The publication Caribbean Business (CB) pretends to promote private sector led economic development and sound public sector fiscal policies for Puerto Rico. In reality CB is in political alignment with and serves as a propaganda tool for the pro-commonwealth faction that supports the political status quo and opposes both statehood and real sovereign nationhood.
That once again was made clear by the August 17 edition of CB, in which its editor calls for pro-statehood Governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares to be punished for his “defiant stance” opposing measures to be imposed under federal law by Puerto Rico’s controversial Congressionally created Financial Oversight and Management Board.
Specifically, the Governor believes the board’s mandate for a new furlough of public sector employees goes too far. So he is seeking political and if necessary legal redress to find other means of bringing his aggressive program to reduce local government spending into line with an overall economic recovery plan acceptable to the board.
The Governor may succeed or not in his tactical moves to modify the furlough, but that is not the focus of this news analysis. The issue addressed here is political bias and unethical dishonesty in CB’s editorial practices.
Seeing the Governor as politically vulnerable for standing up to the federal board, CB was not about to miss a chance to undercut Rossello. Borrowing words from a veteran of Detroit’s fiscal meltdown, CB labels Rossello an “obstructionist” who would be getting what he deserves if the federal control board were to “…take him hostage, make an example of him, drag him into the public square.”
As if that were not enough, CB accuses the Governor of “disingenuous rhetoric” (i.e. dishonesty) for daring to question whether he legally can challenge the board’s order to reduce government working hours. Even though the furlough comes on top of an additional reduction of retired public employee pensions, CB calls for the Governor to recognize the futility of resistance and passively embrace the board’s actions.
CB Executive Editor Philipe Schoene Roura brashly belittles the Governor’s challenge to the Board’s mandates as mere “grandstanding” with no legitimate purpose. Schoene demands the Governor’s capitulation to the board, because “Rossello is unlikely to avert the measures in the end,” and he “faces long odds in court.”
Incredibly, CB demands the federal control board appointed under the 2016 federal law known as PROMESA retaliate politically against the elected Governor! All because he dares to tell federal territorial authorities he needs more flexibility to achieve the additional reductions in spending the board demands.
Yet, in almost schizophrenic contradiction, the same editorial attack on the Government CB admits “Rossello is correct in denouncing the furlough’s devastating harm to Puerto Rico’s moribund economy.” CB also acknowledges a mandated 10% furlough will produce a 2% contraction in a political economy already in crisis, a shrinking of the local economy compounded by the additional 10% in public retiree pension cuts.
The intensity of bias and irrationality in the CB diatribe against Rossello on the furlough issue reveals how emotionally and intellectually unhinged the anti-statehood elites in Puerto Rico have become. Two contested but certified and legitimate popular votes for statehood in 2012 and 2017, combined with Rossello’s political “Hail Mary” trying to stave off massive layoffs, clearly drove the editor at CB over the edge.
The propagandistic dishonesty of the CB article begins with its title. “Trump to Puerto Rico: Deal With Your Own Broken PROMESA” is simply a deceitful affront to journalistic ethics. The only source cited by CB for that title is an unnamed source in Congress, yet it misleads readers to believe it is attributable to Trump! Since when do honest journalists quote single source members of the staff in Congress as if speaking for the White House?
The deceitfully prejudicial editorial standards evident in this CB editorial include the use of quotation marks suggesting there is a source making the following statement, “The governor is betting the U.S. will not allow a presidentially appointed board to squash the governor of a territory. It could be a costly bet.” In reality CB used quotes for an excerpt from its own editorial as if there was another source.
Schoene’s schizoid scenario for Rossello to be “squashed” suddenly is “more likely” orderly federal exercise of territorial power to enforce furlough. This narrative careens between bipolar extremes.
The CB editorial then uses another set of fake quotation marks to fabricate the appearance it has a source for a statement summarizing the Department of Justice position to be “Let Congress deal with the PROMESA mess.”
Like the fake title deceitfully attributing a statement about Puerto Rico dealing with PROMESA’s broken promises to Trump, and the quote about the board squashing the Governor, this fake quote about the U.S. Department of Justice leaving PROMESA to Congress has no journalistically validated source. In fact, none of these are actual quotes at all.
These are not insignificant breaches of journalistic ethics. This leads to one inescapable conclusion. The only performance standard in Puerto Rico lower than the “commonwealth” regime’s fiscal planners is the standard of its journalists as reflected in the editorial practices of Caribbean Business magazine.