Richard Eyer Smith's Excellent Adventures in Paradise

Monday, June 6, 2011


I've lived in Puerto Rico off-and-on since 1988.

I absolutely love the place!

One of the favorite pastimes of locals is politics, and no topic garners more discussion than "status": whether Puerto Rico should become a state, seek independence or stay a territorial Commonwealth.

I believe that most Americans are oblivious to the situation in Puerto Rico - many don't even know where it is.

Furthermore, if you did realize how much of America's wealth is transferred here with little or no gain to the U.S., I believe you'd want to consider setting Puerto Rico on the path to freedom.

Here's a post I wrote for another blog. What do you think?


Puerto Rico is America's reluctant colony. For over 100 years the United States has granted the "Shing Star of the Caribbean" rights and privileges unique in all the world.

Now, we must ask ourselves: How's it working?

I recall a discussion I had with a Puerto Rican friend. Why, I asked, is your beautiful island plagued with so many problems? Why is your economy in tatters? Why are your lovely mountains, rivers and beaches so unkempt? Why is your crime rate so terrible? Why do the people, who clearly love this place and their fellow citizens, do so little to make it better?

My friend thought for a while, then said: We act this way because we are a subjugated, colonized people. The island we love - its mountains, rivers, beaches and even its people - all belong to someone else. America is the father of this place. We Puerto Ricans live here as America's children.

I get it.

As long as another country is seen to act as their father, Puerto Rico will fail to achieve. Like children of a wealthy and powerful family, Puerto Ricans have everything, and yet they have nothing to claim for their own.

Puerto Ricans are wealthier than any of their neighbors. They have better health care, better housing, better transportation, better educational opportunity and better access to goods and services.

But like the rich child, Puerto Ricans are held back by a lack of motivation and the ambition to succeed. Their wealth and comfort, mostly earned by previous generations, have become their trap.

Now, I believe, is the time for "tough love" for our colonized Puerto Rican friends. We need to liberate them from the dependence that weighs them down. We need to set them free.

And what about us? Does America gain by showing Puerto Rico the path to freedom?

We certainly do!

Financially and politically, Puerto Rico is an anchor on the American ship of state. We send boatloads of dollars - approaching $25 billion per year ... that’s $250 Billion in just the past decade - into a Bermuda Triangle of corruption and crime. Crooked politicians, absurd tax breaks to Big Business, Big Cartels and Big Alcohol sap American financial strength. We pay huge sums to keep this tiny island afloat in dollars, while our own economy is sinking.

If we liberate the island, we can hold our heads high in the international community as a nation that leads, not by preaching Democracy, but by practicing it. Our moral authority will no longer be undermined by our blind adherence to unjust past practice.

By setting Puerto Rico free, America becomes free.

This site can be America's place to examine the important issue of our role as "parents" to the people of Puerto Rico. It is a place for both noteamericanos and boriquas to share their ideas and make suggestions for the betterment of both. Take part in the debate!



Melissa Caban said...

My dear friend, as a PUERTORRICAN and a proud U.S. CITIZEN let me illustrated you about the REAL facts of my beautiful island of Puerto Rico. You said that given us our freedom the USA economy became more stable. Do you REALLY believe that? Here some facts that no ALL my fellow Americans know about the economy trades and arrangements between the US government and PR. 1.Did you know that ALL the puertorrican business that make more than $1 million per year it’s obligated to fill out and pay FEDERAL TAX (IRS). 2.Did you know that for many years (decades) a lot of US COMPANIES like ABBOTT LAB., UPJOHN, JOHNSON & JOHNSON and many more be without the obligation to fill out and pay local INCOME TAX for ALL the MONEY they being make in OUR beautiful island for ALL the year the company be establish in here, thank to a political law establish/impose between the US government and PR? That was the famous Law 936, law that thank God was put out and make field to a new one in the late ‘90s, the 30A that establish that ALL kind of company is obligated to PAY, but not the full per cent. That’s why, the past year our government establish a new rate to be pay by this companies. But that is not all, our government makes arrangement with the US government that the companies that pay this new per cent in contributions in our island CAN deduct them in the FEDERAL TAX DECLARATION(IRS) 3.Did you know that ALL the products that my fellows puertorrican produce here in the US FACTORIES and LOCAL COMPANIES like BACARDI, when be finish (final product) being transport to the US and came back and then we can buy them in ALL the US stores or local stores that sell them? You know why? Because for that product touch the CONTINENTAL US and bring them back, we the PUERTORRICAN pay more for that product thanks for the CABOTAGE LAW! Ah! By the way, those products don’t said MADE IN PR! 4.Did you know that the SENIOR CITIZENS in our island receive less benefits that those US SENIOR CITIZENS that live in the states, even when our senior citizens pay the same amount in per cent like those US SENIOR CITIZENS that live in the states even living in PR?
5.Did you know that more than 4,600,000 puertorrican live in the states (809,000 live only in the state of FLORIDA!) and ALL of them vote for the US PRESIDENT? More among that the AMERICANS that practice their RIGHT TO VOTE! For all the AMERICAN’S POPULATION that has age to vote in the US only a 2% PRACTICE the VOTE. And by the way, they PAY INCOME TAX in the state they live.
These are only a few of thing that AMERICAN like you don’t know about the REAL and RIGHT things about the USA and PR relationship.

Melissa Caban said...

In the point number 4, I forgot to said that the amount was paid to the SOCIAL SECURITY, because my friend we pay SS!!

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Thanks for the reply, Melissa. Yes, I am aware of the points you make. Are you proposisng that things remain as they are, or do you prefer independence or statehood? Do you see Puerto Rico as an American colony or something else?

Melissa Caban said...

About what you said about our “lack of motivation and the ambition to succeed”, let me TEACH YOU something.
*Did you know that the reason that so many puertorrican left our island is because they are well prepared in one or more professions and no found works in our land? *Did you know that in our island, professions like doctor, attorney, engineering and many more are OVER SATURATED? No for AMERICANS that came here to put their offices, is because of amount of PUERTORRICAN that graduate from the university. *Did you know that one of the best universities in the USA and the WORLD of ENGINEERING is in PR? Did you know that NASA has a very huge program with that faculty? *Did you know that a lot of HOSPITALS, COMPANIES and US GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS & DIVISIONS came to PR to offer work to US, because WE are well educated and with work experience? By the way, WE don’t said that, is the US COMPANIES that came here said! *Did you know that when our students graduate from high school they can read, write, even talk TWO languages? That’s why we travel to the CONTINENTAL US and talk you language. YOU, the AMERICANS that came here can speak ESPAƑOL? I don’t think so! *Did you know that the FIRST woman to occupy the position of GENERAL SURGURY of the UNITED STATE of AMERICA was a PUERTORRICAN? Her name: DRA. ANTONIA NOVELO DE COHELO, a woman with 30 ACADEMIC DOCTORATES! *Did you know that the US REPRESENTE DELEGATE in the INTERNATIONAL HEALTH COMMTIEE is a PUERTORRICAN? His name: DR. JOXEL GARCIA, named by the US PRESIDENT and who represent the PRESIDENT in that international organization! *Did you know the quantity of PUERTORRICAN that form part of the US MILITARY DIVISIONS? Did you know that one of the best ENGENEERING UNIT of the US ARMY is entirely form of PUERTORRICAN?
This is only a few example of the real PUERTO RICO. PLEASE, the next time you want to make a statement about PR, first READ and EDUCATED yourself about us and then create and make an OPINION. Like you said, the half of the AMERICAN doesn’t know anything about PR or any other country even their own NATION, you know why? Because the majority of the AMERICANS don’t educated themselves and think that for be AMERICANS they know everything!
Ah! And by the way, if PR costly so much to the GOVERNMENT of the US why they being our FATHER, like you said, all the PRESIDENTS and CONGRESSMANS that being past for that CHAIR in more than 100 years NO ONE let us FREE? Maybe PR give to the US ECONOMY more than the quantity the GOVERNMENT gave us, DO YOU THINK?
One more thing, is not "noteamericanos" like you write, is "NORTEAMERICANOS" and is not "boriquas" like you write, the right way is "BORICUAS"!

Melissa Caban said...

Answering your question, the only things that put us in the COLONY category are that we don't vote to elect the president, we don't receive the amount of benefits that the states have and the majority of us don't pay federal taxes, for only name some.
Out of that, PR can't economy support by them self because of our history. Remember, we firts be part of Spain and them to the US. The innestability that came with an independence took the confidence that any for foreign company can have in our land and our economy in that stage and our force of work only know to work in the manufacturing, why? Because the major population in PR learn to develope that part of our economy from the States.
My opinion we most became part of the states.

Anonymous said...

No offense melissa, you see I understand your frustration how sometimes us "norteamericanos" or whatever you want to call us can get on your nerves by putting your "island of enchantment" down, but lets be honest.........your island is a weight on my country. I understand you have smart individuals that come out of universities there and go on to do great things, but they rank in around the tippy top 5% of your country. The other 95%, frankly, are pretty lazy. You see I spent a long time down there working for the government and witnessed it firsthand. First off you say our "beautiful island", and yes your island is beautiful, but it is also very dirty. I have witnessed on more occasions than not your "people" dumping their trash in the roads, on the beaches, and throughout your country. It is disguisting and pathetic. What about your lack of respect for animals like dogs and cats. In san juan it is common to see a dead dog lay in the streets and rot for months at a time!!! You call this beauty? I call this trash.......because we dont see these things in the united states. You say that the engineering program here is the best throughout the united states????? Forgive me for laughing but your universities dont stand a chance against universities in the united states. When I got there and when I left the UPR kids were dressed like terrorist throwing rocks and bottles at police officers. Beating teachers, and education faculty at the university for what.......a 500-1000 increase in tuition. The school is dirt cheap already!

Anonymous said...

Not to mention if these kids were serious about getting out of schools and focusing on their education they would protest the increase, and continue their education, not put it on hold and terrorize the school. The only intelligent individuals down here are the wealthy where their kids can go to private school, because the public school system might as well be on par with the dominicans. Why dont we move on to the service down here in puerto is not uncommon to go into a restaurant and be greeted by a waiter who will take your order, then hop on their cellphone for 20 minutes while you wait for your drink. As for us coming down here to speak spanish, why dont you make up your mind!!!! at the end of the post you said you wanted to be a part of the united states. LOL LOL HOW!!!!!?????? how can you become a part of the united states when no one in this country wants or has the desire to learn english. The majority of the people down here would rather live off the united states hand me outs than actually put the time in to prepare themselves for a transition to statehood. You take 35 billion dollars a year from my country every year. Yet everyone is ok with staying a colony. Why? why should you get the best of both worlds while my country struggles. Unfortunately we used your country to serveillance cuba, and it turned out to be a ball and chain situation because now we are stuck with you. Im sorry to be so harsh, but your people are pretty harsh when telling us they dont want to be a part of the united states. The BORICUAS that went to the states went for a reason........for a better opportunity. I have many puerto rican friends in the US and they will tell you the SAME EXACT THING I AM are all lazy on this island and it weighs down the US economy. They say they only come to visit and that is it, they want out. Why is it so hard to choose whether you want statehood or independence? Eventually you will have to choose because the GRAVY TRAIN is going to run out. Why should your senior citizens get as much money as the seniors in the States when you dont pay federal taxes? We built your economy and you still spit in our face, well guess what, we are getting sick of it. Without us you would have been another dominican republic. Sorry to vent, but Im sick of country's taking from the US and still treating us like crap. Say Thank you for what we have done and continue to do for your country.............thank you is a word RARELY spoken on the puerto rican island.

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Thanks for the comments, Anon. Yep, there certainly two sides to this discussion!

Heriberto said...

I guess that there are some things that are not taken in consideration here. Yes it is true that the U.S gives us Puerto Ricans millions of dollars every year. But lets asks ourselves a question: where are being sold the products that are produced in the U.S. could not be sold in your country (because they are considered by the average citizen as lower quality)?. You see, a great part of the money that the U.S. gives us is for what you call "food stamps". And what the Puerto Ricans (that take benefit from that program) buys? Most of that food is the lower quality food you sell because it is (I wont say cheap because it is in par with any state's average quality food in terms of price)less expensive than better quality one. Why does that happens? Well, the problem is that when you have this "Cabotage" laws we need to export to the U.S. and buy only from the U.S. (kind of like monopoly in my perception). So we export to your country the best and we receive the not-as-good products. In the end let's say we receive 30 millions a year for food support (just an example), then we spend the 30 millions on the products we are obligated to buy. I'm an educated hard working man that lives off my paycheck, and I guess that about 40% of the people here in P.R. (yes I concede the point that many Puerto Ricans are lazy, it's a shame but it is true) and we spend our money in the same products that are imported from the U.S. So let's say we spend 50% of our paycheck in food. Man you got to admit that there is a benefit for the U.S. Now you understand why the U.S. is not interested in resolving our "status" (and I hope I'm completely wrong in this part) problem because those lower-quality products would not be sold in your country and a huge part of your federal money will stop circulating hurting even more the recession. Do you know how many times we tried to resolve our political "status" through an amendment of the constitution. But why should we do that if we cannot do anything without the approval of the U.S. For the other person that commented, I guess that you didn't see all of my country to say it is dirty. Yes it is in some places but things are changing very fast and it is not so common to see garbage around. It felt kind of offensive when you need to watch your step in many areas of N.Y. so you don't step on some garbage. Even that way I cannot say that your country is dirty because of my lack of experience visiting every of your beautiful states. I guess that it is all I had to comment this time. I hope I have proven myself useful for the debate. Thanks for the opportunity.

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Let me address the "lazy" issue. Until the relatively recent industrialization, Puerto Rico was a tranquil, laid-back tropical paradise. Most people's needs were met by picking enough fruit for the day and raising a few chickens. For serious work, slaves were imported. For many, life was delightfully simple. That's why people love living on tropical islands, after all.

With that heritage, Puerto Ricans still value their laid-back outlook where family and fun trump hard labor and money.

Oversimplification? Sure, but if you can chose between a hammock or a hammer, which would you pick? I call that smart, not lazy!

Anonymous said...

need I say more

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Yes, Anon, this flag burning is outrageous, but if you really want to get angry, look at this video:

Shocking! Absolutly shocking!

Daniel Perez said...


The flag burners are INDEPENDISTAS (Pro-Independence) and they make up about 5% of the population. That video is surely not representative of Puerto Rican attitudes towards America. Also, do not argue with "Melissa Caban" because she has absolutely no idea what she's talking about and she's a bit lacking in her facts.

However, I must disagree with you on the issue of laziness. Like the blogger pointed out, Puerto Ricans live on a tropical island and live a rather simple and less hectic life. To an always-busy, work is everything, go-go-go, make money at all costs, no time for family and vacation American, it would probably seem like they're lazy. I live in the greater NYC region however, and I will say that the Puerto Ricans on the mainland are an extremely lazy bunch. As an educated Puerto Rican who went to college, I'm ashamed to see how the generations since the first arrivals have veered off into lives of drugs, gangs, and living off welfare despite having the ability to work.

It only gets worse with each generation. My neighbor is a 32 yr old Rican mom of 9. That's NINE kids. She won't allow any of her teen-aged sons or daughters get a job because they would lose their SSI checks. So what do they do? The boys instead are engaged in gang life and sell narcotics of course! Some of the girls live amongst the gang and perform tasks for them and two of the other girls prey on the elderly and make them their sugar daddies to drain their bank accounts. And so they live a lavish lifestyle courtesy of tax payers like myself. When I point this out to them they look puzzled and still believe they are committing a victimless crime.

What also makes me angry is that these people and a lot more like blast their ridiculous reggaeton music and with their street ghetto lifestyle claim to embody what Puerto Rican culture is. At the same time, they hardly speak Spanish, or even proper English for that matter. Their vocabulary consists almost entirely of Ebonics with profanity used as a filling in every sentence. The Spanish they speak is brought from the "Caserios" (public housing)of PR and
it is simply embarrassing. Then they have the audacity to call me "FINO" (elitist) when I speak the proper Spanish spoken and taught to me in Puerto Rican schools which more closely resembles the Castellano in Spain.

I don't like to judge but I wish these thing were not true. I'm the eldest of five and my dad would always tell us over dinner, "DO NOT BECOME A STEREOTYPICAL PUERTO RICAN. It will not help our cause and people will not take us seriously." I'm glad to say that each and every single one of us graduated college. Among us there are 3 engineers; two civil, one biomedical; a software architect, and although I'm the oldest, I have the lowest paying job as a CPA lol.

I weep for my fellow Puerto Ricans who have gone astray and are further alienating themselves from true Puerto Rican culture. That of honor, respect, and humility.

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Daniel, thanks for the comment. Your last paragraph is the best I've seen on this subject!

Anonymous said...

Well, there are a LOT of gays in And daniel, each culture has their bad apples and its good you focused and overcame being stereotypical. Personally I met a LOT of puerto ricans just like you when I lived there. However, sometimes those that preached puerto rican pride upset me. It is absolutely ok to be proud of where you came from, your heritage, and your people. My family immigrated from Italy many years ago, and I am proud to be italian. I am also proud to be an American, which has brought me many freedoms and opportunities throughout my life. All I want to hear is the same, because puerto ricans fight for our country and put their lives on the line. You should be proud not only to be puerto rican, but also proud to be a part of the united states. You have to admit, not having to pay federal taxes is pretty nice.

Anonymous said...

heres a thought. the united states government gives puerto rico 35 billion dollars a year, and this number is going up. Given our recent crisis financially lets do the math. If we give puerto rico their independence, because lets face cant have your cake and eat it to for the next 50 years, at some point your going to have to stop sucking on the tit and "grow up" , then in the next ten years we would save upwards of half a trillion dollars. (this done with math considering the number is said to double within the next 20 years) Now THAT is a lot of money.

Heriberto said...


In my last post I addressed the problem of the money that the U.S. gives to Puerto Rico. It is not given because of charity. It is used to move a part of the economy that would otherwise be stopped. That said, I'm against receiving aids from U.S. government. It would be a lot better to make people work. Sadly it will not happen.

"La Vida de Perro" said...

Thanks for the comments. With the financial situation in the U.S. deteriorating, I believe this is a good time to discuss resolving Puerto Rico's political status. Whatever is decided, it needs to be fair to both Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Anonymous said...

its time puerto rico becomes independent. i live for the federal government. I see what puerto rico is, it is a spanish community. it has no business being a state, sadly i will say this as I do like it here. after 100 years of being part of the united states, (i think), not many put the effort in to adapt to the american ways. .........which is ok. But that being said, its time to stand up, work for yourselves and create your own identity. This will probably mean you might start to look like the dominican republic with its great bridge separating the wealthy and poor, but its time to let go and stop hanging on. Sorry if I offended anyone.