Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2011


2011 was a momentous year for this blog. The biggest accomplishment was that it surprassed 100,000 unique visits and the total stats will reach over 130,000. Here are the 2011 top 10 posts of JRV.com:

10. TOP GEAR Host James May Reportedly Goes Nutty on a Plane: 1,183 reads

9. Latest El Nuevo Día Poll in Puerto Rico Concludes that Luis Fortuño Administration is a Disaster: 1,309 reads

8. TOP GEAR Now Offends Albania: 1,658 reads

7.  BREAKING NEWS: Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño Resigns, To Join FOX NEWS (APRIL FOOLS!!!): 1,702 reads

6. The 1917 Jones Act: Puerto Ricans as U.S. Citizens: 1,732 reads

5.  INTERNET HOAX ALERT: Senator John McCain Comments Questioning the US Citizenship of NBA Star JJ Barea: 1,877 reads

4. Top Gear” Video the BBC Doesn’t Want You to See: 2.658 reads

3. Fernando Varela Performs a Bilingual Version of Coldplay’s YELLOW Live in Concert: 3,377 reads

2. TOP GEAR Host Jeremy Clarkson Statement on Mexican Controversy: 4,110 reads

1. Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State: 4,169 views

To all of our readers, followers, critics, and commenters (BRUCE!!!), thank you!!!!! WISHING YOU ALL AN AMAZING 2012!!!

Read Full Post »


As part of an ongoing series for 2012, the year of yet another Puerto Rican status plebiscite, JulioRVarela.com will periodically be posting columns by influential Puerto Rican political bloggers. We are honored to kick off our series with the first of three columns by Gil C. Schmidt. (NOTE: This three-part column was originally intended for a piece I wrote when I was contributing to Being Latino magazine earlier this year, and Schimidt’s response was never published by BL, so we are following up on an invitation we extended to Gil to have it published here).

Puerto Rico—Never a State (Part One)

By Gil C. Schmidt

 
Understand this: the U.S. will not grant statehood to Puerto Rico. Ever. It is not a “right” Puerto Rico has earned, it is not a “debt” the U.S. has to pay and it is not their “obligation” to take on a nation (a concept many Puerto Ricans shamefully deny we have) as part of their republican federation because of a simple reason: it is their house and they can say who comes in and who doesn’t.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons:
  1. Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open;
  2. History has spoken and
  3. Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.
Ethnic and economic differences: The average American doesn’t know about or care a thing for Puerto Rico. But you can bet that their ignorance will quickly change to expertise based on a single issue: We are not like them. To the average American, we are not Americans. We are outsiders. Strangers. Parasites even. For though the U.S. was founded on humanistic ideals and principles, in fact, the ideals and principles are often expressed as “If you ain’t one of us, you don’t count and we don’t want you.” Ask Arizona.

For statehood, the procedure says that 38 States have to approve. It’s easier to find 38 States to vote against Puerto Rico. First off, none of the 9 Southern states (Louisiana to Kentucky/North Carolina) would approve. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never lived in those States.

Large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and an array of militia radicals. They’ll vote NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so Puerto Rican statehood is finished.

But to make the point clearer, take your pick of almost-certain “No” votes: New England states that are as ultra-conservative as the winter is long or some of the other 21 States that would see their comparatively small representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of votes is based on population, not State seniority.

Furthermore, unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s five “representatives” would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would these states allow one of their “voices in government” to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?

And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison. But for now, it’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s carried out openly (“English only”) or quietly.

Bio: I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P. But I was born in Puerto Rico, a fourth-generation Puerto Rican and have lived on the island continuously since 1987. You can find more of my writings about Puerto Rico at Gil The Jenius: http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com

Read Full Post »


Memo to Puerto Rico’s Popular Democratic Party (PPD), champions and defenders of a status colonial arrangement that is 60 years old and is no longer working: stop the politics, stop the whining, and allow the will of the Puerto Rican people to decide on its political future.

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Today, Puerto Rican and pro-statehood Republican Governor Luis Fortuño signed into law a two-part voter referendum to address the island’s political status preference. The process had already experienced a public session where amendments to the vote were made as well as criticism from members of Fortuño’s own party.

(On a sidenote, Fortuño’s actions must have taken Puerto Rican history into account, since the 2012 plebiscite will occur during the 60th year anniversary of the Puerto Rican Constitution, the document that declared the island a Commonwealth of the United States, the country that invaded it in 1898.)

Now, the PPD leadership, which clings to a colonial status quo mentality that has done very little to advance the status question as well as Puerto Rico’s move into the 21st century, is crying foul. Bring on the POLITIQUERÍA, which has become the island’s #1 pastime, even though more and more islanders are done with the pettiness and more worried about getting jobs and staying safe.

As reported by the Associated Press:

The first part of the referendum will ask voters if they want a change in status or prefer to remain a U.S. commonwealth. The second part will ask that voters choose from three options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association.

The original proposal was to hold the first part of the referendum in August 2012 and then, only if the majority sought a change in status, hold the second part during the November 2012 general elections.

But under the new proposal, the two-part referendum will be held on Nov. 6, said Gov. Luis Fortuño, who leads the pro-statehood New Progressive Party.

Regardless of what voters decide, any change requires approval by the U.S. Congress and president.

PPD Senator Eduardo Bhatia

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia said holding both parts on the same day makes no sense because it assumes that the pro-status quo option doesn’t win and the second round will be necessary.

“This law is proof that the leadership of the pro-statehood movement turns to trickery, deceit and the technique of confusion as political weapons,” said Bhatia of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the current commonwealth status. “What opportunity do voters have to seriously reflect between one vote and the other? None.”

The questions will be on the same ballot and Fortuño has not stated clearly how they will be presented. Critics fear that being forced to choose from the three options could influence how people vote in the first part.

Kenneth McClintock, secretary of state for Puerto Rico, denied accusations that pro-status quo supporters would be ignored, saying that people were free to leave the second part of the ballot blank. He said Bhatia’s party had previously agreed to holding the referendum in one day.

McClintock said the U.S. Congress would interpret the results if the majority chose something other than maintaining the status quo.

Fortuño also discarded criticism of the referendum.

“All processes aimed at resolving Puerto Rico’s political future assumes that the current situation no longer has majority support,” he said.

Fortuño spokeswoman Ana del Valle said his administration chose to hold the two-part referendum on the same day to get a sense of what people prefer for the island’s political future.

The referendum received praise from Luis Delgado, leader of a group that is pushing for Puerto Rico to have a sovereign free association with the U.S. But Delgado urged Fortuño to demand that the U.S. outline terms and conditions for each of the choices before the referendum is held.

Puerto Rico has long debated its political status, with no majority for any particular status emerging in referendums held in 1967, 1993 and 1998.

Rafael Cox Alomar, a PDP member who is seeking the island’s nonvoting Congressional seat, dismissed the referendum as expensive and unnecessary.

“This referendum does not work and does not involve nor compromise in any way the U.S. Congress,” he said. “In a moment of economic crisis… the cost of this referendum is an insult to the people who reject it.”

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who is running against Fortuño, said the Popular Democratic Party would soon issue its official stance on the referendum.

Critics also noted that if Fortuño’s party loses the election, millions of dollars spent on the referendum will have gone to waste.

The PPD reaction is clearly partisan and short-sighted. The Defenders of the Colonial Commonwealth are making a huge political mistake by trying to defend a system that is becoming less and less viable for the island. Instead, the PPD should seriously consider taking the growing anti-Fortuño sentiment and turn it into a positive. Why won’t it consider other options that go beyond the current system?

If the PPD continues to think it is running a campaign out of 1979—when the political will to maintain the Colonial Commonwealth was stronger— it will lose it all. Fortuño will win his re-election, even with the island’s social and economic problems, and statehood will win out. The time for the PPD to wake up is now, or else everything it has tried to defend since 1952 will vanish. The smart move now is to try and salvage what it can. Voters in Puerto Rico are ready to change and improve the status quo, and there is still a sentiment that statehood is too extreme and the wrong fit for the island.

But if the PPD doesn’t change its course and stop complaining that it doesn’t approve of the rules of the game, they will become irrelevant.

Why doesn’t the PPD lead the charge in forcing the US Congress to make the plebiscite vote binding? This might actually be seen as a proactive and tangible action that goes beyond political whining.

The question is: if your house is on fire, do you work hard to save part of your house or do you stubbornly refuse to save your burning house out of anger that your house is on fire?

Here’s hoping the PPD wants to truly save the burning house. Puerto Rico is definitely worth saving. The people should have a voice. Let the politicians get out of the way.

Read Full Post »


The Luis Fortuño GOP VP Campaign Train is buzzing along, and The Huffington Post is the latest US media outlet to join on this bizarre public relations campaign to promote Puerto Rico’s Republican governor.

In a HuffPost piece entitled A Republican Primer on Latino Voters by Gretchen Sierra-Zorita of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, the author addresses the ever-burning question of how the GOP can attract more Latino voters in the 2012 election. After the necessary disclaimer that current GOP possibilities like Marco Rubio and Susana Martínez would not make good choices for the GOP because of their anti-immigration rhetoric, Sierra-Zorita gets to the meat of the article and perhaps the main reason she wrote it: to inaccurately paint Puerto Ricans as the least vocal group about immigration and to promote Fortuño as a realistic VP option.

The author begins with her thesis:

Third, enlisting a Hispanic vice president could improve Republican chances of expanding their Latino base but only at the margin. Among the possible candidates, Governor Fortuño stands the better chance of winning over new voters.

Her reasons? Reason #1: Puerto Ricans are the most likely Latino group to vote for their own native son. She writes:

There are 4.6 million Puerto Ricans residing in the mainland. For them, immigration reform is a preference but not a priority because Puerto Ricans are born U.S. citizens. They mostly trend Democrat, but they would give the Republican ticket a second look if they saw a Puerto Rican in it.

Once again, the misperception of Puerto Ricans as being insensitive and ignorant towards immigration issues has propped its ugly head. We thought we had addressed this over the summer when the founder of The Tequila Party showed her lack of education about Puerto Rican history and how Puerto Ricans were a source of cheap migrant labor in United States ever since citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans in 1917. But it appears that Sierra-Zorita needs a quick lesson in Puerto Rican history, so we invite her to become a follower of this blog or just follow us on Twitter and we will keep her informed.

Nonetheless, facts and history aside, we know very few Puerto Ricans who think immigration injustice is NOT a critical issue in this country. In fact, some could argue that certain Puerto Ricans are at the forefront of the national debate.

Just ask Illinois Congressman and Puerto Rican Luis Gutierrez, who has been one of the country’s most consistent and effective voices when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. Or ask the Rev. Sam Rodríguez, one of the country’s most influential Christian ministers and a Puerto Rican, who spearheaded a national pledge asking that all political candidates cease the negative rhetoric immigration.

So, Puerto Ricans DO care about immigration, and to imply that Puerto Ricans would be the first to vote Republican because they would easily trade in that issue before say, a Mexican American voter, is irresponsible and inaccurate.

On to Exhibit B, the Disneyrican defense. Sierra-Zorita writes:

The 848,000 Puerto Ricans who live in Florida, popularly known as Disneyricans, might be more receptive to a conservative pitch from Governor Fortuño. Disneyricans are considered independents, having voted for Obama in 2008 and for Rubio in 2010. Over 40 percent of them moved from Puerto Rico during the last decade, primarily for economic reasons.

This paragraph is so wrong on so many levels. We offer these two observations:

The term Disneyrican is an invented media term that refers to the new migration of Puerto Ricans on the island to Central Florida in the last 10 years, specifically Orlando. This population is younger, more professional, more educated and quite likely left Fortuño’s Puerto Rico in the last three years because there were no jobs on the island, the island’s crime rate was spiraling, and the island’s standard of living was awful. Is there a correlation between a declining population on the island and a Republican governor whose policies have led to a stagnant economy that is being compared to Greece? Maybe so, and we believe the chances of these new Florida residents voting for Fortuño as VP are minimal to say the least. And we are being nice about that assessment.

Sticking to the term Disneyrican, we would like to ask the HuffPost and Sierra-Zorita, who claims that this terms is a “popular” term, to name the other media outlets in the US (besides the HuffPost) that use the term Disneyrican to describe Puerto Ricans living in Florida? Very few articles, even in Spanish-language media, use this term.

As someone who actually has Puerto Rican family members and friends who live in Central Florida, I don’t hear people refer themselves as Disneyricans with boricua pride. This is just a classic case of a media outlet trying to create an invented sound bite buzz word to try and box a voting bloc. Sierra-Zorita should have known better, especially when earlier in the piece, she says herself that Latino voters are not one-dimensional.

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

Finally, Sierra-Zorita shows her complete ignorance about the US Constitution when she writes the following:

Ironically, as governor of a U.S. territory, Fortuño is the ultimate outsider and unlikely to be nominated. If he were, he may have an edge over Marco Rubio who, as a Latino, mostly appeals to the Cuban Americans who are already part of the Republican base.

Yes, Fortuño is the ultimate outsider, so much so, that he couldn’t even vote for himself right now! Does Sierra-Zorita not realize that if Fortuño were to run, he would have to change his residency from the island to a mainland address (Virginia, most likely, where he used to lived) because right now, Fortuño can’t vote for President because he lives in Puerto Rico? How would the GOP explain that one to its base, the same base that once questioned the citizenship of President Obama? That is a hornet’s nest waiting to happen, and it makes no sense for any GOP leader to even think of this possibility.

But nonetheless, Sierra-Zorita shouldn’t be blamed for her lack of political knowledge when it comes to Puerto Rican politics. Her previous HuffPost piece was claiming that some obscure Puerto Rican investment bill would turn the vast majority of Disneyricans over to the GOP column. The GOP would win the Disneyrican vote, of that is no doubt, she argued. We respectfully disagree. Obscure bills that have done nothing to help the island’s situation will curry very little support in the end.

The GOP could win more of the Disneyrican, Newyorican, and Puerto Rican vote when it starts treating them as voters and respecting them. Leave the pandering, silly sound bites, and public relation campaigns to the pundits. You can get better advice just by paying attention to the realities that are happening in Puerto Rico and how most Puerto Ricans we know deeply care for the island to heal and for the POLITIQUERÍA to end.

Read Full Post »


his is one deportation case where being humane should trump anything else. If you are not moved by this woman’s story and her love of her husband, then this country is clearly in trouble. Please take a moment to click here and sign the petition. This one is special to us.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

My hubby José Pedro Mejía (A# 087-042-687) and I have been married 11 years. Jose has been in the US for 13 years. He came here from his tiny village in Mexico, where he was mired in poverty and was unable to find work. Shortly after we were married I became ill and was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. November 2007 they determined that I had approximately 6 months to live – I needed a double-lung transplant.

After agonizing back and forth with doctors about whether I qualified for the surgery, I was notified one morning that I was to be listed on the organ necessity list at about 9am. Three hours later the nurse informed me i was #1 on the list and to get to the hospital immediately, there was a match. January 9, 2008 I was transplanted. My recovery has been horrible. I take 30 meds a day. My sternum had to be broken for access to my lungs and has not healed. Through this all my husband has honored his promised “in sickness and in health.” My husband makes sure I eat and take my meds. He cleans, cooks, does laundry and helps me bathe when necessary. I have blackout periods where I appear awake but have no memory of certain blocks of time. Without him to care for me I hate to think where I’d be.

 

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

I offered to divorce him so he could find someone young and healthy like him. But his support has never wavered. But now, he could be taken away from me because of his immigration status. We have applied numerous times for an adjustment of his status, all denied. We filed an appeal June 2010. Also denied. Recently my husband received a notice to appear for a hearing at immigration court for removal proceedings. I’m doing all I can to keep him here.

My husband is the perfect example of what the Morton memo describes as meeting prosecutorial discretion. For all they have put ME through, a US citizen, I want him to be approved legal permanent status and eventually we will work towards citizenship.

Please tell USCIS: stop the deportation of my husband and allow him to file for legal permanent residency. 

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

Read Full Post »


So last week, Sports Illustrated opened up its cover selection process to social media, letting anyone in the world vote for the best picture of 2011. In the end, the fans chose Rutgers’ Eric LaGrand and his inspirational story. Granted, it was a good choice, but the explanation by SI’s Terry McDonell reveals that in the end, big brands don’t get social media, and you are left to wonder if they ever will.

This is what McDonell wrote in last week’s issue:

The idea that the editor should relinquish that call this week and ask fans to choose the cover came from Scott Novak, SI’s vice president of communications. Novak is editorial minded and brilliant at driving connections with readers through social-media platforms such as the SI Facebook page, where he proposed to invite visitors to vote for the best sports moment of the year, with the winner featured on the year-end cover. The argument against him was simple: As much as readers may second-guess the magazine’s cover choices, that’s where they want SI’s credibility and authority to start. And who said the voters would be readers in the first place? But the argument Novak, his team and a growing number of staffers made was that letting the public in on the selection process would strengthen the bond between the magazine and its readers and, further, allow SI to plug into a new two-way relationship with a wider landscape of sports fans.

Again, it was a noble effort, but McDonell’s words reveal a few misconceptions that brands still blindly follow when it comes to social media. This is why in the end SI missed the mark:
  • It’s all about control. There is still this assumption by media outlets that in order to succeed in the digital space, they must still control the message. And that is where the problem lies. Once you commit to social media, everyone becomes an equal, from the magazine to the readers to the people who tweet about the brand.
  • Social media credibility comes from actual engagement. It is just hard to believe that SI truly “gets it” now. The SI example, as much as its editors think it is “two-way conversation,” it is still SOCIAL MEDIA LITE. SI missed the opportunity to take their cover selection process and really make it 100% engaging. Sure, people voted and chose the cover, but SI’s team failed to make something out of it. They should have spent more time shouting out the people who voted, mention them, thank them for the votes on Twitter. THAT would have strengthened the relationship SI sought. Instead, SI was still the story, and not the voters. People will quickly see through that.
  • Where is the real engagement? True engagement is when both sides of the channel are highlighted. SI still thinks that it is better than the people who follow its accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe if SI lightens up a bit and not feel so concerned about losing control, people would become even more loyal.

It is encouraging to see that McDonell has a Twitter account. But his profile on Twitter just has four tweets (although kudos for using an @ reply for one of those tweets, maybe there is hope?). And McDonell has only tweeted once this December, the month when he should have done more to prove that SI is becoming more social media savvy and friendlier. And before that, he tweeted once in October 2011, once in December 2010 and his first tweet was in October 2009. Knowing how smart the guys at SI are, I do believe they will understand that they must practice what they preach. I am rooting for you, Terry. Come dive into Twitter and enjoy it.

Trust me, I love SI. I think it is the best weekly magazine in the world. The writing is vastly superior and the photos are top-notch. However, if SI REALLY wants to dive deeply in the social media sphere, it should, for example, take the time to simply reply to people, their readers, the ones who buy their magazine every week (their current Twitter presence is the perfect example of how NOT to do it).

So maybe, if their editors are open to it, they should publish a Social Media edition of their magazine, where individuals who follow the brand choose and develop the brand for one week. Publish the tweets, shout out the opinions, and maybe even have some content creators publish some of their pieces. Now THAT would be cool. Let’s hope SI stops hiding behind the image of the BIG BRAND that thinks it is doing social media. It would actually be more fun for them and it would change the needle for them, especially in this age, where ANYONE can be a publisher now.

Read Full Post »


Today, Puerto Rico’s online news portal, primerahora.com, ran an article in Spanish confirming that the island continues to face a decreasing population, according to the 2010 US Census and new 2011 figures. In fact, when compared to all 50 states of the Union, Puerto Rico would be ranked by far as the place to have suffered the largest population loss.

Here is a quick translation of the original Spanish article:

Puerto Rico’s population continues to decline and lost another 19,100 people between April 2010 and July 2011, according to estimates offered this week by the United States Census Bureau.

The first estimates published by the agency since the 2010 Census set the population of Puerto Rico as of July 2011 at 3,706,690. This figure is 19,099 fewer people than the estimated figure for April 2010, the month that was used as a basis for comparison.

The document estimated that around 35,000 inhabitants left the island and migrated. Interestingly, the study classifies migration between Puerto Rico and the U.S. as “international.”

For this same period, the Census Bureau estimated an increase of 2.8 million for the U.S., representing an increase of 0.92 percent. The U.S. population was estimated at 311.6 million for July 2011. Only three U.S. states reported a population decline during this period of 15 months and all well below that of Puerto Rico’s loss: Rhode Island (1,300), Michigan (7,400) and Maine (200).

The “natural growth” of the population of Puerto Rico during those months was 16,370 people, as a result of more births than deaths. The large number of people who left the country far exceeded the “natural growth,” casting the negative balance that highlights this report.

Product of Depression

“What has happened in Puerto Rico is that the depression has been loud and long, which is generating a strong migration to the United States,” said economist Jose Alameda.”Furthermore, the pattern of net births is declining,” he said.

“What worries most is that the people of Puerto Rico are usually educated … human capital has been reduced by migration,” he said. “That started between 2005 and 2006 as part of the depression. As there are no jobs for anyone, people migrate,” he said.

The economist expressed concern that as these figures show is that Puerto Rico’s economy is shrinking. “There is less human capital, shops close, and it also creates the problem that property has seen a decrease in value,” Alameda said.

The demographer Raúl Figueroa agreed that the economic situation is causing a negative migration in the country. “There are push factors right now,” he said. “Puerto Rico does not have many pull factors. There is no job or no crime situation that makes it attractive for people to come back, we’re seeing that people (who left the island) are not coming back,” he added.

“We must work for these people to return to Puerto Rico. People who are leaving are many young people under 40 years old, which causes a reduction in the workforce,” said Figueroa.

He noted, moreover, that the increase in migration is also “very particular situation of Puerto Rico, because we can travel freely to the United States.”

He predicted that “the population will continue to decline for several years. Migration is very high and the natural growth has been declining over the past 20 years. Births have been reduced,” he said.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: