I won't pretend to know the government, economy, or ways of the people in PR. But I did see that the Governor has not endorsed anyone for the elections here on the mainland. I would like him to know that there are many, many of people who are hoping for OBAMA to be our next president so the US can start change for the better. If by any chance Governor Vila has associates that read these comments, I sincerely ask that this one be brought to his attention. I am asking for his help in relaying a message of hope to his people so they will pass along their wishes that OBAMA be the next US President. It's been a long time since we've had a leader that actually wants to sit down with other leaders. Clinton actually said that wasn't a wise idea! Since when is honest communication NOT a wise idea?? Thank you for reading..
What nerve! For AAV to so high-flowingly say that he is a Democrat, while denying the people over which he governs the right to have true representation in Congress and the Presidential vote, reveals him as an opportunist, at best. What nerve! To equate Statehood to welfare. I ask: What does he think the actual status is? Is he not aware that the PR economy is largely subsidized by the US federal government and its programs? I submit that Statehood would not be welfare because PR would be an integral part and contributor to the Union. It really just provokes utter embarrassment to hear the Governor say that he'd rather have an Olympic delegation than validate the RIGHT to representation in Congress. By the way, AAV failed to mention that if Puerto Rico were to become a State it would have the RIGHT to more Congressional representation than 26 States. I would think that THIS would be the most effective and LEGITIMATE way to influence public policy towards Puerto Rico. This, as opposed to joining the Democrats or Republicans for the sole reason of cozying up to a person in a position of power within the party's structure in the hope that he magnamimously "blesses" PR with a favorable piece of legislation. Why ask for favors when you could demand what you are entitled to? AAV's play on cultural incompatibility amounts to no more than a self serving hot aired attempt to appeal to the emotion of a passionate and uniformed electoral base. Recall, that it was he who brought attention to the fact that soon there will be more puerto ricans living outside PR than on the Island. This begs the question: Where did they leave for? Well, they didn't leave for Cuba or the Dominican Republic; 2 island countries with whom we share plenty of cultural traits. Neither did they leave for Spain, "La Madre Patria (Mother Country)" as some people call it. Truth be told, the people that decided to leave PR left for New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, Illinois and other States. And guess what? They took their culture with them. Ask anyone that has ever been to Orlando or "El Barrio" if there is not a healthy display of PR culture there. Ironically, AAV, as will plenty of Commonwealth-supporting politicians who also routinely jump onto the preservation of culture rhetoric band wagon, will be in attendance at the â??50th annual Puerto Rican Day Paradeâ?? in New York City this weekend. Whether or not you believe that the parade brings out the best face of PRâ??s culture is a matter of personal opinion. I personally donâ??t think it does. Notwithstanding, the parade serves as unequivocal evidence to the effect that culture transcends geographical as well as generational boundaries. That is to say that culture is in the soul and in traditions, it is not place defined. Neither is culture â??protectedâ?? by the magical shield of Commonwealth. That is pretty much undisputable. In light of the aforementioned, perhaps a more important question is to ask is: Why are the people of PR leaving PR? As the only one of 3 siblings to remain in PR after finishing grad school, the answer that comes to mind is the ECONOMY. Or, perhaps better stated, the lack of economic development opportunities for local businesses and overregulation. Sure the Commonwealthâ??s government can lure in a few multinationals and they may provide jobs for a few thousand people, but the CAPITAL this activity generates is not significantly reinvested in PR. In the larger scope of things, many of these engineering jobs the Governor brags about amount to no more than a drop in the bucket. PR deserves and is entitled to better! Moreover it is prudent to ask: What happens if the federal government opts to modify or even cancel the tax benefits currently afforded to the companies established in PR? Wouldn't that obliterate the Commonwealth's economic model? Don't think it could happen? Guess again. A more grave concern is the fact that the Commonwealth economic model has not been capable of promoting a healthy business climate for its local entrepreneurs. Ask anyone -literally anyone- about the permitting process in PR. It is the quintessential â??black holeâ??. It gobbles up time, money, papers as well as the will of the locals to invest within PR. Moreover, AAVâ??s answers clearly reveal the true nature of the Commonwealth: it is a colony. Nothing more, nothing less. The really sad thing is that the AAV sees nothing wrong with it. He is just content to say that the arrangement has â??worked wellâ?? for both the US and PR. What exactly does he mean? He seems to confuse the concept of fiscal autonomy with authentic economic freedom. The fact is that PR is not the master of its economic policy, particularly in the face of globalization, and this is perhaps the most pressing reason why the status issue needs to be resolved STAT. Certainly â??quantitively speaking- status is not the only issue that Puerto Rico needs to solve. To be sure, we have plenty of social ills. Nonetheless, as an Island resident I submit that the important issues that directly affect us (sound economic development, health care, land use, environmental policy, education) will only be effectively and seriously addressed once the issue of political status is resolved. As AAV mentioned, the political arena in PR is divided across status lines. There is the pro-statehood party, the pro-commonwealth party, and the pro-independence party. Within the pro-statehood and pro-commonwealth parties there are both Democrats and Republicans. The fact of the matter is that the issue of political status is the paramount obstacle to achieving and implementing sound public policy that honestly and effectively addresses the real issues that we face. PR Politicians constantly thwart approval and implementation of good, realistic policy proposals because they â??thinkâ?? (I use this term generously) â??in a clearly self serving and self preservation instinct based way- and make their constituents believe that the implementation of any given measure will draw PR closer to a certain political status. The debate is never about the policy or the issue on the table. Its always about the person that proposes it or about that personâ??s party affiliation. That is to say: ITS ALWAYS ABOUT STATUS. After over 100 years under the US flag it is time for PR to define and charter its course for the future. The choices are 2 and only 2: Statehood or Sovereignty. We need to either get married or break-up. The courtship of the Commonwealth status has run its course, and currently IS the PROBLEM. As such, it can not be part of the solution.
Key issues the governor wouldn't mention (as a local resident would say) are:
- The fact that we have over 120 ineficient government agencies that keep you on a loop around whenever you need a business permit... on anything: operations, construction, etc.
- The public education system loses 500 teachers every year! For better job offers in the mainland... same with nurses
- The commonweatlh party wins elections with help of "independentistas" who vote for "the lesser of two evils" in their view. This influences things like the official language, which is changed from both, English and Spanish, to just Spanish...
He can't identify as "democrat" or "republican", because our Catholic beliefs make us highly conservative on a lot of social aspects. One thing he relates to Dems is the taxation issue, which is a priority - tax hikes the new sales tax, in Toll booths, in agricultural land for farmes, in luxury vehicles, in limiting what you can deduce from your mortgage payments (to 15k no matter the home), the list goes on...
And he wants to promote business? He's choking it!
The Governor of Puerto Rico did well to keep the topic on the more ideological topic of culture. His alternative would be harder to explain. Puerto Rico is a frequent issuer in the US Municipal Bond Market, unfortunately for us all, too frequent an issuer. Outstandgin public debt in Puerto Rico is greater than our GDP. Yes, Puerto Rico is home to the makers of the top-selling drugs in the US, however, very little of those profits find their way into the Government's coffers. And tourism is a highly competitive industry, and one which Puerto Rico will never be able to fully rely on.
We have 300,000 government employees, while Puerto Rico's public employee's retirement systems are underfunded by approximately $11 billion. This means that no early retirement incentives package provides real solutions because the finances are not there.
Hence, the key issue remains status in that any viable solution must be presented along with a real, feasible, economic package that will essentially bail-out the Government from its 40 years of bad management. Absolutely the topic of issue is the right one, but the manner in which we address it needs to change.
Statehood, Independence, Commonwealth, any of these need to come with what would be a bail out in order for any to be effective.
Unlike other governors in this â??Governorâ??s Series,â?? Acevedo-VilÃ¡â??s â??stateâ?? is not part of the Union, even after two other territories (Alaska and Hawaii) became states within the same period Puerto Rico has been a colony (the one true and unambiguous political status of Puerto Rico). This is why Rose concentrated on the subject (and the fact that it is once again brewing in the Congress). While Acevedo-VilÃ¡ spoke about Puerto Ricoâ??s â??thriving manufacturing sector,â?? he failed to mention that a tiny fraction of that sector (or any other sector) is actually owned by Puerto Ricans. The island is more a consumer base than it is a citizenry and Acevedo-VilÃ¡â??s rapture with insular autonomy is a conundrum in the global economy where identity and culture is defined by political and economic freedom from other states. Acevedo-VilÃ¡ is a smart man selling a dumb idea. That three-ring circus of political parties distracts people from the real issues more than anything else. Acevedo-VilÃ¡ is living a dream in thinking he can wrestle Congress into legitimizing something that was created by the business and political elite of both the US and the Puerto Rico as a temporary solution to silence the independence movement. Acevedo-VilÃ¡ failed to explain how decades of corporate â??incentivesâ?? failed to produce a functional water system for everyone, reliable electrical service and health and communication people could afford. In fact, it is incredible how you can have a thriving pharmaceutical industry on the island and a deplorable hospital and healthcare system. Acevedo-VilÃ¡ failed to explain why and how the United States limits Puerto Ricoâ??s ability to negotiate with other countries for less expensive trade alternatives in order to help its own economy. And of course, it is amazing how a territory cannot have federal representation yet the federal government can hunt, arrest and kill its citizens at will â?? something Acevedo-VilÃ¡ complained about himself but, of course, failed to mentioned in the show.
Year after year the only important thing about 4,000,000 American citizens is what will be the final political status of the island. But, why we do not care for other things, like how they are, are they so different from New Yorkers, Texans or Californians? I do not know...
Charlie, you were just fine in pressing the state vs commonwealth issue with Vila. Unless I am naive on the subject, the issue of PR having it all, citizenship, no federal taxes, American companies making millions and not paying taxes, not to mention the wonderful weather, I probably would have been as forceful. You did get the response that struck me about why they never voted in our elections, and why PR has continually voted for commonwealth.
I enjoy your interviews, recording them nightly and enjoy breakfast with you and your guests the next morning. Retirement is grand.
I have noticed that lately you seem impatient with those you interview, you cut into their sentences and don't listen like you usually do.
I agree 100% with Dennis's comment below. It was a frustrating interview to watch on my part, seeing you focus on a single issue (which you appeared to let your personal opinion about the PR status splill into and dominate the conversation).
You're still #1 on my list. Thanks for what you do.
Charlie, I have always been very impressed with your interviews. I love to watch your show. And I think your "Governors' Series" overall is on par with the high standard you set.
But on this one, you failed miserably! You did not listen; you did not open your mind to what Governor Acevedo VilÃ¡ was saying; you only wanted to talk about the status issue; you acted as if there were only 2 choices; and you kept on harping. You didn't even try to explore any of the other issues that the Governor was mentioning.
May I request that you have the Governor back on, with two agenda items- first, for a better discussion of the status issue, and second to discuss the other issues of importance to the island. I also request that you prepare better by learning more about the Commonwealth structure in PR, and about the different perspectives which exist on the issue. (By the way, the actual term in Spanish is "Estado Libre Asociado", which means "Free Associated State", and it is very different from the British Commonwealth structure).
It is true that the issue of the status of Puerto Rico is high on most everyone's mind in PR, and there are 3 major political parties in Puerto Rico- each one supporting one of the three possibilities. As you can see from Governor Acevedo VilÃ¡'s statements, he supports the commonwealth relationship; in fact, he is for enhancing the existing commonwealth. Unfortunately, you did not try to understand this- you just kept trying to convince him to choose statehood or independence.
One other very important aspect of this issue- depending on who you talk to, you will hear very different "facts", perspective and definitions. The statehood party, and independence party will both define commonwealth in the "worst possible way". Even the commonwealth party, would like to make some changes in the commonwealth relationship. So, you need to know who you are talking to as you do your research.
But, the Governor wanted to talk about more than just the status issue- like economics, education, health care, and perhaps other items as well. Instead, you just ignored this, and kept going back to the status issue.
By the way, I am a US-born non-Hispanic, married to a Puerto Rican. Our two children have each spent one year of college studying in Puerto Rico. We keep close ties with the family on the island. My wife's extended family has supporters in each "camp" of the status issue- and they are all passionate about their own beliefs. They maintain peace in the family by agreeing to disagree.
There is more to Puerto Rico than the status issue and Charlie is not going to change someone's mind on television. Especially from the leader of the pro commonwealth party(PDP). Why not ask him what was asked of the other governors in the governor series: Health Care, the War in Iraq(Charlie mentioned soldiers), Politics beyond the status issue, any misconceptions about the island and its people that Acevedo-Vila would like to correct.