(…when it should be its Cinderella)

The relationship between America and Puerto Rico has always been rather iffy. Ever since it was “acquired” as part of the spoils from the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico has mostly been left to its own devices as a kind of outback cabbage patch warranting little or no real interest…beyond being a Caribbean “possession.”

Congress in particular has generally viewed it from the same perspective of a mean step-mother irritated at having to be bothered by the problems of such a step-child, and wishing it would just go away, which of course…it can’t…although if it did opt to do so that would be a dreadful loss for both. So such perspectives about it are not only short-sighted but self-defeating as well.

As a “territory” Puerto Rico, like other territorial possessions of the United States, offered many tax advantages for both business and individual interests from the mainland. For some reason not clear to us at this moment, step-mama Congress decided it didn’t like that arrangement anymore, so it removed that status from it. The consequences of that, of course, is that most of those mainland interests taking advantage of that status simply…flew away…leaving that step-child Puerto Rico to make do with the lean cuisine of…budgetary dependency…constantly in need of assistance from step-mama Congress. All of which has brought it to the sorry state in which we find it today.

Few today recall, or are even aware, of the serious confrontations we had with it back in the 1950’s because of that (with armed attacks on the Congress and the temporary White House at Blair House), and vociferous harangues from all sides about whether Puerto Rico should become independent, become a new state, or remain as a territory (all the while ignoring the fact that Puerto Ricans have been citizens of these United States for a very long time).

We’ve long known and admired these citizens of ours from there, and, we’ve also had the privilege of commanding them as soldiers in our Army…few better or tougher…or braver. Many of them have enriched our culture by the quality of their contributions to the arts. And while we only had the opportunity to actually visit their island home on too few occasions, each time we were there we were extremely reluctant to leave. In terms of resources, varied environment, and all sorts of other potentials, Puerto Rico should be one of the crown jewels of our nation. Instead, we’ve allowed it to fall into near ruin because of misguided and shortsighted notions about it; which is a sad thing to see, when we know how grand it really could and should be.

Yes, we could formally bring it into the fold as another State within our union, but then, just like Hawaii, it would likely become another island “paradise” for all those snowbirds migrating south in winter. We think it deserves better than that. What it needs is full restoration of that status which allowed it to have the attraction of being a legal “off shore” tax haven of the United States, as it had before, thus providing it with the diversified economic activity it needs to survive. Under such conditions, along with a full restoration of its infrastructures back to mainland standards, the inherent capabilities and skills of its citizens would allow it to become a blossoming Cinderella again proud to be…American.

The real question of course is: Why was Puerto Rico allowed to deteriorate so badly? And why is it any different from other American “territories” which still have that same beneficial tax status? Furthermore, when we consider its geographic location, any Simple Simon mind can see it holds an extremely strategic position for that entire region. Yet, our career politicos apparently have either ignored or not realized that fact…like…who needs Guantanamo…if we have Puerto Rico? So we can’t help but wonder what motivations have been behind all of that.

Well, even in its present abysmal economic condition, anyone seeking a near perfect retirement haven on a modest budget, would be hard pressed to find a better one than Puerto Rico…to live well as an expat…without having to actually leave America.

Hmmm…okay Rita Moreno…I’m ready to elope if you are!