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THE HURRY IS OVER, THE CRISIS REMAINS
Escrito el 8 de julio de 2016 - Comenta usando tu cuenta de Facebook

With the direct intervention of President Obama, the Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and the two highest ranking elected officials in Puerto Rico, PROMESA was approved without any significant amendments before July 1st with the expectation, that if it did not happen, the sky would fall. However, several days have passed and the questions remain the same: is the crisis over? Did it stop the lawsuits? Is there certainty about what will happen in Puerto Rico? Will the tax refunds arrive? Are the government suppliers being paid? Has optimism returned?

The answer to all these questions is no, because the only thing PROMESA has achieved so far is deal a heavy blow to Puerto Ricans’ self-esteem and justify the United States need for a colonial regime in Puerto Rico.

I don’t have any doubt that the hasty approval of this law will have negative consequences for Puerto Rico and for the United States.

The two Senators responsible for the issues related to Puerto Rico in the Senate, one Republican and one Democrat voted against it, a bad sign for those who argue that this is the first step in a design to solve Puerto Rico’s colonial problem. In less than 24 hours, the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch, sent letters indicating possible law violations and collusions between the federal Treasury Department and the government of Puerto Rico, which in itself bodes ill for the possibility of achieving economic development initiatives in the near future.

As days pass, Puerto Ricans will discover that PROMESA does not solve our crisis, it only deals with theirs. Interestingly, the day after the approval of this measure almost all of the companies that insure Puerto Rico bonds increased their market value. Obama and Lew have stopped talking about us because, as was their strategy, the possibility of the United States being sued for Friday’s default was reduced, significantly.

But regarding the problem of lack of liquidity of our government, PROMESA does nothing. The non-payment to government suppliers continues from month to month and PROMESA does not solve it. PROMESA also does not serve the budget deficit of Centro Medico, of the health system or of the special education services, among the many other pressing challenges facing Puerto Rico. In fact, these problems will be aggravated. According to the text of the law, if by midyear the PROMESA board concludes there is a budget deficit, they can order budget cuts in all areas except those regarding debt service to the bondholders. In other words, if you have to choose between cutting funds to Centro Medico, the Department of Education, or the payment to bondholders, the law specifically prohibits cutting the funds to the bondholders.

But the most dramatic is what was validated in the Government of Puerto Rico financial statements, published after the approval of the law: that it is very likely that the government will run out of money in the coming months. The financial statements confirm that the problem will not be solved with more spending cuts because that would mean that many fundamental areas of the government would basically will become unworkable.

Several reports have already been published about how the crisis in Washington DC and New York, that have been presented to us as savior models, after initial enactment of their fiscal board, over time the fiscal crisis of both jurisdictions had to return to Congress because without new financial resources and loan guarantees for market access, the crisis was not solved. Hurry is the friend of disinformation and now, although it appears that there is no hurry, there is also no solution.

_____
Translated by Gabriela Acevedo Gándara. Originally published by El Nuevo Día Interactivo, June 7, 2016

TESTIMONIO DEL EXGOBERNADOR DE PUERTO RICO ANÍBAL ACEVEDO VILÁ ANTE EL COMITÉ DE DESCOLONIZACIÓN DE LA ORGANIZACIÓN DE LAS NACIONES UNIDAS, 20 DE JUNIO 2016
Escrito el 19 de junio de 2016 - Comenta usando tu cuenta de Facebook

Señor presidente, señores embajadores, representantes de las diferentes naciones del Mundo:

Mi nombre es Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. Comparezco ante este comité por tercera ocasión. La primera vez fue en 1997 cuando vine en mi carácter de presidente del Partido Popular Democrático para denunciar el intento del Congreso de Estados Unidos de aprobar una medida legislativa, conocida públicamente como el Proyecto Young (HR 856), que renegaba de las posiciones históricas que Estados Unidos había asumido respecto a Puerto Rico y diseñaba un camino involuntario para llevar a la isla a solicitar su admisión como estado federado de Estados Unidos. Eventualmente, dicha propuesta murió sin ser convertida en ley.

En el 2008 regresé como gobernador de Puerto Rico y presidente del Partido Popular Democrático. Dicha comparecencia la provocó dos informes emitidos por la administración del presidente George W. Bush, en los cuales Estados Unidos reclamaba que dicha nación mantenía poderes plenarios sobre la nación puertorriqueña. Poderes plenarios es el término que usa la Constitución de Estados Unidos para referirse a lo que en el Mundo se conoce como poderes imperiales y/o coloniales. En esa ocasión le reclamé a este comité que hiciera “un requerimiento formal” a Estados Unidos para que explicara “las crasas inconsistencias entre sus posturas de la década de los 50” y las posturas asumidas en esos dos informes. Además, que este comité elevara una petición para que la Asamblea General de la Organización de Naciones Unidas incluyera en su agenda el caso de Puerto Rico.

Hoy, regreso como exgobernador y expresidente del Partido Popular, pero más que nada me presento ante ustedes como puertorriqueño muy preocupado por el futuro de mi país. Han sido tres comparecencias en tres décadas consecutivas, pero con un mismo hilo conductor. Primero, por unas acciones del Congreso de Estados Unidos que no llegaron a concretarse; segundo, por las expresiones formales del jefe de la rama ejecutiva de Estados Unidos que no fueron acompañadas de acciones concretas, y ahora, casi veinte años después de la primera comparecencia, ya no es en respuesta a expresiones o informes, sino a acciones concretas que van contra nuestra dignidad y nuestra democracia.

No voy a usar mi tiempo limitado para analizar o resumir los acontecimientos de este año 2016, ni para recriminaciones a este comité. Tampoco vengo a re-litigar los acontecimientos de 1950 al 1953, pero hay unos hechos inexpugnables que no puedo dejar de destacar: en este año los tres poderes constitucionales de Estados Unidos han dejado claro que Estados Unidos continúa teniendo poderes plenarios sobre Puerto Rico y que está dispuesto a ejercerlos. De hecho, mientras estamos aquí, el presidente Obama, personalmente, intenta que el Senado de Estados Unidos apruebe el Proyecto de la Cámara 5278, (llamado PROMESA) y que ya fue aprobado en la Cámara de Representantes, el cual constituye un ejercicio descarado de los poderes imperiales y coloniales de Estados Unidos sobre Puerto Rico. Ese proyecto revoca los niveles limitados de gobierno propio y autonomía que Estados Unidos había delegado al pueblo de Puerto Rico.

Y como dice un conocido refrán entre abogados puertorriqueños, “a admisión de parte, relevo de prueba”. Ya no queda mucho por litigar, lo que corresponde ahora es actuar y por eso estoy aquí hoy: para que esta Organización de Naciones Unidos ejerza sus mejores oficios y presione a Estados Unidos para que inicie a la mayor brevedad posible un proceso de descolonización política y económica de Puerto Rico. Para movernos hacia delante, solicito y reclamo a este comité que adopte e impulse la siguiente agenda:

1. Que este comité tome las acciones y expresiones recientes de las tres ramas constitucionales del gobierno de Estados Unidos como una admisión de que Puerto Rico no ha alcanzado el nivel de gobierno propio con el cual Estados Unidos se comprometió con Puerto Rico y la ONU, en el proceso de 1950 a 1953, y que culminó con la aprobación de la Resolución 748 (VII) del 27 de noviembre de 1953 de Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas.
2. Que este comité exprese que estas acciones, expresiones y admisiones de las tres ramas del gobierno de Estados Unidos tienen el efecto de retrotraer la situación internacional de Puerto Rico al nivel de la existente antes de 1952 y como consecuencia lógica de esto, se invite al gobierno de los Estados Unidos a que comparezca ante este foro para que explique los pasos que dará para remediar la presente situación colonial.
3. Que ante este nuevo escenario, este comité le recomiende al pleno de la Asamblea General una discusión separada del caso de Puerto Rico, y que si Estados Unidos se niega a aceptar las consecuencias internacionales de sus admisiones recientes, la Asamblea General solicitará una Opinión Consultiva a la Corte Internacional de Justicia, de forma similar a como lo hizo en el caso del territorio de África del Sudoeste (hoy Namibia), a través de la Resolución 338 (IV) de 1949.
4. Que este comité exprese su repudio enérgico a las acciones del gobierno de Estados Unidos al pretender aprobar el Proyecto de la Cámara 5278, por ser un ejercicio burdo de su poder colonial sobre Puerto Rico y una revocación unilateral de los restringidos poderes de autogobierno que Puerto Rico ha alcanzado. Que, si este proyecto se convierte en ley, este comité, en el descargo de su responsabilidad, visite y sesione en Puerto Rico para que examine directamente el efecto colonial de esta ley sobre nosotros. Una cosa es que la comunidad internacional denuncie y reconozca la condición colonial de Puerto Rico y otra es que se haga de la vista larga cuando Estados Unidos actúa como un imperio y ejerce abusivamente tales poderes coloniales.
5. Que este comité le reclame al gobierno de Estados Unidos que se comprometa con el pueblo de Puerto Rico y con la comunidad internacional a cesar de tener y ejercer sus poderes plenarios en un plazo máximo de 5 años.
6. Que este comité ejerza sus mejores oficios para propiciar un diálogo entre el gobierno de Estados Unidos y el pueblo de Puerto Rico para adelantar y alcanzar un verdadero proceso de auto-determinación.

Imponer a Puerto Rico la responsabilidad de “resolver” este asunto es no, solamente, injusto, sino contrario a derecho y a la propia naturaleza humana. De la misma forma que no se le podía imponer a un esclavo la responsabilidad de resolver su situación de esclavitud, no se le puede exigir a un pueblo al que se le han negado los más básicos atributos de soberanía para determinar su destino, que asuma la responsabilidad de resolver esa situación a la misma vez que se le niegan los atributos necesarios para actuar. Estados Unidos tiene que asumir la responsabilidad de resolver la presente situación colonial y hablarle con claridad al pueblo de Puerto Rico sobre cuáles son las opciones que está dispuesto a que formen parte de este dialogo-negociación. Ese diálogo debe incluir que Estados Unidos defina con claridad las condiciones políticas, jurídicas, económicas y culturales que está dispuesto a negociar con el pueblo de Puerto Rico y propongo que debe abordar, entre otros temas, los siguientes:

a. si Estados Unidos está dispuesto a integrar a Puerto Rico como un estado federado de esa nación, y cuales serían las consecuencias económicas y culturales de dicha integración;
b. cuáles serían los contornos jurídicos y económicos de una asociación política digna, (Estado Libre Asociado Soberano) con atención especial a la realidad política y jurídica de que por más de cinco generaciones los puertorriqueños han sido ciudadanos americanos por nacimiento y que hay más de 8 millones de puertorriqueños alrededor de mundo que tienen la condición dual de ser puertorriqueños y ciudadanos americanos y que jurídicamente esa ciudadanía no les puede ser quitada; y,
c. cuáles serían las medidas económicas transicionales hacia una eventual independencia.

Repito, llegó el momento de actuar.

Muchas gracias.

TESTIMONY OF THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO ANÍBAL ACEVEDO VILÁ BEFORE THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTE ON DECOLONIZATION, JUNE 20, 2016
Escrito el 19 de junio de 2016 - Comenta usando tu cuenta de Facebook

Mr. President, Ambassadors, representatives from the different nations of the world:

My name is Aníbal Acevedo Vilá. I appear before this committee for the third time. The first time was in 1997 when I came in my capacity as president of the Popular Democratic Party to denounce an attempt by the United States Congress to pass a legislative measure publicly known as the Young Bill (HR 856), which disowned the historic position the United States had assumed regarding Puerto Rico and designed an involuntary pathway to bring the island to request admission as a state of the United States. Eventually, that proposal died without becoming law.

In 2008 I returned as Governor of Puerto Rico and president of the Popular Democratic Party. That appearance was provoked by two reports issued by the administration of President George W. Bush, in which the United States claimed that they held plenary powers over the nation of Puerto Rico. Plenary powers is the term the United States Constitution uses to refer to what the rest of the world knows as imperial or colonial powers. On that occasion I called for this committee to make a “formal request” to the United States to explain “the crass inconsistencies between their position in the 50s” and the position adopted in these two reports. Furthermore, I requested from this committee to present a request for the United Nations General Assembly to include the case of Puerto Rico in their agenda.

Today, I return as a former governor and former president of the Popular Democratic Party, but more than anything I stand before you as a Puerto Rican very much concerned for the future of my country. I have had three appearances in three consecutive decades, but with the same connecting thread. First, due to actions from the United States Congress that went nowhere; second, due to formal statements from the head of the executive branch of the United States that were not accompanied by concrete actions and now, almost 20 years after my first appearance, it is not longer in response to statements or reports, but to concrete actions that go against our dignity and our democracy.

I will not use my limited time to analyze or summarize the events of this year 2016, nor for recriminations. I’m also not here to re-litigate the events from 1950 to 1953, but there are some unassailable facts that cannot be overemphasized: during this year the three constitutional powers of the United States have made it clear that the United States continues to have plenary powers over Puerto Rico and that they are willing to exercise them. In fact, while we are here, President Obama, personally, is urging the US Senate to approve House Bill 5278, (called PROMESA) which has already been approved by the House of Representatives, which constitutes a blatant display of imperial and colonial powers of the United States over Puerto Rico. This bill revokes the limited levels of self-government and autonomy that the United States had delegated to the people of Puerto Rico.

And as a known saying among Puerto Rican lawyers goes: ”when there’s a confession, you need no proof”, There is not much left to litigate, what corresponds now is to act and that is why I am here today: so that the United Nations exert its best efforts and pressure the United States to begin as soon as possible the process of political and economic de-colonization of Puerto Rico. To move forward I request and claim from this committee to adopt and push the following agenda:

1. That this committee take the recent actions and expressions from the three constitutional branches of the United States government as an admission that Puerto Rico has not reached the level of self-government which the United States pledged to Puerto Rico and the UN in the process of 1950 to 1953, which culminated with the approval by the United Nations General Assembly of Resolution 748 (VII) of November 27, 1953.
2. That this committee express that these actions, expressions and admissions of the three braches of the United States government have had the effect of rolling back the international situation of Puerto Rico to what it was prior to 1952 and as a logical consequence of this, invite the government of the United States to appear before this forum to explain the steps they will take to remedy this colonial situation.
3. That with this new scenario, this committee recommends to the General Assembly a separate discussion on the case of Puerto Rico, and that if the United States refuses to accept the international consequences of its recent admissions, the General Assembly will request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, in a similar way as they did in the case of the territory of South West Africa (now Namibia), through Resolution 338 (IV) of 1949.
4. That this committee express its strong condemnation of the actions of the United States government by attempting to approve the House Bill 5278, as a crude exercise of colonial power over Puerto Rico and a unilateral revocation of the limited powers of self-government that Puerto Rico has reached. That, if this bill becomes law this committee, in its discharge of its responsibility, visit and meet in Puerto Rico to examine directly the colonial effect of this law upon us. It is one thing for the international community to denounce and recognize the colonial status of Puerto Rico and another to look the other way when the United States acts as an empire and exercises and abuses such colonial powers.
5. That this committee demand from the United States government a commitment to the people of Puerto Rico and the international community to cease to have and exercise their plenary powers within the maximum period of 5 years.
6. That this committee exercises its best efforts to facilitate a dialogue between the US government and the people of Puerto Rico to advance and achieve a genuine process of self-determination.

To impose upon Puerto Rico the responsibility of “solving” this issue is not only unfair, but also contrary to law and human nature itself. In the same way that you would not impose upon a slave the responsibility of resolving the situation of its own slavery, you can’t require a people who have been denied the most basic traits of sovereignty to determine their fate, to assume the responsibility to resolve this situation at the same time that you deny them the attributes necessary to act. The United States must take responsibility for solving this colonial situation and speak clearly to the people of Puerto Rico on what options they are willing to be part of this dialogue-negotiation. This dialogue must include the United States defining clearly the political, legal, economic, and cultural conditions that they are willing to negotiate with the people of Puerto Rico and I propose it should address, among other topics, the following:
a. If the United States is willing to integrate Puerto Rico as a federated state of their nation, and what would be the economic and cultural consequences of such integration;
b. What would be the legal and economic contours a dignifying political association (Sovereign Commonwealth) with special attention to the political and legal reality that for more than five generations, Puerto Ricans have been US citizens by birth and that there are more than 8 million Puerto Ricans around the world that have the dual status of being Puerto Rican and American citizens and that citizenship cannot be stripped away; and,
c. What would be the transitional economic measures towards an eventual independence.

I repeat, it is time to act.

Thank you very much.

_______

Translation from spanish by Gabriela Acevedo Gándara

Colonizers and colonized
Escrito el 11 de junio de 2016 - Comenta usando tu cuenta de Facebook

Thursday June 9, 2016 will go down in history as the day the colonizers and the colonized won and celebrated, but Puerto Rico lost. The repercussions of the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Sánchez Valle and the approval of PROMESA in Congress with its colonial board, will mark us for many years like a slave by its brand.

It was not by chance that both events happened on the same day, and that while the Treasury Department urged since November last year for a “strong control board”, the US Department of Justice intervened in the case of Sánchez Valle, to deny the legitimacy of the Commonwealth status.

In my meetings last week in Washington it became clear that the legal and financial design of PROMESA is reliant on affirming that Congress has plenary powers over Puerto Rico. Although using a politically neutral language, Antonio Weiss recognized that for PROMESA to be constitutional there can be no doubt over the colonial character of the United States relationship with Puerto Rico. He also acknowledged that if Puerto Rico breaches its obligations and defaults on its bonds, the United States government would be sued for their legal responsibility over our public debt.

PROMESA is not to save Puerto Rico, but to save the US from being held accountable and having to rightly pay for their actions and lack of action. The agreement of republicans and democrats in Congress with the Obama administration is due to this: an effort to try to clear their responsibility at the expense of our dignity.

Sánchez Valle does not completely validate what PROMESA represents, but if the ultimate source for Puerto Rico to prosecute criminals emanates from Congress, there lies the legal basis to explain that the ultimate source of the Commonwealth Constitution lies not with the sovereign will of the people of Puerto Rico, but with the will of Congress. Last week Congress threw our Constitution in the trash and with it our frail democracy and our dignity. But beware, if the ultimate source of our powers reside with Congress, with plenary powers come plenary responsibilities.

For Puerto Rico the cost is very high. First it annihilates our capacity to govern ourselves, something that transcends legal discussions about Commonwealth status and goes to the essence of our aspiration to achieve any dignified future status. Those who believe this to be the first step towards our decolonization are wrong. What PROMESA is saying is: “slave, for your own good, I will whip you more so you don’t continue to make mistakes”.

And second, those who applaud PROMESA have not realized that this board comes to impose neo-liberal measures, to save themselves from lawsuits and so that the bond holders are happy.

One of the tragedies of colonial power is that it convinces itself that they are doing the best for the poor people they have colonized. Even worse, they convince many of their subjects of their superiority and magnanimity. It is the syndrome of the colonized mind; by accepting such fallacies they become accomplices and allies. Sadly, they exist everywhere and from every ideology. That is what has happened to some of those that at this moment had an obligation to defend our dignity.


Translated by Gabriel Acevedo from the original Op-Ed published by El Nuevo Día on June 11, 2016



Continúe leyendo texto adicional

THIS BOARD MUST BE DEFEATED*
Escrito el 25 de mayo de 2016 - Comenta usando tu cuenta de Facebook


Dignity does not tolerate middle roads; the dignity of a People is not negotiable.

The bill that creates the federal control board must be defeated. Those who say that it is the only solution, that it’s inevitable, or that we must accept what they give us, are only the reflection of what motivates this legislation: a crude colonial mentality. Some have that mentality to execute it and others to accept it.

It is not about recognizing or denying that we are under the plenary powers of Congress and that we are being treated as a mere colony, because one thing is to recognize that legal reality and another is to welcome the colonial ruling. For many years slavery was legal and masters had the right to whip slaves, but that did not mean applauding the exercise of that abusive and immoral power. If slavery was abolished, it was because many fought to denounce and eradicate what was legal.

Creating the board does not solve our problems or address the issue of our public debt, which we know is unpayable. When a citizen, a business, a city or a country goes bankrupt, it does so not only because they can’t pay the bank its loans, but because they cannot pay all that they owe to ALL their creditors, which also include the water and power companies, rent, and other suppliers of goods, services and employee’s salaries and benefits. In the case of governments, the list also includes pensioners. In a fair process of bankruptcy, ALL the creditors negotiate, EVERYONE’S interests are put on a scale and a priority order is set. That’s what happened in Detroit, where the rights of the bondholders were balanced with the rights of the city, its pensioners and other creditors.

However, the project that creates the federal board is written so that only the vulture funds can get paid. The other creditors of the government, who are Puerto Rican, have no say in the matter, not the driver or the therapist of the Department of Education who hasn’t been paid for their services, nor the landlord who hasn’t been paid rent in six months, nor the one who provides fumigation services, nor the one awaiting his tax refund. For this board, the only ones entitled to collect are the bondholders.

It is a board designed to meet the interests of the vulture funds with total immunity on what it does, and will not only be able to order budget cuts to ensure payment to the bondholders, but to achieve this goal, may sell land and properties of the Puerto Rican people without having to follow our laws and regulations. This board could even approve projects like Fortuño’s gas pipeline without having to comply with our laws and environmental regulations. If to pay a bondholder they decide to sell the Ecological Corridor, then sold it is, and neither you nor I have anything to say.

This project must be defeated in Washington because there is no such thing as something inevitable. Except death, nothing is inevitable. With will and determination, it can be defeated. But if it becomes law, our elected officials must challenge it. In the June 5th primaries (PNP, PPD, Democrat), Puerto Ricans must deny the vote to any candidate who has been ambivalent on this issue or who has supported this affront. And in the elections of November 8, whoever runs to work with this board, must also be defeated.

Aníbal Acevedo Vilá

English translation from an op-ed published on May 25, in El Nuevo Día in spanish, titled “Esa junta hay que colgarla” http://www.elnuevodia.com/opinion/columnas/esajuntahayquecolgarla-columna-2202594/. Translated by Gabriela Acevedo Gándara.


* No incluye costo de manejo y franqueo.
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Escritos Adicionales

THE HURRY IS OVER, THE CRISIS REMAINS

TESTIMONIO DEL EXGOBERNADOR DE PUERTO RICO ANÍBAL ACEVEDO VILÁ ANTE EL COMITÉ DE DESCOLONIZACIÓN DE LA ORGANIZACIÓN DE LAS NACIONES UNIDAS, 20 DE JUNIO 2016

TESTIMONY OF THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF PUERTO RICO ANÍBAL ACEVEDO VILÁ BEFORE THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTE ON DECOLONIZATION, JUNE 20, 2016

Colonizers and colonized

THIS BOARD MUST BE DEFEATED*

LLEGÓ LA JUNTA; ¿Y AHORA QUÉ?

THE BOARD IS HERE; AND NOW WHAT? (translated from the original Spanish version)

Video de la presentación del ex Gobernador Acevedo Vila en el Congreso federal

COLUMNA DEL EX GOBERNADOR ACEVEDO VILA PUBLICADA EN PERIÓDICO THE HILL

“With plenary powers comes plenary responsability; Puerto Rico’s economic and fiscal crisis and the United States”: participación del ex gobernador Acevedo Vilá en el simposio “La deuda pública y el porvernir de Puerto Rico.

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