SOBRE EL AUTOR
Dear Mr. President,
A dear friend and collaborator of mine asked me to write a few words on the occasion of your five-hour visit to Puerto Rico. As you might’ve heard from your advisors, or from the headlines of your visit, it’s been a bit over fifty years since the last time Air Force One landed on this godforsaken U.S. Territory. A couple of decades back, another very famous plane hailing from the mainland landed on our Island. It was the Spirit Of Saint Louis, the very same plane that hangs from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum over at the National Mall, piloted by none other than Charles Lindbergh himself, back in 1927. A well-known Puerto Rican dessert was created to commemorate Lindbergh’s visit, and it came to be known as a limber, which is simply any frozen liquid enjoyed as any popsicle would.
Why do I bring this up for such and important event? Well, you see, here in Puerto Rico we have this recently-made-up saying, based on an infamous quote from an ex-employee of the Government Development Bank For Puerto Rico. Ironically, it goes: “Such is life”, in English. It was uttered by the former director of the Portal del Futuro, an entity in charge of re-developing the 2,900 acres of land of the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, in the eastern tip of the Island. It was pronounced during a public presentation of this administration’s plans for the area, which included a “world-class casino” and facilities for docking the mega-yachts of the mega-wealthy. It was followed by the soon to be fired bastard telling members of the poverty-stricken community that they should resign to watching rich people coming to and fro their yachts, “while having a limber”, as "anyone having fifty cents could afford one". I thought you might be interested in this piece of Puerto Rican slang, as you will be speaking about “economic development” for our people, and because you were a community organizer back in the day.
You may think I am very excited about having you coming over to visit, but at the moment it would be rather inappropriate for me to say such a thing. I was one of the millions of people who celebrated when you won the United States presidential election of 2008. In fact, I was frantically happy enough to drink so much as to pass out on the floor of my living room, after drunk calling friends and family over the phone, as I was living in Mexico at the time. It would be useless to repeat to you, as many others already have, where all that hope has fled to since.
Your peace plan for the middle east was surprising, even inspiring. But, I guess it will be mired in same swamp of the bipartisan politics you were so naive about from the onset of your term. Even so, the thought of you coming through on your campaign promise to solve—once and for all—Puerto Rico’s political status next time you set foot on our old colony, rekindled, if only for a brief moment, a weak flame of hope over the ashes left in me by the bonfire of your election victory. I am hopelessly left to think that such a historic announcement would face the same faith as your health care plan did when you “reached across the aisle” to Republicans in Congress.
In fact, I find the reasons of your visit a bit distasteful, even insulting in the face of the hardships faced by Puerto Ricans and Americans these days. The fact that you will be shaking hands with a labor-bashing-Koch brothers-protégé and Republican Latino poster-child Luis Fortuno, to later sit down in a thirty-thousand-dollar-per-dish fundraiser speaks more of politics as usual than of any ray of hope that your visit might have brought over our dying star of the Caribbean. I have to break it to you: there are people who love this land, who care enough about it to cultivate its soils and to care for its cities, and there are those who, from time immemorial have simply used our islands as a mere transportation hub, as a cheap motel room, a slave plantation in which to sow federal funds to cultivate ripe profits through a myriad of foreign corporations praying on tax exemptions and countless fraud schemes that coerce every honest Puerto Rican, from the faithful churchgoer to our jobless youth.
Even so, I would love to have a chance to meet you in person, as so many other “creative types” have been able to on your White House parties. But it would take a little more than what two average Puerto Ricans makes over a year to attend your dinner over here. So, regretfully enough, I assume my faith and resign to hearing about you from affar, if I do, as it’s become quite unhealthy to listen to the news nowadays. But, rest assured, that I will do so while enjoying one of our limbers. It will not be just any limber, but an Obama-flavored-limber, one that will thoroughly remind me and anyone who tastes it, just how alone and hopeless the situation is for Puerto Ricans in the island.
Rest assured Mr. President, that, if I finally decide to move to the states while licking my Obama-flavored-limber, I will treat your candidacy accordingly, as just another money-mongering candidate offering hope only to those who can pay for a thirty thousand dollar plate to enjoy your fine company.
Thanks for taking interest in our mainland voters, and as always, hoping to be wrong about my feelings,
unemployed young professional,
P.S. Please send my kindest regards to Michelle, Malia and Sasha, they would have a ball hanging around with our most talented and brightest second-class-American school children. They could show them our natural treasures, just before they get exploited out of existence. Too bad that neither will be around for long.
*Esta columna fue publicada por vez primera en el portal www.conboca.org. El autor es arquitecto.