APTOPIX Puerto Rico Protests

(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

For the last couple of weeks, the people of Puerto Rico have spoken. Yet, for decades we all have had an extremely passive approach to politics. Yes, we have shown to be passionate about our future. Yes, we have been passionate about our economy. Yes, we have also shown to be extremely passionate about our politics. Yet, that passion mysteriously dissipated when time came for us to approach the ballot box.

As citizens, we trembled at the prospect of stepping outside of our own political affiliations. By force of habit, every four years, we aligned ourselves to a political party rather than to a candidate. In fact, oftentimes, we voted against a candidate - and not for a candidate.

By choosing passiveness, we decided to live in fear. Fear of change, fear of crossing party lines, fear of losing government contracts, fear of losing our government sponsored food stamps. Fear of loss.

When fear permeates, fear limits growth.

Our economy has been inexorably linked to politics. So, when our private sector relied largely on government contracts to remain profitable, can we really continue to call that sector truly private? When our not-for-profit organizations relied primarily on legislative funding to stay afloat, do they not simply become another branch of the government? When a disproportionate percentage of the populace on the island worked and works for either local or state governments agencies…how can we honestly ever expect to get out from under the yoke of our political affiliations?

It is no surprise that this “welfare party system” failed.

We have allowed politics, politicians and our respective political parties to decide for us. Still, we as a collective group are not immune to our share of responsibility. We are the ones who have allowed fear through political linkage in order to achieve our own economic survival. Sadly, the cost of this fear is not insignificant. This sense has dramatically eroded our entrepreneurial spirit. We no longer dared to create, instead we just enjoyed the comforts of the status quo.

Yet there is change in the air.

Seemingly overnight, we, the people of Puerto Rico have chosen not to remain passive and fearful anymore. By shedding our fears and reconnecting with our inborn sense of pride and passion, we have opened the possibility of change. Still, a word of caution, change for the sake of change, without direction or leadership, can be an empty exercise. In a democratic state we must allow the government structures to serve their purpose. However, if we continue the course of recent days with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has been so vividly demonstrated, and refuse to revert back to the passivity of our comfort zones and embrace an active role in our own future, we will not only change history; we will create history.

The choice is ours.

Architect and Vice Chairman Board of Directors of Invest Puerto Rico

(2) comments

Gene Roman

Bien hecho Chairman Diaz. I am proud of what our people on the Island have accomplished since the publication of the "Rickyleak" chats. It demonstrates the efficacy of non-violence as a tool to achieve political goals. I hope that the moral outrage expressed by the thousands in "la Marcha del Pueblo" will now be redirected to permanently ending the ELA experiment. It's time for Congress to accept the 'Tennesse Plan' petition for statehood or create a plan for transitioning to Independence.

Ibrahim Reyes

"Seemingly overnight, we, the people of Puerto Rico have chosen not to remain passive and fearful anymore." Yes, Ricardo, you nailed it, September 20, 2017 - Hurricane Maria - changed everything. The fear of losing went away when we lost everything overnight, and as we rose up we decided, quietly, in our interior, that we would not tolerate more of the same. When soon-to-be former Governor Ricardo Rossello showed that his mind and heart are not aligned with the rest of us, our post-Maria spirit was not prepared to forgive and forget. Not anymore. Maria changed everything. Maria changed us. Adelante!

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