Friday, October 1, 2010

Buleria del Dia

Pasaran rios de pena y lloraran
Que estamos hechos para llorar
Pa´ no mentirme no digas na
Pasaran de dos mentiras una verdad
Que las palabras me duelen mas
Pa no mentirme no digas na
Buscaran el hilo negro para bordar
Y a las mentiras un cachito de verdad

Vente al sur, donde quieras si quieres …

Entre rincones los callejones se cerraban
Se abren del paso de las calles que mojadas
Del rocio de la noche…

Puerto Ricans In Limbo (again and again and again....)

At the end of this month, people born in the US Territory (Colony) will cease to exist -administratively-it may be argued that they already do not exist in the minds of the average fellow US citizen including US politicians. Obama came down to the Island to campaign against Clinton in the Democratic primaries because perversely Puerto Ricans residing on the Island may vote in primaries -but not elect the President. This is one of many bizarre laws that govern the small island's fraught relationship with the US which began as a result of Spain's loss to the the former in 1898, when the Americans occupied and stayed. Notwithstanding the 1953 declaration of limited self-government and the euphemistic "territorial" or "commonwealth" status, what exists is, as I have written here before, a two-tiered system of citizenship, in which those living on the Island are disenfranchised in contrast to those living in the 50 states. There are almost 8 million Puerto Ricans, of which the majority now live Stateside. And they are the second largest "Hispanic" group, after Mexicans.

Islanders' and residents of the states (the so-called "Mainland") are now back on level territory - the birth certificates that entitle them to the US passports coveted by many - and the only passports to which they have since there is no such thing as a Puerto Rican passport - will become null and void at the end of October. In order to obtain them, one must go make a cue at a US Post Office in order to obtain a Money Order that is needed to purchase a new birth certificate. This transaction may take months, possibly the reason that the deadline to become non-persons was extended from July to October. The clock is ticking for the possibly unprecedented legal/existential situation in which approximately EIGHT MILLION people are suddenly to disappear administratively speaking. Floating in an administrative limbo, those needing this proof of existence, the prosaic birth certificate, will be unable to carry out transactions relating to social services, marriages, and the like. Housing, food stamps, school matriculations? You will have to wait (keep in mind that according to some surveys, at least half the population of the Island lives in poverty).

Why is this happening? In the midst-of anti-undocumented immigrant hysteria, it came to the attention of the Bush Administration (and Obama, who apparently has decided to disregard his many demagogic campaign promises instead pursuing policies mimetic with the previous government of the US) that some residents of other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, may have been "passing" for Puerto Ricans in order to obtain US passports. This means that suddenly this Island that seems to be a burden to many members of the US Congress (read the revealing debates in the Congressional Record on the endless plebiscites proposed to resolve the status of the Island vis a vis the US) now poses the problem that it is comprised of porous borders. Unlike they are able to do Stateside, they can't build walls patrolled by Homeland Security forces assisted by members of fascist militias. So the easiest way to invalidate the results of alleged passport fraud was to reissue all birth certificates issued to people born on the Island. Could they have not found other ways of verifying the information?

In any case, the result of this, as my sister pointed out, is that Puerto Ricans must carry out onerous burocratic transactions that in effect coerce them to deal with the US government administration (Post Office) to willingly participate and reenact their status as colonized subjects of this country. Seeking validation of their (literal) existence that only reaffirms their (nonexistence) as Puerto Rican citizens of a non-existent country.