The globalized world at the beginning of the twenty-first century has turned traditional notions of national sovereignty and international relations obsolete, thus opening interesting areas of experimentation with supranational structures of shared sovereignties. A transformation of the National-states has been put in motion in a rainbow of novel judicial figures, such as the European Union. It is time, therefore, to overcome insecurities and open areas of imagination and political creativity, in an exemplary frame of optimism, confidence, and activism.
The democratic ethos stipulates that in order for freedom to prevail, a common political culture must allow for reaching functional agreements like, for example, adopting a state Constitution. In Puerto Rico, however, political parties and mass media constantly insist on making dialogue difficult; on creating an atmosphere of contention based on partisan loyalties and ideological moral grounds. In spite of this tendency toward immobility and tension, shared ideas prevail among all sectors which are capable of leading to useful dialogues and functional agreements regarding our political future.
The five shared notions described below constitute a starting point for a possible civil-political dialogue with the purpose of updating our constitutional order and improving the present democratic deficit that downgrades us all.
1. Puerto Rico is a reality delimited by a particular way of being. Our geography, culture, desires, and history, provide us with an identity different from the rest of humanity. We are, in other words, a particular polis, perceptible and definable, although in continuous transformation. Be it nation, people, or any other name, the concept of a common identity overcomes social, economic, regional, political, racial, geographic, and gender differences. We all are, first and foremost, Puerto Ricans.
2.The supreme responsibility of the State and its political-administrative structure (government) is to provide the Puerto Rican community with stability, well-being, and progress; that is to say, improving the material and spiritual condition of its citizens. The exercise of political power must have that purpose; any other end is illegitimate.
3.The foundation of our constitutional organization, by virtue of modernity, is “liberal democracy,” understood as a System of Law with inalienable individual rights (society of free people), and a system of succession based on periodic elections and universal suffrage. No future transformation should alter that institutional foundation.
4.No matter what future course the formal relationship with the United States takes, some ties should remain. The universal symbol of that relation is American citizenship, extended to future generations; whether it is perceived as an exclusive citizenship or part of a double citizenship. The value of a shared citizenship is based on three basic practical considerations: 1) to integrate Puerto Rico into the most powerful economy in the world with its culture of consumption; 2) to maintain the free migratory movement to and from the United States; and 3) to perpetuate the flow of funds that come from the welfare system of the United States.
5.The current relationship with the United States is unsatisfactory; it continues to be colonial in nature or at least denotes some democratic insufficiency. Therefore, some type of transformation is required, although the situation is not as serious as to accept indiscriminate change. The status quo is preferable over any radical, arbitrary or unilateral change.
Roberto Gándara Sánchez
Author: Proyectos FPH
Published: January 22, 2008.
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