As part of my ongoing campaign to expose the truth about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the United States and the manipulated political system on the island sustained by a culture of capitalist greed and corruption, I am bringing to light two pieces of legislation the majority of Puerto Ricans have scarcely heard of.
During the final year of Republican Governor Luis Fortuño’s term heading the government of the colony, House Bill 3547, titled “Relocation of Investing Individuals Act,” was filed by former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Republican candidate for Congress Jennifer Gonzalez.
In a nutshell, this bill created a tax break for American multimillionaires who have never lived on the island, to relocate in Puerto Rico where they would not have to pay taxes if they lived on the island for at least six months. Meanwhile, the rest of the Puerto Rican population, who have lived there their entire lives, would continue to pay the same high tax rate (it’s actually increasing).
The second bill filed, Senate Bill 2313, titled “Promotion of Exportation of Services Act” and authored by Republican Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, would extend a tax break to U.S. corporations doing business on the island, where they would only pay around four percent of corporate tax, as opposed to around 40 percent in the United States.
Both were signed into law by Governor Luis Fortuño before leaving office. They are Acts 20 and 22 of 2012.
These special tax gimmicks for U.S. corporations and the rich individuals are not only unjust and immoral, but are also clearly incompatible with the statehood ideology the bills’ authors Jennifer Gonzalez, Thomas Rivera Schatz and their statehood party preaches to the people during political rallies. I mean, seriously, how the hell are you going to advance the “statehood” and “equality” cause, if you pass laws that create exotic tax breaks in the colony of Puerto Rixco for the wealthy one percent of America who controls the U.S. Congress and the White House?
Is it really a surprise to anyone that the U.S. Congress and the White House have completely ignored the 2012 referendum held on the island where statehood won with over 61 percent of the vote? It’s like giving candy to a baby, then taking it away from it and not expecting it to cry and put up a tantrum. Are statehooders on the island really naive enough to think Corporate America is going to stand idle and let Puerto Rico become the 51st state of the Union, instantly destroying their sweet tax haven on the island? Hell No! They pumped millions of dollars in donations to all members of Congress from both parties to derail any discussion of statehood or independence, and it worked. Not only has the U.S. Congress ignored the 2012 status referendum results, but they practically told the island to drop dead after the Puerto Rico government requested assistance to handle its biggest economic crisis in history.
The statehood party is a hoax, led by unscrupulous liars who sell the American Dream of statehood to the poor and disadvantaged people of Puerto Rico with the sole purpose of obtaining power, after which they cut deals behind closed doors with Wall Street and Corporate America to create tax breaks in which they also get a cut after their respective political retirements and entrance into the private sector, where they become lobbyists for American corporations and/or vulture hedge funds, who profit handsomely at the expense of the Puerto Rican people’s misery.
Is it really fair to the people of Puerto Rico that snotty multibillionaire friends of statehooder Republicans, who have never lived on the island, can all of a sudden just parachute in, live on the island for six months and not pay taxes, while the lower middle class and poor have to pay continually increasing taxes? Is it fair that Puerto Rico’s mom-and-pop shops and corporations have to pay 39 percent in local taxes, causing most of them to shut down while huge American juggernaut corporations like Wal-Mart only pay four percent?
This capitalist and neo-colonial political and economic philosophy promoted by both majority parties on the island has proven to be a total failure. The island is broke, its people in misery, their pensions cut, over 100 of their schools closing down and their medical services dwindling, all while the political elite and their children both on the island and in Washington, D.C. are drinking champagne, eating lobster and caviar, living in Guaynabo or Georgetown, going to prestigious business schools in London or New York, attending internships at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street and taking selfies while they get a tan on their yachts.
It’s time we the people of Puerto Rico take back our island from the wealthy one percent and destroy the colonial system led by the same majority puppet political parties on the island created and controlled by the United States and its economic capitalist interests that prevent the island’s independence as a sovereign and free nation.
It’s time for a revolution, and the key weapon in this war against Corporate America and the one percent shall be EDUCATION.
¡Que viva Puerto Rico LIBRE!
Free Puerto Rico!
Phillip Arroyo is currently a Juris Doctor student at Florida A&M College of Law in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Arroyo was selected as the only Puerto Rican to serve in the 2012 White House Internship, having worked in the office of the Vice President Joe Biden, where he analyzed domestic and economics issues while at the White House. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillipArroyo.