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A Declaration of Independence for Puerto Rico

By: Frank Worley-Lopez - Sep 23, 2014, 11:35 am

EspañolOn September 23, 1868, a group of nearly 1,000 men rose up against Spain and declared Puerto Rico’s independence from the colonial power. Their rebellion, known as El Grito de Lares and led by men such as Ramón Emeterio Betances (author of the Ten Commandments of Free Men), was crushed by the Spaniards, but in many ways, it was the birth of the Puerto Rican independence movement.

The Puero Rican and Lares Revolutionary flags in Old San Juan.
The Puero Rican and Lares Revolutionary flags in Old San Juan. (fotovisura)

While a complete history lesson is not in order today, Betances was clearly an individualist and believer in liberty. Since then, mostly since the 1950s, the independence movement has been dominated by Marxist leftists and socialism. In the subsequent years, the people of Puerto Rico have rejected communism and the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP). Those in the contemporary movement have not only failed to bring independence, but to ever acquire a large enough voter base to get their leaders elected to the governor’s mansion.

Suffice it to say that independence can only come to Puerto Rico if the vision is one that appeals to moderates and free-market capitalists. That means creating a vision of independence that makes sense to those groups and addresses the very real problems facing the island. It also means answering those questions that are most common when one discusses the idea of independence: Where will the money come from? How do we control crime and corruption? How can we ensure a stable future for our children?

I believe I have answered those questions unequivocally. Granted, the “right” answers are never politically correct. If the cost of electricity is too high and the primary causes are public sector unions and the fuel used to create that electricity, then you need to get rid of the unions and change the fuel — and no fuel provides more electricity at a lower cost for a longer term than nuclear fuel. Period. Neither one of those ideas is popular on the island, but both are correct, and an effort must be made to convince the people that it’s time to make tough decisions.

luis-munos-marin
Governor Luis Muños Marin with President John Kennedy in 1960. (@Puerto24Rico)

It also means the vision of independence must appeal to the Muñosistas (followers of Popular Party patriarch Luis Muños Marin) in the Popular Democratic Party and the conservative wing of the New Progressive Party. You cannot obtain a majority or hope to win any contest for independence by relying only on the votes of the PIP and the soberanistas (those who support sovereignty) of the PDP. The movement must branch out and address the cause of personal liberty, not just preach a socialist dystopia.

The future of Puerto Rico even under independence will rely heavily on a positive and peaceful relationship with the United States, where more than 4 million Puerto Ricans reside. They will want to be able to visit their homeland and they will judge it by a different measuring stick. Those living in suburban United States will have seen a very different world and will have very different expectations of how government should operate. We will need their support and their freedom to travel, and building a socialist republic at permanent odds with the United States will not serve that purpose.

So, on this important day, I would like to honor the El Grito de Lares by taking the independence movement back from the Marxist left and returning it to the hands of those who started it: free-market capitalists and conservatives. For more than 50 years, the Puerto Rican independence movement has utterly failed to do anything more than hold protests and impede development. So I ask those who have have de facto been in the socialist camp, who have traditionally supported the PIP and the Nationalist Party, to join me.

I ask for your signature on this petition and Declaration of Independence — in English and Spanish — and two years of your time. The petition lays out the reasons for independence in clear and certain terms, and it includes a provisional constitution, which would take effect upon declaration or acquisition of independence. I seek the signatures of traditional independence and sovereignty supporters while I reach out to conservatives, libertarians, and moderates for their signatures.

I seek to build a cross-party coalition to acquire a minimum of 200,000 signatures, and on July 2, 2016, we will petition Congress for independence — sooner, if we exceed that number before then. If the matter has not been resolved, the petition includes a clause for unilateral declaration if needed on September 23, 2016, the anniversary of the Lares uprising. If we do not acquire sufficient signatures, the petition and declaration are self-canceling. That level, 200,000 is not a majority, but it represents a critical mass in the push for freedom.

While I have previously proposed independence for only one part of the island, this time the petition covers the entire island of Puerto Rico. It is time for those who truly want independence to do the one thing required to acquire it: reach out to others on the island and on the US mainland and agree to protect individual liberty, private property, and reject socialism.

The proposed constitution, which is available here in English and Spanish, is an imperfect document. I am a constitutional enthusiast, not an attorney, and I expect there will be many more revisions. However it is a starting place and includes both my economic plan and a timeline for the creation of a permanent constitution. It includes some temporary extraordinary powers for the leadership to ensure a smooth transition and address the power struggle that will inevitably occur after independence. It also ends the partisan lock on power, breaks up public sector unions, and goes after crime and corruption. In short, it is practical and politically incorrect.

Understanding that it is an imperfect document, I will leave it open for comments, suggestions, and limited revisions until we have acquired the minimum number of signatures. However, I will only accept comments and suggestions from those who sign the petition. The petition is open to all US citizens, whether residing on the island or not.

The leadership of the PIP have failed. Let us begin the final struggle for Puerto Rican independence with liberty as the center piece of the cause. Lend me your signature, your time, and your commitment. The time for real change has come, to set aside those things that have kept the movement from growing beyond a small minority. It also means setting aside fear and doubt and finding the courage to take a leap of faith.