Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Protest the cutting of trees in Old San JU

By Sergio A. Ortiz

Dear Friend,

        I went to this protest thinking it was going to be a community protest of no great consequence. I had no idea of the seriousness of the problem in Old San Juan, a city that is hundreds of years old. Four days ago, I walked through this very site and took photographs of this garden on the side of La Casa Rosa. That photograph is in an album at Facebook. Yesterday, this was all that was left of that garden. To make things worse I walked by a couple cats that had been poisoned. 

        Some of you may already be wondering who to hold responsible for this atrocious act of stupidity and brutality, in Spanish we call it a "BURRADA". Well I have been informed that the donkeys on which to pin the tail for this criminal act are the First Lady of Puerto Rico and her friend, the First Lady of the city of San Juan. A city that is hundreds of years old and that has been the victom of donkey-monkey behavior in the past by our government. There is a Soap on our TV right now that describes our government's longstanding affections to this picturesque kind of mentality: Un Perro Amor. I wrote a poem entitled “Un Perro Amor,” it dealt with the same kind of unconscientiously idiotic behavior.

        The organizers of the event did a spectacular job, but I noticed there was no Puerto Rican media present. That got me wondering, but there were about 7 state police officers. Why, why does something so barbaric have to happen on an island already full of violence, and senseless criminality? This was not the kind of protest that could end up in a scuffle, there was no need for the state police to be present; even though we were close the governor’s residence. 

     When heard these two stilts artist ask a little girl who was responsible for the cutting of the trees, she answered in our very typical expressive way, a way that denotes a certain kind of respect while still belittling the person which is being pointed out. She puffed up her lips and with a movement of her head she signaled the governor’s mansion.

But the problem is greater than just cutting down trees. To date over 30 cats have been poisoned, it is so upsetting to think that the First Lady of our country is behind a criminal act of this nature. But live and learn, sure enough, she is. A poet I met not long ago, the person to invite me to the event, tried to explain the sociological motivations for this kind of a violent crime. She said that we need to take a closer look at the history of violence, specially during difficult economic times. People in government become fearful and they end up cutting down anything and everything that could obstruct the view, anything behind which a sniper could hide. I thought she was insane, or at the very least a nature fanatic. Then I remembered that I had recently written a poem about the very same thing, the title is “Platforms.” I wrote it thinking about how the Mayans drove away the Spaniards from their empire in the Yucatan. It will be published this summer.  But I am going to post it again for you to read here:

plataformas de lanzamientos

entre el odio y la guirnalda
vive un lobo esperantista/
entre el cacto y la dulzaina
existe rudeza de viento/
entre el borracho y la brújula
se emite el hedor que colma las distancias/
entre el pergamino y el volcán
surgen borrones de luz/
entre la zarzuela y los mayas
yacen institutrices neuróticas/
 poetes maudits /
entre la adivina y el granizo
se esconden riachuelos
y francotiradores.

launching platforms
between hatred and garland
their… lives the esperantist wolf
between a cactus and a lute
there’s roughness of wind
between a drunk and a compass
emanates the stench that fills distances
between parchment and volcano
smudges of light arise
between a Zarzuela and a Mayan
lie neurotic governesses,
poetes maudits
between fortune-teller and hail
there are hidden brooks and snipers

When you walk through Old San Juan you will see hundreds of mutilated trees.  The strategy is to gradually mutilate them until they finally die and once that happens a crew of workers from the city show up after midnight or shortly before dawn and bulldoze what is left of the tree.  Now, I am sure the office of the First Lady, or even the governor’s office is going to want to provide evidence that this is not a strategy, that is only due to the fact that the walled city is already facing a traffic problem during the day and that bulldozers would only heighten that problem.  Russia had all sorts of excuses to pick up the people they considered to be a threat any kind of government control.  Let’s not be naïve about these power issues.

This is the frog that is also being poisoned.  It is on the endangered list.  If anything, to poison an animal like this, for an intelligent and powerful public figure to poison an animal like this is a moral crime, let alone a criminal act.

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