The Puerto Rican Colonial Predicament
It baffles one to see Puerto Ricans deep in their self-absorption, attempting to understand its government’s bankruptcy and how to recover from it, in an atmosphere of almost total lack of thoughtful and levelheaded debate about the nature of the illness and how to cure it. Being the colossal bankruptcy of a colony, we must bear in mind that the Puerto Rican bankruptcy it’s not only financial, but political, social, moral, and economic as well. There is no doubt that the main responsibility for this Puerto Rican colonial bankruptcy lies in the government of the United States of America, which has subdued Puerto Rico into a political and economic relation that is immoral, unfair, anti-democratic, and discriminatory, and which prevents Puerto Rico’s recovery from its bankruptcy. It is a pathetic sight to see colonized Puerto Ricans blaming each other for the current bankruptcy condition, instead of looking directly at the colonizers and identifying in their attitudes the origin of the evils that afflict the country.
By definition, every colony in the history of mankind has been assigned the role of being the economic “appendix” of another more powerful nation. Every colonial economy is always destined to serve the interests and consumption patterns of its colonial master, and as such, therefore, it can never become a productive economy, having the only option of being a consumerist one. However, the only way to sustain a non-productive colonial economy is by means of subsidies, donations, and loans.
A colonial economy cannot be productive because it cannot protect and promote its own productive sector. If it could, it will go against the interests of the colonizing nation, an unthinkable prospect. Today, all sovereign countries protect their productive sectors. The US colonial laws in Puerto Rico prevent the development of a productive economy. Those who believe that it is possible to develop an economy under this colonial regime, with such discriminatory, unfair, and disloyal treatment in the equation, are truly delirious.
Tourism in the colonies faces a similar dilemma. By having the colonizing nation as its main market, the tourism industry has enormously limited its development. As long as most of its potential tourists require US tourist visas, and as long as the colonial laws rule over its air and maritime spaces, the Puerto Rican tourism industry will never get even close to achieving the economic capital levels that most countries in the region have achieved.
Likewise, colonies will never be democratic. There could be endless electoral processes in a colony, but there will never be democracy since the colonizing nation imposes its laws on the colonized people without their consent. The father of liberal democracy, John Locke, once said that there’s democracy where there exists a government with the consent of its governed. Puerto Rico is governed by the United States of America, and as such imposes colonial laws approved by officials who are not elected by Puerto Ricans. This practice breaks the rules of any democratic principle.
Another characteristic of a colonial relationship is that its main source of employment is the colonial public sector, not the colonial private sector. Since colonies cannot have productive economies, the private sector is unable to create enough employment opportunities. In a colonial relationship, the colonizing nation always seeks to generate employment opportunities on their mainland, and just the necessary jobs in the colony in order to import its products to the colonized. Because of this relationship, it is unfair to compare figures of public employees in Puerto Rico with those in sovereign countries, or even with those in US states. The firing of public employees in a colony is detrimental to its economy, since the colonial private sector will not be able to create the jobs needed to absorb them.
The Puerto Rican colonial economy has always been subsidized by federal aids and loans to maintain, artificially, a consumption level of products made or distributed by United States. As in every colony, Puerto Rico has been a captive market for US products, turning it into one of the main consumers of “Made in USA” products worldwide. The continuous eradication of US subsidies and donations has destined Puerto Rico’s economy to survive solely on loans in order to maintain its colonial lifestyle, gradually leading the country towards agonizing bankruptcy status it is now in.
Lastly, colonies are unable to produce neither good leaders nor good governors. Although sovereign countries can also produce lousy leaders and governors, they, at least, have the option of producing good ones. In a colony, good leaders or good governors are impossible to produce, because a good leader or governor will soon recognize that such colonial status represents a defective economic scheme that cannot be productive, and thus is destined to bankruptcy.
The worst part of the Puerto Rican colonial situation is that those who have always lived under a colonial status have not experienced any other form of living, nurturing false expectations that the colony can be saved and redeemed. They are incapable of acknowledging that every effort to revive or stabilize the colony is futile, and that all their energy, thoughts, and dreams should be geared towards embracing a sovereign, democratic, and productive Puerto Rico.
The annexation of Puerto Rico to the United States has never been a real option. It is rather a mirage, an illusion, a chimera utilized by some Puerto Rican politicians to organize themselves politically, become elected, and earn a living from it, and it has never been more far-fetched than today, with the colonial system in crisis and a US government led by Mr. Trump.
Unfortunately, many Puerto Ricans have been seduced by this mirage, worsening the situation since the idea of annexation has become a real hindrance to the advancement of decolonization. In other words, Puerto Rico is currently stuck in a colonial quagmire since annexation will never be recognized as a real option by US constituents, the citizens who are very not willing to pay the economic and political cost of annexing Puerto Rico to the United States.
Annexation will also weaken the Puerto Rican nation within the United States, thus making Puerto Ricans a racial, religious, and cultural minority. For Puerto Ricans, annexation will represent being on the same level as millions of US citizens who suffer on a daily basis from discrimination, poverty, marginalization, and dependence. There are many economists and US entities who have clearly stated how harmful annexation would be to the Puerto Rican economy, doomed forever to become the poorest and most marginalized state of the Union.
The drive of those Puerto Ricans who advocate for annexation is plagued with huge contradictions. First, they are willing to join those who have shown contempt, indifference, and lack of solidarity and sensitivity to the current Puerto Rican colonial crisis. And second, they are willing to join a country that for more than 100 years has discriminated against and condemned Puerto Rico to economic dependence, an indignant, immoral, and illegal political condition, and to an unfair and disloyal commercial relation which has spread poverty and despair.
Any Puerto Rican who puts Puerto Rican interests first, and who confronts the colonial dilemma judiciously and without fanaticism, will inevitably arrive to the conclusion that annexation is not an option to solve the colonial dilemma of country. This unequivocal conclusion will allow us, once and for all, to advance towards a real process of decolonization.
After President Clinton’s government, all US actions and statements have been consonant with a decolonization agenda for Puerto Rico. The United States Government has shown signs that it wants to end its colonial relation with Puerto Rico, and yet it doesn’t know what else to do or how else to tell Puerto Ricans that it is within their own entitlements to take the next definite step towards decolonization and sovereignty. This truth is well known by the Puerto Rican annexationist leadership, and the most recent status voting (the alleged plebiscite) was the very last puff of air of a drowning statehood movement on the island.
The so-called plebiscite was a blatantly cunning and anti-democratic election that took place only to create a concocted majority in favor of annexation of Puerto Rico to the United States. This wicked way of doing politics made it possible for opposing forces in Puerto Rico to join a boycott of the election, leaving the pro-statehood movement as the lonesome participant of the process. Expectedly, the annexationists achieved a superb majority of 97.18 %, the kind percentage only obtained in bogus elections by anti-democratic governments. The electoral boycott was a resounding success, since only 22.9 % of registered voters participated in the event. In brief, the Puerto Rican government squandered millions of dollars in a futile balloting in which the people of Puerto Rico became the great losers. Incredibly enough, the Puerto Rican pro-statehood government claimed victory, and sprung itself into a foolish crusade to validate such an evident charade before the US government. Their act provoked only indifference, embarrassment, and disbelief.
The absurd attempt to validate the plebiscite results, more than an act of senility, should be considered by the United States as one great and last opportunity to avoid an even larger problem in the near future. The colonizing nation should assume these results as valid, and submit the application of incorporation to a voting process at the US Congress immediately! The results will be far more than foreseeable. A congressional rejection to annexation will be a categorical message towards decolonization and sovereignty of Puerto Rico. In this respect, never before in the history of nations have such an act of desperation from a lost cause become so providential for the decolonization of one nation. For sure, unknowingly, the Puerto Rican pro-statehood movement is fostering the possibility that a US government led by Donald Trump could cancel their annexing plans for Puerto Rico with the sweep of a hand, thus advancing a genuine and real decolonization process that will result in the sovereignty of the Puerto Rican nation.