S**t People Say About Puerto Rico

Huffington Post Latino Voices Still Medicore

Okay, maybe it’s not fair to trash the whole Huffington Post Latino Voices “channel” or whatever it is, but this “opinion” piece or whatever it is, might in some ways be worse than the sight of Amaury Nolasco in a dress. I will refrain from calling this an example of a blowhard dilettante choosing to dump on Puerto Rico in the same condescending way generations of blowhard dilettantes have done in the past, because it isn’t quite that. Thankfully, we are moving past the time when blowhard dilettantes dominate public discourse and a real solidarity between Latin American and Caribbean people begins to produce a productive dialog to confront the global elites that try to define us even as they attempt to destroy our culture, economy, “territory,” and communities.

But really, this idea of someone who hasn’t gone to Puerto Rico in three years and seems to base an entire piece on a couple of weeks in tourist areas to paint a morbid picture of Puerto Rico to fulfill some unexplained fantasy is just, well, it’s the product of mediocre thinking, and I think I’m being kind. I mean I went to Colombia in 1998 and the first thing I saw upon arrival was a copy of the local Bogotá newspaper that had a 2-page feature story about scores of taxi kidnappings a week where people were forced to withdraw all their money from ATM machines and dumped 30 miles out of town with no shoes. And I wound up writing a piece that had nothing but praise for the beauty and intelligence of the Colombian people.

First of all, we exist. In fact, we have one of the strongest national identities left on a planet where globalization has been busily trying to destroy nationalism. What’s even better is that this nationalism is not built around the idea of a militarily projected force–a territorial country–but an idealized, or imagined nationalism that ties people together culturally and socially in a way that other nations envy. The people who don’t find value in that wind up emigrating to Orlando.

Second, don’t quote Gabriel García Márquez. I went to the café in Barranquilla where he used to hang out as a beat reporter and talked to his disembodied spirit, and let me tell you, you’re no García Márquez.

Can’t say much for the writing style here. You get paragraphs that begin like this:

Nothing is black or white. There are millions of colors and many shades of grey. But in general terms the place is somehow affected by polarizing extremes.

Then we get these provocative statements:

Its society is consumerist to nauseating levels, however it doesn’t even produce its own basic foods.

Most people there think agriculture is something denigrating, as if a food’s more natural environment was a can.

Educated people are often very ignorant of their own culture and history.

It’s unspeakable how insulting and ignorant those comments are. I was tempted to not even dignify them with a response but I come from a family of people who worked the land. We still eat stuff we grow in the backyard. We know that English was forced on Puerto Rican schoolchildren in the early part the 20th century. We know that the primary reason we weren’t considered for statehood is that we were considered a racially inferior people by a bunch of superior intellects in the U.S. Congress. We know that limbers are named after Charles Lindbergh because when he visited the island everyone thought he was cold as ice.

Then the writer, after expecting “heavy drinking” in the streets of Old San Juan as part of her tourist enjoyment of the island, expresses fear and loathing because there were no streetlights on the road to Dorado. “Junkies steal the copper wire of the light posts,” the cab driver explains. This paranoid hallucinogenic vision extends to absurd extremes:

Today, there are homeless junkies in every town. They are particularly notable because the local dealers cut heroin with horse anesthetics and the result is a drug that rotten the bodies of heavy users. They look like zombies, or the cast of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. So in general terms the society is widely unhealthy, uneducated and broken.

Tourist alert: there are zombies patrolling the streets and countryside! Do not feed them because that will make them even hungrier and they will eat you!

Here’s the thing. Of course there is a big problem with drugs, violence and the economy on the island. It’s a shame that we don’t have self-sustaining agriculture (although there is plenty of local produce available on roadside stands and in the informal barter economy). But it’s really ridiculous to make sweeping generalizations about people without knowing que carajo you’re talking about. (I know because I’ve done it and learned from it.)

Frankly, I’m tired of people from outside the island and on it who say things like this writer: “To solve the pressing emergency on the Island they will have to stand up, work hard, be united, combat ignorance, learn to love their land and respect it.”

The fact is, there are many, many people in Puerto Rico today who have done all these things and continue to do them. The fact that they have always, and continue to love and respect this land is the reason it does, in fact, exist. People involved in education, culture, environmentalism, law, some underground, some grassroots, artisans, fishermen, post office workers, basureros, nurses, taxi drivers, some actually elected officials!

The problem is that the media does not cover them. They choose to focus on a cartoonish vision of Puerto Rico that says that we do not work, do not care, are ignorant, and would probably (laugh, it’s only a sitcom) make good drug dealers.

70 comments

  1. Congrats Ed. Just like we are no longer sitting back & laughing at jokes insulting our community, we should not sit back & allow misguided articles that do not really understand our community & try to simplify our reality with yet another insult. On behalf of Boricuas 4 A Positive Image, Gracias.

    • SC

      … No sé porqué están evaluando una pieza narrativa como un reportaje periodístico. No creo que esa haya sido su intención. La verdad es que ella dice muchas verdades. Pero como en toda narrativa uno siempre tiene que dudar del texto y cuestionarlo. Eso se llama ponerlo en crisis. De ahí surge la crítica. No creo que ningún artículo o ensayo periodístico pueda describir cabalmente nuestra situación. También entiendo que de algún grado u otro la generalización es inevitable. Por ejemplo: yo no sabía que los limbers fueron nombrados por Lindhbergh. Y soy un puertorriqueño educado… pero admito que peco muchas veces de no conocer a cabalidad nuestra historia. Y lo cierto es que en las calles no mucha gente conoce la historia de Puerto Rico como emorales la conoce.
      Sí hay un sentido de identidad muy fuerte. Pero así de fuerte es la confusión y la crisis de identidad que sufre este pueblo. Ahora mismo trascendimos las crisis de identidad arraigadas al estatus y casi todos participamos de una identidad infundida por los productos y las marcas, el famoso ¨branding¨. Y el problema es que casi todas las identidades mundiales que participan de la economía capitalista a nivel mundial se ven afectadas por esta crisis mundial de identidad nacional. Ahora las marcas y el imaginario consumerista invaden nuestros espacios de tradición y cultura. Nuestros bancos auspician entidades benéficas cuando a la misma vez están robándoles el dinero al pueblo. AT&T es socio oficial de las fiestas de la calle San Sebastián. Las cervezas auspician múltiples puntos de droga en la isla mientra a la par en público llevan un mensaje en contra de las drogas ilegales a lo que promueven el alcohol y su uso a través de la explotación del imaginario folklórico y la figura de la mujer. Como ese anuncio de CoorsLight que es una foto tomada desde la cueva Ventana de Arecibo asociando la marca con patrimonio cultural y geográfico.
      Son muchas cosas que quizás si hubiese hecho un análisis más profundo y asociado la raíz del problema del neoliberalismo extremo en esta isla quizás hubiese sido un poco más claro.

      • MJRC

        Me dirijo a: SC
        Me detuve como en la quinta línea de su escrito ya que entendí que se descarrilo de el tema en discusión. No se está hablando de los problemas reales de Puerto Rico, como los que usted de seguro tiene en su casa, sus padres deben tenerlos y vecinos también. USA tiene muchos problemas,para los que odian a USA que probablemente amen a España, déjenme decirles, también tiene muchos problemas. Pero ese no es el caso. Lo que inteligentemente Ed Morales explica con este escrito es que la tal Mónica Gutiérrez , sin ninguna prueba concreta y sin ninguna experiencia de vida en los últimos años aquí en la isla de Puerto Rico, expreso unas atrocidades que encasillan a un país entero en un enunciado erróneo. No todos son drogadictos, son una minoría. Muchos somos educados y puestos profesionales de alta demanda en varios países son liderados por personas de aquí. Ella asumió muchas cosas que denigran el país y hacen ver a los que se esfuerzan genuinamente como drogadictos brutos. La gente si sabe lo que somos: ESTADO LIBRE ASOCIADO… El que no pueda entender eso, o tiene problemas de capacidad de entendimiento o es un fanático político. Que nuestro estado actual pueda cambiar, si, es posible. En USA eran bien racistas contra los negros y ahora tienen Presidente Negro, todo puede cambiar. Un Colombiano hablando del problema de drogas de otro país , por Dios, esto es como dicen en mi barrio : Un Burro hablando de orejas!

  2. First, you can’t use your own family as a yardstick for the whole island. How many families do any kind of agriculture? Most don’t and won’t. The government sets up some ridiculous incentives that do not work because they don’t really know how to promote the ag sector.

    Second, you make fun of the statement about the junkies, but don’t prove it wrong. Because you can’t. Iniciativa Comunitaria is one of the few groups that are trying to even deal with this problem. They exist and they are everywhere.

    Third, yes, most puertoricans are ignorant about our history. Few know about, for example, how the Constitution came to be approved, much less about the island’s history under Spain. The education system is a mess, you can’t deny that.

    Unsurprisingly the column reached some similar conclusions as the FaultLines piece on the island. Why is that?

    Yeah, the truth hurts. How about instead of whining, we use it to try to find solutions. After all, if we don’t first identify the problems, we can’t even try to solve them.

    • It’s amazing how consistent neoconservative talking points are. Demands for respect and calls for unity are called “whining.” My family is not rare in Puerto Rico, and anyone who has spent time there knows it. I didn’t recall anywhere in “Fault Lines” where they said that Puerto Ricans don’t want to work because of generations of welfare. The last time I checked, if there’s 25% unemployment, that means 75% of the workforce is working. That is unless you are a neoclassical economist who believes that 5% unemployment is full employment.
      Just because there are no street lights from San Juan to Dorado doesn’t mean that the people of Puerto Rico have lost their love and respect for the island. Who has cut thousands of jobs in Puerto Rico? The zombies of Vega Baja? Who has eroded public education in the U.S. and Puerto Rico? The generations of welfare recipients? Who has flooded the island with canned food after dismantling the agricultural economy? The people who know nothing about food not consumed out of a can? We stand a greater chance of people uniting to solve problems if we don’t make condescending generalizations about them.

      • Please don’t say I said something I didn’t. I never said or implied neo-con views, I’m far from it, and I never said, and neither did the column said, that puertoricans don’t want to work.

        Why do you equate the problem of stolen copper, which is real and getting out of hand (Noticel just published a note about it today), with people loving and respecting the island? You make some jumps in logic and insert conclusions that are not there.

        Oh, and unemployment is more complex than the simple unemployment rate. The size of the labor force has to be taken into account. PR’s labor force is around 40%, when compared to the 50 states which are all around 60%. That means that for every 10 citizens, only 4 work.

        You say your family is not rare, but explain with what time are people growing food when most waste hours in traffic due to the non-existent planning. Individual families growing food is not enough to sustain the whole island, we need large scale ag in place, so the problem is not as simple as you put it to be.

        Since when calls for unity have to be delusional? How can you start to fix a problem without a clear diagnostic? All societies have problems and delusions, we can’t pretend ours are not there. For some reason we seem to have a big chip in our shoulder when someone says we have a problem, by denying it we don’t achieve anything. If you have any evidence that any of the points are wrong, please say so without jumping to claims I have not made.

      • New vision

        What I see Luis, is that you point out that he doesn’t gives solutions, yet neither do you. So instead of spending your time responding to websites, why don’t you set an example and help improve Puerto Rico’s society. For my part I am doing it, I do cultivate my yard and so does all my family, who are more than 60 individual families. At times I volunteer to pick up tomatoes or other vegetables, and also I try to motivate others to follow my example.

        Let’s talk about the education system, do you have kids? Do you motivate kids around you to finish their homework before going out, or like they did to me, to grow a bean on a cup and later on taught me about food I could grow in my yard. For the past years we have let slip from our hands the education of the younger generations, because the t.v. would take care of them, then the video games came and now we complain about the education system, when all the regulations are the ones who decide what it is taught in the classroom. But what we are teaching in our houses? I have proposed reforms to the education system, some of them have been applied others not. But like you motivated us, at least I am doing something to solve the problem, besides pointing it out and complaining. And when I say you I am speaking to everyone who reads this post and the comments, yes you the Puerto Rican who says “Esto está malo.” Let us follow your advice and actually do something.

    • R

      I agree!!! Although it hurts me like crazy to read such things about my island I must admit that most of it is pretty much true in one way or another. However, I need to add this, we are definitely more educated in history and geography than most of the americans in the United States (That’s a fact!) Anyhow, we need to start doing something about it. We need to start with respect!!!!!

    • Alyssa

      Asi mismo dammit! I’m sick of people using excuses and not admitting to the wrong things that are happening! And yes educated people are ignorant. , it doesn’t mean your dumb it doesn’t mean you didn’t get good grades it means that you are closed minded and see things only the way you want to see them. And that’s exactly what the author of this article is doing.

      • Untipoahi

        Of course, for example, I’m sure you’re educated. However, your education was not enough to teach you proper punctuation nor the difference between your and you’re.

        Though you are right, the author of the Huffington Post piece is being close minded and seeing things from one perspective.

  3. Criticism Exists

    Wow.
    Unfortunately, she fancies herself a `writer.’

    I’d like to say “She’ll improve when she stops doing horse tranquilizer.” But I can’t bring myself to be so kind.

  4. I’m not implying that there is no problem. I have been writing about the problems for a long time. You are confusing my arguments as being directed at yours, when I am critiquing the piece in question. I don’t think that the fear and loathing the writer describes is an accurate experience of the island. People are aware of serious problems and are troubled and perhaps more cautious about where and when they go, but there was not the kind of bleak and desperate feeling the writer describes. I object to the idea, clearly stated by the author, that people in Puerto Rico have somehow lost their love and respect for the island. The author is magnifying significant social problems that affect a growing segment of the population and projects this into a great failing in the people. My point is to give the majority of the people credit for maintaining in this difficult atmosphere and not assail them by saying the island “doesn’t exist.” These are obfuscating arguments. Here is a clear diagnostic: Value people over profits. Restore government investment in jobs and education. Demand accountability in public-private partnerships. Encourage small business development. Keep profits reinvested on the island. Demand that Puerto Rican citizenship no longer be second-class US citizenship. Demand Puerto Rican representation in the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. Encourage the development of politics focused on issues that effect the economy and well-being of people and not political status. The current government doesn’t seem to be interested in promoting any of these goals, so vote them out.
    There are a significant number of drug abusers, addicts and traffickers in Puerto Rico. There are many people with health problems because their diet is terrible. There has been an alarming increase in the murder rate (although it’s slightly down the first month of the year). The infrastructure is bad, and many sectors of the society are corrupt. In other words, it’s just like the rest of the U.S. Except that because our citizenship is second class and our economy is merely an appendage of a failing, larger one, the crises are more pronounced. But we hardly deserve to be characterized as an island of zombies, told that we do not exist because of an increasingly unimportant technicality about national territory, and that we are an uneducated, ignorant people who exclusively eat junk food. This we cannot stand for, and there is nothing delusional in that.

  5. Criticism Exists

    I’d like to expand my comment to make it more intelligible, particularly as this Gutierrez piece has drawn comment.

    My major concern about Ms. Gutierrez’s writing is that it is vague and dreamy, giving the distinct impression that the writer is somehow out of touch with reality. This is made clear in the first sentence where Ms. Gutierrez makes the statement that PR is “the island that doesn’t exist” followed in the next paragraph by the statement that “the island that doesn’t exist has a physical presence on Earth.” I suppose she intends the wordplay to have some sort of meaningful metaphysical significance, perhaps related to her study of Magic Realism and New Journalism with Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Columbia, but it is unfortunately the case that she fails to give the full meaning of her reference to Magic Realism and New Journalism, so the reference to Marquez comes across as name dropping.

    The stage is set, I suppose, for her claim that “logic doesn’t apply to” PR. This is a strange claim, not supported by her description of island geography which precedes it, nor by what we know about logical thinking and its universal validity without regard to time and place. What she tries to do, I suppose, is turn the island into a dreamworld of “primary process” pre-logical reflection, which may be cute in a lit. crit . class, but doesn’t constitute a satisfactory method for writing about the serious real world sociological issues and existential concerns of a “life and death nature” that she then touches upon in a breezy and inappropriate manner, having tried unconvincingly to establish in effect that PR is exempted from fundamental sociological and historical causation and logical explanation because “alogical” and perhaps part of a “magical” reality.

    The main problem I have with this type of writing and thinking is that it does not properly contextualize and take seriously the real-world sociological facts that are then rattled off in a sensational manner, creating what Morales rightly calls a “paranoid hallucinatory vision of absurdity.” Sensationalism rules the day in this dreamy article which blurs boundaries and distinctions, and distorts natural proportionality willy-nilly in an attempt to turn the realities of PR life and society into surrealities — sublime and unserious aesthetic observations that obscure, rather than illuminate, the real social and psychological contexts of PR life. The historical time-sense of PR society is lost in an hallucinatory undertow, causing “the island that exists but does not exist” to have no real historical substantiality. Lacking a “clear and distinct” history, exempted from social time, PR takes on the strange aura of a fantasy projection of the authoress (who comes across as an alien `tourista’), but hardly a thought is given about why and how things have developed in the way that they have, or how things could change. The island that “does not exist but exists” seems to hover in a Carribean irreality zone, stripped of historical actuality and sociological necessity.

    Perhaps most striking is the free-floating reference to accepting PR as literally. “something else.” This is all fine and dandy. But what on earth are we talking about here? Do we mean an hallucinatory `doubling’ of reality, the destruction of logical form, or perhaps a formulation derived from German Romanticism and the Doctrine of Being and Existence.” Sorry. But Gutteriez is again less than clear, even unto the foundations of her thought.

    Unclarity affects every aspect of her writing, as though she does not dare be clear because she doesn’t really know what she is talking about, or because she is engaged in some strange language game which is designed to obscure reality. She might think language gaming of this sort is aesthetically appealing, but in fact it has the opposite effect, causing her writing to appear dull, uninformative, childish, simple-minded and largely pre-logical, alogical and contradictory as the case may be. It is as though her thinking and experience were blunted by the very horse tranquilizer she writes about, which, ironically, is one of the sensationalized high points in her story. Ironic, isn’t it? Perhaps this is the effect she is seeking, not unlike the “whackoist” originator of the `fear and loathing’ motif. The problem is: her writing method and journalistic metaphysics in no way do justice to the humanity, truth and beauty that can be found in the people and culture and history of Puerto Rico. But to arrive at this point assumes that one knows how and where to look.

    • Ah Mr. Morales. It hurts I know. You see unlike Ms. Gutierrez I know about PR. I lived there til 4 months ago. My wife still lives there, I left because no work. My wife’s family lost a son to the senseless crime. My friends have either been mugged or have a friend or relative who has been either shot dead, injured or mugged. 1200 homicides last year. In every town from Fajardo to San Juan we have a problem with junkies. Less then 40 percent of 8th graders make graduate. I can go on with facts not hyperbole.
      And what is your response, to bury the head in the sand. Our pathetic Ay bendito” Why don’t we man up and realize we have those problems and like a junkie or alcoholic who needs help lets find solutions.
      We lost the beauty of the people a long tine ago. This is not our parents island. It is lost. So now what is going to be done to solve these issues..
      Are there glimpses of hope… I have not seen them. AND THAT IS THE SADDEST PART OF ALL.
      I respect you wanting to “stand up for the thrashing of the island” but in doing so, in my humble opinion, we miss the point of attacking the problems afflicting the island.
      BTW, I am an attorney working in Boston, MA with all kind of latinos, many from PR, who leave the island with a broken heart and only hope to return. I know I was one of them. I returned. And like a man who falls in love with a beautiful alcoholic women I was captivated, and then heart broken, when the women (Puerto Rico) I love did not want to cure herself.
      I do wish all the best and truly pray solutions are found and Puerto Rico can be as beautiful on land as from the air or sea.

  6. Gracias

    Gracias por escribir este artículo refutando el realismo magico tildado de la escritora de Huffington Post. Tristemente es mas facil tirarle a la isla que quedarte trabajandola para hacerla mejor. Todo se ve gris desde afuera siempre para los que se van. Yo soy del 99% que ha decidido no abandonarla y hacerla mejor cada día. Gracias.

  7. caraibi

    Continuo creyendo que el que no haya pecado que arroje la primera piedra. En todos los paises se cuence habas aún en los más desarrollados. Mientras continuamos en esta material, nuestro ego tratarará de demostrar que somos mejores que otros, que nuestro país es mejor, continuarán las guerras, etc. Solamente puede haber cambios si vienen de nosotros, cada uno individual, entonces crearemos una consciencia diferente, unos paises diferentes.

    Be curious not judgmental” Walt Whitman

    • Untipoahi

      *doesn’t

      The truth that hurts is that there is a segment of the population which has such a low self esteem that it will accept any negative critical assessment of their situation without considering its positive traits.

  8. Replier

    As a Puerto Rican living in the island, not in the US, I can say that most of Ms. Gutierrez’s article nails many of the problems we are living here. It is sad, but crime is one of the islander’s main concerns today. We cannot rely on January numbers saying that we have less crimes than in January of 2011, that is ridiculous. We had our highest crime rate in 2011. We are scared to drive, and that is the feeling of many citizens, and not return back to our homes because we end up dead from a car to car shooting. Crime has been a problem for a long time, but it is recently that it has escalated to to this level. It is drug dealers that are controling our streets. And the police cannot do much, since they don’t have the right equipment to deal with criminals (check out the report on cameras on the patrols not functioning) and there is a known corruption inside the police. The video posted on youtube, it is a reality. For many years I lived close to a project and I could not stay at home for New Year’s Eve. It was worse than what the video showed. And daily living was not so different from the video, since they loved to try out their new weapons in our backyard. That caused us one day to receive a bullet in our home. When I think that that bullet could have hit me, it scares me. So, yes, crime is a main concern.

    Our government is corrupted. And not only this one, but the ones before as well. And we do not have good candidates for government. And people, yes, they are ignorant when electing their candidates. Many don’t even know what they are voting for.

    Education. It is true, it is worse than ever. Just take a look in Facebook and you’ll be surprised with all the wrong spelling that only comes from not knowing well your own language and not reading enough. Sad, but true. And the sadest part is to see that in the professional class, who are supposed to have a good education.

    Agriculture. Ms. Gutierrez is not far away from the truth. This is not a country that can sustain its population with its agriculture, like other countries. And yes, agriculture is seen by many people as a derrogative job. Not every family grows their food in their yard. Not true. And the ones that do are not representative of the majority of the citizens.

    Identity. I don’t even want to get into that one.

    Work. I do not believe that Puerto Ricans do not want to work. There are very hard working people here. But, we do have a high unemployment rate and people are too proud to go and ask to work in a Burger King or the likes. And wellfare is a problem. And the worst problem of all, good professionals are leaving the island to find work in the US, since their salaries are not compensating for the work they do. Salaries have devaluated here. Noticel had recently an article about this and they posed the question: what will happen when the economy gets better and we find out that most of our professionals are in the US and will not come back for lower salaries?

    It is understandable that Puerto Ricans that live in the US have an idealized view of the isla, but for us, who have to deal with all these problems, our view is very different. Truth hurts. But by complaining when other people badmouth our country, we are really not doing anything for our isla. Ms. Gutierrez’s article might sound like she is generalizing many of our problems, but she is right about them. Maybe her style was not assertive, but read people’s comments in Noticel and you will see how many concurred with her. People living here. It is very easy to defend something when you are so far away from it and don’t have to deal with it.

    • phabk

      Thank you for taking the words out of my mouth. I am a teacher and I chose to stay unlike many of my coleagues, but the truth is that most of the things pointed out by Ms. gutierrez are our daily bread. Ignorance is being supported by the older generations. Take a day off and come and visit our schools, interview most of the elementary school kids and you will be shocked with the things they say about studying, reading or goinh to college. The worse thing is that the parents are the ones giving the example. I will not go into the subject of the emotional and mental well being of our “community” because that is an even bigger problem. We are living in paranoia. Please check the crime rate percentage, nationwide and the unemployment and you will se we are even lower than the lowest on the entire US of A. Ms. Gutierrez was a esident of the island for many years and I totally inderstand the shock she recieved to see our “beautiful” island detereorize in such short period of time. No one is insulting our Caribbean land but we cannot cover the sun wih our finger… As my grandmother, who ws from Lares, used to say; “no hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver”. Bravo Ms. Gutierrez for hitting the nail in its head.

  9. The thing that struck me about Gutierrez’s piece was that it forced me to adopt a different position in regards to how I normally argue about P.R. That is, I often find myself sadly having to explain to folks that their tourist experiences of P.R. are not indicative of the island life. “Oh your family’s from Puerto Rico? I have wind-surfing spot I love there! You must have so much fun when you go.” I have to explain that poverty, crime, political corruption, the legacy of colonialism, etc complicate my feelings towards mi isla bonita regardless of my love for it.

    In this case, I felt like those negative characteristics that Gutierrez mentioned were equally as myopic – as if her ability to note them in her touristic little jaunt to the island is proof of how ubiquitous they are and thus are _now_ worth talking about

  10. clau

    I thought her article spoke volumes of thruth about us as whole. Strong national identity? are you kidding? If that was the case, where has this supposed national pride been in the past 4 referendums? Too afraid to loose those green dollars the evil empire provides.

  11. yep.

    Great job. I believe the most repulsive part of her article was her pretentious Garcia Marquez name-dropping, and the fact that she chose to mention him instead of the many Puertorican authors, and what’s worse, that it was done only to justify her personal opinion as educated and that… terrible attempt at magical realism!

    What a dumbass!

  12. Rosa Glenda

    Para saber cuales son sus problemas reales, tienes que vivirlos y dar la lucha, en una visita de 2 dias, JAMAS!!!!!! Los sabras…. Yo soy parte de los puertorriquenos educados, que no soy ignorante de mi historia, de mi cultura, se de donde y cual se el color de mi piel.

  13. That Kid

    Sh!t people say about Puerto Rico… Hmmmmmmmmm. Now this is my kind of topic, cause I’m a HUGE sh!t talker. Let us begin, shall we?

    First, Criticism Exists y E Morales. Peep it: The woman who wrote this article was GOING EASY… lol. That’s why it sounded to you like she was flip-flopping. She took a piece which was intended to point out all the negative stuff and sprinkled in a little ‘Puerto Ricans are a strong beautiful people’, stuff as to not completely wild out and hurt your feelings. Sure, the piece was sensationalist. Unfortunately, many articles are. They get published like that. And it’s easy to attack her writing style, grammatical errors etc. So it’s written like something out of the New York Post. Big deal. What do you expect from Huffington Latino? A Wall Street Journal piece? Ok. Keep focusing the writers poor grammar while the fact still remains… Puerto Rico is VERY messed up.

    There is plenty of sh!t to talk about here.
    Let’s just start with the basics. Day to day stuff, you feel me?

    In PR it’s common to walk into a place of business and be completely ignored. I call it ‘the invisible customer’. Not even a ‘hey, I’ll be right with you’ just for decency’s sake.

    If you’re a Puerto Rican who comes to a FULL STOP at a blinking yellow light, yet only slows down for a blinking red. Don’t worry… No one else here seems to know what they’re supposed to do in that situation either.

    Puerto Rican’s have an aversion to using blinkers while driving. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that blinkers are used out of CONSIDERATION for others… So clearly, there’s no place for that here.

    There should be a ‘waiting in line’ Olympics. PR would take the gold in every event. After all, the people of PR are the best at it. You’d almost think Puerto Rican’s ENJOY waiting in line. Go to Costco and everyone is in the line at either end of the row of cashiers. No one wants to move, or say ‘excuse me’ to the people waiting in these lines in order to get through to the registers in the middle with the shorter lines. They’d rather just wait.

    Ok. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if there is no line… You could be FIRST in line. It makes no difference. You have to wait forever for everything.

    You could be behind only 1 person at the supermarket. So excited that for once there’s not a long line in front of you… But it’s too good to be true. The cashier forgot that she wasn’t supposed to let the person before you buy a pack of newports on their tarjeta familia. She needs to get a hold of someone who has LLAVES now. You need to WAIT.

    How about just shopping in the supermarket? It would be a much nicer experience if people moved their cart to let you pass down an aisle. Half the time, people will see you trying to pass but don’t give a sh!t. The other half the time they don’t even notice you RIGHT BEHIND THEM. They’re in their OWN LITTLE WORLD, so their peripheral vision and hearing is not picking you up. They’re basically oblivious to their surroundings. Completely detached.

    The same goes for just trying to enter or EXIT the supermarket, because everybody thinks STANDING RIGHT IN THE ENTRANCE SO YOU’RE BLOCKING EVERYBODY ELSE FROM COMING IN OR GOING OUT is the BEST place to stand and kibitz for 20 minutes with their downstairs neighbor who they haven’t seen since the last time they’ve ridden the elevator with them earlier that morning.

    I’m not done.

    You could order a breakfast sandwich and wait 40 minutes for it. When you finally get your order, it’s WRONG.

    And, OHHHH — You wanted ORANGE JUICE??? REAL OJ?? Not ORANGE ‘DRINK’??? LOL. SILLY BOY – DON’T YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO ORDER JUGO DE CHINA ‘NATURAL’ THEN?
    IF YOU JUST ASK FOR ‘OJ’, YOUR BUTT IS GETTING HI-C OR SOMETHING LIKE IT. And, if you’re taking your order to go, you BETTER check your order before you leave, or you’ll be pissed when you get home. At least 50% of the time, they’re going to screw it up. I bet my baby on that.

    Want a cherry pie? Go ahead and order an ‘apple pie de cherry’ then.
    Want a turkey sandwich? Go ahead and order a Turkey de ham then.
    Want regular coke, not Diet? Better ask for a COCA-COLA REGUALAR, because diet is the default.
    Want a pack of Marlboro’s? Better ask for Marlboro Red, because Marlboro Lights is the default.

    What’s up with everything being WRONG?

    What’s up with everything being BROKEN in general here? I blame the salt air for breaking stuff. But I blame Puerto Rican’s for not FIXING IT.

    If you live in PR, I defy you to find an elevator with an up-to-date inspection certificate in it.

    Doesn’t matter if they inspect the elevators anyway. They’ll be broken soon.

    What’s up with vehicle inspection? Do you see the exhaust coming out of the cars on the street? I guess if you have the $11, you pass.

    Like strolling at night? McLeary would be a WONDERFUL street to walk or jog on. Until you get harassed by someone yelling at you from a car window in passing. Don’t worry though, they’re just trying to startle you. Yo, that’s CLASSY right there. I gotta hand it to you Puerto Ricans.. You’re such a buttoned-up bunch. Oh, and I saw you throw that garbage out your car window too. That was an especially nice touch my friend. I love it…

    RESPECT FOR THE LAND? Has anyone SEEN the beach after Noche de San Juan? Nuff said about that.

    Let’s face it. Most Puerto Rican’s – like most autistic children, like things which are shiny, things which make a lot of noise, and things which are repetitive (I’m sure you’ve heard of reggaeton). Damn, was that mean? Mean to autistic kids maybe. Is it not true that the food can taste like total sh!t and take hours to come but as long as the ambiance is ‘de magasin’ or ‘espactacular’ everything is cool, and it’s worth waiting in line for right? People actually WAIT in LINE to get into MANGO’S in Ocean Park. OMG. Could anything be LESS worth waiting for? Oh, See and be seen, right? Ok, I get it.

    Half the fools who claim Taino heritage are more German than anything else.

    Half of you talk about maintaining your ‘culture’ and ‘language’. You’ve maintained your language how? By hanging on to Spanish? The language of the conquerors who came before the Americans? Speak whatever the hell they spoke before the Spanish came and I’ll give you credit for maintaining something.

    The crime? NOT JUST IN THE CASARIOS! If you haven’t noticed, there are BARS on everything, everywhere. Anything not nailed down gets stolen. I take that back. They steal things which ARE nailed down too. Takes some time, but that’s okay because the cops are all on their break at Wendy’s. Yes, they ALL break at the same time. Lol
    People are getting stuck up at gun point DAILY in condado and ocean park. Sure, we don’t have drug points around these parts but it’s wrong to say all the crime is in the projects.

    And, the drug Zombies? WORSE THAN THRILLER. Anyone who doesn’t think so is welcome to stroll through San Turce with me at night – if you’ve got the balls to.

    The only thing this woman got wrong in her article is about the horse anesthetic.
    The heroin is cut with meat tenderizer. The cocaine is cut with levimiscole (a cattle de-wormer). Both make your skin rot off.

    Regarding corruption: This is just one facet but, try opening a business. You need permits. Fine, where do I get a permit? Not so fast hombre… You need a Permitologist. Someone who’s connected and knows which palms to grease.

    How about dead dogs in the street, and dying dogs in the street being eaten alive by parasites. How about Save-a-sato being stuffed to the gills with strays but people still buying come mierda breeds from pet stores or online (both come from puppy mills). I’d write more about the topic of animal cruelty, but there’s a COCK FIGHT in Carolina I’m supposed to attend later. Just kidding.

    And don’t even get me started on you SUV driving sunglass wearing ‘educated’ posers who live in gated communities in GUAYNABO and consider yourselves white and republican. Lmaooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Y’all the craziest of them all.
    Seriously, do NOT get me started on you.

    Lastly. Regarding Puerto Rico’s latest public relations campaign:
    Puerto Rico Does it Better… Biggest. Joke. Ever.

    • MT

      Such negativity eats up your skin worse than horse anesthetics, meat tenderizers and what not. There’s a lot of culture and love in the island. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wasn’t sure half the time if you were actually talking about Puerto Rico or describing an island which exists within every city.

      From yours truly,
      Non-republican Puerto Rican from GUAYNABO

    • The man

      Nuff said my boy, couldn’t agree more w/u! Don’t forget the meteorite craters on the streets, I blame the Arecibo radio telescope!

      • That Kid

        lol. I didn’t have time to address DTOP but you are correct, the potholes are off the chain… I didn’t address PREPA either. Prepa. lol. Highest cost per kilowatt in the world, yet worst service on earth. Just another way PR does it better. By the way, I apologize for comparing puerto ricans to autistic kids.. What I wrote about puerto ricans being fascinated with shiny objects. That was totally over the top. I got carried away.

    • Pablo Toro

      I was born and raised in PR, and moved to the states 16 years ago. And the litany of vicissitudes one has to deal with, which you have so eloquently described, was precisely what made me get the hell out (as well as Puerto Rico’s appalling treatment of, and attitude towards, LGBT people). And while both pieces (the HuffPo and this reaction) have made blanket generalizations, the essence is true: Puerto Rico is in a mad race towards implosion, while the insular attitude has always been to pretend that everything is alright, and that somehow thing will magically get better. But as long as you have an uninformed, terrified, and uneducated electorate, you are not going to see much progress.

    • PR lo hace mejor

      there is so much fail in your comment, i bet your not puerto rican, i agree with somethings like the trash litering and dead animal disposals, ive been to some places like filadelfia which has plenty of S%^& i can talk about including, garbage litering and how every 5 minutes there is an ambulance noise, in PR we do things our way and we understand each other unlike in the US, go move and get out of my island

      • Puertorrican-bizarro

        @PR lo hace mejor: You are so full. The typical response of people that are not willing to admit the truth: “get out of my island”. I bet you can do better than that or are you nick like the slogan: empty and with no depth? Probably, you are a refrito like the puertorrican politicians.

        I strongly suggest that on Nov. 6, when you are casting your vote: ask yourself: Do I feel lucky? Yep, another great movie and great quote.

        I do not feel lucky when I know that none politician is good. All political parties are alike. So why waste for people who promised me to rob me legally? It is better being without them, or probably we could be ruled by the chupacabras or Santini’s leopard.

    • Chubi

      Love it! LOL. Now, THAT’S the TRUTH right there. I live in la isla, I am an educated young professional and I am sick of all the stuff you just mentioned. thank you, Kiddo! Felt like I got it off my chest.

  14. While I really disliked the broad brush the ‘author’ used in her HuffPo article, you also make it sound like there are few problems in PR. I find it sad that most conversations in PR now start with a discussion on how you can’t go out at night without a serious fear for your safety due to the randomness of violent crime. Yeah it’s not a zombie infested Island like the HuffPo article hints but things are far from being ok.

  15. Puertorrican-bizarro

    Emorales:

    Suddenly I realized that I must have been living in Puerto Rico’s Bizarro for the last 30 years of my life; where the crime rate is skyrocketing and our role models are corrupt politicians like Rivera Guerra, Chuchin, Hector Martinez, Rodriguez-Emma and the list goes on. BTW, I am not including those who are already in federal prisons like Fajardo and poor bigotry De Castro Font, among others; thank god we have Rosa Emilia to put some order in da house.

    You are right about crime rate; Millo just stated and confirmed that we have 23 murders less than last year. What a relief…But has Millo and the ones before him erradicated the drugs warlords?

    Does Fortuno and probably AGP -if he wins- would know how to handle Puerto Rico’s crime in the long run. I don’t think so. Politicians are worried only in prevailing and winning the next elections; in assisting their friends to get richer with governmental contracts; protect those other politicians in the legislature committing fraud or commingling with a true “toallazo”, like the one Rivera Guerra received today.

    Yes emorales, the journalist describe Puerto Rico’s Bizarro World as it is, not as the Real Puerto Rico that you probably experienced in a short term basis. Those, like myself, who spent our entire life in the Enchanted Island turn upside down had witnessed how things are going down the drain. Yep, Puerto Rico turned out to be the Bizarro World that you have not experienced at all.

    Probably in Puerto Rico’s Bizarro World Gil was not exaggerating the note: Corruption has a name and is NPP (in Spanish is known as PNP). But he was short in his assertion, there are plenty. Just ask the feds when they raid people for medicare fraud. Again, thank god we have the feds cleaning da house.

    Probably, some Puerto Ricans can’t handle the truth (I must admit I love A Good Few Men), but there are others, like myself, that are sadden because we vote for people who might do something good while the vast majority vote for the inepts, blabbermouthers, “buscones” and their alike to benefit themselves without thinking about Puerto Rico’s welfare.

    Maybe Monica Gutierrez is Kaffee, looking for the truth. But can you handle the truth or do you want her name hanging on the wall and bulleyed her for saying what is real in our not Puerto Rico’s Bizarro? I think you do.

  16. Astrid Flores

    Oyeme, de donde salio la morona esa??? Hay muchos jovenes profesionales que hemos decidido quedarnos para dar la batalla por la PAtria, que tenemos unos estandares de trabajo y etica muy por encima del promedio de otros paises. Tambien le diria a la morona esa, no ha pasado por nuestras universidades como el RUM y el Recinto de Ciencias Medicas….donde lo mejor de nuestra juventud echa el resto en trabajo, investigacion y tecnologia. Le tengo una breve anecdota…hace 10 annos tenia unos sintomas que ninguno de los medicos del Ejercito daba pie con bola. Le dije a mi marido que en cuanto pisara San Juan, iria a mi cardiologo de toda la vida…adivinen que….tenia un problema cardiaco y me operaron en el Centro Cardiovascular que me trataron como una REINA. Asi que, de que k-rajos “unhealthy and uneducated people” estas hablando?? MORONA,vete a echarle fango a otros!!!

    • Alyssa

      Ah si esos universidades, la que estan en huelga a cada rato. Y los hospitales donde parece que la ultima ves que ve un mapo fue el dia que lo abrieron y donde hay mucha mal practica. Estas dando ejemplos horribles que bochorno Dios mio.

      • la.del.pelo.azul

        Yo no se por qué protestas por la huelga. Sí, toma tiempo y participación de los estudiantes, profesores y hasta empleados, pero no llevas consciente que la huelga es la lucha por nuestra educación pública y defenderla. Estoy muy segura que aquellos que luchan por su educación quieren aportar a su país y brindarle a la próxima generación una educación pública. Todos saben que la clase trabajadora del país se faja por sacar adelante a sus hijos y si se les quita el derecho a una enseñanza pública, tienen que recurrir a universidades privadas, que no son nada de baratas y la CALIDAD de la enseñanza no es la misma.

        Apoya nuestro futuro, caramba, es nuestra esperanza.

        “Lo que hacemos por nosotros mismos se muere. Lo que hacemos por otros y el mundo permanece y es inmortal.” Albert Pine
        “Aquellos que hacen revolución pacífica, imposible, hacer revolución violenta, inevitable.” John Fitzjerald Kennedy

  17. Everybody here, for the most part, has made at least one good point, and I love the debate because it opens up additional points that should be discussed. That said, I wish you guys would take part of this discussion to the HP site because those people who read that piece, and don’t know better, might take it as the whole truth — when we all know that la isla is a little bit more complicated than that. Also, the respondents here are better writers and perhaps one of you can get hired and make for better reading.

  18. Damaris Massanet

    I don’t know which island you live in, but I lived for 32 yrs in the island she visited. And how she describes it is exactly how I and most of the people I know feel. There’s no way around it. Many of us got tired of working hard and fighting and not being able to even pay the electricity bills. I wish her statements were generalizing and not true, but they are true. It’s sad but for me there’s no point in denying it. My children would always be boricuas and proud if their identity, but after having to sleep with them in the living room for a year because we couldn’t use the bedrooms for fear of the AK-47 being shot every night, they won’t get to live in the beautiful island.

    • Frances

      Thank you Damaris. Not only the gun and drug problem is raging but I think its ridiculous to work work work and nothing in return. Try to buy hroceries thats 300 off your pay , Electricity ridiculously high, taxes are a pain and designed to help those who already live off the government ( has anyone done their taxes yet with the new “dinero para tu bolsillo”?), roads are horrible, transportation system is bad and has the most wierd routes ever, domestic violence raging, education system has nothing to do with education, the list goes on and on.

  19. Rosa Schulman

    I think that at the end of the day the problem with the perception of the island lies on the fact that the collective consciousness of the population that is working toward the good is outsized by the evil consciousness and so we only hear the bad news. The corruption, crime, drug problems, abuse of power, lack of power, murders, etc. are the themes of the day, every day. We have a business in PR and even though I do not live there permanently I do visit the island almost monthly and can tell you that as soon as I start my day getting out of my driveway it is an adventure and I always wonder why we choose to do things the hard way when the easy way is so much better and creates more goodwill in the population. I do not want to go into specifics because they all sound as generalizations and we as Puerto Ricans know all too well that island living is not so easy and laid back but it is a beautiful place to live in and grow up in and it is too bad that the good citizens have to feel imprisoned by the citizens that do not have any consideration or regard to the rights of others. I hope that we start moving toward change soon and that new generations start understanding and not taking for granted that our beautiful island paradise is there for us to love and preserve and protect.

  20. Frances

    I really did not think she was that far away from reality. I think that reactions like this are common Puerto Rican. “Don’t critizice me or slap the truth in my face or I’ll get offended.” Please, the truth is the truth, homeless and drug adicts are everywhere, violence is raging, unemployment incredibly high, most people dont know about their history an culture and are not interested in learning about it or taking a stand for their country. I think you should get off your high horse and open your eyes.

  21. Jorge

    Sorry Ed, but EVERY SINGLE THING that was mentioned in Monica’s piece is TRUE. When you live on the island all the time you get used to the mess that PR has become. Not only are we used to it, we’re in total denial and react defensively like you have done when someone tells us to our face that his place has become a sh*thole.

  22. Carlos

    Although some of the things said in the article MIGHT be close to the truth. The Biggest problem with Puerto Rico is “americanization”. A bad education, welfare, and consumerism are all symptoms inherited from USA !!! How dare you look snobbishly at a COLONY like Puerto Rico and blame it’s inhabitants for the years of abuse and neo-colonialism !!!!

  23. The explanation to Puerto Rico’s problems is quite simple indeed: is anyone here familiar with an animal called the Lemming? There are 4 million people living on an island that is 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, and more than 2 million of them live in the “Metropolitan Area”, which now extends from Canovanas to Dorado and south to Caguas and all of it’s surrounding town, which means half of our population is concentrated into an area roughly 1/10th of out total land area! AND YOU WONDER WHY PEOPLE ARE SHOOTING EACH OTHER AT SUPERMARKETS ARGUING OVER THE LAST GALLON OF MILK?????

  24. Guaraguao

    Look our problem is the government, local and federal you think they don’t know whats going on CHILD PLEASE!!!!!! A otro con ese cuento la gente se cree que en los E.U todo es color de rosa, Estan en la misma situacion que nosotros todo se magnifica por el tamano de nuestra isla abre los ojos las cosas estan malas en donde quiera pongan de tu parte y diciplinen a sus hijos dejen, el Ay bendito!!!! Dejen el pisoteo a los mismos suyos y si no les gusta Hay 50 States y todos tienen Mc Donald’s asi que arranquen o Vayan pa’ Ciudadd Juarez a ver que opinan!!!!! La realidad BOricua no se ve en dos dias mi hermana

  25. liberty1425

    E Morales – you dont live in the Puerto Rico I live in!
    1. I love PR and have lived here all of my life , I have faith on the island but it has completely gone down the drain.
    2. I work in the hospital business and you see patients even stealing the toilet paper , pq el que “se joda ” nadie se entera.!
    3. I got mugged running in Ocean Park , im sorry but thats no quality of life , not walking anywhere, or looking around always. I have never ever felt so paranoid.
    4. Gente dont compare to other countries, just look at the problems and the issues and solve them!!!! who cares if one si better or worse , just deal with issue. People say its worst in Mexico who cares!! I live in PR and I want PR to improve thats it! But everyone needs to see all the problems. We are too proud to accept the reality!

    a. education – yes we have engineers in the NASA and great doctors, but what about the 98% of the population. What about the kid in LLorens what are his options??
    b. Crime – toooo many – when will it be enough , how many shootings will be enough! My mom was a victim of a bullet in 1996 in a closed urbanization Thank God she didnt die , but no one has to go through this.

    c. Quality of life – service, no one can walk anywhere, where are the parks for children, the simple basic liberties for any human . Being a prisoner at your home and just leaving to Plaza is not life ! Yes there are beautiful things to do , Yunque, etc , but it all costs money and one cannot go sightseeing every weekend. The basic things are needed .

    d. El que se joda attitude wont get anyone anywhere, Puertoricans need to follow rules like everyone else, need to respect and help each other. We were famous for our hospitality and now the only thing I get from tourists and clients in the businesses is horrible complaints. Our poiliticans even have the worse attitude about that , and its destroying the few good things in the island.

    Many area leaving because they want choices, options, quality and basic liberties for them and their families and its happenning . Look around how many of your friends or family have left? ask yourself that and you will understand.

    There are many that have organizations, and many of us that care and have created programs to make things different but the reality is that PR will become worse if the problems are not solved . Forget status and we need to go back to the basics!

  26. Unboricua

    Bueno, soy puertorriqueño y vivo en PR y Mónica, aunque a nadie le guste, tiene razón. E. Morales, en su referencia a lo positivo también, pero lo positivo no es un problema, y hay que trabajar con las deficiencias, con los problemas. Como a cualquier adicto, la negación no resuelve nada, hay que ser valiente y afrontar. Mónica tiene razón y lo saben. Pa’ lante boricua, este es nuestro país y somos los únicos que podemos cambiarlo.

    • Jose

      Sorry to disagree. I dont feel ofended in the least by her remarks. I read your rebuttle. . . a long and factful diatribe about the history of puerto rico. Nothing new there. . . just more facts detailing how we got to where we are. . . HELL. Your optimism is to be aplauded but I do not share it. Puerto Ricans have never been able to succesfully colectively pull together for any major reform. EVER. Not to shake off the Spanish yoke (not even an atempt) for any major or shake off the Americans. . . . . Ay bendito.

  27. Martin Hernandez

    You totally missed the point of the Huffington piece. You clung to the observations/descriptions made of the people, places and overall mood in the island (which are true no less) and completely overlooked the pure desire that Ms Gutierrez has (as a fellow Latin American) for the island to overcome the injustices imparted upon her by her colonial conquerors. All of the great PR minds are being exported (under their own cognition) to the mainland USA or abroad in search of better opportunities far away from the politically misguided and corrupt island hierarchy. She accurately (and in my mind beautifully) worded its populace as “second class citizens” when describing the treatment by the US government. Puerto Rico IS “the island that doesn’t exist” in their eyes because we don’t put in or take away anything of value to make Congress take decisive action on its future. So, as Ms Gutierrez says, it is up to the people…and unfortunately, that is by no means an encouraging thought for me.

  28. Pingback: La ciudad sin sonrisas | El punto es…

  29. Pingback: Puerto Rico: Fear or Loathing? · Global Voices

  30. Such is Life

    Monica Gutierrez got her fifteen minutes of fame trashing the people of Puerto Rico. And is loving it. She made the news here. And people in office say: “Oh there are some truths…” Seriously, people…who writes like this? She classified people in the Island as either: a) educated but ignorant (oxymoron?) b) a drug addict zombie (okay…), c) a homeless zombie that comes after you at night (paranoia after a smoke?), d) a lover of canned food (wth??) e) a white person who WILL be treated like a black person in the U.S. (did I get this right?) f) a racist black person in denial of his skin color (does this make sense?) g) one of many snipers randomly placed all over. There are many malcontents with the political situation. But that does NOT give you licence to put down your own people in such a stereotypical way and make her a hero… Believe you me, Monica will not be at any rally fighting for our rights. This is business and she will be making some money off of us putting ourselves down. Simple as that. Story of our Island.

  31. Chubi

    Another car-to-car shooting today @ Dorado, num 2…..and now, the modality that if you honk at a car stopped when a red light turns green, you get shot. ok, PR lo hace mejor

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