LA CHULETA CONGELÁ’: Chuleta: (Spanish) Noun (f): Pork Chop. Congela’: (Spanish) Caribbean Spanish dialect (trade route) vernacular; derived from the Spanish congelado(a): Frozen. A blog about Puerto Rico’s walk to self-determination, created to shine light on the trials and tribulations Puerto Ricans have suffered in their quest for democracy and sovereign government for the duration of their 112-year relationship with the United States.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, people grow accustomed to putting a positive spin on their financial misery based on the abundance of “meat” in the freezer; with quantity as the measure of prosperity. The hopeful sight of a freezer full of frozen pork chops promises much–including heightened expectations–but similarly delivers ostensibly undesired realizations; and at worst, resignation. A freezer full of frozen pork chops symbolizes potential and possibilities; potential and possibilities stymied by virtue of their frozen state. As such, the blog’s title is emblematic of the conditionin which Puerto Ricans find themselves; frustratingly unable to avail of the unalienable rights promised them as natural born citizens by the United States Constitution; unrealized democratic promise and prosperity frozen by the reality of the island’s political status as a territory of the United States; unable to enjoy a truly full meal, the full serving available to them, due to their persistent, continued existence under the banal yolk of the territorial clause of Article IV of the U.S. Constitution.
Similarly, it is also perhaps reflective of some Puerto Ricans’ insistence that there are other status alternatives yet to be concocted; regardless of what is permissible under the U.S. Constitution (other than statehood, independence and territorial status). In this way, if they can fill their “political freezer” with as many “status pork chops” as they can, they will never have to face the awesome and responsible (while dreaded) decision of having to choose something that is, by its very nature, permanent. In the absence of conclusive results–indeed action–a default to a continuance of subjugated territorial status is politically convenient for those Puerto Ricans who oppose Puerto Rican equality within the union.
The title is also intended to be metaphorically illustrative of Puerto Rico’s unique history and political status. In a world where bodies politic seek to maximize aggregate opportunity across their populations, while Puerto Rico enjoys a higher standard of living than most of the countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, it barely matches half of the poorest American state’s per capita income. Home to the Western Hemisphere’s longest-serving executive mansion, Puerto Rico could truly be a power broker in Latin America on behalf of the American Union, but, and despite fanciful protests to this effect over a period of decades, instead it is relegated to the basement of national political affairs, nevermind regional. For over half a century, mainland American corporations have been gifted multi-billion dollar tax incentives to establish residency in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico with the erstwhile aim of revitalizing the island’s economy, but the achieved growth peaked in the 1960s and was stagnant by the 1980′s, but the special tax incentives continue to this day. Indeed, these mainland multinationals with operations in Puerto Rico and the preferential tax treatment accorded them by the mainland U.S.A. Internal Revenue Service are viewed by many observers as a key obstacle to overcoming the Puerto Rico democracy deficit and an indispensable piece in understanding the unresolved political status puzzle.
It is well documented that overall 97 percent of Puerto Ricans in the territory condition any permanent status on their ability to retain American citizenship in perpetuity. Nevertheless, roughly half of those same persons persistently hold to the belief that some better, yet-to-be-determined and -defined permanent status option can be attained. Put differently, a status option that is neither independence nor statehood, and that would be acceptable and viable regardless of the text of the United States Constitution, six decades of legal precedent, congressional debates and discussions, and the accumulated body of law as presented by the Departments of Justice and State in various forms, the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office, a Presidential Task Force on the matter and under three different Presidents, and a myriad of research papers from around the world. Puerto Ricans’ daily lives necessarily exist and are molded through and under the rules of status politics as opposed to ideological politics. Although, those who seek to sustain the territorial, a priori subjugated status quo are wont to describing territorialism as an ideology, an examination of the facts and realities renders such as mere polemics. Ironically, the Puerto Rican search for, and arrival at equality–whether sovereign within the union and community of the states, or outside as an independent country in the international community–would necessarily deliver Puerto Ricans into the world of ideological politics, itself the purview of sovereign states. Puerto Rican voters have one of the world’s highest voter participation rates, but one of the lowest rates of worker participation in the world.
This blog will provide commentary on, and illustrations of, the day-to-day decisions made byPuerto Rico’s leaders on all sides and how those decisions affect the lives of over four million American citizens on the island colony. Moreover, it will provide commentary and analysis on how those decisions and machinations contribute to or deduct from daily progress toward citizenship equality.