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The U.S. government shutdown, which has already led to heavy losses in securities markets and forced the Puerto Rican authorities to disburse funds they do not have, sends the world a powerful reminder of the negative impact of locking up on dehumanizing positions.

The United States faces a major ethical problem, when what they are considering are two actions that threaten the welfare of millions of people in American soil.

On one hand, the federal government shutdown has put brakes on services to the people and has prolonged losses in the U.S. and international markets. On the other hand, President Donald Trump´s conditions to reopen government operations – construction of a border wall between the U.S. and México– would divert millions of dollars from the federal budget towards a project that divides, physically and morally, while encouraging conditions that may lead to human rights violations.

Last week there still was hope that negotiations between political branches would allow to keep public operations open. Critical voices determined to impose their ideology were enough for the federal Executive to get stuck in the corrosive “all or nothing”, underestimating the power of dialogue.

Trump demands Congress to approve $ 5 billion for the U.S.-México border wall, that is costing Puerto Rico about $ 3,000 per day that the Puerto Rico Tourism Company pays to the National Park Service to keep the San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal castles open. Meanwhile, global stocks face the worst fall since 2011 before concerns about federal shutdown and the White House aggressive rhetoric.

There are even more disturbing concerns, such as exclusion policies –that are fed by the growing collective insensitivity toward human suffering – that extend to other regions.

Fueled by conservative sectors, the President insists on allocating part of the United States monetary and moral wealth to materialize exclusion. Those excluded look like us, they laugh, they cry and dream in our soil. At the border, many children have been separated from their families and locked up in detention centers without distinction of age, for months. Two of them, seven and eight years old, died in federal custody under unclear circumstances – one on Christmas day.

On the other side of the Atlantic and with the consent of governments along the Mediterranean coasts, more than 14,000 people have died or disappeared since 2014, while migrating in search of a better future. Powerless before official restrictions, rescuers from humanitarian organizations describe this daily tragedy, how they see them drown or sent back to their countries of origin, where they are abused. There, as in the United States, unfounded slogans attribute crimes and unemployment to migrants to explain the unjustifiable.

It is urgent to think and stop such a spiral on the verge of a new year. Getting away from dehumanization means getting closer. Insensitivity loses ground before solidarity, when we recognize their pain as our own pain and when we help alleviate that pain as we know that humanity moves backwards with these sufferings. 

Congress returns to session today. We trust that both parties will find the way to reconnect as humans, many lives depend on their decision. The great instrument that enables lasting changes is genuine and sustained dialogue, in that dialogue each party access its own transformation.

We recognize each country´s right to protect its borders. But it is also up to each nation to find fair solutions to eradicate poverty and violence. The new year calls for an urgent solution to conjure with determination the major ethical crisis that weakens the fibers of  humanity.


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