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By on July 18, 2019

[Annotation] The Stolen Homeland

When I think of my home country Germany, it makes me feel really good. Even or maybe because I have left it almost 14 years ago when I chose Puerto Rico as my homeland of choice. The “fatherland” is much more than a geographic location to me. It is the views of lakes, forests and mountains of my youth, the sausages and beers that have no equal anywhere in the world, the smells of Sauerkraut or fresh bread just around the corner or sitting in a Beer Garden under majestic trees; “patria” is memories, songs and friends, the attitude of helping each other and always being willing to work and produce the best result; but also graves of grandfathers who had both been Prisoners of War and grandmothers, who raised children on their own under extremely difficult circumstances after the second world war that left the country in ruins. It is the history of a country that has overcome total destruction in a war and risen to the top of the world’s economies, a country and persons that I owe an education, attitudes and growing up safely to achieve personal success beyond belief. But most importantly, my native country became only then so important to me, once I had moved away and been living in Puerto Rico already for many years. It became only so important, once it was gone.

I wonder what will be the memories of my kids, both “BoricuAlemans,” when they look back on Puerto Rico’s history two decades from now?

And I wonder if the island’s residents feel deep inside that this last straw broke the camel’s neck and has forever taken their native Puerto Rico from them. Something that not even the decades old complaints about the disadvantages of the (basically) two party system, billions and billions of dollars in debt or a fiscal control board have managed. The recent high profile alleged corruption case with the Telegram-Gate have struck the accord of great loss in many a Puerto Rican soul. So much so that it lit an emotional firework that is far from over. 

In 2017, President Barack Obama participated in an event in Brazil and was asked, which advice he would give a country immersed in an unprecedented political and economic crisis and he responded:  “In many countries, people say they hate politicians and government, but the politicians and government are reflections of ourselves. If a society is healthy, politics will also be. If a society is sick, politics will be.”

I still have trouble to believe the disgusting tone in and conclusions I am forced to draw from the Telegram Chat. It troubles me even more because through my work I have gotten to know some of the participants and simply cannot believe that those persons, professionals, could have been involved in the kind of bullying on display or any corrupt dealings. No matter whom I talk to, that sentiment is similar. And maybe exactly that is why we can all together regain and heal this place: because we all agree that those old ways of backroom dealings, bullying by perceived elites and more, for which the chat is just but a symbol, are the root of all evil!

We are experiencing an extraordinary moment of Puerto Rico’s history. One of those make it or break it moments, where the real question is above all where do we go from here!?

Albert Einstein defined insanity once as continuing to do the same things and expecting different results. To have different results, we need to do things in different ways. Those old ways need to stop and we all need to start doing things differently; do the right things and do them right. Not tomorrow, not by announcing them, but simply by doing them, NOW. It starts with the Governor taking the only reasonable consequence and resign as painful as it may be. It continues with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to start cooperating beyond party lines or personal interests. And then it must not stop: we must come together as one people, work hand in hand, think outside of all boxes, in order to rise from these ashes and build the future we want for Puerto Rico. 

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