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Hey Fortuño! What a Puerto Rican mess!

Updated on February 23, 2012

Riots against governor Fortuño

He said he was going to turn the Island around...

...but instead he turned it upside down.

Arguing that the Government of Puerto Rico did not have enough money to meet its first payroll, governor Luis Fortuño-Burset started his tenure in 2009 by laying off 17,000 Puerto Rican government workers, freezing salaries, and cutting government spending by 20%.

He also prohibited unnecessary government spending in publicity.

The United States territory of Puerto Rico had then a deficit of about $3.2 billion and an unemployment rate of 15%.

Lay offs raised that percentage to about 17%.

In more than one occasion, the ACLU intervened because Fortuño defined the protestors as "terrorists". Let it be known that among the lay-offs were pregnant women and couples that lose their jobs on the same day, leaving families with no immediate alternative source of income.

But portraying now as terrorists those that used to work for him was only the start of said turnaround, make it military style turnaround.

Mr. Fortuño was elected governor in 2009. On 5 February 2010, CNN reported the Fortuño activated 1000 members of the National Guard in order to help find crime and war of drugs. These soldiers were mostly assigned to low-income areas.

The Government of Puerto Rico reported an 11% drop on crime rate, but this was later denied by the Institute of Forensic Sciences, who alleged that they have been reporting strong differences in the statistics that they have against those reported by the Police.

A policeman even got fired because he went public on the alleged reward system that is in place in order to maintain "good" statistics. Statistics that will make the Government look good. Especially when it comes to travel to the U.S. to show his face to his counterparts.

Student protests Mr. Fortuño government-Police brutality

The following are some of the sectors that have had protests or impasses with Mr. Fortuño

Teachers- Since the layoffs, the average student-teacher ratio is 30:1. Teachers in Puerto Rico earn $1000 per month average.

Students- Fortuño approved a fee of $800 for students attending the University of Puerto Rico, which is mainly intended for low-income students.

Police- After a long set of promises, the Government finally approved a raise of $100 per month. The average policeman in Puerto Rico earns $1200 per month.

Doctors- Due to a weak healthcare reimbursement/payment system, doctors started to refuse to treat those under the Government healthcare plan.

Folkloric musicians- Fortuño approved legislation to further limit the budget reserved for local artists in government sponsored events.

Government retired personnel- Retired population are at risk of not seeing a paycheck in as short as five years. Fortuño is yet to provide a definite plan on how to counteract this critical situation.

159 more murders occurred in Puerto Rico during 2011, for a total of 1136, the second highest in our modern history.


What prohibition?

Mr. Fortuño did prohibit unnecessary spending in publicity. Yet it was obvious that these public relations/publicity campaigns were in crescendo without most citizens even being aware.

Also, the Government hired new personnel. How come Fortuño fired almost 20 thousand people that were already trained in their respective fields, to later turn around to hire new, inexperienced personnel? One could argue that they might have been hired at a lower rate. But if this was true, how come the Government did not make a public announcement on this like it had been doing until now?

Trips are not uncommon, not only for Mr. Fortuño but for many of his lawmakers and heads of offices.

These trips are important, not for the Island really, but to further his political career. Believe it or not this republican gem dreams in sharing a ballot as, at least, Vice-President of the United States.

Who's laughing? Take heed. So far, he is walking his baby steps. Last October he became President of the Council of State Governments (CSG).


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