Friday, March 28, 2008

Corrupt, but patriotic

It's been a while since I last wrote anything in here. The urge to write hasn't gone away, but my mind has frozen up as to what to write about. I've been working, I've been coming home, and I've been going to work again. More often than not, I work late, because things are hectic and they're only getting hectic...er?

I decided to take a couple of days off this week, because things are only going to ramp up in the next few weeks. I even have to work on a Sunday next month! I know! For someone whose never worked in any kind of job that required her presence on the weekends, that's a real bummer. So I took my two days off and stayed home. That's unusual for me too -- usually if I take time off, I go somewhere.

I'm, at heart, someone who likes to be alone. Not all the time, certainly. But every now and then I find it centering, and even comforting, to be alone in my house. Even if I'm just folding laundry in front of the TV, like I did today. The silence, the lack of anybody wanting anything from me, the chance to do whatever I want, whenever I want...it's nice. I rented the first half of the last season of the Sopranos, and may I say that as much as I love that show, it can be stressful to watch one episode after another. Who's gonna get whacked next? Whose gonna do something stupid and piss Tony off? I can't keep worrying about these people, I need to take a break.

So I come to the computer and read up on Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, PR's governor, and his current legal troubles. He's been under investigation by the Feds since 2006 for corruption stemming from illegal campaign contributions. Dental companies based out of Philadelphia apparently donated money to pay for his past campaign for Resident Commissioner, and in return tried to finagle their way into multi-million dollar contracts with the Puerto Rican government. He is also accused of personally pocketing some of that money. Because he, of course, did not report that money to the IRS, he's also accused of tax evasion. Today he turned himself in, pleading not guilty, and was released on his own recognizance.

Well, screwed up, right? It gets better. Now you have ex-governor and prominent member of Acevedo Vilá's rival party, Carlos Romero Barceló, bragging that he was the one who turned him in. Romero Barceló is a statehood proponent; on the other end of Acevedo Vilá is the independentista Rubén Berríos, stating that more important than charges of corruption leveled at the island's governor is the fact that, because the Feds are leveling these charges, PR is a colony. Some people, apparently, are looking to hitch their decrepit wagons to this guy's falling star.

And Acevedo Vilá is not too far behind Berríos on this. Acevedo Vilá is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which backs the status quo (remaining a commonwealth of the US) in our never-ending Status Wars. However, he is adamant that the reason he is being investigated is because he openly criticized a 2005 FBI raid in which a long-time fugitive and leader of the militant independentista group Los Macheteros, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, was killed. He was a fugitive because he was wanted for stealing $7 million during a heist on a Wells Fargo depot in Connecticut.

How the raid happened, and whether Ojeda Ríos should have been killed in the process, is one thing. Whether or not the FBI gives a rat's ass about what the governor of Puerto Rico thinks to such a degree that they would go to an elaborate scheme to frame him, is quite another. Puerto Ricans are well aware that their government is corrupt down to the marrow of its bones. Corruption is a cancer that is eating away at the island's ability to prosper. Acevedo Vilá has been an unpopular governor who many see as ineffective. But by invoking a vague sense of nationalism, will he earn a pass from people? Already I'm seeing quotes in the papers from people who feel for him, because if the Federal government is involved then this must clearly be a case of Americans persecuting Puerto Ricans. To be fair, there are others that call this an embarassment for the island and want him to resign. But to what degree do these differing opinions fall under party lines? Is the statehooder blindly rooting against him? Is the commonwealther blindly supporting him? Is the independentista blinding himself to the actual case and only focusing on the fact that PR also falls under federal jurisdiction? I'd be interested to hear from people on the island on what they think about this.

Our status colors everything. It motivates everything, it hinders everything. It's inescapable. I've given a lot of thought to how it has affected, and continues to affect, people's lives. It's the kind of topic that makes my brain shut down into a state of writer's block again, because how can you put it all into words? It's daunting. And by thinking about all of this and getting depressed about it, it occurs to me that some may wonder why, with me not living there, I would care so much (or at all). That's definitely a topic I would like to go into later.

But, hey. At least Acevedo Vilá got me writing again. Thanks, buddy, for taking one for the team!

2 comments:

Raul said...

Estoy de acuerdo contigo en algunas cosas. Me parece que, efectivamente, las opiniones del caso de Acevedo Vila estan polarizadas basandose en colores politicos. Sin embargo, creo que hay varias cosas que se te pasan de largo.

Me parece muy ingenua tu posicion de que al gobierno de los Estados Unidos no le importa si Acevedo Vila cuestiona su jurisdiccion o no (como hizo al exigirle al FBI que colaboraran con Justicia para la investigacion del caso de Ojeda). Hay miles de ejemplos en la historia (ejemplos confirmados tanto por historiadores de derecha como de la izquierda) de que Estados Unidos ha mantenido su poder en el mundo acallando la oposicion de diversas maneras. Es muy claro que Estados Unidos tiene intereses en Puerto Rico. Si no los tuviera, ya se hubiera largado de aqui hace años. Las potencias no son potencias por que dan caridad, sino porque saben manejar sus "assets". A Estados Unidos no le conviene que el gobernador de una de sus posesiones ahora le de con "sacar pechito".

Por otra parte, tendrias que mirar el timing de esta acusacion. Sera acaso coincidencia que se da tan cerca a las elecciones generales? Si conoces de historia, si conoces del trabajo de la "inteligencia" estadounidense sabras que no hay coincidencias. O acaso creeras que a Filiberto Ojeda lo mataron el 23 de septiembre y fue una coincidencia?

Igualmente, el issue de Acevedo Vila es un issue de colonialismo, aunque a la gente no le guste oirlo. Si Acevedo Vila es un corrupto, el gobierno del Partido Nuevo Progresista (que de seguro va a salir electo) lo puede encausar y meter preso. Asi podriamos bregar con nuestros problemas nosotros mismos.

Gusto en saludarte.

Jen said...

Hola Raul,

Lo que, en mi opinión, diferencia tu opinion de la mía es lo siguiente: tu ves mi posición como ingenua. Yo veo la idea de que el FBI se haya tomado casi dos años en fabricarle un caso al gobernador de su territorio rayando en "conspiracy theory". Si los EEUU tienen tanto interés en callarle la boca a Aníbal por no estar de acuerdo con que hayan asesinado a Filiberto, me parece que lo hubiesen hecho hace bastante rato, y en una manera mucho más decisiva.

Mira como el gobierno está manejando situaciones como la guerra sobre el terror: si te tienen en la mirilla, bien rapidito te dan la patá por el culo. En estas cosas de callar a alguien que esté hablando de más, no pierden nada de tiempo.

Y es que en mi opinión, lo que piense Aníbal de lo que pasó con Filiberto, al fin de cuentas, *no importa*. Hace 3 años fué que el dijo lo que dijo. En ese espacio de tiempo, sus comentarios hicieron...que, exactamente? Mobilizaron a los ciudadanos a protestar como lo hicieron por Vieques? Le causaron a los EEUU hasta el mas mínimo dolor de cabeza?

El issue del colonialismo ha estado con nosotros desde el 1898. En serio, se nos había olvidado que estamos sujetos, como puertorriqueños, a la ley federal? Este lío con Aníbal es lo que nos recuerda de que no somos autónomos?

Lo que mas me sorprende, seriamente, es que al el ser un gobernador Popular, el está de acuerdo con mantener "la colonia". Entonces, de donde vienen estas acusaciones de que le están fabricando un caso simplemente por no estar de acuerdo con el FBI? Me parece una contradicción bastante interesante.

Gusto en conocerte,

Jen