Eliezer Molina: ‘Puerto Rico’s problems are not only red and blue’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
This is the fifth in a series of interviews with candidates running in the 2020 general elections
In order to fight against corruption and patronage, bring power to the people and promote economic development in Puerto Rico, independent gubernatorial candidate Eliezer Molina said he and his cabinet hold “The Antidote” to tackle institutional stagnation and heal the island’s economic system.
Molina spoke with the Star on Monday about “The Antidote,” which is the name the engineer gave to his political model. He said it was built to address various issues that concern Puerto Rican citizens, although one of his main priorities is to rebuild Puerto Rico’s consumerist economy into one focused on production, providing resources to strengthen small local enterprises and strengthen in-house manufacturing.
“There will be more to it in a document that will be released in a few days, so people come to [see] that Puerto Rico’s problems are not only red and blue; it’s a political issue due to a consumerist economy that has collapsed,” Molina said. “We must transform this.”
As another priority is to fight against corruption, the independent gubernatorial candidate said he proposes to amend the island Constitution by summoning a constituent assembly in order to give people the opportunity to choose the judges that will occupy the bench seats in the country’s courts.
“When it comes to corruption, we propose to amend the Constitution for the purpose of letting people appoint their judges and develop a community mechanism to judge their decisions, unlike now, with the Legislature and the governor appointing them, and they later have to judge those who nominated them,” Molina said. “Do you think that a judge can be unbiased in a case against the person who appointed them and on whom they depend to be nominated again? That’s the root of corruption.”
Meanwhile, when the Star asked Molina why a constituent assembly was necessary for his political model, he said it was not only to provide the opportunity to elect the people who will occupy the courts’ bench seats, but also to address the issues with the public pension system and define essential government services with every social and civil sector in Puerto Rico.
“We propose a constitutional assembly so every social and civil sector from Puerto Rico can unite, generate this document and hold on to the good things from our Constitution, while mending what’s not positive from it because no one can tell me that allowing a triple tax exemption is a good thing,” Molina said. “Nobody can tell me that it is fair that there are general obligation bonds where I, first, cut pensions to my workforce, where I close schools, where I close hospitals before paying a bondholder. That is not technical, that is financial corruption.”
Meanwhile, he said his “Antidote” project also proposes that politicians’ immediate family members should not be able to be hired by any public entity, since he believes that politicians “came to serve people, not to get rich.”
“We see that senators hire their representatives’ family members, and vice versa, or hire the mayor’s family members,” Molina said. “We saw that from [Gov.] Wanda Vázquez [Garced] when we found out that both her daughters were getting their salaries paid by the country; it’s unacceptable, that cronyism of coming [to the government] and having a political career, and making money to sustain their families is one of the variables we will work on to fight against corruption.”
Molina said further that Puerto Ricans need a document that respects people’s will and that citizens must stand up and insist that they cannot let themselves be frightened by “corrupt politicians into tolerating corruption because they don’t provide the tools to move forward.”
“We need a document that enforces Puerto Ricans’ will, and we don’t have it,” he said. “We can’t be scared of this because in life, we try to progress and everyone who’s unable to adapt to changes is bound to disappear, and we won’t disappear. We have offspring, we have grandchildren, we have a future ahead in our country.”