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Amid Puerto Rico’s fragile economy’s mass exodus of a guesstimated 1/2 million+ inhabitants (since bankruptcy, hurricane and earthquake catastrophes), the projected 20% total population displacement (over the next 5 years), the burgeoning Puerto Rican Diaspora (nearing 6 million expatriates and their descendants in the 50 States), economists predict Puerto Rico will morph into one big “ghetto for seniors” within a matter of decades.

Signaling, the 1 in 4 seniors presently subsisting in a retrograde paradise for retirement living (yours truly included) are caught in the throes of island Gentrification. Not to mention the negligible population birth rate at 1.2% and on the decline since 2021.

That said—

My foray into the veiled dimensions of the Spanish News/Talk AM radio wars, the well-versed bilingual on-air personalities driving the battle for ratings between NotiUno and WKAQ, and the short shrift being given to the “Nationhood” perspective starts innocent enough. (This occurred soon after riding out the Cat 5 storm in the local emergency shelter, while documenting our post-Maria survival—Trump horror—story: “Dreaming of the Despicable One: The Shock Doctrine Exposed” 07/25/2018.) [Latino Rebels]

I’m now retired, an extravagance on a fixed income, my Direct TV satellite access to mainland USA and local Spanish TV news stations lapses, the portable radio on my desk gets my undivided attention, and NotiUno News/Talk becomes my #1 source for up-to-the-minute news coverage and political analysis post-Maria. The fateful eventuality brings back memories of my San Francisco KCBS News/Talk Radio days, amid the 1980s FCC Federal Communications Commission right-wing backlash to 'minority’ equal access to the broadcast airwaves.

What I have found particularly disturbing in Puerto Rico, is how local broadcast stations manage (or not) FCC relaxed equal time rules in our extremely politically-charged climate. Where truth be told, every point-counterpoint debate, guest interview, and promotional sound bite, during an election campaign year, constitutes a “free-plug” for their partisan favorites, by stations "exempted from political access requirements.” That is, FCC programming loopholes that inherently deny access to the gubernatorial campaign platform of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, “The People’s Candidate 2020.”

Apart from the affable news anchor Normando Valentín who took the time to dispel the many myths associated with the “Yulín” mystique in his provocative WAPA TV exclusive interview Ahi Está La Verdad There’s the Truth. (To say the woman of substance is grace under fire is an understatement; the honorable Carmen Yulín Cruz is an “open book.”)

And where, within the ambit of journalism canon, “the pursuit of truth, justice and fairness” is arbitrary, at best; and missing, at worst. News coverage of the “People’s Candidate 2020” that, at times, even borders on yellow journalism for the sake of besting their competition. For example, jump on the bandwagon attacking the San Juan Mayor’s controversial community undertakings, and associations with such “Diehard Patriots” as the ex-political prisoner Oscar López Rivera (the victim of a miscarriage of ‘Empire’ justice)—just because.

A “citizen watchdog” of the “career news media watchdogs” you might say I don’t have much of a retired life: documenting, fact-checking, researching, compiling newspaper clippings, bouncing from medium to medium in this hyper-vigilant cybernetic news world—here and there. But there’s a method to my madness: the Dissident Writer’s Guiding Principles my observations are premised on.

Rule #1: Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the wavering (or some say “bipolar”) court of public opinion.

Take for instance, the dysfunctional love-hate relationship with La Junta/PROMESA Fiscal Oversight and Management Board (FOMB). Our 7 colonial overlords are referred to (interchangeably) as “La Junta de ‘Control’ Fiscal or “La Junta de ‘Supervisión’ Fiscal.”

THERE: Justice-seekers can be counted on to call a spade a spade. The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) passed by the U.S. Congress (in 2016) amounts to an aggressive “colonial takeover” by Wall Street predators as asserts Juan González. [Democracy Now]. Colonial overseers who PROMISE to bleed islanders dry as cruel and unjust punishment for the past sins of our “inept and undisciplined administrations.”

So far, islanders are expected to tolerate never-ending tax hikes, utility rate hikes, state university tuition hikes and campus closures, an unconscionable number of public-school shutdowns, pension plan cuts and/or elimination, union-busting, and the privatization of everything under the sun. Time magazine best describes the colonial injustices:

Since 2012, real estate developers, crypto currency tycoons and now big-name influencers have relocated to the island to bask in the Caribbean sun and unparalleled tax exemptions. The incentives, which apply mostly to non-Puerto Ricans, have brought much-needed revenue to the island’s battered economy, but have also deepened inequity on the island, driving up housing prices, pushing people out of their own neighborhoods, and making Puerto Ricans, including those who’ve left and want to go back, feel like outsiders in their own home. [Time]

As usual, the U.S. ignores their own complicity in Puerto Rico's dismal state of affairs, the Masters of our fate for over a century since the U.S. military occupation July 25, 1898. The obstructionist governance throughout 120 years+ of colonial rule is recapped by scholar/journalist Ed Morales in this nifty Cartoon History, originally published in the Village Voice.

HERE: In poll after poll, notwithstanding the draconian austerity measures dictated by the PROMESA board's “Master Fiscal Plan,” many myopic islanders welcome La Junta de Supervisión’ Fiscal as though this “Parallel Government of Bankruptcy Lawyers and Consultants”—fleecing the island's bankrupt coffers to the tune of $60 million per year in executive and lawyering fees—were the heaven-sent solution to decades of fiscal mismanagement and freewheeling corruption. [CPI] Implying that Puerto Ricans have been (and will always be) incapable stewards of some $20 billion in annual 'commonwealth' transfers without the Empire's supervision.

A subjugated colonial mentality (fatalistic attitude) that belies Puerto Rico's prodigious “Brain Trust” whose potential contributions are perpetually hamstrung by the political machinery and the pendulum swing partisan politics; amid economic policies failing to jumpstart the economy, which are focused more on the same ol’ same ol’ of attracting and awarding incentives to “foreign capital” investors. [Caribbean Business].

Rather than investing in our own talented and underdeveloped “human capital”—one of the cornerstones of Carmen Yulin’s transformational people-oriented, economic growth strategies.

Consider the United Nations Human Development Index Report published by our Boricua Intelligentsia (2016). [Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics] Which examines the extent to which many islanders, having gained access to education, health, and employment mobility, successfully capitalized on the U.S. third world federal aid, such that

  • Our U.N. Human Development Index at [.851] ranked #1 in all Latin America.
  • Puerto Rico had one of the strongest human development indexes in the world and ranked #30 out of 187 world countries.
  • And yet, when measured against income inequality, our ranking not only dropped to #65, below that of Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica. As of late, Puerto Rico has graduated to one of the top four countries in the world with the worst income inequality according to the Harvard Review of Latin America [ReVista]
  • Further,

21% of Puerto Rico's working-class operates at a poverty level three times the U.S.

One need only look at the following case scenario for the world’s noblest profession.

An experienced high school Spanish teacher, with a master’s degree in Communications, a doctorate in Caribbean Literature in progress, whose $2,300 gross monthly salary, minus taxes, and the $380 mandatory government health plan deduction, places the divorced single mother of three below the U.S. federal income poverty line (qualifying for the most dubious of “job perks”: Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 subsidized public housing.) The El Nuevo Día op-ed by journalist/columnist Benjamín Torres Gotay, points the finger at the PR Department of Education’s misappropriation of a $2.6 billion annual budget.

I would argue, the onus also rests on the U.S. Department of Education (the grantor) for failing to correct this unbelievable disparity in teacher salaries during funding renewal time. Is it any wonder then? That thousands of our dedicated and trained teachers are leaving in droves in search of greener ($$$) pastures in the States.

Rule #2: Pay special attention to the provincial media’s fairness (or bias) in reporting, the expert analyses of their political pundits, how they spin it—and what not.

NotiUno 630 La estación oficial de los “Baby Boomers”

Our disaffected voters are up for grabs on Elections 2020; the majority being seniors with the younger more productive generation (for the most part) overlooked. In contrast with the Pre-Junta years of boasting your ‘Red’, ‘Blue’ or ‘Green’ party (or tribal) colors like a badge of honor, [Reds are the pro-commonwealth Partido Popular Democrático or PPD “populares”. Blues are the pro-statehood Partido Nuevo Progresista or PNP “estadistas”. Greens are the pro-independence Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño or PIP “independentistas”] after decades of dreadful bipartisan leadership, there appears to be an unwritten rule, broadcast journalists and analysts, not reveal their political party preferences. (Simply too embarrassed to admit their poor election choices, I suspect.) One must necessarily read between the lines of their political discourse, except (of course) for the raging fanáticos for Trump.

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RANTING FOX NEWS COPYCATS (believe it or not!)—are preaching the neoliberal values backed by the billionaire Koch brothers. Libertarians who are hell-bent on wiping out or eviscerating with the stroke of a pen, the very same social safety net programs our poverty-stricken population, marginalized elderly, women and children, displaced migrants, and climate-change vulnerable island depend on— namely, the Affordable Care Act, Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's benefits, hard-earned labor rights, women's reproductive rights and EPA environmental protections. [HuffPost] If we are to withstand the untamed forces of Trumpean racial and income inequality; moreover, be adequately equipped to weather the end-of-days global-warming predictions. [Guardian]

Given our homebound and sedentary lifestyles, seniors are the mainstay of News/Talk radio; and given its targeted demographics, radio builds loyal followers better than any other communications medium around. Which is to say, in this multi-platform digital age, mainland Boricuas nostalgic for homeland news—of all age groups—having online access, are also tuned in to this NotiUno propagandist hour hosted by the “Talking Head” supporting the island’s pro-statehood Republican machinery,

Even as Florida Boricua voters are on the receiving end of racist insults by Gov. Ron de Santis. And, the Trump White House had publicly shown its disdain for the "foreigners of that country" (denigrating comments referring to us.)

That ONE Boricua vote for Republicans—anywhere in the states—would seal the coffin of the island’s working poor and dependent underclass, and (practically) bury us alive in the darkest depths of the Atlantic, never to resurface again: Boriken-lantis. (“Más claro no lo canta un gallo.” Surely, that makes my prescient sentiments clear.)

The “Talking Head”

Who let this Trojan Horse inside “Our House Divided” to poison the well? The morning “Talking Head” premiered at the same time as the arrival of La Junta/PROMESA Board, in 2016. And, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to grasp the hidden motivations of an “economist” who is no Paul Krugman.

“Trump is not a racist. He is the best president the U.S. has ever had", the “Talking Head” declares. Hence, I have discerned, that back in Borinquen, the “White Wannabe American Copycats Syndrome” impairs the objectivity of well-read political pundits, who choose to ignore the well-researched opinions of the NY Times.

Clearly, NotiUno Radio listeners are also susceptible to Spanish “Fake News."

Interestingly, during those early radio monitoring days, I was listening to one of my A-1 analysts, who’s always on the side of the little people, the perennially poor and poorer working class. NotiUno Radio is not the kind to take on the colonial abuses of “The Empire,” and so, I am intrigued. This happened soon after the June 2017 “fake” status plebicite.

(DiaspoRican Chronicles, Vega Alta. Nov. 2017) Anyway, the discerning analyst is fair, gives the 5-month-old Gov. Rosselló his props for, at the very least, solidifying his voter constituency base, for keeping his campaign promise to enact the Tennessee Plan for Admission as the 51st State of the Union (that had since fallen flat), and for the seeming success of his image-building campaign as “the politically astute and capable young Governor.” (And we all know how that little phony façade ended.)

But then, he makes an off-the-cuff about La Junta being increasingly a thorn in the side of the Governor, the analyst speaks in a quieter voice, chuckles even (like he couldn’t stop the slip of the tongue) about La Junta’s preposterous labor reforms, reducing the minimum wage to $4.25 per hour for young adults, for one, the gradual weakening of EPA environmental safeguards, for another; and the apparent take-over of the government-owned (albeit dysfunctional and corrupt) PREPA electric power authority (ruled by the oil cartel) right from under our very noses. All anti-democratic actions that would be against the better interests of islanders who no longer have a say on the matter, he critiques. What’s more. The prescient analyst goes out on a limb, by (coincidentally) sharing a hypothesis resonating with mine:

The un-incorporated territory of Puerto Rico is a testing ground for free-market ideologues (code for the rich get richer and the poor get dirt poor) and that he wouldn’t be surprised if there were the underhanded intent to take their autocratic neoliberal privatization act on the road, to the other 50 states.

Think: The State of Oklahoma and the anti-privatization teacher uprisings over there, where oppressed Native Americans predominate. [Common Dreams]

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time Puerto Rico’s colonized subjects are lab rats in a White Supremacist economic and social engineering experiment. Allow me to count the ways:

1)— La Operación. In the 1950s, impoverished island women were unwitting victims of forced sterilization—population control procedures—stopping the birth of more beautiful brown Boricua babies;

2)— American Pharmaceuticals. Their pharma drugs are tested and sold at astronomical prices to a built-in market, our chronically ill island population. That studies show has the highest number of diabetes patients in the whole US of A. [Project Hope]

3)— Vieques and Culebra Islands. Before booting the U.S. Navy out of the archipelago of Puerto Rico (in 2001), their military exercises and weapons testing, deposited groundwater contaminants and carcinogenic air pollutants, causing an alarming incidence of cancer and chronic respiratory ailments among families and children, cancer and asthma cases being at an all-time high, as well. [National Boricua Human Rights Network]

4)—The “Mad Scientist” murder of Puerto Ricans by the 1930s oncologist Dr. Cornelius Rhoads who transplanted lethal cancer cells into his island patients just for kicks.

5)— “Medical Tourism”: A euphemism for the sale of Puerto Rican bodily organs creating a new revenue stream for repayment of the odious debt, as documented the journalist Nelson Denis of this real-life “American Horror Story.”

Unbelievably cruel acts that are still taking place in 21st Century Puerto Rico as the WHOLE WORLD watches! [Bianca Graulau Reports]

Needless to say. The bolder-than-usual NotiUno analyst was here today and gone tomorrow. But after noting his new replacement, and recognizing his provocative and distinctive voice, I chanced upon the dynamic Ferdinand Pérez of Jugando Pelota Dura fame on the competitor AM radio station—

WKAQ 580 “La estación que saca la cara para El Pueblo”

The “People’s Advocate” of the radio broadcast airwaves is the #1 leader in news and analysis, whose political pundits are not afraid “to tell it like it is.”

Overall, I applaud El Nuevo Día (ENDI) for balancing the Hot Topics, of the day or week, in their “Tribuna Invitada” Invited Guest Editorial Pages, and can always count on my WKAQ A-1 journalists and analysts for answers to questions about “The People's Candidate 2020.”

In that, there is more than meets the eye: Not all Puerto Ricans are Boricuas.

Next: Part 4: “La Comandanta Yulín: The People’s Candidate 2020”