Re: Referendum or Restitution?

For many, maybe most Puerto Ricans, there is no more divisive, controversial, or infuriating topic than our status. Now, this is probably one of those topics I should just stay away from, because I'm not impartial, in fact, when most people see me, they see that I'm part of the problem (or at least represent the problem). Kind of like asking your only black friend what it is like being black (but that's another story).

So while all of the warning lights are flashing and alarms are sounding, Gil the Jenius, in his usual fashion has brought a fresh perspective to the status issue. However, that fresh perspective was the drop that over-flowed my glass, so I can;t resist to add my own perspectives. And if he opened a can of worms, I hope to open a can of snakes.

Now let me first acknowledge that since I'm from a sovereign country, the one most blame for preventing Puerto Rico from gaining it's own sovereignty, these observations are perhaps irrelevant, but I hope anyone who reads them will at least consider their merit regardless their source.

In the Socratic method, all I'd like to do is ask a few questions, I'll leave their answers and any subsequent conclusions to the reader.

When considering status, please consider the following questions (oh and by the way, this is not an argument for statehood, so I'm not going to be asking any direct questions about statehood)...

  • Why is it important for Puerto Rico to solve the status issue?
  • What are the injustices or needs or freedoms that would be solved (removed/added) by solving the status issue.
  • With the exception of the travesty in Vieques, has the US done anything to Puerto Rico like Russia recently did in Georgia?
  • If we don't pay taxes to the US, what is it that they are doing to us through their continued colonization of Puerto Rico?
  • If free trade is a potential reason for sovereignty, what is it that we have that is worth trading that would sustain our economy?
  • If Spain kept Puerto Rico as a colony for 400 years, why isn't there the same level of animosity towards Spaniards as there is towards Americans?
  • If we reject American culture because of it's colonization of Puerto Rico, why do we embrace our Spanish culture? Didn't they keep Puerto Rico enslaved for 4 times longer?
  • In today's globalized economy. aren't all economies so closely linked as to be considered tightly integrated into a world economy? Can Puerto Rico sustain itself as an independent economy?
  • Is the trend currently for countires (and companies) to join teogether, like has been illustrated by the union of many European nations, or is the trend for countries to ban together to unite?
  • Many people say that our colonial status, "perceived" lack of identity, or the unconcluded self determination of status are the reasons we suffer from the affects of drug trafficing, crime, poverty, and government corruption, why do most other independent Latin American countries suffer from the same issues?
  • What does it mean to be free? Free from what? Why is it so desirable to be a free country? Does freedom mean that we'll be safe?
  • Is the desire to be free idealogical or is it based on the motive of what's best for the majority of the people who live here?
  • If our motivation is idealogical would it be worth thrusting upon the majority of our citizens the hardships that becoming independent would most assuredly cause?
  • Recently, most Latin American countries have been experiencing economic growth between 6 and 10% annually. Isn't that because most were previously considered under-developed nations?
  • If we're considered (by our own government) to posess a first world infrastructure, where would our economic development come from if we've already risen from third world status?
  • If we are already proud to be Puerto Rican why do we abuse the island environmentally or abuse our fellow citizens?
  • What does it mean to be proud to be Puerto Rican? what exactly are we proud of? Sure there are achievements, I'm not speaking of that. If we are so concerned with what our families, neighbors, and friends think about where we live, what kind of car we drive, or what brand of clothes we wear, why doesn't that same concern for self-image expand to what other countries think of Puerto Rico when they visit or observe the island?
I know these are tough questions, inflammatory, and potentially in your face questions, but I think we've lost the meaning of why we want to resolve the status issue. To me it seems we'd rather rattle our sabres and claim nationalistic reasons, but we've lost the meaning of (or no longer want to stop and recall) what it means, in the first decade of the 21st century, to be a "nation." I think we suffer from wanting what we do not have. We live in paradise and really have the best of all situations. In the next post I'll offer my observation of why we can't make the best of that situation, and what we need to do.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: wallyg