On Thursday Sept. 3, Tony Fas Alzamora rammed Bill 1177 through the Senate, without any discussion or debate before the vote was taken.
Bill 1177 will make Spanish the only “official language” of Puerto Rico.
Spanish will be mandatory in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the island’s government. This includes the power (PREPA), water (PRASA) and highway (PRHTA) authorities, every government agency, every court, and all 78 mayoral bureaucracies.
All transcripts, agency memoranda, court papers, judicial opinions, bill language, hearing and committee minutes, executive orders, mayoral documents, city council proceedings, revenue statements and financial records, shall all be in SPANISH ONLY.
The bill has teeth: any government employee who fails to comply with it, in any of the above categories, may be fined up to $10,000.
WHO IS TONY FAS ALZAMORA?
Tony Fas Alzamora is not merely a senator. He is the longest-sitting politician in Puerto Rican history: he has been in office for 38 years since 1977.
Alzamora has been President of the Puerto Rican Senate, President of the PPD Party, and Director of the Management & Budget Office of Puerto Rico.
If anyone knows the Puerto Rican government bureaucracy, it is Sen. Alzamora. He knows exactly what he is doing with this bill.
Senator Tony Fas Alzamora on the Senate floor
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BILL?
Alzamora invokes “cultural pride” and “preserving our heritage” as the motive for his bill. However the entire history of his PPD party, and what has kept them in office, is the notion of having “the best of both worlds” in Puerto Rico. This bill contradicts the entire philosophy of his PPD party.
The timing of this bill (just before the PPD is run out of office in 2016), the manner of its passage (with no discussion or debate), and its targeted scope (applying to the entire government, but not the school system) suggests a calculated political intent, that has nothing to do with culture or heritage.
THE POISON PILL
Alzamora’s bill is a “Poison Pill” ordinance.
Its purpose is to cripple Puerto Rico’s chances, of ever becoming the 51st state. When the PNP sweep back into office, and make their push for statehood, the US congress will look at this “Spanish Only” government, and have another powerful reason for denying statehood.
“Statehood” will appear more onerous to the American public, to conservative congressmen, and to Fox News.
“Statehood” will be difficult because all legislative, regulatory and judicial integration between Puerto Rico and the US, will become a linguistic nightmare.
“Statehood” will be impossible if all government correspondence to the US is in Spanish, and the US cannot understand it.
Onerous…difficult…impossible…this is what Alzamora’s bill will accomplish. It will interpose a linguistic chasm between the US and Puerto Rican governments, and make Puerto Rican statehood even more of a pipe dream, than it has been for the past 50 years.
BACKING PIERLUISI INTO A CORNER
The Alzamora bill accomplishes one other objective: it forces Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi into a tight corner.
Pierluisi is supposed to represent Puerto Rico in Congress…but for the past seven months, from February 11, 2015 until today, he can’t even get his own Chapter 9 bankruptcy bill – HR 870 – out of US congressional committee.
Pierluisi has been utterly impotent.
Now, if the Spanish Only bill becomes law, Pierluisi will have two distasteful options:
Number 1…he asks Congress to veto it. If they do, the PPD can say “he can’t get us any bankruptcy relief, but he can kill our Spanish language!”
Number 2…he doesn’t push for a veto. Puerto Rico goes Spanish Only. Statehood goes out the window, along with his party.
POLITICS OVER PEOPLE
This is what politicians do. They play games with each other.
Puerto Rico is in great trouble…but in the midst of a deep fiscal crisis, the most senior politician on the entire island is unconcerned with creating more government waste and inefficiency and confusion in the management of Puerto Rico.
It doesn’t matter if people get hurt. These politicians don’t care about people.
They care about their bank accounts, and their petty Machiavellian politics.
They can’t even get anything DONE…but they sure are crafty.