Friday, December 25, 2009

Maurice Ferre for US Senate 2010

Maurice Ferre : Biographical Sketch

Maurice Ferre is the former six-term mayor of the City of Miami and a candidate for the United States Senate.

The life of Maurice Ferre has been marked by a style of public service that encourages people of vastly different views and philosophies to work together for the common good and progress.

Ferre began his career in public service as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and then went on to be elected a commissioner of the City of Miami. He served as the Mayor of Miami from 1973 until 1985. Ferre provided leadership and vision as Miami took its place as one of the world's most vibrant, eclectic, diverse international cities. As Mayor, Ferre focused on economic development, job creation, and a visionary approach to improving South Florida's transportation, business and public infrastructure.

After his terms as mayor, Ferre has involved himself in far-reaching business interests, public service and commentary on current and political affairs.

Ferre was born in the American territory of Puerto Rico and is a resident of Miami. He is a graduate of the University of Miami and is married to M. Mercedes Malaussena Ferre. They have been blessed with six children and 12 grandchildren.

P.O. Box 558807
Miami, FL 33255
News Room

Alex Sink for Governor of Florida 2010

About Alex

A Different Kind of Leader. A Watchdog for the People of Florida.

It’s a story all too rare in government these days. The story of a leader whose experience and values, leadership style and perspective, were shaped by a life lived outside of politics.

Drawn to Serve

After a successful twenty-six-year career in private business, Alex Sink looked to Tallahassee and was troubled by what she saw: A city filled with career politicians and entrenched special interests. A capital long on politics-as-usual, but disappointingly short on solutions to Florida’s challenges.

Alex recognized the need for problem-solving, new ideas and accountability in state government.

So in 2006, never having sought elective office before, Alex ran for Chief Financial Officer.

In the words of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Alex offered Floridians something new and different: “Unmatched business experience and forward-looking plans.” Or, as the Bradenton Herald put it: “There’s no need to pick a politician when there is a professional like Alex Sink standing in the wings.”

Nearly every newspaper in Florida joined the News-Journal and the Bradenton Herald in endorsing Alex’s candidacy for CFO.
The Florida Times-Union praised Alex’s “impressive qualifications,” noting “she has the perspectives of a businesswoman.” The Orlando Sentinel extolled her “results-driven demeanor and results-defining career.” The Palm Beach Post urged Floridians to “start fresh, with Sink.”

A Proven Track Record

Today, as the state’s elected CFO, Alex oversees nearly 3,000 employees and an annual budget of $300 million in the Department of Financial Services – where she puts her business experience and know-how to work as the outspoken fiscal and consumer watchdog for the people of Florida.

As CFO, Alex has kept her pledge to crack down on unaccountable, poorly-performing, no-bid state contracts – slashing her department’s no-bid contracts by more than half just two years into her term. She’s scoured Tallahassee’s bureaucracy for inefficient practices and wasteful spending, using her business acumen to save taxpayers millions.

And Alex has been an aggressive consumer advocate, launching innovative and long-overdue initiatives like the Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force, created to protect older Floridians from financial fraud.

Decades of Experience

Before her election in 2006, Alex’s distinguished business career culminated in her leadership of Florida’s largest bank. For seven years as president, she managed more than $40 billion in customer deposits while supervising more than 9,000 employees in 800 branches and earning a reputation for credibility, integrity and dedication to her customers.

While in the private sector, Alex repeatedly gave back to her state and community. Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Alex to the Commission on Government Accountability to the People, charged with finding ways state government could be more responsive to the people of Florida. As vice chair of Florida TaxWatch, she became a recognized leader on fiscal responsibility. And Alex dedicated herself to Florida’s children through her service on Governor Chiles’ Commission on Education, the Hillsborough Education Foundation Board of Directors and as chair of Take Stock in Children.

Alex’s civic work includes service in the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida and as chairman of the board of the United Way of Hillsborough County.

Alex grew up on a farm in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, and earned a degree in mathematics from Wake Forest University. She resides in Thonotosassa with her husband, Bill McBride. They are the proud parents of Bert, a junior and football player at Stanford University, and Lexi, a sophomore at Wake Forest University.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Congressman Pierluisi speaks to Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility

Congressman Pedro R. Pierluisi
Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Inclusion Index Survey
Press Conference
December 16, 2009

I want to join my colleagues on the Corporate America Task Force in
commending the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility for
their longstanding efforts to advocate for the inclusion of Hispanics in
corporate America. Hispanics are the largest minority group in the
United States—as well as the fastest growing. Our community should
aspire to be represented in every field and at a level roughly
commensurate with our community’s proportion of the nation’s
population as a whole. I am proud that this Task Force has worked with
organizations such as HACR to make this goal a reality.

The purpose of the Corporate Inclusion Index Survey that HACR is
releasing today is to measure how well—or how poorly—our nation’s
most prominent companies are doing when it comes to reaching out to
Hispanics. Among the factors the survey examines are the number of
Hispanics that these companies are hiring to serve in upper management
positions and on their corporate boards. I am disappointed but not
surprised that the results of the survey indicate that Hispanics still have a
ways to go to be fully included in all aspects of corporate America.

As Hispanics continue to grow as a segment of our nation’s population, we
must emphasize to these companies that including Hispanics in their
business model is not only the right approach but the smart approach. At
the same time, when talking to the Hispanic community, especially our
youth, we must consistently underscore the importance of education and
hard work, so that companies have a broad and deep pool of qualified
Hispanic applicants from which to choose.

Again, I congratulate HACR on the production of this Survey. As we
move into a new year, we must renew our commitment to expand
Hispanic participation in corporate America.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Secretary McClintock delivers Speech during La Casa de Puerto Rico event in Killeen, Texas

Kenneth D. McClintock Speech
Secretary of State of PR
Killeen, Texas
December 11th, 2009

First of all, I’d like to thank all the organizers for once again inviting me to address you here in Killeen.

A lot has changed since then.
Last time I was here, I was ending my term as the 13th President of the Senate of Puerto Rico.

Today I address you as the 22nd Secretary of State of the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Last time I was here, I’d informed you that I was not going to run for office in the 2008 elections, and
would reenter private life in January 2009. Well, one out of two ain’t bad in baseball!

I, in fact, did not
run in 2008. However, I wasn’t counting on being recruited by Luis Fortuno, after winning the governorship by the largest landslide majority since Don Luis Munoz Marin left La Fortaleza, to serve as
his Secretary of State and in the role of Lieutenant Governor.

The past 11 months, have been difficult, challenging, but fulfilling. Difficult because when we took office
in January we inherited the largest state budget deficit in the nation, larger proportionately than

Challenging, because there was not enough money in the treasury to even pay the January 15th payroll and we were days away from becoming the first state level government to fall into junk bond status in Wall Street.

Fulfilling because the dire fiscal situation we encountered has allowed us to start taking steps Puerto Rico should have taken decades ago.

Did you know that, in spite of 8 consecutive years of structural deficits, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico requires a balanced budget?
Did you know that Puerto Rico has more state government employees than Texas and every other state, except for California and New York?

Because of that huge deficit and payroll, we’ve been forced to cut expenses to the bone.

The cell phone on which I receive Gladys Casteleiro’s calls is paid by me, not by the government.

Neither the Governor nor the Secretary of State are sending out even one single Christmas card this year. There is no money.

However, the austerity measures we’ve taken, including laying off several thousand employees with a generous severance package, along with many new laws that will stimulate our economy and create private sector jobs that will help Puerto Rico move ahead. And our economic indexes are starting to show that our economy is starting to move in the right direction---up, after nine years of moving down.
Our federal government has helped us a lot. Using the population data from the 2000 Census, and eyeing the political power that 4 million Puerto Ricans wield on the mainland, the White House has moved over 6 billion dollars into our economy.
As we approach the eve of the year 2010, we have to start focusing on the 2010 decennial federal census.

The data from the 2010 census will not only determine how many congressional districts every state gets, but it determines how federal funding will be allocated for the next 10 years, and which are the population groups with the numbers to exert the most political power in this century’s second decade.
There are 4 million residents of Puerto Rico and we want to make sure they get counted.

However, equally important is that every Puerto Rican be counted on the mainland, too. In 2000, there were many Puerto Ricans in Texas. Do you know how many? 69,504.
We want to be sure that when the political strategists study Texas’ demographics, they’ll be astounded at the number of Puerto Ricans that live in this state.
…….but to be astounded, we need you to spread the word and make sure that every person with a drop of Puerto Rican blood in their veins checks off the “Puerto Rican” checkbox in the Census questionnaire that will arrive in every Texan home next March.

If you were born in Puerto Rico, you’re Puerto Rican…Check it off!
If both parents were born in Puerto Rico, you’re Puerto Rican…Check it off!
If only one parent was born in Puerto Rico, you’re Puerto Rican…Check it off!
Y tu abuela a donde esta!? If even one of your grandparents is Puerto Rican, your Puerto Rican too!!! Check it off!!!

How many will check off the box next April 1st? The same 69,504? 75,000? 80,000? Only you can make that grow. The more Puerto Ricans that are reflected in the Census as living in Texas, the more you’re U.S. Senators and your congressmen and congresswomen will be inclined to vote in favor of issues related to Puerto Rico in the U.S. Congress.

The higher the Puerto Rican population on the mainland, the more future Presidential candidates will pay attention to our issues.

There are two factors that have been responsible for most of what Puerto Rico is today. First, our military service and, second, our numbers.
Most of you who are here tonight whether in Europe or the pacific, in Korea and Vietnam, in Iraq and Afghanistan served in the military, or you have held the fort at the home of those who served in the military.

Your service has given Puerto Rico the moral authority to seek that of which the federal government has given us, and we are forever grateful for that.

However, every one of us, whether we’ve served in the military or not, can provide strength through numbers, making sure that your service is not forgotten, and that our rights are not ignored, through the sheer strength of the size of our population in Puerto Rico, in Texas and the other 49 states, but that strength can only be reflected once every 10 years, on Census Day. 2010, on April 1st when you check off that box that defines your being, your past, your aspirations and your future, when within this diverse nation of many different colors and ethnic backgrounds you declare that you are Puerto Rican and you care for Puerto Rico.

I urge you during the remaining 109 days before Census Day to remind every one of your Puerto Rican relatives, friends and neighbors, to be sure and check off the Puerto Rican checkbox in their Census Questionnaire.

Through that checkbox we will gain the attention, the focus, the respect and the help that Puerto Rico needs throughout the next decade.

Once again thank you for inviting me here tonight to address an issue that unites us and to invite you to take one single step that will strengthen us all:

Check it off!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

President Obama's Speech at West Point in regards to Afghanistan

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 01, 2009
Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York
8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It's an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.

To address these important issues, it's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda -- a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world’s great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban -- a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them -- an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 -- the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda’s terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It's enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention -- and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.
But while we've achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda’s leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it's been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Now, throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.
Since then, we've made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we've stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation's army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and -- although it was marred by fraud -- that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and constitution.

Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There's no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population. Our new commander in Afghanistan -- General McChrystal -- has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated.

In short: The status quo is not sustainable. As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people -- and our troops -- no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan. I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort.

And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home. Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you -- a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I've traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region. Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda’s safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.
We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.
The 30,000 additional troops that I'm announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 -- the fastest possible pace -- so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I've asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we're confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility -- what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We'll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas -- such as agriculture -- that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They've been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect -- to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.
Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That's why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who've argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

I recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the more prominent arguments that I've heard, and which I take very seriously. First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we're better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border.

To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies. Second, there are those who acknowledge that we can't leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we already have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over. Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort -- one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don't have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who -- in discussing our national security -- said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We've failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I'll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.
But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That's why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended -- because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own.

Now, let me be clear: None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict -- not just how we wage wars. We'll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
And we can't count on military might alone.

We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can't capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks. We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that's why I've made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them -- because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them. We'll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I've spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world -- one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity. And finally, we must draw on the strength of our values -- for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not.

That's why we must promote our values by living them at home -- which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source, the moral source, of America’s authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions -- from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank -- that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades -- a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for -- what we continue to fight for -- is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity. (Applause.)
As a country, we're not as young -- and perhaps not as innocent -- as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.

In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people -- from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth. (Applause.) This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue -- nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.

It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. (Applause.) I believe with every fiber of my being that we -- as Americans -- can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment -- they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

America -- we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you.

May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 8:35 P.M. EST

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Injection of Diversity within Republican Party in 2012?

By: Phillip Arroyo
This past week, a cyber web blog within the latest internet Newsweek Edition pointed at Puerto Rico Republican Governor Luis Fortuño as a potential 2012 GOP candidate in the next elections. What is truly interesting is the Republican Party’s shift of leadership and the beginning of a series of changes that appear will be executed in order to inject diversity within the political organization with the sole objective to appeal to the overwhelming population of Hispanics and African Americans in our nation.
Nonetheless, it will take a little more than just minority faces on the ballot. Republicans need to change their postures on social issues such as Immigration Reform and Universal Healthcare in order to be competitive; frankly I don’t see that happening. This is not the first time distinguished Puerto Ricans have been considered for high national office. Back in 2000, it was also rumored that Democratic Governor Pedro Rossello was on the short list to be appointed Secretary of Health, had Al Gore pulled through the Presidential election. In addition, within the Democratic leadership in Puerto Rico, an array of respected leaders such as Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock and Democratic Party Chairman Roberto Pratts are more than qualified for any federal high elected position.
Rumors also indicate Luis Fortuño as a potential running mate of failed Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for the 2012 elections. In my humble opinion, I believe the GOP has a better shot with Fortuño, opposite Palin, who proved to be disastrous during John McCain’s unsuccessful bid for the White House. As a matter of fact I am one of those that actually believe the 2008 elections would have been a lot closer had it not been for Sarah Palin’s poor performance with the press and during the Vice Presidential debate where Senator Biden took her to school . Barack Obama would have won anyways, but I suspect it would have been closer if McCain had a running mate of the likes of Fortuño.
The Republican Party discovered during the past election cycle that if their ticket was not attractive to the above mentioned demographic, they would have slim chances of prevailing. That would explain the GOP’s last minute effort to add a “minority” on Senator John McCain’s electoral ticket; a woman, Sarah Palin. The change was seen by many political analysts as “a tad too late” during a Barack Obama superstardom crusade that concluded with an onslaught of Hispanic and African American votes that helped the President win key states such as Florida and North Carolina; two conservative states.
As a result of Luis Fortuno’s possible run within the GOP 2012 ticket, the rumors of the Republican Party’s evolution of representation with Hispanic and African Americans up front and center are spreading like wildfire. As a democrat, none of this surprises me at all. Immediately after Barack Obama became President, Michael Steel was immediately elected RNC chairman, the first African American to do so.
Talk about swift damage control, although many watchful saw this move as political hypocrisy. The Republican Party has finally found out that without the minority vote you cannot win the Presidency of the United States of America.
As a Puerto Rican and as a fellow statehooder, I was proud to know of the mentioning of Governor Luis Fortuno as a possible Presidential candidate because it may represent the cultural diversity closure that will bring our nation to full circle. As a Democrat, I believe Barack Obama is the person that represents the best interests of our nation, will achieve and establish historic policies and shall be reelected. Nonetheless, it is a motive of celebration to know that both majority parties of the nation are now fully aware of the importance of diversity; the Republican party is finally beginning to do so, and that is positive.
In summary, I applaud the Republican Party for their intention of possibly considering a Hispanic, in this case, a highly qualified Puerto Rican for the highest office of our nation. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure the first Hispanic to be elected President will be a democrat. On a humoristic note, Luis Fortuño still has time to switch national parties for 2016 though.

Friday, November 20, 2009

PR Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock's Remarks at TESOL National Convention

November 20th, 2009
Ponce, PR

Good morning to all,

First of all thank you for inviting me to address you today, and thank you for being here. On a personal note, this convention is very close to my heart as my late mother, Nivea Hernández de McClintock, envisioned the need for a TESOL chapter in PR and along with others, acted to make this vision a reality, some forty years ago.

I still remember when she served as host to TESOL’s national convention when the event was held at the Caribe Hilton shortly after the then new tower was inaugurated. In her honor, my brother Steve, my sister Elaine and I have provided 9 scholarships to help TESOL teachers, and seven TESOL college students attend this convention and I’ve assured your President Miguel Camacho that we want our help to become an annual tradition.

English is not only the official business language of the world, has replaced French as the language of diplomacy, but it is also the language of the future as it is the tool with which most cyber platforms are designed and conceived. In spite of the fact that most websites available through the Internet have translated versions, some better than others if I may add, it is undisputed that social, economic, and news related sites are oriented to those who are capable of reading and writing in English. English is a fundamental tool for those who wish to pursue any kind of commercial endeavor using the substantial benefits of today’s state of the art technology. If you think about it, most common names and jargon used in today’s economy stems from the English language: e-mail, v-card, attachment, contact list, just to name a few.

And yes, in spite of those who would like to have it otherwise, English is one of Puerto Rico’s two official languages.

For many years, way too many, we have been immersed in sterile political disputes as to what extent the English language, its teaching, dissemination, is or ceases to be, part of our culture and of our reality as a nation, territory, people, commonwealth, nation-island, judicially incorporated state. Unfortunately, we don’t even agree on the semantics we use to define what we are or aspire to be. And what is really pitiful is that those who end up paying the price are those who cannot and must not be affected by philosophical or ideological rhetoric: OUR YOUTH. Denying hundreds of our kids a high quality bilingual education due to ideological political warfare is unethical, inconsiderate and flat out wrong.

The government should immediately grasp all federal and state opportunities available to improve TESOL education in Puerto Rico and in order to do so, it is absolutely imperative that we take advantage of federal programs that facilitate this objective. For instance, in 2005 a golden opportunity was lost in regards to the “Reading First Program”, a federal education program mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act and administered by the federal Department of Education. Having been the only jurisdiction that had yet to receive money from the $1 billion-a-year initiative, PR did not receive some $60 million from the first two years of the six-year grant, after failing to spend the money allocated in fiscal 2003, and declining another payment for fiscal 2004.

What was the reason behind this? Puerto Rico government officials “disagreed” with the instructional model outlined in the approved plan and the methods for teaching reading in English. Politics at its best, Public service at its worst.

The program would have required that schools funded by Reading First use "scientifically-based" reading instruction. Now, I’m not here to point fingers, but I will say this… this CANNOT and WILL NOT happen again. Equipping our youth with essential educational tools is imperative for their professional development and success which at the same time benefits our island. In the era of globalization in which we live in, speaking and writing fluently in the English language is the key to success and propels future young Puerto Rican leaders abroad. Our administration has begun to work tirelessly to make sure those tools are available to each and every student in Puerto Rico, regardless of political affiliations. Our students deserve no less…. I know that parents share this view. When my son Kevin turned 5 nine years ago, my wife Marie and I applied to enroll him in Cidra’s Bilingual School. 96 applicants for 20 slots.

A year later, when my daughter Stephanie was ready for kindergarten at the same public bilingual school, there were over 120 applicants for 20 slots. I’m sure that among those applicants’ parents you’d be able to find statehooders, populares and indepependentistas with separate ideological views but who agreed on one thing- their kids were entitled to a bilingual education.

So, as you celebrate the 40th anniversary of your promising organization, may I paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s favorite poet, Robert Frost, in saying that TESOL still has promises to keep and miles to go before you sleep and miles to go before you sleep. Thank You.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mis Pensamientos sobre la Situacion Economica en Puerto Rico

Mis pensamientos……

He decidido desplegar a través de este foro cibernético mi sentir y punto de vista en relación al ambiente político y socioeconómico que vivimos en la actualidad en Puerto Rico. Durante el primer año de la nueva administración gubernamental del Partido Nuevo Progresista, he notado varios acontecimientos y acciones de la oposición política representada por el Partido Popular Democratico que deben ser rechazadas tajantemente por el pueblo de Puerto Rico. En primer lugar, si bien es cierto que durante la pasada campaña nuestro Gobernador Luis Fortuno expresó que no despedirá empleados públicos; es meritorio y obligatorio señalar que durante el proceso de transición se descubrió que la pasada administración encabezado por Anibal Acevedo mentía repetidamente cada ano sobre los recaudos del gobierno, para que así la legislatura PNP aprobara presupuestos inflados. De esta manera se hundía más la situación económica de la isla y encima de esto, luego de la veda electoral, para contar con personas que formaran parte de su equipo de avanzada reclutó sobre 30,000 empleados públicos populares para que le respondieran a el durante la campana.
La contratación de estas personas se llevó a cabo ilegalmente por razones puramente políticas para lograr votos a su favor en las pasadas elecciones. Desgraciadamente para el y su partido, la jugada no funciono, y recibieron la peor derrota en toda la historia política de su colectividad. Nos debemos preguntar como Anibal Acevedo sabia durante los debates antes de las elecciones que Luis Fortuno despediría la cifra exacta de 30,000 empleados? Un memo interno de Fortaleza durante el termino de Anibal Acevedo Vila revelado hace varias semanas con fecha del 2006, despliega un plan de cesantías de la pasada administración que planeaban implementar, pero que no ejecutaron debido a su alto costo político. Por eso es que el candidato del PPD sabía. Por eso es que inflaron la nomina gubernamental con mas empleados luego de la veda electoral.

Como resultado de este movimiento ilegal, se empeoraron aun más las finanzas del estado. A raíz de esto, luego de que la nueva administración estimara el déficit en alrededor de 1.3 billones, no fue hasta el proceso de transición que se encontró que el déficit realmente era de 3.2 billones! Cabe señalar que este déficit representa un 40% del presupuesto del país, siendo el déficit más alto en toda la nación americana. Por cada dólar del gobierno, la pasada administración gastaba un dólar y cuarenta centavos! Al hablar del proceso de despidos es importante mencionar que cesantias se estan llevando a traves de toda la nacion Americana totalizando sobre 111,000. En el estado de California nada mas, el Gobernador Arnold Scwarzenegger ha despedido sobre 28,000 empleados gubernamentales, mucho de estos maestros. En Puerto Rico no se han despedido maestros permanentes. Ademas de contar con el peor deficit de la nacion, contamos con mayor numero de empleados de gobierno que 47 estados de los Estados Unidos. Si, asi es, una islita de 100 por 35. El estado de la Florida posee una poblacion de 15 millones de habitantes, y solo cuenta con 65 agencias del gobierno. Puerto Rico solo tiene 4 millones de habitantes y tiene 139 agencias! Al confrontar a los izquierdistas con estos datos se quedan totalmente mudos.

Ante este panorama desastroso heredada por las irresponsabilidades fiscales de la pasada administración, el Gobernador Luis Fortuno ha tenido que tomar la decisión difícil de recurrir al despido masivo de empleados públicos para atemperar y reducir el déficit para así salvar el crédito del país. De no haber tomado acción, el crédito de Puerto Rico hubiera caído en nivel de chatarra, causando una crisis monumental donde mas adelante perderían sus empleos sobre 130,000 empleados gubernamentales a diferencia de los 17, 000 empleados cesanteados en la actualidad.

Un buen ejemplo es la de un cirujano en medio de un proceso tedioso para tratar a un paciente que sufre de sangrado cerebral donde la presión de la cavidad craneal amenaza con causarle la muerte al paciente. El cirujano en algunas ocasiones se ve obligado a extraer una cantidad de sangre para así disminuir la presión craneal y salvarle la vida al perjudicado paciente. Si no se recurría al despido de una cantidad de empleados gubernamentales, el gobierno no iba a contar con nomina para pagarles a TODOS los empleados del gobierno, produciendo así otro cierre de gobierno; una especie de “muerte gubernamental’’ en términos comparativos con lo anteriormente mencionado. Nuestro Gobernador optó por salvar a Puerto Rico y no correr el chance de otro cierre de gobierno; y lo hizo sin pensar en las consecuencias políticas, ya que es innegable el alto costo político que esta decisión difícil representa.

Mientras tanto, a través de los últimos meses hemos observado al liderato de la oposición Popular intentar capitalizar políticamente sobre las decisiones difíciles pero necesarias del Gobernador. Lo han acusado por implantar un gobierno al estilo Republicano. Esta aseveracion es incorrecta ya que han habido Gobernadores Democratas que tambien han tenido que reducir empleados gubernamentales. Un ejemplo es el ex Gobernador de Washington state y hoy Secretario de Comercio de los Estados Unidos, Gary Locke que tuvo que despedir miles de empleados de gobierno para enfrentar la crisis fiscal en su estado. La realidad es que es asqueante ver como los causantes del desastre económico, hoy se pintan como monjitas de la caridad y caminan en las marchas con los unionados y cesanteados con el único propósito de obtener capital político y exposición de los medios para adelantar su agenda política y electoral. Luego de recibir la paliza del siglo en las pasadas elecciones, no es de extrañar que la colectividad colonialista viera esta situación económica como la oportunidad dorada para reponer su imagen e intentar revivir una organización política que no cuenta con un rumbo ideológico definido, carece de liderato respetable y va en camino a la desaparición. Por eso es importante educar al pueblo sobre estos hechos y alertarlos sobre un esquema político fríamente calculado a puertas cerradas entre lideres del sector izquierdista del Partido Popular, lideres de las uniones e inclusive lideres separatistas radicales como el movimiento nacionalista en Puerto Rico.

La realidad es que este sector de izquierda al no contar con el apoyo del pueblo en las elecciones (el Partido Independista ha perdido su franquicia electoral en las pasadas 2 elecciones) recurren a mecanismos y oportunidades indirectas para lograr la materialización de su ideal independentista y antiamericana. Lo hicieron con el asunto de la lucha por la salida de la marina en Vieques, lo hacen a través del “ambientalismo”, y ahora intentan aprovechar el despido de miles de empleados públicos e utilizarlo como balón político para lograr sus agendas. Como otro modo de ejemplo es triste ver como luego de la salida de la marina, ni un solo líder independentista o Popular ha empujado la iniciativa de las limpiezas de los terrenos de practica en Vieques, y que la única persona llevando el caso judicial ante el gobierno de los estados unidos para exigir la limpieza sea precisamente un abogado procedente de los estados unidos continentales!

El ano pasado tuve la oportunidad de dialogar con este abogado, y al preguntarle sobre el caso que lleva, me expresó que lo han dejado solo y que todo el liderato político que apoyaba la salida de la marina, hoy no se encuentran ni en los centros espiritistas. “After they obtained their political goals with the Vieques issue, they disappeared,”” concluyó el abogado. Este ejemplo demuestra la hipocresía del sector izquierdista de Puerto Rico que ahora pretende utilizar la situación de las cesantías para hacer lo mismo. Le exhorto a cada hermano y hermana puertorriqueño que al analizar las noticias impartidas por la prensa local, siempre indaguen, cuestionen y sobre todo verifiquen la misma. En muchas ocasiones, al mirar más allá, descubrimos la verdad.

Esto me lleva al tema del periodismo en Puerto Rico. Entre los métodos anteriormente mencionados del sector separatista para adelantar su ideología, la prensa local en muchas ocasiones parece lucir como facilitador y aliado de este sector. A través de las ultimas dos décadas en donde el status quo o status colonial de la isla se ha visto amenazada por la fuerza electoral del movimiento estadista que cada cuatrienio coge mayor auge, algunos miembros de la prensa local recurren al proceso de difamación y asesinato de reputaciones del liderato anti colonial del Partido Nuevo Progresista para frenar el movimiento estadista. Un claro ejemplo de esto fue la fabricación del famoso caso Pension Cadillac del ex Gobernador Pedro Rosselló , una pesquisa que comenzó con una publicación del periodista Oscar Serrano del rotativo Primera Hora, dicho periodista es conocido por sus posturas anti americanas y socialistas. Luego de un largo periodo de difamación y el proceso de vista preliminar en centro judicial de San Juan, se declaró No Causa a la acusación en contra de Rossello. Luego de la determinación, vimos al ex Secretario de Justicia Roberto Sanchez Ramos explotar con mucha desilusión demostrando claramente la agenda de la pasada administración en conjunto con la prensa local para destruir el movimiento estadista.

Me temo que algunos miembros de la prensa hoy continuan con su agenda de difamación pero esta vez en contra de Luis Fortuno. No debe ser sorpresa para ningún estudioso del ambiente político en Puerto Rico este hecho, ya que con la aprobación en el Comité de Recursos del proyecto de status en el Congreso y los constantes rumores de su aprobación pronto en el pleno de la Cámara de Representantes federal, la oposición separatista se encuentra desesperado ante la posibilidad de que el pueblo escoja directamente en las urnas su futuro político con los Estados Unidos de América y no mediante una asamblea constituyente donde un grupo de políticos y lideres cívicos se reúnan a puertas cerradas a decidir el status político de Puerto Rico. Si analizamos con detenimiento los pasados comicios plebiscitarias llevadas a cabo en la isla, notaremos varios datos interesantes. Desde el primer plebiscito en adelante, el Estado Libre Asociado ha reducido su apoyo dramáticamente a diferencia de la opción descolonizadora mediante la estadidad. En el pasado plebiscito llevado a cabo en el 1998, el Partido Popular tuvo que crear una quinta columna avalada por un tribunal supremo controlada por el Partido Popular en aquel entonces para agrupar votos del sector colonialista e independentista para contrarrestar la ya inminente victoria de la estadidad como señalaban todas las encuestas. Gracias a esa coalición política entre el PPD y el PIP se logro derrotar la estadidad en aquella consulta plebiscitaria. Dicho plebiscito se llevó a cabo localmente o sea, fue un plebiscito criollo por lo que no estaba avalado por el Congreso de nuestra nación. En el 2004 durante las elecciones generales, nuevamente utilizaron este mecanismo para derrotar al candidato a Gobernador del PNP, Pedro Rossello.

De lograrse aprobar el actual proyecto de status HR 2499, el proceso plebiscitario futuro será con aval congresional, lo que decidirá el status político de Puerto Rico de una vez y por todas. Ese es el miedo de los colonialistas y separatistas en Puerto Rico. Tienen miedo de que el pueblo se exprese abrumadoramente a favor de la unión como el estado 51 de la nación americana. Uno por uno, todos sus argumentos en contra de la estadidad se les han caído. El argumento y el kuko del Sales Tax era una herramienta de miedo que por décadas utilizaba el PPD para inyectarle temor al pueblo en contra de la estadidad. Hoy contamos con un sales tax de 7% y bajo una colonia. El segundo argumento era la aseveración del racismo predominante en los Estados Unidos que obstaculizaría la posibilidad de que Puerto Rico se uniera como el estado 51.
“No nos quieren,” decía el liderato Popular al pueblo para desviarlos de la formula descolonizadora estadista. Sin embargo, en las pasadas elecciones presidenciales, nuestra nación eligió el primer Presidente afroamericano con raíces y familiares que residen en Africa! En adición, la primera latina nombrada al Tribunal Supremo de nuestra nación, Sonia Sotomayor es de origen puertorriqueña! Que orgullo sentimos por este histórico acontecimiento. Lamentablemente, y para sorpresa de muchos, pero no para mí, la prensa local no cubrió el nombramiento de Sotomayor a la saciedad.
Parecía mentira ver como cadenas de noticias nacionales como CNN y Fox le daban mayor cubertura al nombramiento de esta distinguida Puertorriqueña que la misma prensa local! La razón recae nuevamente en las agendas independentistas de varios miembros de la prensa en coordinación con los sectores más radicales en Puerto Rico. La nación americana es una nación representativa de la diversidad mundialmente. Tanto es así, que no existe en ninguna ley federal, el ingles como idioma oficial de los Estados Unidos.

La influencia hispana, específicamente la puertorriqueña ha logrado trascender en la política pública de los Estados Unidos. Los hispanos hemos desplazado a la comunidad afroamericana como la primera minoría en la nación. Por eso hoy, vemos candidatos presidenciales hablando español para obtener el favor de la población hispana. No es una exageración expresar que sin el voto hispano, ningún candidato Presidencial gana unas elecciones. Esa es la realidad que ni los mismos enemigos de la descolonización pueden negar. El tercer argumento que se les ha caído es en relación a la supuesta “incompatibilidad cultural” entre Puerto Rico y el resto de la nación. Hace poco estuve en el estado de Tejas y pude apreciar la riqueza cultural de este estado que cuenta con una gran población hispana y que aun mantiene sus tradiciones vivas. Lo mismo se puede observar en Miami, Florida donde si no hablas español, difícilmente podrás ser exitoso. Lo vemos en Nueva York, que es para mi el “municipio mas grande de Puerto Rico” ya que cuenta con 1 millon de puertorriqueños. ¿Incompatibilidad cultural? Que el liderato del PPD le presente ese argumento a los sobre 4.2 millones de puertorriqueños que viven en los Estados Unidos. Si, escucharon bien, hay más puertorriqueños viviendo en los Estados Unidos continentales que en nuestra isla de Puerto Rico.

En semanas recientes, he notado una campana subliminar proyectado ante los medios en relación al olimpismo en Puerto Rico. Muchos anuncios se han transmitido a través de los medios televisivos desplegando el Comité Olimpico y los logros de nuestros atletas a nivel mundial. Me parece que el único argumento que utilizará el PPD en contra de la estadidad es la perdida de nuestro equipo olímpico al convertirnos en el estado 51. Es el único argumento que les queda para desviar el pueblo de una mejor calidad de vida y perpetuar la colonia. La realidad es que esto no necesariamente sucederá, ya que la ciudad de Hong Kong cuenta con su propio equipo olímpico a pesar de formar parte de China, que también cuenta con su propio equipo olímpico. Sin embargo, pronto veremos el liderato Popular llevando a cabo discursos sobre esto para inyectarle pasión sentimental de patriotismo para contrarrestar la estadidad.

En resumen, el sector independentista y colonialista se encuentran en estado de alarma, porque saben que todos sus argumentos se han desvanecido y hoy hacen todo lo posible para evitar la consecución de la integración de Puerto Rico como el primer estado “latino” a nuestra gran nación Americana.

Este pueblo puertorriqueño es sabio, y se da cuenta de todos los trucos y esquemas formulados a puertas cerradas por los enemigos de la descolonización. Nuestro querido Puerto Rico ha sufrido el colonialismo por mas de 500 anos, 400 bajo Espana y sobre 100 bajo los Estados Unidos. Es hora que rompamos con las cadenas del colonialismo para que podamos estirar nuestras alas y lograr el gran potencial de nuestro pueblo. Que se nos permita votar en las elecciones Presidenciales, que se nos conceda el poder político que por derecho tendríamos de 7 Congresistas y 2 Senadores que lucharán por los intereses de nuestro pueblo. Que se logre la igualdad de Puerto Rico y nuestros soldados que valientemente y con mucho orgullo han servido en cada guerra en defensa de nuestra nación y los principios democráticos que representa a pesar de no contar con derechos equitativos de voto y representación. Mi padre fue uno.

Siempre he pensado que la descolonización de nuestra isla se lograría cuando el pueblo desarrolle la madurez necesaria para reclamar sus derechos como ciudadanos americanos y exigirle a la nación Americana que se nos trate como iguales como lo hizo Martin Luther King, como lo hizo el movimiento de derechos civiles durante la década de los 60.
Ese momento histórico se acerca y con la ayuda de nuestro buen Dios se logrará.

Que Dios bendiga esta hermosa tierra y los hijos e hijas que componen la misma.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Puerto Rico Status Debate Hits Congress

Puerto Rico Debate Hits Congress
By Emily Yehle
Roll Call Staff
Oct. 19, 2009, 12 a.m.
The never-ending debate over Puerto Rico’s political status is again knocking on Congress’ door, but the island’s politicians are betting that a host of new factors will mean that this time they won’t be turned away.

Their hopes center on a bill that would sanction a plebiscite ­— or survey — on whether Puerto Ricans want to keep the island’s current status. If a majority vote for a new status, a second plebiscite would give three options: statehood, independence or “sovereignty in association with the United States.”

Similar legislation has never made it far in the past, thanks to a sharply divided electorate in Puerto Rico and the unwillingness of many lawmakers to get caught in the middle. Most of the island’s residents belong to one of two camps: those who want Puerto Rico to become a state and those who want it to be a “new commonwealth” with more political autonomy.
The plebiscite bill is the brainchild of statehood supporters, raising the suspicion of commonwealthers and thus hindering its progress through Congress in the past. But Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D) argues that this year’s version of the bill has more support than ever, with 182 sponsors, 58 of whom are Republicans. In 2007, a similar bill garnered a total of 132 sponsors.

“This time around, the difference is we’re ready. Now the only matter remaining is to take it to the floor,” Pierluisi said in a recent interview. “I am confident that it will get a very substantial majority when it gets to the floor and that it will get substantial votes from both sides of the aisle.”

The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in July with a vote of 30-8, and the committee released its report earlier this month. But whether it gets to the House floor is still uncertain; a similar bill never made it that far in the 110th Congress, despite the committee’s support.

Like last time, the bill has the support of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has kept publicly neutral on the issue. In an e-mail last week, spokesman Drew Hammill said only that Pelosi “supports the rights of the Puerto Rican people to decide for themselves the status of Puerto Rico.”

“To that end,” he said, “the Democratic leadership will continue to gather input from all the stakeholders involved as we continue to discuss this legislation.”

Those stakeholders almost certainly include Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), a native of Puerto Rico who is chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and supports a constitutional convention to hash out all of Puerto Rico’s options. In 2007, she introduced a bill outlining that proposal — which was backed by then-Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (D), a supporter of the “new commonwealth” — but she declined to offer such a bill this Congress.
Instead, she sent a letter to Pelosi decrying Pierluisi’s bill as the product of a “non-transparent” and “dismissive” process.

“This approach must not be sanctioned,” she wrote. “It would be particularly unfortunate for such a non-transparent approach to be applied to an issue that is highly controversial and so central to the lives of all Puerto Ricans.”

Velázquez has also argued that the plebiscite does not allow Puerto Ricans to determine their own future. Instead, she supports the constitutional convention, where participants would come up with a proposal, allow residents to vote on it and then send it on to Congress.
“It is important that Puerto Rico status legislation is based on consensus and true to the traditions of democracy,” she said in a statement last week. “The people of Puerto Rico deserve a transparent process for self determination, and H.R. 2499 fails to accomplish that.”
But Velázquez’s opposition might not be enough to prevent the bill’s progress this time around. Unlike last Congress, the island’s politicians are solidly behind the plebiscite. Gov. Luis Fortuño (R) backed a similar bill in 2007 when he was Resident Commissioner, and a majority of Puerto Rico’s legislators want the bill to pass.

Jeffrey Farrow, a co-chairman of former President Bill Clinton’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico, said that such a united front helps the bill’s chances “an enormous amount.”
“The fact that the previous governor was against the bill in the last two Congresses was an impediment because of deference to a governor, because he had developed ties with Members as Resident Commissioner, and because he used government resources to pay for extensive lobbying against it,” Farrow said.

This year’s bill also is slightly different from those in the past, adding an option that is meant to appease those who support a “free association” — or something like it — between Puerto Rico and the United States. The parameters of the association are decided by the two entities in the relationship; for example, the U.S. provides certain aid and social services to Palau in return for full military control, among other things. The U.S. is also in free association with Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Pierluisi’s bill is somewhat vague on what such a relationship would mean to Puerto Rico and titles it as “sovereignty in association with the United States.” It describes that sovereignty as “a political association between sovereign nations that will not be subject to the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution.”

In an interview, Pierluisi said he was trying to “avoid unfamiliar language, trying to avoid labeling, trying to be all-inclusive,” referring to some groups’ mistrust of the “free association” title.

“It’s a way of grasping the claims of all those who do not want Puerto Rico to be either a state or independent or in the current territory status,” he said.

He hopes the bill will pass the House before the end of the year, paving the way for an effort in the Senate. If the bill makes it that far, Pierluisi might need the backing of the White House to make progress — and so far, President Barack Obama has not weighed in on the issue. Velázquez has already highlighted this fact, asking in her written testimony that the Natural Resources Committee “afford the President the opportunity to act and seek the expertise of this committee as well as other stakeholders.”

But Pierluisi said he is confident the bill’s momentum in the House will jump-start its progress in the Senate. He also emphasized the nonbinding nature of the bill — the plebiscite, he said, is only a way for Congress to “check the temperature” of the island.

“This is a pretty straightforward process,” he said. “I don’t rule out that down the road, once we get a House vote on this, that I may approach the White House. I have simply so far kept them abreast of the bill and my efforts.”

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jeffrey Farrow's Remarks at San Juan Rotary Club

Remarks of Jeffrey L. Farrow
Co-Chair, the President’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico, 1994-2001,
and Staff Director, U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, 1982-94
to the Rotary Club of San Juan
October 6, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Maldonado, for the introduction. Thank you, President Sigas, John Regis, and others for the invitation. And thank you all for coming.

I have been asked to speak about the status bill in Congress. Before I do, some points about what I will say and my general perspective on the status issue.

First: What I say will not be influenced by the party in power here. I advise officials of the government, but I also advise federal officials and I think I can be most helpful to everyone -- including the public -- by giving objective, truthful information. I will also take issue with many positions of the PPD but what I say will not be said out of any bias. I have a high regard for some of its new leaders.

My basic perspective is that the status of Puerto Rico ought to be the choice of Puerto Ricans’ among all of the options. The U.S., which took Puerto Rico without the consent of the people, has an obligation to identify the options -- including the options that would provide a democratic form of government at the national government level.

Puerto Ricans have not determined what they want at least in part because of a local dispute about what the options are. In the absence of clarity from the U.S., Puerto Ricans have also made status proposals that the U.S. could or would not implement.

The only time that status choice was really made was in 1967 when there was a majority for a “Commonwealth” proposal different than the current arrangement. The U.S. rejected it. Status was not the issue in the 1950 and ’52 referenda. And referenda in 1993 and 1998 did not produce clear majorities for any proposal, although there was substantial support for “Commonwealth” proposals that the U.S. would not implement.

Actions by the U.S. Government in the early years after Puerto Rico was acquired created doubt here on whether statehood was an option. Statements by some U.S officials during the middle of the last century created doubt on whether independence was an option.

Nationhood is an option for an area that has not been incorporated into the U.S. Statehood is an option for a substantially populated, economically developed territory of U.S. citizens since 1917 who have contributed so much to the nation. Either would be granted now if sought by Puerto Ricans.

The current status cannot provide equal voting representation in the government that makes Puerto Rico’s national laws. Because of this, it cannot be considered Puerto Rico’s ultimate status even if it last a long time more.
But it is an option because: it was established by the Government of the U.S.; a new status ought to represent a genuine majority aspiration of Puerto Ricans; and the U.S. does not feel a compelling reason to end a status that it will maintain for other areas.

There are business arguments for the status quo vs. the democracy, equality, and equality arguments for the alternatives. (The cultural incompatibility arguments are mostly bogus in the country that the U.S. is becoming.) But, if Puerto Ricans are to have a status that is not fully democratic, it ought to be their informed choice, not the result of a failure of the U.S. to enable them to choose.

Last but not least, the question of Puerto Rico’s ultimate status is the fundamental issue of the islands. It raises questions about the appropriate federal economic and social policies. And it distracts attention from important economic and social problems.

A process to resolve the issue might not result in a majority choice now, or for a long time, but it ought to be established.

The bill in Congress, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act, H.R. 2499, would authorize -- but not require -- Puerto Rico to hold plebiscites at least every eight years to determine whether local voters and other citizens born in Puerto Rico want the current status and relationship with the U.S. to continue or want a different status. The intent is that the current status would continue if, and for as long as, Puerto Ricans vote for it. If at some point they vote for a different status, a plebiscite among all of the alternatives that have any support would be authorized -- independence, national sovereignty in association with the U.S., and statehood. The President and Members of Congress would be advised of results. That is all that the bill would do.

The President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status under President Bush initially proposed the process. But it actually had its origins in a proposal of the PIP that was adopted in 2005 by the Legislative Assembly with the votes of all members -- including those of the PPD.

When the Bush White House consulted me before proposing the process, I questioned whether a vote on the current status is really needed -- since all indications are that an overwhelming majority of the people want a different relationship with the U.S.: about half, statehood; a few percent, independence; about a fifth, nationhood in association with the U.S., and only about a quarter, the current status.

But the Bush White House found the tri-partisan agreement on a vote on the current status attractive. It saw threshold plebiscites on the current status as paying deference to the current status. The governor at the time defended the status in Washington and asserted that it was what the people wanted. The plebiscite would verify that. Alternatives would only be considered if there was a majority for replacing it.

There are two main PPD criticisms of the bill. One is that the process is unfair. Essentially, the argument is that all supporters of nationhood and statehood would vote for the different status option in the threshold plebiscite, it would get a majority, the current status would not be an option in the second-stage plebiscite, and a majority of the vote will be for statehood.

The argument is flawed. The 1998 referendum undermines the assertion that all supporters of nationhood and statehood would definitely vote for the different status option. In 1998, many independentistas and almost all followers of the PPD voted for none of the referendum’s options even though independence, nationhood in association with the U.S., and the status quo were on the ballot along with statehood. Under H.R. 2499, independentistas and advocates of nationhood in association with the U.S. might vote for the current status instead of an undefined different status concerned that the different status ultimately chosen might be statehood. Some statehooders also might not vote for an undefined different status, concerned about an ultimate choice of nationhood.

The related PPD argument is that the bill does not contain the option that the PPD wants. This contention is even more deficient. In addition to having the current status as an option, the bill includes a national sovereignty in association with the U.S. option. The PPD says that national sovereignty in association with the U.S. is what it really wants. (The current status is actually its fallback option.)

The PPD’s specific status proposal is actually a hybrid of aspects of territory status, nationhood, and statehood. It calls for Puerto Rico to be recognized as a nation but the U.S. to be permanently bound to it (which would mean that the U.S. would not really be a sovereign nation). Puerto Rico would have the powers to nullify the application of U.S. laws and U.S. court jurisdiction in most areas and to enter into international agreements that do not compromise U.S. security. The U.S. would be obligated to continue to grant all current programs assistance to Puerto Ricans and citizenship to persons born here. It would also be required to grant a new subsidy for the insular government, a replacement for incentives for U.S. investment in the islands, and continued free entry to products shipped from Puerto Rico (although by virtue of its international trade powers, Puerto Rico would be able to admit products that the U.S. restricts).

This proposal was found to be impossible for the U.S. for constitutional and basic policy reasons by the Justice and State Departments in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, the Congressional Research Service, the House committee of jurisdiction under Republicans and Democrats, and the bipartisan leadership of the Senate committee.

True nationhood in association with the U.S., however, is a real option, and the real option closest in nature to the PPD status proposal. It is more commonly called free association because the essential element is that either nation would be free to end the association. Determining international associations is an inherent attribute of national sovereignty. While all other terms are hypothetically subject to negotiation, in reality, the U.S. would not continue to grant citizenship based on birth in Puerto Rico and all current assistance in a nation of Puerto Rico.
The U.S. is in free association with three former territory areas in the Pacific. I am representing one, the Republic of Palau, in a required 15th anniversary review of the relationship. I delivered testimony to Congress on behalf of the Clinton Administration that free association with Puerto Rico ought to be at least as generous as that provided Palau and the other Micronesian states. But it is unrealistic to think that it would provide many benefits of a U.S. status along with most of the powers of nationhood.

In our Palau talks, U.S. representatives have rejected requests to restore eligibility for U.S. programs that applied in territory status, insisted upon decreasing aid, and want to impose passport requirements although Palauans have free access to the U.S.

There is also the PPD argument here that it has used since its founding regarding any status process that it did not initiate: Now is the time to concentrate on the islands’ economic and social problems instead.

Most of my time for Puerto Rico this year has been spent on economic and social legislation, lately mostly health insurance reform. Resident Commissioner Pierluisi, Governor Fortuno, and others, including Speaker Gonzalez, have been doing very well in efforts to obtain benefits for Puerto Ricans with the help of a few congressional leaders -- better than I would have expected without the White House acting yet on the President’s pledges to Puerto Ricans. But it is exceedingly difficult and Puerto Rico is being treated far from equally. In some cases, a minority of relatively affluent Puerto Ricans not paying tax on local income is the reason given. But in more, it is cost. Relatively needy communities in the States, however, generally receive more aid, not less.

No one involved in these efforts can fail to reach the conclusion that Puerto Rico is severely handicapped by not having votes in the Congress and in the election of the president as well as by starting out by being treated differently than almost all of the rest of the country. This is not a commercial for statehood. Instead, it is an argument for a choice of whether Puerto Rico wants some kind of empowerment, within the U.S. system through statehood or on a national basis, which would open other avenues of addressing Puerto Rico’s economic needs. Even the PPD’s proposals for economic growth -- trade autonomy, exemptions from U.S. regulatory laws -- really require a new status. But, again, the choice of what status or any new status should be Puerto Ricans’.

174 Members of the House have joined Resident Commissioner Pierluisi in sponsoring the Puerto Rico Democracy Act -- more than any previous bill on the issue and not too many less than the 218 votes needed to pass a bill. Almost two-thirds are members of the Democratic majority. The Committee on Natural Resources approved the bill 30-8 -- after defeating two amendments that represent the main strategies of opponents.

One was to require that English be the official language of a State of Puerto Rico and all of the State business be conducted in English.

In its efforts to block the bill, the PPD has continued to work with groups that advocate that English be made the official language of the U.S. (which, by the way, would also make English the official language of Puerto Rico under the current status). The amendment was defeated 24-13.

An amendment to require a two-thirds vote for a different status to authorize a plebiscite on the options for a different status and state that Congress should not act on a less than a two-thirds vote for an alternative to the current status was defeated by voice vote.

The question now is whether the bill will be brought before the full House. A bill only providing for a plebiscite between the current status and seeking one of the alternatives sponsored by Representative Serrano, then Resident Commissioner Fortuno, and 128 other Members was not brought to the Floor last Congress by Speaker Pelosi because of the opposition of a couple of Members, principally Small Business Committee Chair Velazquez. Her opposition is even more potent now as Hispanic Caucus Chair, although a majority of the Caucus has sponsored this year’s bill in contrast to last Congress’.

Also calling the bill into question this Congress is the silence of the Obama Administration, which has not appreciated the fundamental nature of the status issue and wants to avoid the controversy between its supporters in favor and opposed.

The chances of a full House vote have been boosted by the co-sponsorship, the strong Committee votes -- including the defeats of English language and supermajority amendments expected in the full House. But perhaps most helpful is the support of the Speaker’s closest advisor, former Natural Resources Committee Chairman George Miller. He had preferred that the status choice be made in a one-stage vote among all the options, but who has concluded that the bill is fair and is an advocate now.

A backdrop for the conclusion is that the positions of Puerto Rico’s major parties on the process was clear in the last election and, while there were other issues, there was a decisive result.

I get the sense that the PPD expects the bill to pass the House and its real strategy for blocking it will be in the Senate -- although it will try to bloody the bill in the House. It hopes that Senator Menendez and right-wing Republicans will succeed in the Senate where a three-fifths majority is required if there is determined opposition and where a lack of Administration support could be a greater hindrance than in the House (although an Administration position is standard procedure before House consideration).

The democratic and fair way of advancing concerns about bills is to offer amendments, alternative bills, or to vote against bills. The PPD can propose the status it wants or it can again propose recognition that Puerto Rico could have convention to choose among status proposals including the governing arrangement it wants. It could also urge votes against the bill. It and its few supporters have, instead, opted for trying to block letting the Congress and the people vote. This is a cowardly attempt to assert tyranny by a minority.

If majorities in the Congress are willing to authorize Puerto Ricans to vote, shouldn’t votes be authorized? If a majority of Puerto Ricans want one of the alternatives to the current status, shouldn’t that be determined?

There are advantages and disadvantages to the current status -- just as there are to all of the alternatives. The PPD should campaign on the advantages and disadvantages to all and let the people decide.

The bill is not the one that I would have proposed. But I can support any choice of Puerto Ricans on a real option or among real options. Choices in government -- and life -- are among the available alternatives, and decisions should be made about whether a possibility is better or worse. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

Thank you.