In "I Mudd," a classic episode of the Original Star Trek series, a new officer named Lt. Norman, who is really an alien android, takes the U.S.S. Enterprise to an uncharted planet of androids. Captain Kirk and the Enterprise officers confuse the androids by behaving illogically, and are able to regain control of the Enterprise.
The finishing blow for the androids comes when Harcourt Fenton 'Harry' Mudd and Kirk pose Norman the Liar paradox, where Mudd claims he is lying and Kirk claims everything Mudd says is a lie. Short circuiting at this imponderable logical contradiction, Norman finally shuts down. The classic line goes:
Norman: "You say you are lying, but if everything you say is a lie, then you are telling the truth. But you cannot tell the truth, because everything you say is a lie. But... you lie... you tell the truth but you cannot, for you lie."After the weeks of listening to the status issue surrounding the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico, years of hearing about status from all sides (including participating in several plebiscite votes), to the recent testimony before the (and I'm not making this up) Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila and subsequent resolution from that committee, I've come to one conclusion.
The Popular Independence Party, the Popular Democratic Party, and the recently converted Governor Acevedo Vila, are all engaged in a reenactment of "I, Mudd," where the government of the United States is playing the role of the androids, and for special dramatic affect, a majority of the citizens of Puerto Rico as well.
Here in bullet form is a list of the illogical statements and positions that drive the debate surrounding the issue of Puerto Rico's status:
- Ability to self-determine - If, at best, you can say that the results of all previous plebiscite votes indicate that the Puerto Rican people are mixed, weren't these attempts to self-determine? Disclaimer: Some claim that these were meaningless votes because they did not carry Congressional backing. (You say you want to self determine, but when given a chance to self-determine, you can't to determine.)
- Ability to self-govern - On July 10, 2005, Puerto Rican voters approved the change to a unicameral legislature by 456,267 votes in favor, versus 88,720 against. However, Puerto Rico legislators have resisted implementing the will of the people. Assuming self-government means a democratic society, if our government currently doesn't respect the will of the people, how will sovereignty change that? (You say you want to self govern, but when the people attempt to self-govern, the government doesn't want to.)
- Ability to conduct trade - Many people claim that the U.S. limits Puerto Rico's ability to conduct trade with other countries. But what are the products that we have to conduct trade with? We produce coffee, sugarcane, pineapple, and many a few other agricultural products. We have no natural resources (oil, diamonds, copper, etc). With no natural resources to draw from, we only have a hand full of companies that produce products (as opposed to provide services, which in all fairness is emerging as the new basis for international trade). (You say you want to conduct trade, but you have nothing to trade.)
- Free association, sovereignty with free association, or independence - In the past year Governor Acevedo Vila has publicly supported all three of these positions. And of course, the position depends on whether he is asking for more money form the U.S., defending himself from federal charges, or seeking re-election.
- Sovereignty with free association - This is just a fancy way of saying, just give us all the money that you are currently giving us and, thank you very much, we'll take it from there.
- Economic capability - What happens to Puerto Rico's economy with the disappearance of tens of billions received in federal aid? Without any trade to speak of, how does the economy support 4 million people? (You say you want economic independence, but you have no economy.)
- Nationalism - Some people say that they want Puerto Rico to be free, independent, a nation of Puerto Ricans, because this would allow us to represent ourselves in the Olympics, International B3eauty Contests, etc. But we already have those things. (You say you want something, but you already have it.)
- Independence or Statehood - The ultimate self-determination is a choice between becoming independent or joining the Unites States. However, whenever polled or asked, given all of the above, the consensus is Statehood would win, mostly because the millions of people who are dependent on federal aid would choose to continuing receiving that aid. (So you say you want to vote so you can become independent, but the overwhelming majority believe you will lose the vote.)
Me: "You say you want something, but don't really want it, then you don't really want it. But if you don't really want it, why would you say you really want it. But ... you don't want it... you say you want it. You want it and don't really want it."I would like to commend two resources that I found while researching this article. First, if you want the real skinny on the whole UN bruhaha, check out this new blog that I found, the Overseas Territories Review, and this article. And if you want to read the most lucid description of what this whole monkey business is really about, then read this article "REAL SOVEREIGNTY FOR PUERTO RICO" by Dr. William Cleary, former assistant attorney general for the Government of Guam.