The Rise and Fall of Ciudad Viagra


WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

Barceloneta is a coastal town of just over 20,000 residents. Thirty years ago it was best known for the juiciness of its pineapples – but for eight years, from 1998 until 2006 – it was known as Ciudad Viagra.

During those eight years, just one factory on the edge of this small town, produced all of the Viagra consumed in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The jobs at the factory paid well, starting at $15 per hour, and the drug’s popularity pumped $60 million annually into the local economy.

This pump extended over the entire island. 

Pfizer, Bristol Myers, Merck, Lilly, Abbot, Galaxo, Johnson & Johnson, Genentech…over a dozen pharmaceutical companies used the “IRS 936” tax abatement program to build tax-protected factories throughout Puerto Rico. 

At its peak, the “936” companies in Puerto Rico produced 25% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs, and 90% of the pharma consumed in the US.

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MSNBC Asks “What is Going on with Puerto Rico?”


WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

America has finally noticed a “problem” in Puerto Rico. 

Over the past week, as the island edged closer to missing a bond payment, the following news outlets all addressed the “problem.”

Wall Street Journal

New York Times

USA Today

Washington Post

Los Angeles Times

New York Daily News

Miami Herald

Chicago Tribune

Bloomberg News

Barrons

Forbes

Fortune

CNN Money

New Yorker

US News and World Report

Business Insider

Al Jazeera America

CBS

ABC

NBC

Fox News

CNN

C-SPAN

MSNBC

Huffington Post

Salon

Slate

Atlantic

Mother Jones

NPR

Pacifica Radio

Clear Channel Radio

Cumulus Media Network

National Radio Network

The “problem” is that Puerto Rico (allegedly) owes a lot of money. 

The deeper problem is that Puerto Rico is a colony, and no amount of debt negotiation or re-structuring will fix this. 

After 117 years of colonization, Puerto Rico is in a state of absolute dependence on the US. Even…

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On July Fourth – The Prophecies of Don Pedro


WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

When the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico 117 years ago, Gen. Nelson A. Miles declared that: 

We have come to bring you protection, not only to yourselves but to your property, to promote your prosperity, to bestow upon you the blessings and liberal institutions of our government…and to give the advantages and blessings of enlightened civilization.”

Gen. Nelson A. Miles

Aside from assuming that Puerto Rico was not “civilized” or “enlightened,” these words were supplemented with the following, on the floor of the U.S. Senate: 

A heterogeneous mass of mongrels make up their citizenship…they are incapable of self government…savages addicted to head-hunting and cannibalism.” (U.S. Senator William B. Bate; April 2, 1900) 

God has made us adept in government so that we may administer these savages and senile peoples.” (U.S. Senator Albert J. Beveridge; January 9, 1900)

On February 22, 1899, the New York Times

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The Deep Secret, of the Puerto Rican Day Parade


WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

In the 1950s, Puerto Ricans often found themselves unwelcome in New York City (and elsewhere in the US) as they tried to carve out a place for themselves and their families. Sometimes beaten by their neighbors, or by the police, they were given the lowest-paying jobs and the worst housing in the city.

And so, in 1958, Puerto Rican leaders decided to hold a modest parade where they could march arm in arm with pride through the heart of Manhattan.

Fathers taught their children…by pointing to floats dedicated to Puerto Rican towns known for sugarcane, coffee, tobacco, plantains and pineapples. 

Mothers tapped their feet…to the bombas, plenas and aguinaldos that evoked memories of their island childhood.

By 1966, the parade was already a “must do” event for national celebrities and politicians.

Today, the parade is a star-studded TV spectacle with 90,000 marchers, 2 million spectators and a horde of corporate sponsors. Marc Anthony, J.Lo, Ricky Martin, Victor Cruz, and Mayor…

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Oscar López Rivera and Pedro Albizu Campos…two great Puerto Rican heroes.


WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

A hero sacrifices a great deal – sometimes their life – for a cause much bigger than themselves. For this reason Oscar López Rivera and Don Pedro Albizu Campos are great heroes. 

They were both jailed for “seditious conspiracy against the United States.” In other words…they believed in the independence of Puerto Rico, and they were jailed for that belief.

Jailed by the US, the “leader of the free world.”

Yesterday in New York City, nearly 10,000 people marched to say FREE OSCAR LÓPEZ RIVERA NOW.

OSCAR_BIG_BIG_MARCH

We marched through the streets of El Barrio, and let the world hear about Oscar.

OSCAR_BIG_BIG_BIG_MARCH

Oscar’s head could be seen from every building, every corner.

oscar_-_head_off

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was in the front ranks of the march.

oscar_-_melissa_mark

The crowd stopped at 106th street, near the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center.

oscar_good_crowd

Old friends met each other.  Oscar’s brother, José Lopez Rivera, celebrated the cause together with Assemblyman…

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Father’s Day: Thoughts of Mixed Emotions


It had been 13 years since I visited the island of Puerto Rico, the birthplace of both my parents. I had considered a vacation to the island for some time when I received word that my father was a bit more ill than he was letting on. My father, a devout Pentecostal, never let on the severity of his illness. So, in September of 2013,  a call about his worsening illness,  had me on an emergency flight to the island. Unfortunately, my visit there, after so many years, was on bittersweet terms. One of mixed emotions; a sense of loss, heartache, closure, completion and belonging all at once.

Just before leaving on my flight I received word of his passing. I had lost the opportunity to say a few longing last words. Words which had remained unspoken due to a broken relationship. Even when standing face to face, we were separated by a thousand miles. So to hear of his passing at that moment left me heart-broken in never having a few last words.

During the funeral, I met several people who knew him well. They offered me an opportunity to meet the man that they knew. It was during that time that I came to realize that even though he had passed, there was something learned. While we never truly communicated, opportunity was never lost, for closure in silence was itself a lesson.

This all leaves me wondering of my role as a father. While my relationships with my children have had many ups and downs, hopefully, none will be a lesson taught in silence.

Nonetheless, my journey to the island, while bittersweet, was one of belonging.

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