The El Nuevo Día Survey reveals a dangerous climate of indifference and citizen apathy towards public function in Puerto Rico. Inaction and demagogy have distanced the political class from the people, who respond with disenchantment. It is necessary to reverse this apathy with real results.
This growing indifference shows in answers that neither approve nor disapprove governmental performance. People don´t say whether the island is on the right or the wrong track. Allowing leadership crisis to undermine citizens interest and confidence on issues that directly concern them to that point, makes our system of government vulnerable. Citizen indifference weakens the right to vote, and therefore, democracy.
The Governor, Legislative Presidents, Mayors and the Oversight Board share the responsibility of people distancing themselves from politics. Their mission should be to bring back certainties and sense of direction to the island. A common, clear, far-reaching and reality-based vision that encourages the island to become model of a complete and sustainable reconstruction is needed.
People demand politicians to avoid demagogy that separates them from the decision-making process that is relevant for citizens. It is necessary to restore fiscal health. To this end, it is necessary to have effective communication between government agencies and the people.
The Survey shows that the majority of Puerto Ricans distrust the ability of legislative leaders to handle the problems of the island. They believe they cannot trust them. It is important to put pettiness aside in order to listen. They have to build bridges that will prevent the island from hitting bottom.
Regarding Governor Ricardo Rosselló, people think that he is not an effective leader, that he is more interested in his political career and in the island´s political status than in the welfare of the island. The majority perceives that the Governor does not understand people needs nor has he acted quickly on highest priority problems.
The Governor is right to evaluate himself given the seriousness of his situation. Searching for the positive and explaining that he had to face difficult times keeps him isolated, turning his back to reality. The current historical scenario is a unique opportunity to grow as a leader in the construction of a new Puerto Rico that motivates Puerto Ricans to stay on the island to produce with commitment, enthusiasm and confidence.
The extraordinary confluence of multiple crisis that Puerto Rico has been experiencing for more than a decade, aggravated by last year's hurricanes, is the product of politicking tricks that drive people away. Hence, the way out of the fiscal disaster was the creation of the Board.
However, the Board has not been effective in lessening public disenchantment. It is important for the Board to clearly and consistently explain that its mission to straighten out government finances benefits everyone, that without adjustments, economic development is not possible.
But the picture is not all bleak. Small grounds of optimism among the people and harmony with reality that the private sector and non-profit organizations keep, appear as lights in the picture. The government should work with them for the reconstruction. There is still time to do so.
People demand real results, not actions that push populist experiments doomed to fail. The island needs its leaders integrity to do what has to done putting particular interests aside.
The island has to wake up from lethargy, in order to do so, reconstruction has to include reshaping politicians. It also demands changing attitudes, priorities and dynamics that will lead to development. The government can reverse the numbers, if it is up to the circumstances.
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