Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Raining Cats and Dogs (literally)

Photo: Brennan Linsley/AP

We've been pounded by rain the last few days. So, the weather has actually been in the nice and cool 70s (20-24 celsius), which I don't mind at all. On the topic of raining cats and dogs... a few weeks ago, I came across a very disturbing article in the local newspaper. In the town of Barceloneta, which is about an hour west of San Juan, residents of a public housing complex were forced to give up their pets due to sanitary regulations. The local municipal government hired a company by the name of Animal Control Solution to transport and handle the dozens of cats and dogs to be seized.

Little did these pet owners suspect of the tragic end to this story. Instead of turning the pets over to an animal shelter, according to witnesses, the company allegedly threw an estimated 80 pets over a bridge. As reported by the Associated Press, about 50 carcasses were found. As I was reading this, I was just speechless. How can this happen? What has this world come to? For those of you who have visited Puerto Rico, you might have noticed that there are quite a bit of stray cats and dogs roaming around the streets. Unfortunately, it's a problem here in this tiny island. I just hope that the government finds a humane and ethical solution to resolve this issue, rather than simply throwing them over a bridge.

For more information: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/10/12/puerto.rico.pet.massacre.ap/

Saturday, October 27, 2007

From an Outsider's Perspective

After living in New York City for 21 years, a few of which were spent in Boston, I am back in my city of birth... San Juan! Having spent most of my life outside of La Isla del Encanto ("The Island of Enchantment"), I certainly don't consider myself to be very Puerto Rican. However, I am definitely enjoying the time I get to spend here. One of the things I love most is that I can practice my Spanish (or better said... Spanglish! Damme un break!). I also get to re-discover the Puerto Rican culture, which is full of wonderful flavors.

I decided to start writing about my experiences here because I find this island to be a fascinating place. It calls itself "El Estado Libre Associado de Puerto Rico," which is an oxymoron. "Estado Libre" literally means "free state." This is hardly true. Puerto Rico is a U.S colony. Every time a plebisicite is held over its territorial status, the results are practically evenly split between those who want to see this island become the 51st state and those who want to maintain the status quo. A very small percentage want independence.

From what I've seen, many Puerto Ricans here have a love-hate relationship with the U.S. The love comes in the form of pure economics. Life would be a bit more difficult without the financial backing of los gringos. The hate, obviously, is due to the huge American influence here. Puerto Ricans are very proud of their culture. Besides, who likes being told what to do? The fact is that Puerto Rico is not recognized as a sovereign state.