On Friday, March 22, 2019—commemorating the 196th Anniversary of Puerto Rico’s Abolition of Slavery in 1873—while announcing her bid for governor, the radical and astute then-San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of the PPD Popular Democratic Party gesticulates towards the opposition by describing the statehood Gov. Ricardo Rosselló of the PNP New Progressive Party (of “Prosperity” for the few and destitution for the many), as “Trump en Chiquito” or Mini-Trumpworld. That instantly captures my writer’s imagination, reaffirming the wizened Mark Twain words that “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
Now, Puerto Rico has one of the most informed and intelligent electorates you will ever find on the planet. In fact, “Talking Politics” is our #1 national pastime: 24/7. Close to 90% of eligible voters have gone to the polls, which is to say, we know a snow job when we see one. And, we are dutybound to one another by one solemn patriotic oath: “Prohibido Olvidar” Never Forget the travesty that makes a mockery of our democratic elections—time and time again.
Imagine: Only in “America’s Forgotten Colony" can a “Deposed Governor” return to the scene of the crime in 2020 and finagle a “comeback” as a privileged delegate (write-in candidate) to the pro-statehood lobbyist Shadow Congress. As if the public service record of the “Deposed Governor” had been squeaky clean. (Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was ousted in 2019 in the wake of the TelegramGate chat room conspiracy.)
Plus, picture the elitist governor-elect Pedro Pierluisi, critics nicknamed the pejorative “El Pipo” (the potbellied one) from the swank Guaynabo City (whose ruling PNP statehood party “steals” the 2020 elections) who then hurls high-brow insults at working class constituents who put him in office. His lackadaisical Hurricane Fiona emergency response flies in the face of compassion, while his reaction to valid citizen complaints questioning exorbitant and rising LUMA energy costs, amid stagnant slave wages, was the heartless and thoughtless “Acostúmbrate” Get used to it. That prompted irate Gen Z reggaeton musical artists to send this “♪Acostúmbrate♪” obscenity-laced wake-up call to the “Indifferent Governor.”)
The final straw was the “LUMA leak” of a projected permanent surcharge (from $24-$26) tacked onto the monthly electric bill of islanders for the next 50 years —proposed by the Fiscal Control Board as part of the PREPA bankrupt power company’s debt restructuring plan—and his cavalier attitude towards the people’s uproar, over the 7th rate hike since LUMA took over in June 2021, as “histeria inecesaria” (unnecessary hysteria). His callous remark triggered this “histeria inecesaria” dressing down of the “Indifferent Governor” by the outraged Mayra López Mulero on the primetime TV show Jugando Pelota Dura that generated 1 million views on Twitter.
And just when we thought the corruption scandals couldn’t get any worse, the real kicker came when FBI agents raided the offices of his cousins Eduardo and Walter Pierluisi, and he not only trivialized their family ties as distant “primos terceros” or third cousins, but he also disavowed all knowledge of their questionable business dealings, even though both cousins had been on the Pierluisi Committee payroll, serving as his 2020 campaign managers, as confirmed the Noticentro TV interview (10/21/22)
(Luckily, I had also been chronicling the gaslighting political events for quite some time.)
By now, the people of Puerto Rico had endured devastating crises, one right after the other… (bear with me, the list goes on):
[Fiscal Crisis; Corruption Crisis; Education Crisis; Energy Crisis; Environmental Crisis; Joblessness, Poverty and Hunger Crisis; Labor Reform Bill Crisis; Housing Crisis; Child Abuse Crisis; Unabated Gender Violence and Feminicides “Feminicidios” Crisis; Escalating Carjacking Crisis; CSI Forensics Lab Underfunded Crisis; Water Rationing Crisis during a Pandemic, the drought up North; the threat of recurring Earthquakes down South; the Covid-19 Undertesting Crisis; the Constitutional Crisis; the Voter Suppression Election Reform Bill Crisis; Island Population Displacement; the Capitalist Buyout of Beaches and Coastal Towns; Mounting Civil Disobedience and Police Repression of Climate Change Activists; the post-Fiona Humanitarian Crisis, and Diesel Fuel Shortage Causing Total Collapse of both the Public Schools and Public Health Systems; the Medical Brain Drain Crisis; Drug trafficking-related “balaceras” ‘gunfights at the OK corral’ in broad daylight?!; compounded by the Decadent Criminal Justice System on the Verge of Lawlessness.] (You name it). The Crisis in Confidence in our useless health, welfare and public safety institutions, that just won’t quit.
All told, “nada funciona” nothing works in Puerto Rico. Somebody should have had the presence of mind to declare a full-blown NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY. But we couldn’t keep a capable and forthright governor in “La Fortaleza” Governor’s Mansion long enough to care. Political volatility and instability (short of total anarchy) that makes me painfully aware, I was about to violate the one dissident writer’s rule I embraced and hoped would keep me out of trouble, by calling them out! “Con nombre y apellido” (By their given derogatory nicknames.)
Be wary of being sucked into the political maelstrom: “El Politiqueo” Party Politicking
I’m not in the habit of lambasting elected public officials as a rule, but these were extenuating times, and these issues of institutionalized corruption were a matter of public record. Besides, I’d become emboldened by my A-list of “rebel reporters,” independent journalists not bound to corporate media interests, and other valiant crusaders for truth, justice, and greater government transparency, who I follow religiously and take my cues from.
Among them, the independent investigative journalist and outspoken blogger Sandra Rodríguez Cotto (victim of racist attacks and political persecution); the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) that broke the #RickyLeaks chat room conspiracy scandal; the rebellious Carmen Yulín who from the Diaspora keeps the plight of Puerto Ricans in the national public eye; the agricultural civic engineer, fearless leader of the anti-gentrification “Campamento Resistencia” Eliezer Molina, independent ex-candidate for governor; the boisterous and incisive WKAQ Radio “No Nos Callan” We Will Not Be Silenced, voice of the oppressed Mayra López Mulero; the maverick journalist and TikTok sensation Bianca Graulau; the social media influencer, attorney at law Jay Fonseca; as well as the KCBS TV News reporter, El Nuevo Día (ENDI) journalist/columnist Benjamin Torres Gotay, our friend and justice seeking ally David Begnaud—to name a few.
And so, p’al caribe (to hell) with the "nasty trolls" still on the internet prowl for “Diehard Patriots” to this day. The truth is that which needs to be told.
Insofar as “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players” like Shakespeare wrote, to best “Talk Corruption” one must interpret Spanish “colonial code” (by reading between the lines of the political discourse) while deciphering the body language of “The Players” (exposing their gaslighting true nature and reproachable actions).
The “Deposed Governor”: Ricardo Rosselló
The political corruption scandal the Summer of ’19, triggered 15 days of massive island protests, as chronicled the award-winning El Nuevo Día (ENDI) journalist Benjamín Torres Gotay, building up to the final overthrow of the “depravado moral” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, July 25, 2019.
On Wednesday July 24, 2019, upon full disclosure by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI) of the #TelegramGate chat room conspiracy, the embattled Rosselló begrudgingly renders his resignation, ten minutes shy of 12 midnight, to be effective Friday, August 2, 2019 at precisely 5:00 pm (giving him an extra eight days for more clandestine executive powers mischief in violation of government transparency laws.)
Although the “Deposed Rosselló’s” political career was dead in the water, two days before he was due to step down “el cadáver político” resurrects like Lazarus, naming his Justice Department Secretary (or Puerto Rico’s Attorney General) Wanda Vázquez as the new interim governor, as dictated by the PR constitution’s line of succession(given the forced resignation of his Secretary of State, one of his inner circle of 12 “brothers” incriminated in the #TelegramGate chat, aka #RickyLeaks.)
The “Constitutional Governor”: Wanda Vázquez
Public opinion wavers about her scant anti-corruption record, her alleged abuses of power; her conflicts of interest (bribery charges now under U.S. Department of Justice investigation); her participation in the #TelegramGate chat room and her disavowal of complicity. (Despite undeniable evidence, presented by Sandra Rodríguez Cotto and David Begnaud, that Rosselló’s top justice official was cut from the same cloth.)
Outside the heavily guarded gates of “La Fortaleza” Governor’s Mansion in Old San Juan, the “Constitutional Governor” does not inspire confidence and the Summer of ’19 island revolution rages on: “!SOMOS MAS Y NO TENEMOS MIEDO, SOMOS MAS Y NO TENEMOS MIEDO, SOMOS MAS Y NO TENEMOS MIEDO!” (THERE ARE MORE OF US, AND WE ARE NOT AFRAID) #RenunciaWanda. (You must go too.) And take “La Junta” with you!
We might have been saved from the constitutional crisis that’s to follow, but the Justice Department Secretary (former lackluster Director of the “Oficina de la Procuradora de Las Mujeres” Office of the Legal Advocate for Women, political hack appointed by ex-Gov. Luis Fortuño) opts out of the governorship (or so we were led to believe.) Seemingly, skirting the controversy surrounding constitutional amendments dating back to a 2005 bipartisan deal between the former “Gridlocked Governor” Aníbal Acevedo Vilá of the status quo PPD Popular Democratic Party, and then-Senate President Jenniffer González of the pro-statehood PNP New Progressive Party (that had yet to be tested—or better said—contested in court.)
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The Usurper Governor “El Usurpador”: Pedro Pierluisi
Then, one day, out of the clear blue sky (as though dangling from the puppet strings of “La Junta”) enters their designated pinch-hitter Pedro Pierluisi, the recently resigned attorney/lobbyist for the PROMESA Fiscal Control Board (“La Junta”), and former Justice Department Secretary for the standard-bearer “Corruption Governor” Pedro Rosselló (father) administration from 1993-2001; who was up to the task of second-guessing the Puerto Rico constitution. (You still with me?)
During local House Confirmation Hearings, attorney-client confidentiality privilege does not cut it with the firebrand Rep. Manuel Nadal, whose line of rapid-fire questioning (à la ex-Senator Kamala Harris during the Mueller congressional hearings) into his sketchy prior lobbyist business dealings with “La Junta” has the Rosselló Secretary of State nominee unraveling in his seat (visibly sweating bullets.)
The former DC resident commissioner for two consecutive commonwealth administrations—the PNP “Boondoggle Governor” Luis Fortuño (2009-2013) and the PPD “Bankruptcy Governor” Alejandro García Padilla (2013-2017)—“El Usurpador” ekes out the 26 confirmation votes from the House of Representatives, both PNP and PPD partisans (to be sworn in like a thief in the night before 5:00 pm—just under the wire). Thus, he jumps the line of succession without Senate confirmation and plops himself in the "Governor’s Chair" for five days. "Hijacking the constitution", as accused one lawyer’s organization, was not a good start for the Rosselló successor to the throne.
(Nor was the surprise confession—after the fact—by the 2020 gubernatorial incumbent Vázquez, while sitting in the hot seat of the Jugando Pelota Dura TV host Ferdinand Pérez, that her swearing in as the “Constitutional Governor” had been pre-empted by a backchannel phone call from “El Usurpador” who asked her to step aside, leaving her all dressed up at the altar. ¡Qué escándalo!)
“El Tiburón”: Thomas Rivera Schatz
God save the man (or woman) who crosses the then-Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz (dubbed “El Tiburón” or The Shark for his killer political instincts and shrewd legal ability to chomp at and swallow his enemies whole).
The political infighting between these two rival PNP party factions—power struggle between interim PNP party president Rivera Schatz and Rosselló’s designated Secretary of State Pierluisi— “el quítate tú pa’ ponerme yo”—then lands in the laps of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. That was also PNP-stacked (6 to 3) by Supreme Court appointments, fast-tracked by the ex-governor (and “Tea Party Darling”) Luis Fortuño. (A Brett Kavanaugh judicial conservative coup, I feared had come back to haunt us, should the nine Puerto Rico justices have ruled in favor of “El Usurpador.”) Thankfully they did not, reported Vox Media.
In short, having blocked Senate confirmation of the Secretary of State nominee Pierluisi, “El Tiburón” and rightful heir to the throne as interim PNP party president becomes a political liability for 2020; among the 80% of PNP party loyalists polled, now favoring “El Usurpador’s” intimate attorney/lobbyist connections with “La Junta.”
(A double-edged sword soon to be borne out by the Junta-imposed LUMA Energy Contract that was rubber stamped by our sitting governor against the will of the people, who have now had ENOUGH abuse, storming the streets in protest, as highlights ABC News, refusing to be gaslit any further!)
Although “El Tiburón” Rivera Schatz takes the credit for filing the Supreme Court injunction that restores the line of succession (by standing up to “La Junta”), the incoming “Constitutional Governor” Vázquez still disappoints. An unelected head of state, she’s not beholden to political campaign obligations advancing the statehood cause, falling short of PNP party expectations.
“J-Go”: Jenniffer González
Enters the D.C. Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González ("J-Go" on Twitter) who’s deemed to possess more of the competitive edge to run (and win) the governorship in 2020. Driven by the “moral obligation” (says “El Tiburón”) to put the needs of “the party” before the needs of “the people,” a phalanx of the PNP party's rank and file, plots to remove Wanda and install Jenniffer in the interim “Governor’s Chair.”
A political switcheroo “J-Go” declines in favor of running for a second resident commissioner term, riding the wave of her unparalleled successes cementing U.S. Congressional bipartisan support for all manner of island federal aid. While undermining the “Constitutional Convention” transparency provision of the consensus-building “Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act” championed by Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, by engineering the substitute compromise bill, the “Puerto Rico Status Act” (her 2024 gubernatorial election ploy)—an unforeseen congressional development discussed in detail during the Bianca Graulau exclusive interview with AOC. (05/19/22)
Not surprisingly, political strategists are already predicting the MAGA Republican Jenniffer González will be the PNP statehood party shoo-in for governor in 2024, should she prevail in a primary runoff with the registered Democrat, the “Indifferent Gov. Pierluisi” whose elitist administration appears to be on the brink of collapse, according to the insightful economist Gustavo Vélez (08/24/22):
The reality is that the political class, unlike the "flesh and blood people," lives in a comfort zone with good wages and the intangible benefits that come with those elective positions. Therefore, there is no incentive to sacrifice or mortify oneself by seeking solutions to the problems we face. The problem is that indifference to governing well, as we deserve, since we pay $10 billion annually (in taxes) to sustain the government and its 140 agencies, can cause a social and economic collapse from which it will be exceedingly difficult to get out of.
And yet, only five months earlier (03/20/22), the “Indifferent Governor” had officially announced his bid for reelection with the typical campaign rally gaslighting overture:
“Me quedan 6 años para completar ‘la obra’ y lograr la estadidad”
I have 6 years left to finish ‘the work’ and achieve statehood.”
FYI: “La Obra” is best translated as the “boondoggle project” benefitting PNP statehood party election campaign sponsors with lucrative quid pro quo contracts—enumerated by Bianca Graulau in the Bad Bunny video “El Apagon” The Blackout, featuring her heart-wrenching population displacement documentary —whether these large-scale projects “for show” are economically viable or not. Think: Fortuño’s aborted Gasoducto pipeline, Pedro Rosselló’s unfinished Tren Urbano mass transit system, and the Canadian LUMA Energy power grid restoration contract milking the U.S. colonial system for all it’s got. That the “Indifferent Governor” (who’s hellbent on renewing the LUMA energy contract for another 15 years, against the will of the people) brags about in his (propagandist) ENDI op-ed “Puerto Rico’s Energy Transformation” as if these alleged power grid developments were a fait accompli (10/11/22):
My administration is committed to that transformation and modernization. We have dedicated all the necessary resources to achieve it and in the past 20 months, we have made significant progress. As a people, we all aspire to a modern, reliable, and resilient power grid that increasingly relies on renewable energy sources, serves our people well, promotes our economic development, and protects our environment…. The transformation of our energy system is complex and will take time, and we are on the right path to guarantee access to clean, reliable, and resilient energy for everyone in Puerto Rico.
The fact is “it’s been five years since Hurricane Maria left the country without electricity, but even with a whopping $12 billion in recovery funding committed, the future of the island’s grid is still in doubt,” writes the critically-acclaimed journalist Josh Dzieza in the well-researched and graphic human interest exposé “When Will Puerto Rico Have Power?” (10/26/22) [Must-Read]
Heaven forbid Puerto Rico’s colonized subjects be forced to endure the pain and suffering of a fourth consecutive PNP statehood administration—the disgraced Ricky, the calculating Wanda, the duplicitous “Pipo Pierluisi” and the status question master manipulator, would-be governor “J-Go”—for what has arguably become a powerless "Failed State."
The straight-shooting political pundit Jay Fonseca derides as the “Ricky Rosselló Part II” encore performance of more backroom political wheeling and dealing at the expense of a gaslit and gullible public.