By Ismael Castro
This week Phillip Alston, monitor for the United Nations and law professor at New York University (NYU) started his tour through the United States to investigate extreme poverty and its impact on human rights. This tour will include various cities across four states (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montgomery, Atlanta, and Charleston) in addition to Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. His visit to Puerto Rico, between December 10th and 11th (Sunday and Monday) will include a community meeting in Salinas, a1 presentation in the Interamerican University of San Juan and a tour through the communities that border the Caño Martín Peña.
The tour will have multiple points of focus, such as the lack of housing in California, racial discrimination in southern states, the loss of industrial jobs and government negligence in Puerto Rico. A preliminary report will be presented on December 15th in Washington D.C. and its final draft will be part of a conference for the UN Human rights council in Geneva stated to occur in June 2018.
The investigations’ results are highly predictable. The United States is, at the same time, the richest and consistently classified amongst the most unequal countries in the world. In fact, a recent investigation highlighted that only three people in the United States possess the same amount of riches as 160 million persons, the poorest half of the population in the United States in terms of riches. This amazing accumulation of wealth amongst capitalists masks extreme poverty and “third world” conditions, including the prevalence of diseases linked to the poorest countries in the world, in various communities of the preeminent capitalist power in the world. With regards to Puerto Rico, considered as a separate country or a United States jurisdiction, social inequality reaches truly obscene levels. As many commentators have stated, Maria only removed the mantle of extreme poverty, the lack of democracy and capitalist negligence towards the poor masses that live in this country, in permanent union to United States imperialism.
Nobody’s waiting a change in policy as a result of the anticipated report. For his part Alston, who has a history of being very critical of reactionary regimes in general and US militarism in particular, is not accused of having affinity for radical political thought. It is highly probable that after denouncing the already known levels of extreme porverty in the midst of riches without precedents, his report would include policy reccomendations to in some way mitigate the worst instances of misery that neither republicans nor democrats will take seriously. Nonetheless, for the puertorican masses, accustomed as they are to the empty preach of apostles of annexion on one side and the defendants of the supposed benefits of permanent union on the other, the act of shining light on the true social conditions inside the so called land of opportunities and democracy serves to dissipate old myths such as “statehood is for the poor”, etc.
It hasn’t been in vain that Fortaleza and the colonial legislature have kept silence on this visit.