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Puerto Rico: Gov. Fortuño’s State of the Union deals with same issues as Obama’s plus one: country’s status

By Natalia A. Bonilla-Berrios


PUERTO RICO — Governor Luis Fortuño announced this week in his State of the Union address the activation of the National Guard as a preventive action against crime.
“While we take the time to integrate new policemen, the National Guard will help us on preventive patrol -with the Police- in areas of great criminal incidences”, said the Governor.
Fortuno talks foto.jpg
By January 28, 66 homicides had been reported since the beginning of this year. The popular urge to stop violence has finally been heard after 41 days, still without a Secretary of the Department of Justice and a strong security platform to decrease delinquency on the Island.
Fortuño didn´t clarify which steps the authorities will be taking but he made a reference that all actions will be similar to the New York City security model.
Health Reform
The main goal in 2010 is to approve a local Healthcare Reform that meets the requirements of the population.
While the H1N1 pandemic took prominence in 2009, with the January 12 Haiti earthquake, the Fortuño administration has taken seriously the vulnerability of the nation in case of a similar event.
As a result, the first mandate is assigning the construction of medical emergency bases across all the 78 towns starting this year.
Also, Fortuño signaled the struggle he and Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico in the U.S. Congress, are having to include the Island in Obama´s Healthcare Reform.

Currently, the nation receives 17% of Medicaid funds in comparison of the 50% and 85% the 50 States receive. Therefore, Fortuño told the population that “Although we are U.S. citizens, like the residents of the other 50 states, wouldn´t have to ask to be treated as equal” if we were a permanent State.
Statehood vs. Independence
With this argument, he talked about resolving the Island´s political status and relationship with the United States.
As a colony, Puerto Rico is deciding in an upcoming referendum, H.R. 2499 — a resolution to decide between two opposites: becoming the 51st state or opting for independence.
“It´s time Washington proceeds with its responsibility…but if Washington doesn’t act, Puerto Rico will,” said Fortuño.
Job security
During the hour and a half speech, Fortuño referred to the remarks of U.S. President Barack Obama on the economical core of the country: jobs. Creating employment was his goal for this fiscal year as well as the Governor, who gave a green light to big transportation projects such as: extending the metropolitan urban train from Santurce to Old San Juan; keep building the “Las Americas” Port; and finishing on time the construction of all the facilities for the “Juegos Centroamericanos” Mayaguez 2010 happening this July.
Nonetheless, the unemployment rate doesn’t seem to stop climbing. The present administration has fired over 25,000 employees only to “put the House in order” and lower the State’s debt with the U.S. credit agencies.
There are still 5,000 working places vulnerable for the next final decision which will be made in this trimester.

Learn more about Natalia

Natalia A. Bonilla Berrios is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science, International Relations. Natalia has a 3.90 GPA.

She was the former president of the UPR student chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a member of the National Society of Collegiates and Scholars and was selected for the ‘Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges’ program, during her freshman year.

In addition, she has worked as an intern reporter for Diálogo Digital, Puerto Rican Center of Investigative Journalism, served as a staff writer for Paréntesis newspaper, and as a volunteer reporter for IDentidad magazine.

Bonilla has served as student representative for the Freedom of the Press Center of Puerto Rico and has been selected as one of the UWIRE’s Top 100 Student Journalists of 2009.


She was selected for the Student Camp at Unity 2008, the quadrennial Journalists of Color Convention and also, as a volunteer for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy.

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  • Maria Rosa
    February 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Gov. Luis Fortuño wants to create jobs yet dismissed thousands of government employees that had caused an island-wide general strike a cross diverse sectors of Puerto Rico. His statements in his address to the island seem to be contradictory under one hand his policies create massive unemployment while at the same time the focus of his administration is job creation. Puerto Ricans deserve a better leader than Fortuño who has shown he lacks foresight and simply common sense though proven himself through his actions and polices to be an appropriate leader for those forces in Puerto Rico that want to continue the policies of colonial exploitation for the benefit of the few on the island and in Washington. And the referendum vote of HR 2499 is a continuos joke that has been held since Eugenio María de Hostos organized the League of Puerto Rican Patriots, leading a Commission to present the idea of a Plebiscite to Mckinely that he ignored and established after the Cuban-American War, the first colonial government of the island. Why vote for freedom and independence? isn’t it an inalienable right of people? What Puerto Rico should be doing in the 21st century is organizing a group of enlightened leaders to begin negotiating the transfer of power to the people of Puerto Rico with sufficient economic compensation to establish itself as a free independent nation. Basta ya! Thanks to Natalia for her informative writing.

  • raymond acevedo
    March 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I’ts about time that Puerto Rico shit or gets off the pot.For to many Years we have been giving this island so much welfare assistance, their is no wonder why america is broke among other issues.I believe its time that america should drop puerto rico like a bad habit.and let them take care of themself.There are many that would ague the point that the puerto rican have serve in foreign wars and that they pay with the price of blood.I say that the least they can do for all the money we have given the island.To sum it all puerto rico is nothing but a third world country dress in gold. whos gold the U.S.
    As a child born of puerto rican parents in New York.And as a vet with 20 years Army Service i say to the puerto rican people SHAME ON YOU for always expecting a hand out.We have so much pride when we say we are puerto rican but we have no pride in finding a JOB and lets stop depending on the U.S. tax payer to pay your bill.
    put that in your pipe fortuno and smoke it.
    Raymond Acevedo
    Land Surveyor

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