Posts Tagged ‘puerto rico’
Are bloggers or Twitterers journalists? One of the principal AM news stations in Puerto Rico dealt with the topic on Monday. I was a bit shocked that this is still a question there. And I think it misses the point.
The important issue for journalists, reporters, writers, or anyone who contributes to the media conversation is the same: accuracy and reliability. It’s not whether an organization or, in Puerto Rico’s case, the local State Department deems you worthy of the title of journalist or press.
Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t very real problems with simply retweeting rumors behind the mask of anonymity. But it does mean that it’s up to the audience to sift through the cacophony of voices and decide for itself who is trustworthy.
You can listen to the conversation on RadioIsla1320.com, or by following the link below. Contains Spanish.
(Disclosure: I know one of the persons interviewed, Juan Carlos Pedreira of CaribNews, from our days together at Syracuse University).
There’s been a bit of controversy in recent weeks over San Juan, Puerto Rico mayor Jorge Santini’s plan to provide free Wi-Fi to the residents of the country’s largest housing project.
Santini said the initiative at the Luis Llorens Torres complex, a sprawling development located a few miles from the island’s principal airport, will be the first step towards rolling out the service throughout the city.
His announcement was understandably panned by many, coming as it did in the heart of his reelection campaign. But the pro-statehood mayor is widely favored to win his fourth term in November; this decision won’t likely result in new voters coming to his side. Aside from these political ramifications, though, there has been little talk of the overall digital divide in the country.
Recently, the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce declared that just 31% of island homes have broadband access, less than half the adoption rate in the US. But this public-private partnership appears to rely on private industry to build the necessary infrastructure to increase broadband availability and adoption. Which has not exactly worked out well in many US cities.
As more public and private services move online, it is critical for the government to
provide the infrastructure to make high-speed internet widely available. But for whatever reason, the Puerto Rico government is ignoring the player that could quickly get this done throughout the island.
The local power utility has the technology already in place. Last year they rolled out a WiMax proyect in a small community in the southeastern town of Salinas. Why not expand this to other areas of the country?
In the end, it’s about jobs. The working poor and unemployed need access to current technologies. But they also need employment training and improved educational opportunities. That’s where true leadership is needed, and it’s still the hard reality that simply providing a fast internet connection won’t solve on its own.
Distance can distort one’s appreciations of home. All the good times seem more delicious in hindsight, while the bad aspects are conveniently swept away. But upon returning, this perspective can be an advantage. Things are never as good — or as bad — when seen up close once again.
Recently I spent a few days in Puerto Rico after nearly two years away. All of the indicators point to a country in shambles: low (official) workforce participation, middle-class flight, increasing crime. Everyone talks about how things are getting worse and solutions are nowhere in sight. But these things don’t seem to change people’s daily lives.
Most places you go in San Juan, the streets are full and alive at night. The morning and afternoon traffic jams are as bad as ever, the streets clogged with commuters. And yes, most people are still warm, friendly, and — it needs to be said — hardworking.
Take the rental car attendant who lamented the exorbitant cost of electricity while cheerfully advising my wife that one can celebrate one’s birthday any day of the year. This woman — in her late 50s if she was a day — was at work when we arrived late in the evening and again when we left at the crack of dawn some days later.
Or the longtime waitress at La Pradera restaurant, a solid-looking woman who still places every male customer’s order with a cheerful, sonorous “para el nene” (for the dear child).
But when the United States sneezes, the rest of the world gets the flu. Nowhere is that clearer than in Puerto Rico, where it’s hard to see concrete signs of economic recovery.
The empty loneliness of the four o’clock hour on Sundays in Ponce de Leon Avenue, a principal artery that runs through the urban neighborhood of Santurce, seems more pronounced now with the number of empty storefronts. When I lived there, the only businesses open at that time would be Marshalls and Walgreens, and now the latter moved several blocks way. And in a city where affordable urban housing is a huge issue, entire buildings are boarded up.
But some positive signs filter through, like the sunlight which seeps in through half-open aluminum windows. One of the two locally-owned indie/art film cinemas went through an incredible transformation. A building that used to be not much more inviting than someone’s marquesina is now a multilevel facility with lagoon views. A popular frozen yogurt franchise sprung up next to it, and several nearby restaurants appear to be thriving.
Problems persist, but there are still positive stories to tell. All of the difficulties, the shuttered buildings, the daily chaos, don’t have to be permanent symbols of decay. They can represent opportunity. The true danger lies in idealizing the past while feeling hopeless about the present. What must be kept at bay, at all costs, is the impulse to give up.