Edgardo Vicenty, Entrepreneur and Financial Analyst
Manolo, on Tuesday we chose who our leaders will be for the next four years. I am genuinely worried because it seems that regardless of who won, we are going to get four more years of the same type of political incompetence we just had.
This prediction is ironic because I have no doubt that at least three of the candidates for governor were substantially more prepared to lead the island than Ricardo Rosselló was four years ago. Each of them has over a decade of experience in public service as either mayor, senator or in other non-elected positions, giving them ample experience in how our government works and what the island needs. The other two candidates were just as inexperienced in government and leadership as Rosselló was, but unlike him, they weren’t surrounded by lobbyists and other suspicious characters.
The candidate options for the Legislature were even better than for the governor’s position. The new parties have introduced new players into the mix, some very competent and with a wide variety of ideals, which should result in better representation for minority groups on the island. Additionally, traditional parties had better candidates than usual. One example is the PDP, which has Juan Zaragoza running for Senate. Zaragoza is a successful businessman, who has served twice in important government positions, including as Secretary of Hacienda, where he increased sales tax collections and implemented important technological changes, while dealing with the beginning of the Puerto Rico government’s bankruptcy.
It’s almost a certainty that during the next four years, we will have more competent leaders at the helm of the country than what we had during the past four years. The problem, which we have written about multiple times, is that as a country we still don’t have an action plan, which all these new leaders can rally behind to execute.
Without a common objective, vision, action plan, however we want to call it, on Nov. 4 we will see the beginning of a political war for power among all these highly competent and ambitious new leaders, each of them trying to place their ideals and interests over their colleagues. The main victim in this war will be the people of Puerto Rico, who will have to suffer through four more years of politicians playing politics instead of working together to execute the economic, health and education reforms the island so desperately needs.
Eliminating bipartisanship and electing new, more competent candidates is a solid first step towards reforming our government, but we must understand that our government is going to continue being dysfunctional until as a country, we have a common set of objectives.
Manuel Cidre, Founder of Los Cidrines
Edgardo, my father used to tell my brothers and me, “you have just earned the right to start.” We heard this phrase from him many times while we were tired from working, and we just didn’t understand what he meant.
Over the years we slowly started to grasp the meaning of these wise words. We came to understand that he was saying that simply putting in the work is not enough, that we had to become accountable for the results if we wanted to be successful in the long term.
Puerto Rico’s general elections were held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Today, we, the people, get to enjoy the fact that this political cycle is finally over, because honestly, it’s been exhausting. The losing candidates get to go home and continue with their lives; the winners get to celebrate, but for us, the general population, “we have just earned the right to start.”
Selecting a new government was only the beginning, now we have to hold our new leaders accountable for their campaign promises. We must demand the people appointed to lead the Justice Department, the Comptroller and the FEI are independent from government influences so they can investigate and prosecute corrupt officials freely. We must insert ourselves in the process of revamping our education, security, health system, streets, costs of doing business and economic development, all for the sake of fighting poverty and inequality.
Election Day cannot be the end of our political activism, it has to be the beginning; our country needs us to become accountable for our leaders’ actions.
Edgardo, my generation gave its back to our country. We put our family’s future in the hands of 27 senators, 52 legislators, a governor and a series of public employees and agency leaders who mostly obtained their positions because of political affiliations and not because of their capability and experience. This method of trusting others with our country’s future was an utter failure, which resulted in our current bankruptcy. Now, my generation stands in the sidelines, watching your generation try to fix the problems you inherited.
We need to do better; my generation is part of the problem and we need to become part of the solution. My vote in this election has only earned me the right to start; now I have to join your generation and hold our politicians accountable.
I ask my generation to rethink their usual ways; we can’t just conform with having casting our votes. We have to make whoever wins accountable.