EspañolMy conversion from pro-statehood to pro-Puerto Rican independence has been a tough one. I’ve always considered myself more US American than Puerto Rican, always been pro-United States, and always been (and still am) a strong supporter of the idea of a constitutional republic with a bill of rights — and oh yeah, I’m a capitalist. My vision of independence for Puerto Rico is vastly different from the vision promoted by the Puerto Rico Independence Party.
It is not surprising then that I don’t have so many supporters.
This week my disdain for the current Puerto Rico independence movement received yet another boost when semi-retired PIP President Rubén Berríos Martínez proved once again to be the most important figure preventing any chance of independence. Berríos publicly supported the Venezuelan government in their fight against the evil fascist students who are demanding such horrid things as honest elections and freedom (perish the thought!).
I once interviewed Ruben in his then-Senate office, where he proudly talked of visiting Cuba and hugging Fidel Castro. While they swear they are not communists, but social democrats, the PIP has steadfastly supported the Cuban communist regime and the transition to communism by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
That really is not surprising when anecdotal (and historical) evidence suggests that the Puerto Rico nationalist movement and independence movement were actually organized with the help of the Cuban equivalent of the CIA. Nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios, who led the Macheteros (machete wielders) terrorist group was recruited by the Cuban Intelligence Service in 1961. If ever I had a fear in having switched sides from pro-statehood to pro-independence, it was that somehow I would be lumped in with the communist movement.
In the 1990s, I hosted a radio program on San Juan radio station WOSO, and during one of the programs I called Nationalist Party hero Lolita Lebron a terrorist for her part in an armed attack on Congress during the 1950s. I was hammered by even supposed moderates for the statement. I stand by it, even to this day. Lebron and her crowd of nationalists were attacking the wrong people. Shooting unarmed elected officials in the United States was fundamentally wrong.
It was the elected government of Puerto Rico, not the United States, that enacted the Gag Law against the promotion of independence and nationalism. It was the Puerto Rican police, in collusion with the FBI, that instituted the secret File Program to track members of the nationalist and independence movements. It was the people of Puerto Rico who did not want independence in the 1950s, and it is the people of Puerto Rico that have voted against it today.
Why would they vote for independence? At this juncture, those who represent independence provide a vision that is a mirror image of what most Puerto Ricans do not want: Caribbean communist regimes.
I have said before that I would not join an independent Puerto Rico if the current leadership or the communists were in charge. Having said that, there are lifelong independence supporters who have said they would not join an independent Puerto Rico if it were not communist, which again illustrates why the independence movement has not achieved any of its goals.
During that same interview with Rubén Berríos, I asked him why not move all independence supporters to one area on the island and vote for independence. I opined there would be no way the US government could refuse such a democratic request. His response was far too confusing to translate into English or Spanish.
It became apparent to me that the PIP did not really want independence. Or at least, the leadership of that party did not want to actually follow through and create an independent country. If they did, they could have and would have done so long ago.
It is clear, however, that there are those who believe in sovereignty and independence who are not communists. It is incumbent on those people, libertarians, conservatives, and market-friendly independence supporters to organize a new independence movement that is based on individual liberty, private property rights, capitalism, and freedom. If people of Puerto Rico are to ever become a sovereign republic, it must be a republic that reflects the aspirations of the people and not the repressions of communism.