A Response to Cal Thomas

Dear Mr. Thomas,

I read your online article, “Puerto Rico’s sorry state” (Fox News, June 22, 2017). The article is understandably brief, so it could not include an in-depth analysis of the situation it purported to describe.

You state that you interviewed former PR Governor Luis Fortuno. Predictably, the former Governor praised his administration and put the blame elsewhere. But politicians and former politicians are tricky people.

You echo Fortuno, by stating that his administration had “success” (in lowering the deficit and somehow stabilizing the finances of the Commonwealth). But, you add, PR voters chose to “return control to a party that was responsible for its fiscal downturn.”

Moreover, you seem to think that Mr. Fortuno belongs, as you put it, to the “economic and social conservative” camp, while stating that Fortuno’s defeat in 2012 was a case of “ideology beat[ing] success and common sense.” If life were so simple!

With all due respect, those assertions render your article deficient, for a reason other than word limits or the attention deficit of readers: It is out-of-touch with reality. Allow me to explain why I assert that.

Some Facts

When Fortuno took office in January, 2009, PR’s public debt amounted to $53.4 billion. When his successor took office in January, 2013, that debt amounted to $69.948 billion (virtually $70 billion). That’s an increase of a little more than 16 billion dollars, or a 29 percent increase, in only 4 years. No small potatoes.

The father of the current governor was no slouch himself. He found the debt at $13.44 billion in 1993. When he left office in 2000, it had ballooned to $24.189 billion, for an increase of $10.749 billion, a 44.44 percent increase! Fortuno was a cabinet member under that governor, Pedro Rosselló. They belong to the “same party,” the “pro-statehood” party.

Both that party and the “pro-commonwealth” party buried Puerto Rico in debt and corruption. “Ideology” was irrelevant. Most of that debt was used by both parties to finance cronyism, partisan patronage, and plain old corruption and malfeasance of public monies. If you want the data that sustains that statement, I could provide it to you. That would require a longer letter, though. Let me know.

Fortuno’s attempt to present himself as a “Reagan Republican” is cynical, dishonest and ridiculous. He even had George Will write an OpEd a few years ago, singing his praises as a true Reagan disciple, whatever that means.

In short, your article is something out of Disneyland. That’s a pity, because the subject of Puerto Rico requires knowledge of the facts and enlightenment. Your article delivers neither. As a Public Relations piece for Fortuno it is great, though.


Roberto A. Fernández