Para el líder de la mayoría demócrata, Harry Reid, la confirmación de Sotomayor representa un ejemplo para los jóvenes hispanos e hispanas "de cuán alto puede llegar". La confirmación de Sotomayor generó esta tarde fiestas en distintas ciudades, incluido Washington D.C., pero principalmente en Nueva York, la ciudad en que la jueza nació y ha vivido toda su vida. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Obama celebra confirmación Endi.com Jose A. Delgado WASHINGTON – El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, celebró esta tarde la confirmación de Sonia Sotomayor como jueza asociada del Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos. Sotomayor, la juez número 111 en la historia del más alto tribunal, es la primera de origen hispano y sólo la tercera mujer. “Es un día maravilloso para la jueza Sotomayor y su familia, pero también para Estados Unidos”, indicó Obama, en declaraciones hechas en la Casa Blanca minutos después de que fuese confirmada por el Senado estadounidense. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Nueva era en el Tribunal” Endi.com Jose A. Delgado Luis Fortuño, gobernador de Puerto Rico: “Hoy es un gran día para Puerto Rico y toda la nación; en Sonia Sotomayor vemos un ejemplo a seguir para toda la ciudadanía. La confirmación de Sotomayor es un orgullo para todos los puertorriqueños. Además de ser puertorriqueña, cuenta con toda la preparación y experiencia para asumir tan honorable nombramiento”, expresó el Gobernador, quien fue el primer líder republicano que endosó el nombramiento de Sotomayor al más alto foro judicial federal. “Como señalé el día de su nombramiento, la jueza Sotomayor lleva consigo más experiencia judicial federal que cualquier otro nominado en los pasados 100 años. Hoy es un día histórico; la Corte Suprema ahora cuenta con la aportación de la primera mujer hispana y confiamos que dará lo mejor de sí al ocupar tan respetable puesto” José Serrano, congresista boricua elegido por un distrito de El Bronx: "No puedo describir los sentimientos de felicidad y orgullo y lo que significa para mi en términos personales. Puedo decir que nuestra nación dio un paso gigantesco hacia delante. Le extiendo mis más profundas felicitaciones a la jueza asociada Sotomayor. Para honrar este evento histórico, hablé con la jueza Sotomayor y con su visto bueno he comenzado a organizar una celebración en su honor en El Bronx y la comunidad de la cual ha salido. Estamos tan orgullosos de ella que es la mejor forma de demostrarlo. Llamé al presidente del condado de El Bronx (Rubén Díaz, hijo) y le pedí que haga pareja conmigo para organizar esta celebración". Pedro Pierluisi, comisionado residente : "Hoy se ha marcado otro capítulo en la historia de Estados Unidos, uno en el que se confirma que el sueño americano está accesible a todos por igual. La confirmación de Sonia Sotomayor como Juez del Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos es motivo de regocijo para todos, desde Florida hasta Alaska y desde Nueva York hasta Hawaii. Sonia Sotomayor es la protagonista de una historia americana inspiradora. Hija de puertorriqueños, criada en un residencial público del Bronx, alcanzó los más altos niveles de excelencia tanto en su carrera académica como en la judicial. En Puerto Rico, particularmente, estamos sumamente orgullosos de que una boricua, orgullosa de sus raíces, pinte de gala esta historia. ¡Justice Sotomayor, enhorabuena!". Tim Kaine, presidente del Partido Demócrata y gobernador de Virginia: "La historia de la Jueza Sotomayor demuestra que si alguien se esmera trabajando y si cumple con las reglas, puede ser sumamente exitoso o exitosa en nuestro país. Como la primera jueza latina en la Corte Suprema y la tercera mujer en servir en el tribunal, la Jueza Sotomayor será un modelo a seguir y una inspiración para millones de latinos y de mujeres. Esta confirmación constata nuevamente que el cambio ha llegado a Washington con el Presidente Obama. De parte del pueblo estadounidense, lo felicito a él y a la Jueza Sotomayor por esta victoria importante". Silvia Henriquez, directora ejecutiva de la organización "National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health": "Significa una nueva era de diversidad en el tribunal". Janet Murguía, presidenta del Concilio Nacional La Raza: "El 6 de agosto es un día que inmediatamente va a quedar en la memoria de millones de hispanoamericanos de todas las edades y trasfondos. Hoy se hizo historia y nuestro país será mejor por ello". Nancy Pelosi , presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes federal: “Ella será una jueza extraordinaria y se desempeñará como jueza muy competente por muchos años. Ella conservará nuestras libertades civiles, mantendrá la independencia del poder judicial, y protegerá y defenderá la Constitución de los Estados Unidos”.

lunes, 3 de agosto de 2009

Las puertas de la Estadidad abiertas de par en par

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Endi.com Jose A. Hernandez Mayoral Recientemente se han hecho públicos los resultados de cuatro encuestas realizadas desde el 2006 que indican que por primera vez la estadidad supera al Estado Libre Asociado. La última, publicada hace pocas semanas, pone a la estadidad en un 51%, al ELA en un 33%, al ELA Soberano en un 6% y la independencia en 4%. Esos resultados demuestran que ha ocurrido un cambio cualitativo significativo en los votantes. Por años el nivel de apoyo a la estadidad se había mantenido estable entre el 46 y 47%, aun durante los años más populares de Rosselló, como lo demuestra el 46.3% del plebiscito del 1993 y el 46.5% del 1998. Un repaso de las cuatro encuestas en secuencia demuestra con claridad qué causó ese cambio. A diciembre de 2006, fecha de la primera encuesta, el 47% se expresó a favor de la estadidad, 43% por el ELA, 3% por el ELA Soberano, 3% por la independencia y 4% no expresaron preferencia. El agregado de apoyo para el ELA y el ELA Soberano era de un 46%. Considerando el margen de error, podría decirse que a esa fecha la estadidad se mantenía en sus niveles históricos recientes, pero el ELA daba ligeras señales de deterioro. Para noviembre de 2007, fecha de la segunda encuesta, el apoyo al ELA Soberano se duplicó a 6%, pero el ELA bajó a 36%, por lo que el agregado de apoyo al ELA y ELA Soberano bajó a un 42%. La independencia se quedó igual, la estadidad subió un 1% y los que no expresan preferencia subieron de 4% a 7%. Considerando que las preferencias de status se habían mantenido estables por décadas, una reducción de 7% en un año para el ELA, osea, un 4% en combinación con el ELA Soberano, debió levantar todas las banderas de alerta y hacer sonar todas las alarmas dentro del PPD. El auge en apoyo al ELA Soberano había iniciado un éxodo de estadolibristas en dirección de la estadidad. En vez de ponerle freno al asunto, el PPD hizo lo opuesto. Le dio una presencia creciente al soberanismo. El clímax fue la asamblea del coliseo donde se ratificó la candidatura de Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. En medio de aquel frenesí, Luis Vega presentó la resolución que él dice es un apoyo institucional al ELA Soberano. La tercera encuesta se hizo en julio de 2008, justo después de esa asamblea y con el ELA Soberano haciendo titulares. El ELA bajó a un 31% y el ELA Soberano subió a un 9%, la independencia bajó a un 2%. La estadidad subió a un estratosférico 53%. Había ahora una estampida de estadolibristas hacia la estadidad. Desde el 2006 y en la medida en que se le ha dado mayor espacio al soberanismo, el ELA se ha ido en picada. Si se combinan los números del ELA y el ELA Soberano su nivel de apoyo ha bajado de un 46%, a un 42%, a un 40% y ahora, en la última encuesta, a un 39% –que fue lo mismo que sacó la estadidad en el plebiscito del 1967 por si acaso algún estadolibrista aun no se siente incómodo. Estas encuestas son prueba objetiva de que el llamado soberanismo está destruyendo al ELA y al PPD. El que la inserción del ELA Soberano a la discusión haya revolcado los números de forma tan dramática demuestra cuán dañina es esa postura para el autonomismo. Los líderes del PPD tienen la obligación de enderezar cuanto antes el entuerto ideológico en el que el soberanismo los ha estado metiendo. Recuperar la confianza de los que se han ido toma tiempo y esfuerzo. Requiere como base una afirmación oficial del partido en rechazo categórico al concepto de la soberanía asociada. Rehuirle a esa importante obligación por mieditos de división es abrirle las puertas de par en par a la estadidad.