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"P.R. Should Understand Its Political Condition"

by Arturo Guzman

April 25, 2000
Copyright © 2000 SAN JUAN STAR. All Rights Reserved.

Throughout the years in the course of my testimony before the U.S. Congress, and in seeking a true process of self-determination for Puerto Rico, I have repeatedly stated that "our people must know and understand our present political and economic condition before they can make a change". Regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections, locally and nationally, I am convinced that changing economic and regional political conditions will oblige us to make the necessary changes in our present relationship with the United States, making our understanding of the present relationship, and its limitations, more imperative than ever.

However, if we are guided according to the P.D.P.’s leadership, the "people of Puerto Rico" constitute a "nation". Likewise, sympathetic clergymen have politicized the church’s spiritual mission by espousing to the faithful a wordily ideology based upon a separate Puerto Rican "national identity", and celebrities with roots on the Island who are exempt from living with the daily consequences, proclaim "Puerto Rican nationhood".

The problem is further compounded because those declaring Puerto Rico’s nationhood have never presented, nor seem to have, a concrete proposal for the realization of a separate national identity in any objective sense. Every time the word "nation" is uttered, there is absolute silence as to how to translate what in essence is an emotional feeling, into equal citizenship, full self-government, or their potential for further political, economic or social development. Aside from deceitful, to continue to declare Puerto Rico a "nation", without fully addressing its entire meaning and how it can be implemented, is also socially and morally irresponsible.

As a transparent subterfuge, in privately recognizing the inherent legal and constitutional contradictions of their public posture on the Puerto Rican "nationality" of U.S. citizens, P.D.P. leaders further evidence their duplicity by referring to Commonwealth as "spiritual decolonization". This makes decolonization as mythical as their claims on the nature of the current relationship, and a "make believe" game in which they pretend we are a "nation" without any of the real-world consequences.

In truth, the "Estado Libre Asociado" is colonization, not decolonization in any legal or juridical sense, and the people born in Puerto Rico do not constitute a nation under international law, the U.S. Constitution, or the local Constitution of the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico". So perhaps, they are trying to deceive us into believing that cultural nationhood, instantly translates into juridical nationhood without having to recognize the complete burden of its consequences.

If the P.D.P. support for Puerto Rican "nationhood" were sincere, then we should expect them to demand that we assert as a people the inalienable legal and political rights inherent to independence, even though they are inconsistent with U.S. citizenship. One thing is to celebrate cultural heritage as part of our identity in a common social experience, and quite another is to attempt to portray a nationality in a legal sense to promote collective anxiety and the ambiguities that have led to our political identity crisis. In the language of the "Jibaro" one thing is to call the devil, and yet another is to see him coming...

What ensues is a perception of our society as one that is incapable of facing reality, or too immature to decide its own future. We are allowing the P.D.P. and its "none of the above" attitude to portray us as a people in disarray and incapable of either becoming a separate sovereign nation, or to complete our process of integration into the federal political process of the United States so that our sovereignty is fully realized through equal participation and representation.

Our alternatives are crystal clear: Pope John Paul II has stated that the identity of a people can be realized through integration with another nation or through separate nationality, and the United Nations equally recognizes those choices as the legitimate decolonization status options, also including true free association if it were to be terminable by either party. What no one recognizes is a right to have it both ways!

It must be made clear to the people of Puerto Rico that the P.D.P. does not have the right to propose that we become a separate nation while at the same time attempting to insinuate the same relationship as one of permanent union with the United States. For a time in the not too distant past the P.D.P. was able to get away by labeling its attempted usurpation of the U.S. Constitution as "autonomy", but "Pandora’s Box" was opened as a result of the record created in the U.S. Congress during the Young Bill debate. A record that has remained consistent with the findings as evidenced by the recent April 5, 2000 letter from the Chairmen of the Committees of jurisdiction on their findings of the results of the 1998 plebiscite and the on-going process of self-determination for Puerto Rico.

It has become evident to the Congress, our fellow citizens in the states, and the national press and media, that once E.L.A. doctrine is clearly defined, stated, and understood, it is and will always be rejected nationwide both for political and economic reasons, and foremost for its inherent violation of the civil rights of the American citizens of Puerto Rico.

We the people of Puerto Rico must come to understand that the United States is a union of states comprised of different peoples and "cultural nations", but not a union of entities that can sustain permanent union without incorporation an eventual statehood. Temporary political union is possible under statutory policy, but true permanent union and citizenship in perpetuity are only possible after achieving admission as a state of the union.

If the P.D.P. continues its course towards autonomy and nationhood and conversely away from permanent union and perpetual U.S. citizenship as defined by the U.S. Constitution, then Commonwealth will become the halfway house towards independence as happened to the former Commonwealth of the Philippines once statehood was eliminated as an option.

It is up to us to open our eyes and decide if we are willing to allow the P.D.P. to persuade us in trying to make our frail and temporary union prevail, and thus preserve a territorial status that will ultimately fail and leave independence as the only remaining option.

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