Hello, and congratulations on your new role! I hope you and your loved ones are doing well after being an unexpected protagonist in the most undesired political crisis in Puerto Rico’s history. You may be surprised to hear this, but many of us really want you to succeed. After all, you may be the most important Governor in all of Puerto Rico’s history.
I’ve been asked many times what has fueled the historic democratic revolution in Puerto Rico. The most succinct reason is simple: betrayal. For almost one hundred years Puerto Rico believed in the promises of charismatic politicians. Those promises ended up being lies, insults to the core of who we are. Promises of transparency and rooting out corruption — what we all know is the seed of these betrayals — turned out to be just another tool to enrich family, friends, and those to whom they owed political success. For almost a century we were lied to by those we trusted — and elected — to lead us. But in these past few weeks we finally said “enough.” We found our voice, our power, and forced a governor to resign. Now you have been given the privilege to lead this island.
You, however, are lucky. You have entered this administration at rock bottom, and to be honest, the only place to go is up. You have a historic opportunity to change almost one hundred years of oppression by an untouchable political class. You have the opportunity to step above petty party politics and lead Puerto Rico’s political class into a historic new era. Many will say you have the worst job in the world, but I disagree. Yours could be the single most important and transformative role in Puerto Rico’s political history.
It will take only one act to write your name into the history books forever: End corruption, once and for all. Have that act be the single identifying mark of your governorship. Make Radical Transparency the lasting legacy of your tenure.
We all know the pressures you are under. Party apparatchiks will want their pound of flesh for supporting your nomination. Donors will expect their “return” in exchange for election resources. Powerful lobbyists will want influence, money and more. The powerful families who fund the island’s political schism for their economic benefit (we all know who they are) are expecting a quiet, compliant governor that will not disrupt their positions of privilege. You know that acquiescing to their tired demands will relegate you to the footnotes of history. You know that to them you are expendable, a mere tool, a pawn. But to an island yearning and desperate for integrity, you could be far more. To your people, you could be a hero.
I and many other citizens are at your service to make this a reality. This offer to serve — not BE served as those who came before you believed — comes with one simple caveat: Be earnest and transparent in your pursuit to eradicate corruption. If you are, you will find many ardent supporters and defenders on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico. But return to the corrupt ways of the recent past, and you will find a formidable foe. The people of Puerto Rico are disgusted and outraged, but they are no longer tired. They are no longer afraid. They know the terrible price they have paid for corrupt leaders, and they have also tasted the power of an informed, passionate citizenry. They demand change.
You are fortunate — you are in the unique position to provide your fellow citizens what they hunger for, what they have fought for, what they deserve. You can be a leader, a hero, and walk into history knowing you truly transformed your island forever. You can be the most important governor in the history of Puerto Rico.
All it will take is stepping away from the corruption of the past, and to be the leader that the people of Puerto Rico richly deserve.
Noel Zamot previously served as the Revitalization Coordinator for the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. He is the President of Atabey Group, an advisory firm focused on ethical investment in emerging markets. He is a son of Puerto Rico, a former business executive, retired Air Force Colonel and combat veteran. He has testified before Congress on rebuilding the island’s power grid, and the need for widespread structural reform of the Government of Puerto Rico.