Explosive Political Situation in Puerto Rico

Source: ALAI

It is 5:00 of the evening of June 30, 2010, groups of students, teachers and citizens asked for entry to the House of the Laws and they were struck and tortured by the Police, there are numerous injured people, while the National Guard is mobilized towards Capitol Hill. Violent shocks are scattered over the whole zone of the Parliament and the repression continues.

A constitutional coup has just been established in Puerto Rico.

After a year in which the present time government under the New Progressive Party (Partido Nuevo Progresista, that attempts to join the Island to the United States through statehood) tried to and succeeded in taking over many institutions that form the basis of the democratic government of Puerto Rico, an atmosphere of hostility followed by many reckless actions that threaten public peace had climaxed in violent and aggressive actions of this government against the parties of the opposition, the organized student movement, the labor unions, the press, the environment, as against every area and institution of Puerto Rico’s civil society.

This constitutional coup springs from the Legislative branch of the government under the command of Senator Thomas Rivera Schatz, endorsed by the central government, under the dominance of the Secretary Governor, counselor Marcos Rodríguez Ema, with the obvious intent of having under their grasp and without opposition full control of every agency and organization that rule the judiciary, academic, economic and civil societies. In the face of this scenario, Governor Luis Fortuño operates without volition, has no opinion, appearance nor public responsibility.

With the complete control of the High Court of Puerto Rico, the University of Puerto Rico Board of trustees, and the alleged control of the news media, among many others, the genuine participation of the People of Puerto Rico in all democratic processes protected by our Constitution is jeopardized.

The events started (through the rush approval of Law 7 by the Legislature) with more than 20,000 public employee lay-offs, with the allegation that this would alleviate the gigantism of the government and would find the solution to the serious public deficit, that has never been properly evidenced. This decision has caused economical chaos, public services are worse than ever and it has generated despair and gloominess in every Puerto Rican family. In this same guise there exists a serious persecution against all artistic institutions of the country, strangling their budgets, trying with this action to avoid the propagation of art as dissidence. This, while the government favors contracts of obscene sums with hundreds of advisors, contractors and lobbyists associated with their own political party.

The attacks continued in the form of the appointment to the High Court of four Judges with a well known affiliation with, and militancy for the governing political party, achieving a majority of votes in favor of the present government on all decisions made in this Forum, on an individual basis. The government went on repressing and eliminating student participation on the procedures of the State University, suppressing tuition exemption rights for outstanding athletes and artists, among others; forcing the students from all eleven campuses of the University of Puerto Rico to declare a strike that lasted 60 days, generating ample support from the people of Puerto Rico and around the world.

The students on strike were successful in achieving their demands through negotiations that involved a First Instance Court and an appointed negotiator; however, Secretary of government Rodríguez Ema is trying to invalidate these accords, saying that they “are not worth the paper in which they were written”

This event preceded the Central government’s action of proposing a hasty law, that was signed with no revision within hours, adding four additional members to the Board of trustees of the University of Puerto Rico. These additions to the Board are unconditional members of the governing political party The students of the State University, who in the great majority depend on Federal grants, now face an annual recurring fee of $800.00, which they will not be able to pay and that they will not pay, forcing the students to return to their strike. With this strategy, the Central government risks the accreditation of the State University and as a consequence, the government would be able to privatize its assets.

Following this same direction, the government of Puerto Rico will attempt to sell and to divide for speculation a strip of land where the Karst formation stands, on the northwest of the Island. This area collects one third of our water supplies for the entire population; nonetheless, the government intends to put this area into private hands that would build a toll expressway over this zone that is rich ecologically and economically.

Passing up many other events, the budget of Puerto Rico was approved, together with countless laws which favor privatization, the dissolving of professional associations and the distribution of public funds into private hands, without the pertaining and compulsory hearings of public participation, reaching the extreme of turning off the microphones of the opposing political party members, in a despotic fashion.

The events climaxed last week when the FBI in Puerto Rico arrested Senator Héctor Martínez, NPP, on charges of bribe, the selling of influences and other charges. Martinez is Senator’s Rivera Schatz right hand in the Senate. A public squabble reached the news between the Senator and the FBI, with the Senator fending the alleged innocence of Senator Martínez, who has been directly associated with drug traffic and who was filmed while committing bribery.

Then, last in his many violent and reckless acts, the president of the Senate, Rivera Schatz, using force and a real padlock, censored the access of the cameras and the news media to the Senate sessions, depriving the People of Puerto Rico of direct information about the discussions and voting sessions that were taking place about this year’s budget and other matter). The events resulted in verbal and physical violence between senators, rising indignation among the people to a point of an almost unsustainable state of outrage and wrath.

Counselor Rivera Schatz has taken virtual control of the country with his tyrannical and fascist ways; and it cannot be discarded that from these same seats, this same week, acts of persecution and acts of violence will be started against other sectors of the People, all approved by the Secretary Governor of Puerto Rico.

It is 5:00 of the evening of June 30, 2010, groups of students, teachers and citizens asked for entry to the House of the Laws and they were struck and tortured by the Police, there are numerous injured people, while the National Guard is mobilized towards Capitol Hill. Violent shocks are scattered over the whole zone of the Parliament and the repression continues.

This factual deed of control of the political power from within the Puerto Rican Nation violates all elementary principles of democracy and of participation of the People in the government, for which we proclaim to the World the present situation of contained violence that exists in our People and that is about to explode against these two politicians that had taken by assault the power in our Country. Even though in Puerto Rico there are no conditions for an armed struggle of the People because of the obvious disparity of the opposing sides, a revolution of cultural and of student affirmation is starting to take the streets and to retrieve the spaces stolen away by the originators of this coup.

We exhort all communications media of the World to divulge and expose the current situation of the Puerto Rican Nation and we ask of you, therefore, your total solidarity.

– Composed by Roberto Ramos-Perea, Puertorrican playwrite. (With the active collaboration, comments and support of more than a hundred Puerto Rican citizens.)