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I often wonder why my people suffer from historical amnesia, a k a pathology of colonialism. The recent spate of articles on the economic situation in Puerto Rico cannot be understood apart from the economic history of the island. Take for example the following short list of well-documented historical points:
• Spanish-American-Cuban War;
• Treaty of Paris 1898 with no Puerto Rican signers;
• Citizenship without the right to vote 1917;
• Operation Bootstrap, the industrialization era begins;
• US Navy targets bombing ranges in the populated island municipalities of Culebra and Vieques;
• Caribbean Basin Initiative, a precursor to NAFTA and GAFTA;
• The 936 tax loophole that US industry created which allowed 20 years of tax-free business in PR.
Puerto Ricans have exhibited their mettle in every war since World War I. Yet we have been portrayed as inept at self-government. We can spill our blood fighting on foreign soil but not enjoy life on our own.
The current exodus has been a long time in the making. Resolution 1514 in the United Nations has called for the end of colonization in Puerto Rico. Let's face it, statehood will never occur. If it were of any interest, the Congress and Senate of the USA would have enacted it.
Look at Hawaii, where statehood was granted in 1959 and you can see the unveiling of the "American Dream." There is a growing momentum to reclaim a sovereign era of self-governance and determination in the Hawaiian archipelago. The US formula has not worked there and it has failed miserably in Puerto Rico.
Other options exist for PR to exercise its sociopolitical-economic fate. The independence of the island archipelago is a growing phenomenon despite the gargantuan effort to discredit it and paint it as an act of treason and terrorism by the US media.
Independence would come with a price to the USA and a transition period of 25 years would be prudent. This is not a moment for immediate gratification over the euphoria of sovereignty; a well-crafted plan to support the cutting of the umbilical cord to support change would be paramount to such a shift.
The complex issue of the current Puerto Rican economic crisis cannot be understood by soundbites alone. I encourage readers to check out any of the points that are bulleted in this piece in order to further understand this issue.
It is appalling that it has taken so long to raise this issue ("Animals on the carousel? Yes. Racist art, no" Urban Journal, January 20). I noticed it 10 years ago and cried while riding the carousel with my granddaughter. I vowed never to take children on the carousel again. That didn't take care of the problem. We must have the fortitude, know-how, and the guts to speak out and do something about things that we see that are wrong.