A History Of Revolution, and Puerto Rico’s Call to Action! Pt.2

We explored some of the revolutions which sacrificed somewhat open governments in exchange of oppressive ones in our last article. But, This is not always the case when we take a look at some other rebellions. At times, the people have taken charge in order to make some positive changes in their countries. Today we will explore the rebellions which have successfully incorporated more freedom after a bloody revolution. Revolution affects all of us, and we must look at both sides of the coin if we are to weight our options. Puerto Rico is soon to be at a standstill, what they do next will have to be a decisive move in the country’s history. Countries such as: Philippines, Egypt, and Libya who overthrew dictators in the name of freedom (Thank you T3hPop3 for this bit of information).

Revolutions are not always a bad thing, some of the greatest achievements in human history have come from rebellion. History has at times enjoyed painting rebels as the “bad guys” or terrorist, but as it has been demonstrated time and again, it’s all about perception. However, as history vindicates itself we discover that those same rebels were considered freedom fighters by the victims of an oppressive ruling system. People should never be afraid of their governments, rather they should be feared by them. Yet, it seems that those who rule the world often forget this detail all too quickly. A rebellion does not come from a content society, and when the drums of battle sound true; they will be heard by those who are willing to stand against the oppressive elite will take action by any means possible.

The French Revolution comes to mind as one of these events. During this period of revolution the poor sought to eliminate the class system in favor of an equal society.  To accomplish this, the French people took on a very violent approach. Even the king of France was executed in order to incite the people against other countries who were trying to re-take the Country. This revolution came to be for a few following reasons (one of which might even sound regrettably familiar) such as:

  • Cultural: The Enlightenment philosophy desacralized the authority of the King and the Church, and promoted a new society based on “reason” instead of traditions.
  • Social: The emergence of an influential bourgeoisie which was formally part of the Third Estate (commoners) but had evolved into a caste with its own agenda and aspired to political equality with aristocracy.
  • Financial: France’s debt, aggravated by French involvement in the American Independence War, led Louis XVI to implement new taxations and to reduce privileges.
  • Political: Louis XVI faced virulent opposition from provincial parlements which were the spearheads of the privileged classes’ resistance to royal reforms.
  • Economical: The deregulation of the grain market, advocated by liberal economists, resulted in an increase in bread prices. In period of bad harvests, it would lead to food scarcity which would prompt the masses to revolt.

Motivated by these injustices, the French people eventually fought back, and achieved their goals to free the country. Readers might assume that this meant a total success for the revolution. After all, they gave women better (not every) right,  gave power to the lower classes, created the roots of nationalism, lowered certain aspects of nepotism, returned free-trade, divided the land fairly, and eliminated some of the power held by religion. Yet, this revolution was a failure, it did not change much when we realize that France became a dictatorship under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte.  However, a few centuries later there would be another country in which revolution brought much hope in overthrowing an authoritarian government in favor of democracy, and positive change.

The People Power Revolution in the Philippines was a historic event in the history of the Pacific. Started in order to topple the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos who was elected president in 1965. and refused to give up his power with an eventual martial law rule until 1986 when the revolution began. The people of the Philippines had enough of his increasingly devastating policies which led to the country’s financial instability and a rise in crime.  It was led by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, and had support from many, including the military itself. It was an inspiring event which managed to do what seemed impossible. It rallied the people together under the umbrella of a single cause, and inspired a movement that far extended its own reach to other countries in the Pacific. It was not a peaceful time during this time in the Philippines. but with a combination of support, guerrilla tactics, and significant victories, The People Power Revolution succeeded and forced Marcos out of the country into exile. They elected Corazon Aquino as president, and under her rule the Philippines prospered democratically. Corazon enacted policies and constitutional rights which were lost under Marco’s rule as well as restoring the confidence of investors into the Philippines. It would not be an easy rule despite what some might think; Corazon faced many threats from rebels and military movements, which were hurdles in her career as president.  This movement shared many parallels to the Arab Spring that began in 2010.

The Arab Spring was instigated by rising crime, unemployment, economic decline, corruptions in the government,  and many other motives which plagued the middle-east. This event began with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi a fruit vendor, who had all his property seized and promptly set himself on fire as his final act. Protest were held, the people communicated through the use of social media in order to organize events, violent demonstrations, and political unrest were the daily bread during this time. Twenty-two countries were involved in the Arab Spring with some being more successful than others, but the movement was enough to stir change. The whole world was shaken by the effects that this movement had. Many of the countries held their first democratic elections, others had evolved into civil wars. But, as the seasons passed these countries moved from the Arab Spring into the Arab Winter. The economies of some of these countries have yet to fully recover, millions have died, and fighting is still going on to this very day. But, there is hope, just like Egypt is on its way to recovery. If the other countries can put their differences aside they too can prosper. The world was forever changed by this recent event, unlike the Philippines which affected the Pacific; the advent of the internet, and social media made this event shake every country on earth (some more than others). Even the name Arab Spring is practically synonymous with an uprising against corrupt regimes, and freedom. Puerto Rico stands to gain traction by utilizing some of the means that both of these revolutions had against their governments. If Puerto Ricans finally decide to gain independence they must first take preventive measures to ensure that democracy is maintained. What good would it be to gain independence if the price was a dictatorship after all?

Indeed, Puerto Rico is an invaluable asset to the United States in the Atlantic theater. But, The United States has shown time and again that it doesn’t care for their colony (it claims it would be too costly to fully incorporate into the country). Americans believe that Puerto Rico is only able to exist because it gets funding from the United States, but this is simply not true. Puerto Rico contributes 71.6 billion dollars to the U.S. Economy while receiving around 4 billion. If anything we are helping support their economy. In a show called Boricuazo en el Circo de la Mega they hosted Professor Rosario Rivera Negron, the leading economist in Puerto Rico. In the show she debunked the myth of how Puerto Ricans live off the backs of American citizens tax dollars. If we go by the statistics and numbers she presented during the show, the U.S. should actually pay us back all the money that it owes the country. Fellow blogger REMY discussed this in his blog in which he is also trying to raise awareness of the injustices that have befallen Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico needs to wake up. The country needs to rise up and realize that we are being fooled. Puerto Ricans have been lied to for years, they have become too caught up on their own issues to care about the world around them. The biggest problem with society today is the lack of care for that which surrounds it, and apathy is a bigger crime than it is made out to be. They live in a world that judges the country based on what the media is saying about them, not reality. The airwaves blast negative propaganda towards Puerto Ricans, history is ignored, and more than 50 thousand citizens leave each year hoping to find a better life elsewhere. If Puerto rico continues in this path the only thing that awaits is ruin. But, I beseech the youth to seek a peaceful approach to liberty, and independence lest we become the next police state in the list of many. Peace must rule in order to ensure that Puerto Rico stays free and proud for years to come. It must soon take the call to action, for if they miss it; I’m afraid there might not be a second one. It must once again rise as it did during the times of Pedro Albizu Campo and fight back against tyranny. For oftentimes the path to freedom lies in a road paved with blood.

I’ll take my leave with this picture that sums up apathy in the country pretty well (translation is at the bottom).

Foto buena
The problem in your country is you! Who doesn’t like to read Who doesn’t want to study Who doesn’t like to wake up early Who doesn’t want to work Who lives for the weekend Who only thinks of parties Who dedicates himself to fantasizing Who only worries about superficial things Who speaks a lot, but does not act Who complains too much about, not being given a chance. Who doesn’t realize that the one who needs to give opportunities, Who needs to make change, Who believes he is special, but acts like the rest is YOU!

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A History of Revolution, and Puerto Rico’s call to action! Pt.1

The common wealth of Puerto Rico has acquired a debt of 73 billion dollars in the last few years. Due to this factor, the United States or more specifically South Carolina has elected to create a financial control board which would in essence take hold of Puerto Rico’s economy in order to pay off the debt. This is in essence a terrible idea, but one that does not come without a certain benefit. The government in Puerto Rico has shown that it is simply incapable of ruling the country fairly; perhaps it is time to give someone else a chance at running the place. But, It’s not the first time that a government has abused its power in order to further the agenda of those who are rich and powerful. This could be a nightmare waiting to happen, or perhaps the salvation it needs.

For the sake of giving 2 sides of the argument I am splitting this post into two separate parts. Each part will explain a different piece of the argument of why it could be bad or good. I will take a look at past revolutions of multiple countries in order to analyze the similarities and distinctions between the events that are happening now, circumstances, and motives of the people who revolutionized the world. But, I hope that everyone understands  if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

The United States has given Puerto Rico the status of a commonwealth country for nearly a century now. In other words Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, but don’t let anyone call it that since it has negative connotations (and it would hurt their feelings). They have the same citizenship as regular citizens, but have controlled aspects such as trade embargoes in the case of cabotage laws which effectively cripple the economy by preventing ships from foreign countries from trading directly with us (only U.S. manned and owned vessels are allowed to transport goods). To indirectly preventing us from purchasing cheap oil from Venezuela due to its status as a commonwealth. These things make it even more difficult, when you consider that Puerto Rico relies on imports for manufacture of products despite the fact that it has plenty of rich soil that could be use for food export. Sadly, this is just one of the reasons why the country has acquired the exorbitant debt it has. As mentioned earlier the government in Puerto Rico has shown to be inefficient at leading, and managing this land as well. Puerto Rico’s politics have often been marred by the highly unstable public policies which are fluctuating constantly when the countries leading party changes.

The island has various political parties of which two hold the majority of the shares with at least 47% of votes going to both Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) or the Partido Popular Democratico (PPD). There are at least 5 more political parties, but the breakdown is substantially smaller to the point of being nearly insignificant (as explained in a pie chart). In my experience though election results tend to favor the opposite party  simply because people have become angry at the current one. But, here is a list of the results for each election ending with the year 1976.

2012: PPD won with 47.7%

2008: PNP won with 52.8%

2004: PPD won with 48.4%

2000: PPD won with 48.6%

1996: PNP won with 51.1%

1992: PNP won with 49.9%

1988:  PDP won with 48.7%

1984: PDP won with 48.7%

1980: PNP won with 47.2% 1

976: PNP won with 48.3%

There is also a deep cultural belief that political affiliations within Puerto Ricans lie in the family with each member voting for the party that their family typically supports. (I can’t confirm, how true or false this is. But, I can say I witnessed it growing up). So rarely will the political affiliations shift severely, and it is uncommon to witness an overwhelming majority win. This leaves no room for true change, it doesn’t raise the stakes for politicians to truly enact good policies because they know that regardless of what happens their party will eventually return to power (almost like a microcosm of what happens in the continental U.S.). Indeed if anything will destroy Puerto Rico it will be its own government.  Why do I say this? Because Puerto Rico has had good ideas effectively shut down by the people in power.  For example in 2009 a legislator proposed that we reduced the amount of municipalities (78) into larger, but less numerous ones (20 link is in spanish) this bill never made it into law despite the fact that it would have reduced the amount of government spending in salaries for the mayors.

I did not make this chart and I'm merely sharing it from the Wikipedia Article
I did not make this chart and I’m merely sharing it from the Wikipedia Article

If we keep all of these factors in mind, then perhaps it is a good idea for the U.S. government to gain control of the finances in Puerto Rico. Perhaps then we will finally see some change being enacted, and a positive move towards action from Puerto . But, it could be dangerous as well for the government to take over with such hostile tactics. You see Puerto Ricans  are a fighting breed. Their fighting spirits have been lying dormant waiting for an opportunity to rise against once more. But, the end result could go one of two ways. Revolutions of the past such as China’s or Cuba’s have shown that societies tend to overthrow relatively open governments in exchange for more oppressive ones. If Puerto Rico is to avoid these mistakes then it needs to heed my words and learn from history.  For history can be a harsh mistress, and she will repeat a lesson until is it cemented in humanity itself.

Let’s take a look at the Chinese revolution. Indeed, the Chinese Revolution of 1949 headed by Mao Zedong which led to the creation of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese Communist Party. The revolution itself was a massive success, but the politics that came from it while very forward thinking, and egalitarian did not have the overwhelming success that the revolution expected. The revolution itself wanted to destroy everything that China had been before Communism, and in this it did succeed.  However, the rapid implementation of changes to social structures and industrialization did unfortunately bring many negative consequences. Women did gain equal rights, at the cost of family values. Famine is estimated to have killed anywhere from 20-46 million people (keep in mind this was a location that had natural resources for manufacture) due to heavy exportation of food items such as grain. Doctors were trained, but morale was overwhelmingly low due to the practices implemented by the government. Religion was banned and looked as antiquated, churches were destroyed and clergymen killed (the only churches allowed to exist preached communism). The CCP implemented strict propagandist policies, but while literacy rates were radically higher, social re-education was mandatory at least weekly (more if you were disgruntled). There was no trust amongst neighbors because they were encouraged to denounce each other in order to sort out dissenters. Culture died, artist were prevented from free expression, many committed suicide, others conformed to writing/creating communist propaganda. But, despite all of these negative aspects, there were some truly major technological/medicinal advances as well as sectors which continued to perform successfully in terms of economy. In the end it’s hard to determine if this revolution was truly a failure or a success

When Cuba gained independence On December 10, 1898. Cuba saw many social and political changes in structure, however it was still suffering the aftereffect of the war. Many of the industrial and economical sectors of the country were ruled over by the United States. The provisional military government (provided by the U.S.) used its funding for infrastructure development instead of aiding farmers restore their fields in order to provide agricultural stability. This did not appear to be incidental because many American businessmen came in to buy cheap farmlands and properties. It has been speculated that if the government had focused on helping farmers, Cuban economy could have stabilized at a steady rate. These movements in which the American industry was slowly taking over the Islands’ complete economy. A senator from Ohio tried to create the Foraker amendment in order to make these franchises illegal, but did this not prevent the industrialist from taking over business and other resources from the land. For all intents and purposes, the industries which should have belonged to the Cubans after the Spanish allowed independence, now belonged to the Americans.

Cuba still wanted independence though. Americans were clamoring for the annexation of the country, but the Teller Act forbade such actions. While annexationists did exist in the island, the overwhelming majority did not want to go on being a colony. The New York Sun, on April 13 1900, summed it up quite eloquently “The attitude of the people of Cuba toward annexation seems to be this in brief; the wealth and intelligence of the island are generally in favor of it, and the agitators and their tools, the ignorant Negroes, are opposed to it” (It’s nice to see how racist newspapers were back then). This meant that the U.S. had to work around the issue and instead made the Platt Amendment which made the country a pseudo-colony. If the Cubans did not agree to these terms then the U.S. would not leave the Island. This was a dark time in their Cuba’s history if we consider that the Cuban flag would not fly over the island until 1902, when their first president was elected (Tomás Estrada). In 1903 a Permanent Treaty gave the U.S. the rights to uphold peace in the country as well as use of Guantanamo Bay (a very hot-button issue to Cubans).

The Cuban Revolution happened from 1953-1959.  This was another great revolution towards the Communist  movement. It was also the war that gave Fidel Castro power over Cuba. To this day Cuba remains under the control of the Castro family with his brother Raul taking over after his siblings retirement. This was also brought a battle that brought along many changes to the country. Equality was a top priority with social reforms seeking to grant greater rights to minorities (i.e. blacks, women, etc.). Housing, medical facilities, education, and communication saw improvements during this period as well. The government had also reduced crime and unemployment rates by a significant amount. By the end of the decade every child had received some form of education (an incredible achievement when compared to previous statistics). Cuba also had to institute land reformation policies due to the majority of fertile lands being owned by foreign entities with the results actually improving living standards. But, all was not well within Cuba after the revolution. After Castro gained more political favor, he instituted informant committees in every neighborhood to maintain control against revolutionary activities (a hypocritical move if we consider how he came about power) this would keep track of any activity (and I mean any) that could be deemed remotely suspicious. Political assassinations were the norm for a while in the country. Religious freedom was nulled country declared itself officially as atheistic (despite this homosexuals’ were still persecuted). Lands were taken over by the government without any opposition (as they would like us to believe). Despite these last few details, Cuba enjoys a somewhat stable economy, has one of the highest rated literacy rates with 99.8%, some of the best health care in the world (with one doctor per 170 citizen; second only to Italy), and it is free.

The price to pay can often be higher than most expect. At times the cost of independence ironically becomes freedom itself. I have shown some of the good and bad that a revolution can bring when they trade off relatively open governments in favor of military communist ones. If the U.S. does create a financial control board in Puerto Rico it might finally become the push it needs to awaken the fighting spirit of Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico needs to choose between freedom or being baby-sat by a country whose only interest lies in furthering its own agenda. Unlike the States which can have their debt forgiven by the government; Puerto Rico has no such benefit because of its status as a commonwealth. I doubt they will take this sitting down, though apathy rules the land at this moment it will not remain so much longer. You see when a dog is backed into a corner after fleeing for so long it takes the only logical step and fights back. They must not be silenced, they can not  be calmed. Puerto Ricans everywhere must finally band together and fight for they will not be treated as children. They must rise against those who have crippled their potential and strike back with full force. Even when their first fight happened and the U.S. government quelled the movement with lies and propaganda, a spark of fire remained. This small glimmer of hope is waiting for the moment to ignite a forest and set those hearts and souls ablaze with the flames of justice.

This article will be continued with a more positive outlook on revolutions that have overthrown oppressive governments in favor of more liberal ones. The content in this article was written and belongs to the author and respective original writers. If you enjoyed this article please share and like it. We have a fan page on Facebook that is starting to grow and will keep the updates posted.