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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!!!

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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

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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.

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