Marketing Patriotism

Confession: Yo me quité .

I quit / left / took myself out of Puerto Rico, according to some very sad and confused people.

Even before Hurricane Maria the drain of human potential was alarming enough to create hashtags and campaigns displaying the commitment of those who stayed.

I wore my shirt with pride. Bought it from one of my colleagues at the private school I worked at. This colleague — a young, charismatic teacher with a second job and numerous side hustles — organized the sale of these shirts for Puerto Rican week. He was very surprised I opted to buy one.

“Really?” he said with questioning eyes, “I didn’t think you’d be interested.” Behind this assumption lay a painful reality: if he had my English skills he would’ve probably quit the island a long time ago.

The people who stay are frustrated. More taxes, even less opportunities than before, an economy declining daily and a horde of political fanatics acting as if everything were okay. Or at least getting better. As if corruption is to be expected and abided.

Open criticism to the current government is met with pleas to be more “agradecido”. Grateful for the crumbs that get thrown our way.

The bulk of their anger is geared instead to those others. The ones who left. The people who quit the island and come back for their week-long vacation talking about how much better life is in the U.S.

Their aggression stings those who leave. “Island Puerto Ricans think they’re so much better than us” someone commented recently on my personal Social Media Feed.

Yo no me quito. As if being a true Puerto Rican were a job. A hardship to endure to prove ourselves worthy of the name.

The divisions between us grow and multiply and these marketing ploys are just the fuel to keep them burning.

The phrase #yonomequito was trademarked in 2016 by the offices of Miguel A. Maza: a Cuban immigrant lawyer. A sort of jack-of-all-trades in litigation, his practice supposedly specializes in Employment Discrimination; Collective Bargaining Negotiations; Wrongful Discharge; Entertainment; Real Estate; Commercial; Consumer Affairs; Collection; Trademarks; Internet.

Another legal document claims Maza’s area of business expertise is accounting and finance.

According to public record, the trademark is now listed as “Abandoned.” The document provides a translation for the phrase, they take to mean “I will not give up.” I guess the money ran out after Hurricane Maria and they gave up.

I still wear my shirt with pride because I haven’t quit / left / taken myself out of, Puerto Rico. Yo sería borincano aunque naciera en la luna. And my patriotism has no owner.

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