ELA

LAS DOS GRANDES MENTIRAS DE LA CAMPAŇA DEL 2016

 

 

Durante los meses que quedan para las elecciones veremos varias mentiras de múltiples políticos, pero hay dos mentiras que serán el corazón de la campaña del PPD en contra del PNP y de la estadidad. Si, de la estadidad. No tengan la menor duda que la elección de 2016 es plebiscitaria y que el estatus es el issue más importante en ella.

 

El PPD nos va a presentar estas dos mentiras como el corazón de su campaña:

 

PRIMERA MENTIRA: El PPD busca un ELA, no colonial, fuera de la clausula territorial de la Constitución Federal. Esta es una mentira aún más grande que la que decía que en 1952 se había logrado un nuevo estatus. según el entonces Comisionado Residente, Antonio Fernós Isern, en su libro Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico: Antecedentes, Creación y Desarrollo hasta al Época Presente, 1974, a la página 357 nos dice “[e]l primer borrador de un proyecto de ley para revisar la de Relaciones Federales, preparada por el Comisionado Residente, tuvo fecha de 27 de marzo de 1952. A su virtud se habría de sustituir la propuesta Ley de Relaciones Federales por un convenio que se llamaría <<Puerto Rico Federative Relations Compact>>. El 4 de mayo de 1953, un año más tarde, se radica una resolución conjunta a esos efectos, que no prosperó. El 23 de marzo de 1959, se radica el Proyecto Fernós-Murray para mejorar el ELA, tampoco prosperó. Aunque se llevó a cabo un plebiscito en 1967 con el aval del Presidente Kennedy y luego Johnson, y que fue ganado por el ELA, nada ocurrió.

 

El Task Force del Presidente sobre PR publicó un informe en el 2011 y en las páginas 26 nos dijo:

“Third, consistent with the legal conclusions reached by prior Task Force reports, one aspect of some proposals for enhanced Commonwealth remains constitutionally problematic—proposals that would establish a relationship between Puerto Rico and the Federal Government that could not be altered except by mutual consent This was a focus of past Task Force reports The Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at the issue of such mutual consent provisions, and it has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally”

De forma similar, el informe del Task Force del Presidente de 2007 dijo así a las páginas 6-7:

“The U.S. constitution would not permit the “new commonwealth” proposal because land under united States sover­eignty must either be a State or a territory. as the Supreme court stated over a hundred years ago, if land is “not included in any State,” it “must necessarily be governed by or under the authority of congress.” First Nat. Bank v. Yankton County, 101 U.S. 129, 133 (1879). Thus, although congress is free to allow a territory to exercise powers of self-government (as congress has done with respect to Puerto Rico), it may not restrict the authority of a future congress over that territory.

This limitation on the power of congress reflects the general rule that one legisla­ ture cannot bind a subsequent one. each congress may repeal or amend laws that a previous congress enacted, and congress may pass laws inconsistent with treaties. By the same token, a future congress must have the power to disavow commit­ ments contained in a covenant between the Federal Government and one of its territories, regardless of the terms of that covenant.

accordingly, the “new commonwealth” proposal that some have proposed contem­plates a political status for Puerto Rico that is not permitted by the united States constitution. as long as Puerto Rico remains a territory of the united States, congress may not impair the constitutional authority of later congresses to alter the political powers of the government of Puerto Rico by entering into a covenant or compact with Puerto Rico or its residents.”

 

Más aún, en el argumento oral del caso de Sánchez Valle, la Juez Kagan preguntó a la abogada del Solicitor General, el representante del Gobierno Federal en la vista, lo siguiente:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Do you think it’s not possible, Ms. Saharsky I mean, putting aside whether

Congress has done it here, but you think it’s simply not possible for Congress to confer

sovereignty in the sense   that would matter for the Double Jeopardy Clause?

 

MS. SAHARSKY: Well, it certainly could by making it a State

 

JUSTICE KAGAN: Yes

 

MS SAHARSKY: or by making it independent.

 

JUSTICE KAGAN: But but but not short of that.

 

MS. SAHARSKY: We think that that would just be fundamentally inconsistent with the

constitutional design. . .

En otras palabras, el ELA fuera de la cláusula territorial NO EXISTE. Pero en estas etapas de la campaña, nadie en el PPD va a hablar de soberanía o republica asociada porque saben que dividiría el partido. Eso podría ocurrir en el 2017.

SEGUNDA MENTIRA: Hay que trabajar para mejorar la economía para entonces bregar con el estatus.

EMBUSTE. Que hay que mejorar la economía primero y luego bregar con el estatus fue el mantra de Luis Muñoz Marín en los años 30’s antes de fundar el PPD y sigue siendo el mantra de este partido. Pero desde el 2014 estuvo pidiendo Capítulo 9, paridad de fondos de Medicaid y Medicare y otros muchos programas. Eso se llama estadidad. Y quiere ser eximido de las leyes de cabotaje, que aplican a Hawaii y Alaska también. Eso se da en la independencia. O sea, que todo lo que quiere en PPD se resuelve con un cambio de estatus. No olvidemos que el estado más pobre de USA tiene más del doble de ingreso per cápita que PR y la emigración de los boricuas en este siglo ha sido casi exclusivamente a los USA. Uno no emigra para empeorar y si es así, regresas. Muy pocos han regresado a PR.

Así que no se dejen engañar, sea a la estadidad o hacia la independencia, PR tiene que cambiar y con el PPD no habrá cambio, si no más de lo mismo.

 

 

 

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SANCHEZ VALLE NO ACALLA LAS MENTIRAS DEL PPD

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 10.58.09 AM

A pesar del contundente golpe que PR v. Sánchez Valle le acaba de propinar al ELA, aún hay voces que niegan la realidad de las consecuencias de la opinión. Héctor Ferrer, al que distingo y aprecio, salió de la reunión del PPD del viernes y dijo así:

 

Ferrer, en tanto, precisó que la reformulación del ELA se fundamentaría en una relación no colonial ni territorial, y que se basaría en la soberanía del pueblo, buscará ampliar al ámbito de gobierno propio de los puertorriqueños, preservarla ciudadanía estadounidense y, al mismo tiempo, la identidad nacional puertorriqueña, y promoverá desarrollar la presencia internacional de la Isla.

 

El problema con esta visión es que la Juez Kagan le cerró las puertas a ésta interpretación cuando dijo a las páginas 16-17 de su opinión en Sánchez Valle:

All that separates our view from petitioner’s is what that congressional recognition means for Puerto Rico’s ability to bring successive prosecutions. We agree that Congress has broad latitude to develop innovative ap­proaches to territorial governance, see U. S. Const., Art. IV, §3, cl. 2; that Congress may thus enable a territory’s people to make large-scale choices about their own politi­cal institutions; and that Congress did exactly that in enacting Public Law 600 and approving the Puerto Rico Constitution—prime examples of what Felix Frankfurter once termed “inventive statesmanship” respecting the island. Memorandum for the Secretary of War, in Hear­ings on S. 4604 before the Senate Committee on Pacific Islands and Porto Rico, 63d Cong., 2d Sess., 22 (1914); see Reply Brief 18–20. But one power Congress does not have, just in the nature of things: It has no capacity, no magic wand or airbrush, to erase or otherwise rewrite its own foundational role in conferring political authority. Or otherwise said, the delegator cannot make itself any less so—no matter how much authority it opts to hand over. And our dual-sovereignty test makes this historical fact dispositive: If an entity’s authority to enact and enforce criminal law ultimately comes from Congress, then it cannot follow a federal prosecution with its own. That is true of Puerto Rico, because Congress authorized and approved its Constitution, from which prosecutorial power now flows.

En síntesis, la autoridad última sobre PR la tiene el Congreso. Más aún, en el argumento oral del caso, la Juez Kagan preguntó a la abogada del Solicitor General, el representante del Gobierno Federal en la vista, lo siguiente:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Do you think it’s not possible, Ms. Saharsky I mean, putting aside whether Congress has done it here, but you think it’s simply not possible for Congress to confer sovereignty in the sense   that would matter for the Double Jeopardy Clause?

MS. SAHARSKY: Well, it certainly could by making it a State

 

JUSTICE KAGAN: Yes

 

MS SAHARSKY: or by making it independent.

 

JUSTICE KAGAN: But but but not short of that.

 

MS. SAHARSKY: We think that that would just be fundamentally inconsistent with the constitutional design. . .

 

Ésta es la posición oficial del Gobierno de Obama. Más aún, en el Report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status éste dijo a la página 26:

Third, consistent with the legal conclusions reached by prior Task Force reports, one aspect of some proposals for enhanced Commonwealth remains constitutionally problematic—proposals that would establish a relationship between Puerto Rico and the Federal Government that could not be altered except by mutual consent This was a focus of past Task Force reports The Obama Administration has taken a fresh look at the issue of such mutual consent provisions, and it has concluded that such provisions would not be enforceable because a future Congress could choose to alter that relationship unilaterally (Congress similarly could elect to enact legislation violating a treaty with a foreign country or to legislate over the opposition of one or more States )

En síntesis, EL ELA ES UNA MENTIRA y no se puede mejorar. Lo que hay es estadidad o independencia. Y por si acaso, el antes mencionado informe de Casa Blanca dice a la página 25 lo siguiente:

Free Association is a type of independence A compact of Free Association would establish a mutual agreement that would recognize that the United States and Puerto Rico are closely linked in specific ways as detailed in the compact Compacts of this sort are based on the national sovereignty of each country, and either nation can unilaterally terminate the association.

Así que no se dejen confundir, la libre asociación, república asociada o como quieran llamar a la “soberanía” no es más que la independencia con un tratado con USA que cada parte puede terminar unilateralmente.

PS: El PNP que se ponga a educar al Pueblo sobre las MENTIRAS del ELA. Yo se que la campaña para la Gobernación es importante pero este documento lo debe hacer la Comisión Estadista, no este servidor.

 

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

 

Lin Manuel Miranda's 100 Miles Across

Lin Manuel Miranda’s 100 Miles Across

On Last Week With John Oliver last night, Lin Manuel Miranda and John Oliver made an impassioned plead in favor of Congressional help to Puerto Rico. Since I am not a fan of musical theater, my wife, who would give a kidney for tickets to Hamilton, had to explain who Lin Manuel was, I saw the video and recognize his incredible talent.  It is clear that they both are sincere in their plead for the island. It is also clear that they do not have all the information on the PR Debt Crisis.

 

The bad guys in their narrative are the hedge funds or as they call them, vulture funds. These are funds that go into distressed businesses or municipalities and buy their bonds at a discount. In the case, for example, of the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank bonds, they are selling at around 18 cents on the dollar. This is equivalent of a 34% interest rate. Of course, PR will likely default on them on May 1.

 

Hedge funds come in all colors and sizes. Some want to be paid 100 cents on the dollar, others are willing to take a haircut (a cut in the price and hence the interest rate paid) because they would still make money. For example, in the PR Power Electric Company’s deal, where bondholders are taking haircuts, there are hedge funds. Hence, to say they are the enemy is disingenuous.

 

Another misconception is Chapter 9. If you hear Mr. Miranda or Mr. Oliver, it seems the panacea to all of the island’s problems. However, Chapter 9 DOES NOT APPLY to the Government of Puerto Rico or to ANY state government. It applies to MUNICIPALITIES, which is defined as the more common cities of a state or its political subdivisions. In Puerto Rico’s case, much of the debt was issued by political subdivisions. Still, Chapter 9 does not provide much relief as I further explain.

 

According to the Government Development Bank Quarterly Report dated May 7, 2015, PR’s GO debts total $23.804 billion. PR’s GO’s have the protection of the island’s constitution which requires that in case of a lack of funds in the budget, they be paid before anything else. See, Article VI, section 8 of the Constitution. That leaves us with $48.400 billion as potentially subject to Chapter 9. However, 11 U.S.C. § 109(c) requires that state law specifically allow a municipality or public corporation to file for Chapter 9 protection. If Law 71-2014, the Recovery Act, is any indication of the legislature’s intent, municipalities, the GBD and its subsidiaries, the Fideicomiso de Niños, the Commonwealth’s Retirement System and its instrumentalities, the Judicial Retirement Fund, the Agency for Municipal Financing, AFI, COFINA, the Teacher’s Retirement Fund, and others were excluded from filing for its protection. Therefore, one can conclude that the legislature would not allow them to file for Chapter 9 protection. If one excludes these parties bonds, one is left with only $24.914 billion that could file for Chapter 9 protection, leaving $47.290 unprotected. See pages 56 and 64 of Government Development Bank Quarterly Report dated May 7, 2015.

 

Moreover, 11 USC § 109(c) requires that a municipality be insolvent in order to file for Chapter 9 protection. But COFINA is not insolvent. Hence, even if PR law allowed it to file, it could not. In addition, § 109(c) requires that the parties negotiate in good faith. Ms. Melba Acosta, head of the Government Development Bank testified in a case in February 2016 in Federal Court where WalMart was challenging a PR tax and admitted, under oath, that the FIRST time PR had met with its creditors was January 29, 2016. Hence, this good faith negotiation has not yet been met.

 

These and other reasons are why PR is pushing for a Super Chapter 9 where it would restructure all of its debt. That, however, has a snowball’s chance in hell of being approved since no STATE can do this and would be a terrible precedent for General Obligation bondholders. If Congress gives this to a territory, why would it not provide it to the states? And the 10th Amendment would not be a bar since it would mirror Chapter 9 by making it a state decision to take advantage of the law.

 

Another inaccuracy is the mention of firing teachers as a hedge funds idea. Happens to be that it is part of the Government of Puerto Rico’s Krueger report, which in typical IMF fashion, favors wholesale firing of employees and lowering of minimum wage. AGAIN, THIS IS NOT HEDGE FUNDS’ IDEAS BUT RATHER AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT REPORT. As to the hospital that had its electricity disconnected, there is no mention that the lack of government payments was what forced the default. PR’s Government claims it cannot pay its bond debt, but it is not paying its suppliers to the tune of $2 billion. In addition, there is no mention of the fact that the last 4 administrations have more than doubled the debt in order to finance its budgetary deficits or that the island has 120 public agencies. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico has been able to pay TENS OF  MILLIONS  to their restructuring advisors and spin-doctors without complain.  See:  Professional Services Contracts for the Government Development Bank 1/1/2013-4/26/2016 (And this is just for the Government Development Bank, does not include the TENS OF MILLIONS already spent over at PREPA, PRASA, and other agencies)

Finally, and more importantly, the fact is that the PR economy has not grown in quite a while. Without economic development, PR cannot pay its debt. At the center of this morass is the status, which Mr. Miranda seems to want to ignore. Interestingly, since the 1930’s Luis Muñoz Marín proclaimed that the status was not the issue but rather improving the economy. More than 70 years later the economy is worse than ever. The status IS the issue.

 

Puerto Rico is in dire problems, yes, and help is needed, yes, but as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “just the facts, just the facts.”

 

You can also read on my blog:  CHAPTER 9 DOES NOT RESOLVE PUERTO RICO’S PROBLEMS

 

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