Lets not debate FALN clemency without knowing the
OP-ED Page Thurs. Sept 23, 1999.
I represent El Barrio, the largest original
Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Over the past month I've spoken with
thousands of constituents regarding the FALN clemency issue and
the U.S Navy's bombing of Vieques; Puerto Rico
I can tell you unambiguously that I and my community do not
condone callous bombings of any sort. We do not condone terrorism.
But just as surley as the doctor tells us that "you are what you
eat," nations and human beings are the product of history and events.
Detectives and historians hunt for hard facts to get to the truth.
In the case of Puerto Rico, examine a few fingerprints and bloody
footprints and remember a time-honored rule: to catch a thief:
follow the money.
The U.S. "liberated" Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898. Later that
year, Hurricane San Ciriaco destroyed thousands of the island's
farms and nearly the entire years coffee crop. Of 50 million pounds,
only 5 million were saved.
American hurricane relief was bizzare. The U.S. government sent
no money. Instead, the next year it outlawed all Puerto Rican
currency and declared the island's peso, whose international vaue
was equal to the U.S. dollar, to be worth only 60 cents. Every
Puerto Rican lost 40% of his or her money overnight.
With crippled farms and 40% less cash, the farmers had to borrow
money from US banks. But with no usury law restrictions, interest
rates were so high that within a decade, the farmers defaulted on
their loans and the banks foreclosed on thier land.
The US which was undergoing its industrial revolution, then turned
a diversified harvest (coffee, sugar, fruits, tobacco) into a one-crop