by Franklin D. López
Journalist, Writer, Entrepreneur, Political Prisoner
@trueblue51, http://www.franklindelanolopez.com, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook Periscope
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”- Declaration of Independence
One of the most politically influential novels in all of American literature was written by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer: The Ugly American. According to Wikipedia, The Ugly American depicts the failures of the U.S. diplomatic corps, whose insensitivity to local language, culture, customs, history and refusal to integrate was in marked contrast to the polished abilities of Eastern Bloc (primarily Soviet) diplomacy and led to Communist diplomatic success overseas.
It also addressed “the arrogance of power” of U.S. diplomats in Vietnam which eventually led to the United States’ defeat, the loss of more than 54,000 American servicemen and women, 375,000 GIs injured and millions of innocent civilians killed. Vietnam became the wake-up call to the American people of the U.S. Government concealed lies about the war, corruption and crimes against humanity. It led to the loss of innocence of the American people. If only U.S. government would have read the Vietnamese history and struggles against China and the French, the whole war would have been avoided. Today Vietnam is one of America’s strongest ally in Southeast Asia. Those who do not read history are condemned to repeat it’s mistakes.
The Founding Fathers were extremely precise and clear on the rights of liberty and equality. In the declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men are created equal.” And they have “unalienable rights,” rights that no one may take away. These rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It says that “governments are set up to protect these rights”. And that governments get “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” In other words, “the people run the government. The goal of government should be to guard everyone’s freedom. The purpose of government is not to serve the rulers. It is to serve the people and uphold their rights.”
Many in the United States are not well informed about the plight and inequalities of American citizens living in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Many don’t know even where the territory is located. Here are some basic data of the 3.5 millions American citizens living in the U.S. Territory:
a) We are American citizens by birth since the granting of the Jones Act in 1917 and signed by President Woodrow Wilson.
b) More than 275,000 have served in the Armed forces since World War I and thousands gave their precious lives defending democracy and liberty abroad that are denied to them in the territory. Even during the U.S. Civil War! Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez (1841 – March 22, 1880), was a Puerto Rican who served as an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Rodríguez served in the defenses of Washington, D.C. and led his men in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Wyse Fork.
c) American citizens in Puerto Rico pay more Federal taxes than six states of the Union, including among them IDAHO. Source: The Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/08/americas-fiscal-union
d) Puerto Rico is among the 30 largest trading partners of the United States in the World, purchasing more than $ 30 billion in goods and services creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the 50 states of the Union.
In summary, for 118 years we have served the Nation, paid our taxes and contributed to the enrichment of the National cultural life in many ways and forms without representation. See: The Amazing Contributions of Puerto Ricans to the United States. Link: http://xpatnation.com/the-amazing-contributions-of-puerto-ricans-to-the-united-states/
Now, Puerto Rico is going through a tough and difficult economic crisis. The crisis is related to $112 billion of public debt and structural deficits of the public employees and teachers pensions system. This economic mess was created by corrupt elected officials and public waste of public funds. The U.S. Congress and the Obama administration approved the creation of a Federal Fiscal Control Board and Management to solve the economic public debt problem.
In the mean time, U.S. citizens living in the Republic of Costa Rica are entitled to receive Supplementary Social Security which is denied to American citizens in the territory. Congress and The White House have established a ‘de facto’ segregationist territory where laws are not equally applied, but at the pleasure of Washington’s politicians.
Now comes, the distinguished Congressman fro Idaho, Raúl Labrador and addressing Puerto Rico’s GOP Convention delegates says, “statehood for Puerto Rico must wait until the public debt issue is resolved.” Labrador born in Carolina, Puerto Rico moved to Idaho at the age of 13 years old. He represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District since January 2011. He joined the “Freedom Caucus’.
Mr. Labrador, who became a Mormon when attending Brigham Young University, has been a member of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representative. This committee has among other duties the oversight to protect the rights of liberty and equality of our Nation’s citizens, including those living in the territory of Puerto Rico. He has stated in the Puerto Rican press, “I love my Island. I love Puerto Rico. But I do not represent Puerto Rico.” Like Pontious Pilate he washes his “hands” to brush off the right of equality and freedom of Puerto Ricans who are American citizens by birth. A person who does not honor his origin, history and culture is like a tree without roots and that will not bear fruits!
The distinguished gentleman from Idaho, conveniently forgets that we pay more taxes than 6 states of the Union, including IDAHO, without representation. Taxation without representation was precisely the spark that started the fire that built our Nation. He also looks the other way ignoring the sacrifices of the 275,000 Americans citizens from the Island who served with honor and distinction defending democracy, freedom and equality. As a Mormon believer, Mr. Labrador’s position regarding our rights for equality contradicts the basic doctrinal principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints or is he a believer of political convenience?
This segregated territory was not what the Founding Fathers intended for our Nation. The United States projects to be the Lighthouse of Freedom, Democracy and Equality. Mr. Labrador’s position regarding the rights of 3.5 American citizens postponing equality until the public debt is resolved clashes with the legislation he voted for HR5278 PROMESA that establishes a Federal Fiscal Board and its article 402 says “Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to restrict Puerto Rico’s right to determine its future political status, including by conducting the plebiscite as authorized by Public Law 113-76.” Postponing equality is like asking to postpone the right to liberty or freedom. The United States does not represent in 21st Century archaic ideals like segregation, discrimination and children of a lesser god! Is Mr. Labrador serious when he said that equality for American citizens in Puerto Rico must be seated in the back of the bus like in the times of segregation in the South?
The People of Puerto Rico rejected in the 2012 plebiscite the present territorial regime. Therefore the territorial colonial regime lost “the consent of the governed.” The U.S. Congress approved $ 2.5 million for a Federal plebiscite. We will promote such a plebiscite in the 2016 election and in 2017. But Mr. Labrador who denies the right of equality and maintains a segregated and discriminatory territorial regime should resign as a member of the “Freedom Caucus” (Tea Party) of the U.S. Congress. His position is against the principles of the Freedom Caucus. The People of Idaho have a clear history of defending freedom, equality and abhorring segregation and discrimination. There cannot be any freedom if there is no equality. Mr. Raúl Labrador’s position is a contradiction to the ideals of the Founding Fathers, the principle of the Mormon faith, our history and the Constitution. By maintaining it Mr. Labrador is supporting segregation, discrimination and becoming the poster child of “An Ugly American!”