May 05, 2006

Puerto Rico, Courage and Shadows

Puerto Rico's credit rating will once again be subject to evaluation this coming Monday by Moodys Investor Services, which is a Wall Street credit rating agency. This Caribbean island's general obligation bond will be downgraded by Moody and by Standard and Poors, also a Wall Street credit rating agency, if a fiscal resolution has not been reached over the weekend reported Noticentro 4 news on Wapa TV this afternoon.

Currently 23 government agencies have been partially closed during the past 5 days and 95,000+ public employees including teachers have not been paid this week. The Budget Dispute Partly Shuts Puerto Rico Government article by Enrique Martel of ReutersAlertNet does a good job explaining PR's current financial situation.

At first impression it appears that the PR Legislature and Governor cannot agree on a realistic budget that addresses the deficit and also repairs the financial infrastructure. The truth runs deeper and it can mainly be described as an entangled web of deception, hidden agendas, accusations some founded some unfounded and a failed economy is the result. Such redundant displays only take time away from working on the important issue at hand. The fact remains this nightmare did not start 1, 2 or 3 years ago. Puerto Rico's financial situation has been mismanaged for many many years. From many county leaders caught stealing federal Aids funds to increased borrowing has led where the island is today and is compounded by the lack of across the board accountability and prosecutions.

Each political party has it's version of who did what and who is responsible and the passion behind each argument grows with each counter argument. Contrary to what the world may think the Puerto Rican people for the most part are mild mannered, non-violent people. The politicians on the other hand are bread apart. At times their comments are so narrow minded and inflammatory that it has caused people to question, what where they thinking when they voted for such shady characters. What is perfectly clear is that as a nation in whole, the people of Puerto Rico are not happy that this turmoil is taking place. They are fully aware that the prolonged inability to come to a resolution is embarrassing and that it can potentially cause a national revolt which some are hoping will occur in order to blame it on the current elected leader.

The truth is the people are fed up and are shouting, screaming and demanding for an immediate end to this nightmare. We are witnessing an uprising and hopefully an expeditious conclusion will calm the people but it will most assuredly not make them forget.

Growing up on the island I was aware of how serious political positions are defended. I dismissed it as a young person and I know many who did the same. We were too busy packing cars with friends to head to the beach or the mall to watch a movie. This time around I can proudly say everyone is packing their mouths with resounding unflinching requests for political attitudes to take a back seat for the sake of the island. Nothing can be resolved is everyone is pulling in their direction and not in the people's direction. The good news is this specific moment in Puerto Rico's history will forever more shine the light on the people's courage to speak up and it will also cast a defining shadow on it's politicians.

Take care and I hope and pray I will have good news to report on this matter before the weekend is over.

E. Cepeda
Televicentro/Wapa TV


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