Two sides of the same coin: Puerto Rico empowers a criminal culture

When I read of the horrific events that lead to the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sara Kuszak, I was shocked and stunned. How could a human be so evil? But that was before I read the statements of psychologist Salvador Santiago, Dean of Students, School of Medicine. But to hear the true voice of evil, well that would be left up to Clarisa Jiménez, President of the Hotel and Tourism Association.

You know I was ready to lay out how the demonic tragedy of Sarah, so recent after the tragic loss of Emily Villanueva Caballero were two sides of the same coin. I was going to say that while these were acute examples of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they were still perfect examples of the criminal culture which haunts Puerto Rico. But know I don't need to, because Dr. Santiago and Ms. Jiménez have clearly illustrated that for me. In my opinion, both of their comments demand that they be removed from the elite positions which they now occupy. THey are a both a disgrace to humankind.

First, while Dr Santiago is right that our "machista" culture tends to objectify women, treat them as property, and thus diminish their equality with men, I believe he is missing the larger issue. According to Dr. Santiago, "La magnitud de este problema no es tan grande aquí. La moraleja debe ser preguntarnos qué estamos haciendo para disminuir la cantidad de hombres que todavía piensan que las mujeres pueden ser ultrajadas, violadas o que no son iguales a ellos." Roughly translated with a little emphasis he says, "This isn't a big problem here in Puerto Rico. (Really? Tell that to Sarah's family and loved ones. I submit to you that any society which looks at the tragic end to this poor woman's life and rationalizes its' significance away is destined for an existence of misery, tragedy, and ultimate downfall. I say that that the only frequency that is acceptable is zero. No one should have to experience what she did.) The moral of this event is to ask ourselves what are we doing to reduce the number of men that still think women can be abducted, violated, or that they are not equal to men. (How about, what are we doing as a society to eliminate the number of people that believe that they can violate the essential rights of any human being and break, with total impunity, laws which are supposed to protect its citizens?)

But it's Ms. Jiménez's statement that really nails the collective thinking about crime in Puerto Rico. In a shameful excuse, she describes Sarah's death as having serious implications, “por tratarse de una mujer joven sin pasado criminal." Translated she is saying that there are serious implications for the treatment and death of a young woman without a criminal record. No Ma'am, there are serious implications when an "upstanding citizen" such as your self believes it is acceptable for this to happen TO ANYONE. Just because someone has a criminal past doesn't mean that they're not human anymore.

What we as a society have not realized is that we can not draw lines around crime and say these crimes are acceptable, but when it happens to someone like Sarah or Emily they are unacceptable. Crime should be unacceptable in all of its' forms and disguises. The level of denial someone has to have to believe that permitting a culture of crime within the poor and the drug addicted will not spill over to touch ever part of our society is bordering on psychotic. It is now clear to me that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that the poor and drug afflicted of our society would become the new blacks, the new slaves to be treated as inhuman, unequal, and therefore in no need of our compassion or protection.

Oh and by the way, I think that it is incredibly disrespectful and even bordering on negligent for the new Director of Tourism, Jaime López Díaz, to state that his office needed to implement the Public Relations Crisis Plan, "para llevar el mensaje a nivel internacional de que esto es un caso sin precedentes en la Isla y que Puerto Rico continúa siendo un destino seguro y de excelencia.” What he is saying is that that are going to broadcast at the international level that this is an unprecedented case in the island and that Puerto Rico continues to be a safe and excellent destination. Yes it is so safe that it's elite citizens want to live in walled communities surrounded by 24 hour security. Yes, it is so safe that those that don't live in a secure community must place bars over every possible entrance to their houses. Yes it is so safe that the ex-Director of the power company needed 3 full-time body guards. Yes, it is such an excellent place that most of the bathrooms in our public beaches are either broken or locked. Yes our beaches are so excellent that they look like trash dumps.

With my deepest sympathies to the families of Sarah Kuszak and Emily Villanueva Caballero, I am only left with hope. As Puerto Rico continues its' rapid descent to the bottom in every possible aspect of civilization, we are one step closer to things getting better. We will finally wake up. This is not the Matrix, we will eventually have our eyes wrenched open to see the disaster, suffering, and insanity that we have created.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: Steve Rhodes

4 comments:

onlyme

7 de febrero de 2009, 12:13
Permalink this comment

1

dijo...

You are so right. As a Public Relations professional I cant beleive the answer people in "nice" and powerful positions have.
Everything happens here reflects these people values.

Clarisel

8 de febrero de 2009, 02:05
Permalink this comment

1

dijo...

It is really disturbing to watch the news from Puerto Rico. The news of yet another woman being killed usually at the hands of the man who was supposed to love her is too regular. The news of children being abused by relatives and authority figures. Something has to be done. People seem to be numb to the crime going on. They are so blinded by petty partisan island politics. If only they were as passionate about dealing with crime on the island. I am saddened and outraged with the criminal culture in Puerto Rico.

MC Don Dees

8 de febrero de 2009, 16:05
Permalink this comment

1

dijo...

onlyme and Clarisel, thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate taking the time to add your voice.

Thanks for reading, I can't say where my commentary is taking me, but it seems as if it moving more and more towards taking action.

It's sort of like, Daaaammmnnn. I guess if no one else will, I guess I'll have to do it.

Clarisel, please don't forget, while things look bleak and will get bleaker. With each tragedy we are one step closer to long over-due social change. Unfortunately, it is going to take one helluva crisis to make it happen.

Yoga

9 de septiembre de 2009, 18:36
Permalink this comment

1

dijo...

sad news my friend