We Are Missing the Bus…
BY MANUEL CIDRE
My fellow Puerto Ricans, through the years I have had the privilege of serving Puerto Rico on different platforms and functions. My multi-sectorial experience has shown me our country on its various dimensions. Thanks to this exposure, I have developed a passion that propels me to transform Puerto Rico. That same passion has brought me today here to talk to you about the country that we all deserve.
Puerto Rico certainly is not the country it used to be. Sixty years ago, other nations saw us as an example to follow. Our then new Constitution was praised for its originality, our economy was buoyant, and our statesmen were exalted internationally. There was bread on our tables, the country was moving forward and its people were jubilant, gleaning the possibilities of the future with amazement. However, today, the story is different.
Sixty years is the age of the only long-term project that Puerto Rico has had. With its pros and cons and beyond its merits and faults, that plan helped us industrialize our island, lifting it from the muck of poverty and thrusting it into modernity. Without a doubt, that plan was useful for some time, but by the twists and turns of life, the plan was never updated or even taken with the seriousness and commitment it deserved. Years became decades, and in an attempt to remedy our profound national malaise, our political leaders were never able to give us more than a few patches here and there and incur in debt to repair a boat that already had no compass and no captain. This lack of vision, this lack of commitment and cohesion by those who came before us has put us today in a very difficult situation.
Time is running out, the point of no return is here. Time is a luxury that we don’t have anymore. You don’t have to be an expert to know that our country is in crisis. Our residents are demoralized by the situation, helpless before the adversities that lie ahead. For many, the airport seems to be the only way to escape. For others, the cynicism and anger is their customary refuge. I, for one, don’t want to wake up in fifteen years from now to see the specter of the country that I love so much. I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up in an insolvent country. A country without a north. I don’t want to see a country where police don’t get paid properly while they risk their lives day and night on the streets. I don’t want to see a country where education is handled as a common business and not as a priority of the state and its people. I don’t want to see a country where health is a luxury for some and not a lifestyle for all. I don’t want to see a country where its economy is a mere echo of the roar of the 1950s and 1960s; a mere shadow of what we can all be together as a united people.
We have to do something immediately.
The time has come to take action; no more hesitation, no more quarreling. The time has come to roll up our sleeves and take action; to stop waiting for others to tell us what to do. It is time to restore the island that we all love and deserve. The bipartisan political system, which has existed in our island for more than half a century, has failed us. We cannot expect better results if we continue to make the same mistakes. The clearest lesson in Puerto Rican bipartisanship is that it does not work. The time has come to turn the page and say goodbye to that which is not useful. Divided we are destined to fail, but united we can give a good fight. I know that what I say is true and have faith that I can do something about it.
There are many who do not believe in my candidacy. There will be skepticism; I know that. After all, every four years it is the same story. Candidates make promises and travel the island in noisy caravans, but after the elections, it’s another story. No matter what party wins, once the honeymoon is over, things go back to the same cronyism, hidden agendas and wanton pillage of what is left of our island.
Ladies and gentlemen, this has to end.
We have to uproot the disappointment and negativity that have distorted the democratic process on the island. For the first time in decades, we have the real chance of making history with our vote. We only need to have the courage to make history and say once and for all, enough already! No more mediocrity, no more impunity!
Our country needs a government that makes decisions for the long term; a government that possesses a real meritocratic model, free of any kind of favoritism. Puerto Rico needs unity to move forward because there is where our strength rests. Puerto Rico needs direction, and I am completely convinced that together we can choose a common north. That is why this campaign cannot be about me or any candidate in particular. This campaign should be about the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican voices who demand a resounding and unpostponable change, who want a new national project for Puerto Rico, and who want to, once and for all, have the reins of the government to be in the hands of true leaders, not in the hands of incapable hacks.
A collectivity that cannot be united is doomed to disorder and chaos. But a united citizenry will be capable to overcome any infamy. Our dilemma with the political system is that it becomes a heavy cross that we bear as a people, weighted down by vendettas and useless quarrels, dividing generations and even families. Inclusion is not possible under this system. The status is an “issue” and the tyranny of the division that causes this issue is not compatible with enthusiastic and truthful country project. The issue of the political status must be resolved and it can only be resolved through democratic action. Respect and obedience for the decisions of the majority, with respect and sensibility for the needs of the minority is the direction we should follow always. More importantly, the execution of those decisions is the principal obligation of anybody who pretends to lead Puerto Rico. There is no other way and I’m ready and able to carry that mandate. The time has come to take that big step, time to define us collectively. Loyalty to the party cannot come before loyalty to the country. The human being must be the center of any development and our voice should always be respected and heeded. Only the will we achieve true inclusion real development.
A different country is possible. A different country is our obligation. This Puerto Rican entrepreneur wants to let you know that there is power in words, but there is even more power in actions. This independent candidate for governor wants to tell you that there is strength in character and conviction well beyond colors, well beyond left or right and well beyond the countryside or the city. There is an immense power in being united, proactive and strong-willed. There will never be anything as powerful as a Puerto Rico that demands discipline, equality and justice.
I invite to seize this opportunity and lift yourselves as a new and united Puerto Rico.