By: Patricia Flores Mauris
The Association of Students of Agricultural Economy and Agricultural Business (AEEAA) organized a forum on September 20 to discuss Puerto Rico’s agricultural crisis and it’s worsening over the past couple of years. The candidate for governor of the Partido Del Pueblo Trabajador (PPT), Rafael Bernabé came to the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez to state his proposal for the agricultural sector in Puerto Rico.
Rafael Bernabé, an activist, politician and college professor, was born in Santurce in 1959. He obtained a bachelors degree in history in the University of Princeton and a Masters Degree and PhD from the University of New York. He has worked like a high school teacher and currently a literature professor in the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras. He was leader in the now extinct Frente Socialista and now stands in the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) and the PPT.
“We have to reconstruct the agriculture in Puerto Rico. Right now an 80-85 percent of our products are imported from other countries and that is an ecological crisis”, said Rafael Bernabé.
Manifested that the PPT are compromised with the promotion of agriculture like a plan of economic reconstruction that will make us less dependent of the importation of products and that in exchange the local production and the exportation be the dominant forces to create more employment and to construct a national economy. “We will guarantee the access of the majority of the working people to fresh products that even result healthier than the ones we import in boxes and cans, which unfortunately are the ones that most of the times we can buy because of their low prices”, he said.
“A country with an economic crisis which does not grow economically, cannot pay their debts…the debts keep growing because Puerto Rico does not grow economically”. He also said that the vision the parties have, the Partido Popular Democratico and Partido Nuevo Progresista, don’t see beyond our crisis when it has to do with agriculture. According to Bernabé they only think of large companies profits.
He alleged that the governor that has been in power over the last eight years they conducive the agricultural sector to be one of “abandonment, mistreated and despised”.
Bernabé also stated that Puerto Rico has to start worrying for the agriculture and stop mistreating the land. “Puerto Rico needs to start being sustainable and produce our own food. The work in the fields is hard and does not pay well at all; we need to start improving the life conditions of the people that work there”.
Rafael Bernabé highlighted the importance of “revitalizing a lot of the areas like the ones of agriculture, conserve those fields and check the school’s curriculum so that the students get familiarized with the lands and start loving the lands so they can grow up to be future agricultural entrepreneurs”.
Bernabé proposed to protect the production, the infrastructure and the technology that the people in this industry use. He commented that the food security will be guaranteed and protected with how they are going to produce and what they are going to produce not only to create more employees but because we need to start using the right technology to become better farmers and therefore help us with the economic crisis that is destroying families all around.