After many years of having lived in Puerto Rico I have come to the realization that it is rapidly being overwhelmed by the northern influence of America. Puerto Rico is no longer the island I had moved to almost four decades ago. Gone are the pincho vendors that used to sell their kabobs along the Baldorioty highway in the Condado. Their disappearance came about because of the power of the rich condominium owners who banned their money and power together to force the vendors out. It had been a place of much fun and joy. Today it is nothing more than a long strip for jogging. Gone are the many colorful kioskos that used to line the road along Piñones to be replaced by government owned kiokos and modern jogging paths that run through the mangroves.
Rather quickly Puerto Rico has been thrust into the twenty first century and a race that is barely 500 years old ( since I am not counting the Taino Indians ) now has to confront the technological era just when they were getting used to the industrial one. While I am not a critic of technology, I have seen the effects it has had on the islands people and their environment.
Rapidly the old quaint pueblo scenes have been replaced by the Mall phenomenon and this in turn brings about an anxiety among the populace and a rift between the old and the young, between the rich and the poor. The poor look upon the wonders of modern technology and are filled with desire that does not match the reach of their wallets. In a race to be thought of as modern many plunge head-long into debt that they may never get out of. Many who were once thrifty are now spurned forward to obtain material possessions they cannot afford. Young married couples with two or three children run around in late model cars yet their refrigerator is empty. Many have home entertainment centers yet they are behind in their utility payments or worse still their rent. The scenario plays itself out over and over again with one article or another.
I recall when I was growing up saving was a virtue and getting into debt was frowned upon. If you didn’t have something you made do without it. Nowadays it would seem that in order to be with the in-crowd and not have fingers pointing at you, one has to be in debt to the tune of over $5,000.00 or much more! I would have thought that a people who had gone through the poverty of past decades would have learned the lessons of thrift but I guess I was wrong. The modern abstract way of thinking is to spend what you don’t have on things you really don’t need, whereby you keep yourself chained to a job you hate knowing all the while that you will probably end up losing everything and end up in bankruptcy and have to start all over again. This is a great concept for merchants and bosses who are kept with a constant supply of both money and cheap labor.
I have seen this being played out over and over again and yet no one seems to learn. They are taken in by high powered commercials which are prepared by experts in psychology and marketing, who know how to manipulate peoples emotions and in effect shame them into buying something they don‘t need! Somehow the people are content to follow this sort of Faustian concept regardless of the outcome. In some strange way I understand their plight. Many have told me if they don’t do things in this manner they will never have anything. I guess the concept of saving is a foreign concept in these days. I guess this is why this society will remain a society overwhelmed.