This past weekend, in a rare show of solidarity and camaraderie, many of Puerto Rico's politicians, across party lines, gathered to pay their last respects to William Miranda Marín. The mayor, who is known as "Willie," of Caguas, a city in central Puerto Rico, died at the age of 69 of pancreatic cancer last Friday morning. He was an extremely well-regarded local politician who had a very long record of public service, as well as in the private sector, and many believed he would have been elected as the next governor. Flags across the island were flying at half-staff in honor of Willie and the local papers and TV stations had special coverage commemorating his life. Pres. Obama also issued a statement on Willie's death.
As one of the leaders of the Partido Popular Democrático (the Popular Democratic Party-PPD), Willie supported the island's current status as a U.S commonwealth, and he particularly emphasized the importance of Puerto Rican sovereignty. One of his most prominent achievements was the introduction in 2005 of the 1% municipal tax, which people started calling the "Willie tax." Its success led other cities throughout the island to levy their own municipal tax as well. His death is considered by many to be a tremendous loss, as Willie was seen as someone who had the potential of uniting Puerto Ricans from all walks of life, and from all different political ideologies. This we certainly need in an island where divisions along party lines runs so deeply that a common consensus is seldom reached.
(The image above was obtained from www.endi.com)