News, Opinions, Editorials, Prose

On Both Shores of the Lake

Los Honorables:

Dr. Rosselló, Please keep the Children under control! The past summer saw a disturbing new
development in island politics. The ruling New Progressive (Statehood) Party took advantage
of a weeks long absence by opposition gubernatorial candidate Héctor L.Acevedo to launch
a series of personal attacks through the printed and electronic media. These consisted solely
of displaying the terms ARROGANT and INCOMPETENT in huge type, accompanied by
pictures of the Capital City’s Mayor. There was absolutely no attempt at factually supporting
the ads. The people of Puerto Rico are too smart to fall for these mudslinging tactics, which
could very well backfire. Almost by definition, no one who has reached such a prominent position as Mayor of San Juan can be accused of being inept. And while a strong will and iron
determination are necessary for any leader in the no-holds barred world of Puerto Rican
politics, the term arrogant should be reserved for those who have lost contact with common
folk in their lust for power. All Puerto Ricans in Princeton who had a chance to interact with
Mr. Acevedo during his visit, regardless of what we may think about the specifics of his
platform, can testify to the falseness of that charge. The Acción Board encourages Governor
Rosselló, a man known for the integrity of his word, to keep the militancy of his party under
control so that the debate can be carried on rationally and maturely.
What’s up. Doc?

Puerto Rico in shaky state due to 936 cuts

Due to part of the massive budget reconciliation package proposed by the United States Congress, Section 936 could be eliminated. Puerto Ricans have anxious expectations to know what will finally happen in this long-debated issue. Earlier, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee agreed to end 936 tax breaks one year earlier, in six years instead of seven. On the other hand, the House Ways and Means Committee has proposed to end 936 in ten years. These differences are going to be discussed and resolved between the House of Representatives and the Senate in a conference committee. Certainly Puerto Rico is shaking because of the uncertainty of Section 936 in the future of the island. If the closing of these corporations eventually takes place, the economy of Puerto Rico will definitely be affected and thousands of jobs will be lost. However, the issue on Section 936 has always taken a political shift since this asset of Puerto Rican commonwealth is an obstacle towards statehood. Evidently, Gov. Pedro Rosselló has declared he is not going to fight for section 936. Once again, politically oriented issues are being given priority above anything else, even the economic welfare of our island. It is going to be too late when Gov. Rosselló realizes the damage his attitude will cost. He proposed a wage credit as a substitute for the existing tax breaks. The question to be asked is whether or not this will be enough to maintain these companies doing business in Puerto Rico and what other effective alternatives are being considered, if any?

“Gutter Politics”

While the people of Puerto Rico face multiple economic, social, and political problems, the political debate has focused lately on the sexual orientation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Zaida “Cucusa” Hernandez. As part of a shallow and poorly argumented debate, many politicians have questioned Hernandez’s political qualifications by suggesting that she is a lesbian. At the same time, Hernandez has counterattacked by accusing some of her critics of being alcoholics and corrupt. In other words, the speaker and her opponents have involved themselves in “gutter politics”. What does this mean? Mainly that many politicians have chosen to focus on personal attacks instead of discussing more relevant economic, social, and political platforms. These personal attacks seek to impact the public in a sensationalist way in order to obtain votes regardless any ethical or moral questions. With the accusations to Hernandez, her political opponents seek to undermine the credentials of an individual by questioning her sexual orientation. In doing so, these politicians show a narrow-mindedness and backwardness worthy of the Middle Ages and not of modern times. Instead of denigrating a person for his/her sexual preference, these politicians should adapt themselves to new social and political realities. Hernandez has not answered her critics, nor should she have to. Our political leaders should be aware that sexual orientation, along with race, nationality and social class, should not be criteria for discrimination. An individual’s right to privacy is an ethical issue as a question of public policy. Any violation to this right will establish a dangerous precedent to Puerto Rican society. If the Speaker’s rights are not respected, how can other citizens be certain that the system will respect their rights? By allowing these discriminatory accusations without denouncing them, tomorrow, any public or private worker could be questioned or disqualified for his/her sexual orientation.
By Astrid Arraras, Lecturer in the Politics Department

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