by Franklin D. López
The writer is a former UPI & AP news writer; businessman, equality fighter & political prisoner! @trueblue51 Facebook Periscope Instagram Pinterest http://www.franklindelanolopez.com www.NOTIUNO.com/Opinion
“There is no western concern for issues of aggression, atrocities, human rights abuses and so on if there’s a profit to be made from them”– Noam Chomsky
During the Carter administration I had a long conversations with Dr. Robert Pastor, who was the director of the National Security Council Latin American bureau, over Washington’s benign neglect regarding the colonial and segregationist regime in the Islands of Puerto Rico where 3.5 millions American citizens reside. Many times when he wanted to avoid a difficult question or hide the truth he used an emblematic phase that describes the intentions and objectives of the HR 5278 legislation creating a Federal Fiscal Control Board; “My dear friend, Washington works in mysterious ways.”
The efforts of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressmen Sean Duffy (R-Wis) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in the new bill effectively revokes Public Law 600 that established the so called “free associated states” of Puerto Rico and it’s colonial Constitution.The new bill revokes the farce of the “commonwealth status” confirms the lies and representation made to the United Nations that the island’s American citizens exercised their right of self determination with the adoption of the territorial constitution and law 600. The new bill classifies the archipelago as a territory and not “as a non incorporated territory” as defined by the U.S Supreme Court in the “territorial cases.” It gives the Fiscal Control, appointed by Congress and the President, powers to over rule the governor, the legislature and even the local judicial system. It even gives the powers to impose Federal taxes, revokes laws and judicial territorial decisions. All of this, components necessary to convert a non incorporated territory into one “incorporated.”
The HR 5278, in the version released during the night of May 18, 2016 by Congressman Duffy, is nothing but a collection bill. It does not provide the necessary tools to attract investments, create jobs and initiate a process to resolve the status. I have written multiple commentaries distributed to Congress, the Senate and The White House warning them that if the economic and job creation and a process to resolve the status once the debt issued is settled are not included in the bill the Fiscal Control Board will fail from the get go.
The massive population exodus if not immediately addressed will increase and expand further weakening the economic environment. Tax revenues will continue to shrink as the population decreases. Investors, economic growth and job creations will not occur with the highest tax base and governmental taxes of any jurisdiction within the 50 states of the Union. Decreasing the Federal minimum wage to $ 4.25 is an appalling proposal and insulting in an economy, that is not only affected by recession for the past 11 years, but also by economic depression and deflation of the traditional saving account of Puerto Rican families ,their homes, whose prices have fallen an average of 50 per cent or more.
The bill as it, will be marked up next Tuesday and voted on Wednesday before the Natural Resources Committee of the U.S Congress and once approved it will project to the International community that the beacon of freedom, liberty and equality is a simple mirage. It will mark a dark page in the history of the World most emblematic “democracy.” If the administration Barack Obama supports the approval of this legislation it will constitute an abominable legacy of the first African American president by legitimizing segregation and colonialism in a U.S. territory.
Next May 30, 2016 the members of the United Nations Decolonizing Committee will be meeting in Managua, Nicaragua until June 2. Puerto Rico’s colonial status will resonate louder than ever fueled by the imperial content being promoted by both the Republican majority and the democratic minority complying to the wishes of Wall Street, Pension and Vulture Funds.
The legislation punishes the noble and docile people of Puerto Rico who have been victimized by corrupt governors, politicians and their culprits who stole more than $ 27 billions dollars since they were warned by Nobel Economic prize winner James Tobin who authored a report strongly suggesting measures to avoid a policy of selling bonds and obtaining loans for failed mega projects. It seems that Congress and The White House will treat the corrupt governors, politicians and their culprits in the same manner that the investment bankers and Wall Street executives are enjoying absolute impunity and the collapse of the financial system. This is disgraceful for a Nation based in a government of laws, rights and obligations and with the mantra of “equal protection under the law.” Shameful!
The legislation ignores the plight of 172,000 retired government employees and teachers whose pension funds will be insolvent in two years. This insolvency also created by the policies of former governors putting their hands in the pension fund’s cookie jar to cover budget deficits and holes.
With this background I favor a strong Federal Fiscal Control Board with extraordinary powers but with the inclusion of a Federal Enterprise Zone to promote jobs and investments as well as the process to resolve the real cause of the crisis, the Isl;and political future. But if Congress and The White House do not include an economic plan to promote investments and create jobs, together with a process to resolve the status Puerto Rico will lose more than 1.5 million people in a period of 2 or 3 years. All of this will have catastrophic consequences. leaving the Island with the very poor and the older population. It is a formidable contradiction that the Nation that saved Mexico and many other Nations, banks, investment banks and insurance companies ran by corrupt executives from financial and economic collapse negates the same treatment to 3.5 millions American citizens that were invaded on July 25, 1898 and became a territory of the United States. There is something wrong with this picture!
There must be something beyond the scope of the legislation. Does The White House wants the island to empty to strengthen the chances of a democratic presidential nominee to win key battleground states? Does Congress wants to promote a chaos and crisis of biblical proportion to dispose of the territory? If Washington persist in imposing the predicament of the HR 5278 history and the international community will pass judgement on the catastrophic policies and the dismembering of the Puerto Rican family. It is wise to correct mistakes. If not the United States taxpayers will pay the high cost of tens of billions of dollars when 1.5 millions American citizens will move to the United States in the next few years and join the 5.2 millions Puerto Ricans living “the American dream.”
The bill as it is, instead of protecting the population, it protects the bond holders, Wall Street, Pension and Vulture Funds. In closing Noam Chosmky once said, “Governments will use whatever technology is available to them to combat their primary enemy, it’s population!” I rest my case!
The time to do what is right is now!