lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010


By: Felipe Argote

I was tempted to expect a little more time to know better the island and its people before writing this article, but then I decided to write the first impression it gave to me at the arrival to this country so full of contradictions.
I got a surprise that Puerto Rico was not what I imagined, a Caribbean city like Panama, The Havana and Santa Marta. On the contrary, I found a city like Miami just with Puerto Ricans rather than Cubans. With JC Pennys , K mart , Sears and Macys. All connected by a network of highways. To get a taxi is not enough to stand on the street and raise your hand. _You must call it on the phone. To rent a car it took a row of two hours. In the hotel of 14 channels only 3 are in Spanish even though only 3% of the population is bilingual. This population is mostly white (80%) with a few Afro-Caribbean and no Indians. Although a recent study found that Puerto Ricans have in their high level of Taino DNA, the ancient inhabitants of the island and Guanche from the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

When the Spanish first arrived on the island was inhabited by the Taino Indians . They called Boriken or Borinquen. These were a very peaceful people that gave gold and necklaces of shells to the invaders as they saw them only as decorations. This attitude of the Tainos, contrasting with the Spanish barbarians who did not have the bath as part of their customs and disloyalty, treason, and the ill were part of their tradition, as well as tell their own stories, confused this hospitality with consider repeated stupidity that the natives believed they were gods.

Diego Salcedo was one of the first developed it by contacting the peaceful Taino commanded by the chief Agüeivaná decided to enslave them by forcing them to seek more gold. Such conduct after tamely decided to rebel against their oppressors drowning him in a river. The Spanish story says they did it to see if he was a god. The real story is that however noble the Tainos were not withstand the extreme cruelty of the Spanish who paid with his live for his greed.

Eventually, the huge Spanish technological advantage, their greed, their diseases and brutality eventually submit first and then extinguish the noble race of the Taino, whose genes are, as noted, still running through the veins of the current Puerto Rican.

Perhaps because of this meekness Puerto Rico is a town that has never known freedom, and independence. While since the early nineteenth century a large number of American territories got free from Spanish oppression, was not until 1868, with the “shout of Lares” given the attempted emancipation of the island, which was quickly controlled by the Spanish colonizers. Until 1897 Puerto Rico achieves the called “Charter of Autonomy”, which gives autonomy but not independence to the island by Spain, with the bad luck that exploits a year after the U.S. war against Spain which the nascent empire wrested the past colonial territories to the Spanish crown once invincible. Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Philippines become the property of the United States. As Cuba continues its identity and achieved independence and the Philippines achieved independence but loses some of its identity, as it was forced to change its Spanish language for English, Puerto Rico remains a colony status or something very similar. Cuba gained its independence in 1902 but with a level of U.S. intervention, the Philippines continued its war for independence that started against Spain, then against the United States, where they die more than a million Filipinos, but achieved independence in 1946. Puerto Rico was formed with its commonwealth status that it still possesses.

In the referendums that have been developed on the island to comment on their status or the majority voted to remain what it has termed commonwealth or have voted to become a star in the United States flag. In fact, the independence party has only managed in the last election by 2.5 % of the votes thus lost what they call franchise like a baseball team or a fast food restaurant. A superficial analysis will show the reason for this attitude.

In Borinquén live about 4 million people, although living in the United States four million Puerto Ricans. So it's a population slightly larger than Panama's very similar to that of Costa Rica.

While in Panama and Costa Rica Gross domestic product per capita is $ 7,000 a year in Puerto Rico is $ 18,000. While in Panama there are 25.000 teachers there are 42.000 in Puerto Rico much better paid. In Puerto Rico, 9.8% of the budget goes to university education.

Borinquen total GDP is U.S. $ 90.000 million. Nearly four times bigger than in Panama or Costa Rica. 44.5% of its GDP comes from industry, 55% of the service sector and only 0.5% of the primary sector. It has a trade surplus of 3.600 billion. Although it has a 16% unemployment and inflation of 14%.

Recently, with the bailout of the economy of the U.S. president Barack Obama has been directed toward an economic boost Puerto Rico in the order of 5.000 billion dollars. This is almost a quarter of Panama's GDP, and very similar to the 7.000 million it costs us the canal expansion.

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