Paradise Lost: The Forced Exodus of American citizens in the territory of Puerto Rico!
An Open letter to President Obama and Congress of the Massive Exodus of U.S. Citizens from the Segregated Territory of Puerto Rico to the USA!
by Franklin D. López
Journalist, writer, entrepreneur, politician & political prisoner
Dear President Obama:
In your Lexington Address, referred by the press as the Lexington Doctrine,it was summarized in this way: “The president has plans; but they revolve around fixing America, not the world.” Puerto Rico was conquered by the United States, as a result of the Spanish-American War. In 1917 Congress & President McKinley granted American citizenship to the population of the recently acquired territory. As soon as the United States government assumed jurisdiction over the Island, a process of transformation and social and economic developments began. Roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, ports and many other infrastructure developments were built. During the Spanish domain Puerto Rico was exploited, resulting in the extermination of the indigenous population, slavery, extreme poverty and little infrastructure.
In 1952 Congress passed Law 600, known at the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico, approving a territorial constitution and providing a tax structure that attracted manufacturing and industrial development. Congress maintained a strong grip on the territory and its citizens had a weak “resident commissioner” in the U.S. House of Representatives, with no presidential vote and no representation in the U.S. Senate. As a result of that structure Washington promoted Puerto Rico as “the show case of the Americas!’ The end of the Cold War, globalization and the fall of nationalistic economic barriers affected adversely Puerto Rico’s economic development and the Island began to decline.
Since its creation in 1952 the so called Commonwealth model was not able to lower its unemployment rate below 10%. American citizens from the Island began to volunteer in joining the Armed Forces and more than 272,000 served the Nation with honor and distinction. On Tuesday you will be recognizing the contribution in the defense of liberty and freedom of the 65th Infantry Segregated Regiment with the Congressional Medal of Honor at The White House.
Mr. President, since 1952, more than 2.4 millions American citizens from the territory of Puerto Rico have been forced to move to the United States because of the harsh economic conditions, tax burden, poverty, lack of governmental security to the civil population and a failed education department. Today there are 5 million American citizens of Puerto Rican origin living in the 50 states of the Union. The impact of 69 new taxes by the present government, the classification by the Wall St Ratings Agencies of the public debt as junk, absence of a clear future vision and strong governmental leadership, has fueled the largest exodus of population in our history. Most of the population are moving to Florida, Georgia. North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and many others of the “battle ground states!”
The impact of the massive exodus is the following: More than 312,000 housing units empty (almost 25 per cent of the housing stock); an unemployment rates of more than 15%; bankruptcy of businesses and banks; 19,000 additional housing units in foreclosure; 77,000 housing units with 90 days or more of non-payments; the death of the construction industry; the closing of mega pharmaceutical plants and industry because of the high cost of energy 31 cents per kilowatt hour; the highest per 100,000 crime related death in the USA; a corrupt government, police and judicial institutions; the jurisdiction with the highest cost of living in the Americas; the highest school desertion in the Nation and I can go on and on. This new eco system of colonial depression and deflation will continue for many years to come.
In May 2013 the El Nuevo Dia newspaper published the results of a poll revealing that “93 per cent of the population is considering or have considered moving to the 50 states of the Union”. The U.S. Census Bureau is forecasting that 1.4 millions additional citizens from Puerto Rico will move to the mainland. The White House Inter-agency Task Forced wisely expressed that “the problem of Puerto Rico is related to the status” and solving it. You assigned $2.5 millions in the present Federal budget for a Federally sponsored plebiscite despite the fact that the People of Puerto Rico rejected the “colonial” model with 54% of the vote and gave statehood:political equality a 61%. But the forces of colonialism here and in Washington are fighting to maintain the status quo. This is totally unacceptable!
Mr. President, Puerto Rico today under the present colonial scheme, is not a viable society, socially, economically and politically, if 1.4 millions, the middle and educated classes, that consumes 50% of goods and services in the territory move to the Nation. Reducing consumption of goods and services by 50% will create further poverty, devastation, substantial less governmental revenues and total collapse! American citizens from the Island desires equality in Puerto Rico but if the U.S. Government leadership fails to respond we will massively respond by taking a two or three hour flight to the USA. Serving this “migrated” population on the mainland will cost the U.S. government twice as much as serving them on the Island. This presently happening and intensifying.
Puerto Rico could be a renaissance society. Strategically located in the Caribbean, with a Spanish speaking population, we will be a formidable catalytic agent to bring to the 50 states of the Union closer to the $ 7 trillions a year growing Latin American market. This will create jobs, tax revenues and income to the Nation as a whole. Doing the opposite or remaining passive at the colonial ship sinks will send a very strong and negative message to all Latin Americans.
The only way to resolve the Puerto Rican quagmire is with political equality. Independence will only accelerate a massive exodus of biblical proportion (97% according to Gallup polls will migrate if granted). Just review the political and economic impact of granting political equality to the Hawaiian archipelago. If, as you wisely expressed in your Lexington Doctrine “nation building is first” then be bold and provide a stronger leadership in resolving the future of American citizens in the territory. The collapse of “commonwealth” has created an unsustainable economic hardship system forcing the massive exodus. Equality in Puerto Rico or equality in the United States. Congress and you have to decide and the time for action is now! Is your call!