Home Columnist Luis Gutiérrez: An enemy of Puerto Rico
Issued : Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:00 AM
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Luis Gutiérrez: An enemy of Puerto Rico

Edition: February 24, 2011 | Volume: 39 | No: 7

The vicious lies, distortion of facts and unwarranted insults made by one of Chicago’s congressional representatives against Puerto Ricans, our police and Judge Fusté, chief justice of the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, demonstrate, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Luis Gutiérrez is an enemy of the people of Puerto Rico. In his desire to demean and criticize the present governor of Puerto Rico and the pro-statehood administration, he succeeds in insulting Puerto Rico, its elected leaders and the current government.

The U.S. District Court’s chief judge is one of the best and most prestigious federal judges we have ever had in Puerto Rico. His decision in the Puerto Rico Bar Association case was a very just, fair and legally unassailable decision. The president of the Bar Association was sent to jail for refusing to abide by the rulings and orders of the court, not for speaking out against the court as Gutiérrez claims.

Gutiérrez has been in politics and in Congress for a considerable amount of time. He has shown, throughout his years in public life, that he is sufficiently astute, malicious and knowledgeable of public communications to know that a nationwide statement against a municipal or state administration is heard mostly by people who aren’t knowledgeable about local politics. As a result, the insult or criticism against an administration is perceived as one against the city or the state itself. I have no doubt that he knew his lies and vicious insults would be perceived and understood by most people who heard him as statements against Puerto Rico and its people, who allegedly tolerate the behavior and abuse he misrepresented in his short speech.

Yes, he undoubtedly knew how his speech would be perceived, but he didn’t and doesn’t give a damn. His desire to misrepresent and criticize Puerto Rico’s governor and the present pro-statehood administration is so intense that the collateral damage he knew he would inflict never worried him.

Therefore, it is important people know how Luis Gutiérrez feels about Puerto Rico and how he feels about the democratic & civil rights of the four million U.S. citizens whose home is Puerto Rico.

In the first place, Luis Gutiérrez wasn’t born in Puerto Rico, doesn’t live in Puerto Rico and has made arrangements to be buried in Chicago. His family lives in Chicago and his children are, or were, probably educated in Chicago and live in the mainland U.S.

As a resident of Chicago, he has participated actively in Chicago politics and voted in local, state and nationwide elections. He is an elected representative to Congress from the state of Illinois, and he campaigned and voted for Barack Obama. He has enjoyed, enjoys and will continue to enjoy his right to vote for the president of our nation. Not only does he enjoy the right to vote for the president of our nation and the right to vote for himself and for the two senators of Illinois, but he also represents his district and votes in all matters and legislation brought forth in the U.S. Congress.

However, although he enjoys all of our nation’s voting rights, including the right to be duly represented, he advocates and works continuously to deny the same rights to the four million U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico. What moral authority does Luis Gutiérrez have to criticize and insult the people of Puerto Rico for alleged violations of civil rights on our island, when he consistently and openly opposes the right to vote for president of our nation and the right to vote and elect representatives and senators to the U.S. Congress for the four million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico?

One reason he opposes our right to vote for our president, and our right to vote for and elect representatives and senators to Congress, is that he now poses as a Puerto Rican voting representative, capable of helping individuals, corporations and institutions from Puerto Rico who have an interest in legislation before Congress, or who are interested in obtaining funds or contracts from federal agencies. As a result of this fact he has more power in Congress and with federal agencies than with the disenfranchised nonvoting member of Congress from Puerto Rico, he goes to Puerto Rico to raise funds for his campaigns and stays at the most luxurious hotels in Puerto Rico with all expenses paid.

If Puerto Rico were granted the right to vote for president and the right to elect voting representatives and senators, Gutiérrez would lose all or most of the funds he now collects in Puerto Rico. He now is obviously supported and financed by those Puerto Ricans who want independence and those whose financial and economic interests lie with the present territorial status of disenfranchisement.

In his five-minute speech, Gutiérrez claims the Puerto Rico police brutally attacked University of Puerto Rico (UPR) students who were “merely exercising their right to protest the university’s increase in tuition fees.”

That is nothing further from the truth.

In the first place, the UPR students weren’t merely making use of their freedom of speech and their right to protest. The students who were leading the protest had prevented—by force, threats and intimidation—the students who were opposed to the so-called “strike” from expressing their views and carrying out a secret vote (for or against the strike). Once the decision to “strike” (as the students and press called it) was made, they were joined by some union leaders, professors and outside agitators, many of whom were masked, and prevented by force, bullying and threats the students who wanted to study and the teachers who wanted to teach, from entering the university. Those who managed to enter were forcibly, even by use of smoke bombs, driven out of their classrooms.

These UPR students not only prevented the majority of students and teachers from conducting their classes, but also threatened and insulted those who tried to get into the university. The protesting students also destroyed and vandalized university property and, on one occasion, set fire to a university building where chemicals in the building could have exploded if the fire hadn’t been extinguished in time.

The police behaved with extraordinary restraint in spite of the fact they were continuously provoked, spit upon, offered dog food, pushed and insulted. During all the days of “strike,” very few physical encounters occurred and those that did were the result of protesters’ refusals to be arrested when they were told they were under arrest because they were destroying property or otherwise violating the law, and when they pushed or otherwise physically provoked the police. As a matter of fact, several police were injured.

I sincerely doubt any police will be found guilty of civil-rights violations by federal or state courts, if any police are indeed indicted for any such violations.

Yes, the truth of what happened during the UPR protests is completely different from what Gutiérrez claimed in his Feb. 16 speech. Gutiérrez knowingly lied and insulted the people of Puerto Rico. I am sure if the issue of his speech were to be discussed widely in the Puerto Rico media, Luis Gutiérrez would be declared a “persona non grata” by a large majority of Puerto Ricans.

With friends like Gutiérrez, who needs enemies?

Carlos Romero Barceló is a two-term former governor of Puerto Rico (1977-84), a two-term former resident commissioner (1993-2000) and a two-term former mayor of San Juan (1969-78). He was president of the New Progressive Party for 11 years. He is now a consultant involved in real estate, doing business as CRB Realty. His email address is rbarcelo@prtc.net. Comments on this article are welcome at caribbeanbusinesspr.com. Go to Sign in link on the homepage to participate. Emails also may be sent to column@caribbeanbusinesspr.com.

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