Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama and the Puerto Rican Primary - A telling t-shirt

Miguel Luciano, who is a great artist, shared with me a jpeg of a t-shirt he made to be sold down on PR recently. (I hope they didn't sell out!) The shirt really says it all. Everyone here is engrossed by the media-generated spectacle of talking heads parsing every single "issue" that arises (Bittergate anyone?) as a way to fill up hours and hours of news coverage while studiously avoiding discussion of ACTUAL issues related to class, race, gender, the war, the economy, health insurance, global warming, infant mortality, AIDS, and many many more....

It's thus deeply ironic to those in the know to see how Puerto Rico, the US's forgotten or perhaps most accurately: unknown colony, has become a bit of a running joke or recurring footnote in the mainstream media, as I have said here before. Of course the crux of this, as Miguel's fabulous t-shirt summarizes, is that those living on the Island may vote in the primary but NOT in the US Presidential Election. A farcical pantomime of democracy similar to the so-called "Resident Commissioner" post in Congress. (A Puerto Rican is elected by Island residents to go "represent" them in DC, but he or she has no vote!) This colonial dynamic has the added "benefit" of fostering the classic divide and conquer strategy as it allows those of us living on the so-called "Mainland" to vote in the presidential election, but not our brethren who live down on the Island. Likewise, those of us up here can't vote in the (non-binding) referendums called again and gain to settle our status vis a vis the USA (a Quixotic quest if there ever was one) nor may we vote for the Island's Governor, but rather for the Governor of whatever state we happen to live in. (even if he turns out to be a sex-addicted hypocrite later....)

For more info on Miguel Luciano:

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