Officials slam bill that would shut down Ateneo

November 13, 2011

Daily Sun

Puerto Rican analyst and lawyer Domingo Emanuelli criticized Saturday a House bill that would strip the Ateneo Puertorriqueño of its $500,000 annual earmark to force its closing.

Emanuelli urged Gov. Fortuño to stop once and for all the abuses against entities that protect the local culture.

“(NPP Rep.) Liza Fernández wants to destroy the Ateneo just as she wanted to destroy the Puerto Rico Bar Association,” the pro-statehood analyst said.

Fernández’s measure wants to use the money for the operations of a Bone Marrow Unit at the Pediatric Hospital. She noted that the Ateneo wants to advance Puerto Rico’s decolonization, something it should not do. Emanuelli says the NPP also wants to work for Puerto Rico’s decolonization.

“The Ateneo Puertorriqueño is the key entity that carries expressions of the Puerto Rican people, be it from the independence, popular or pro-statehood sector,” he said.
He said the money for the Bone Marrow Unit should come from the earmarks given to dubious nonprofit groups. Besides the Ateneo, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture also has a very thin budget even though they give pride to the people.

Emanualli said the NPP is acting wrongly. “We have to seek an openness to live all together in tolerance,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ramón Luis Nieves, who is an aspiring Senate candidate for the Popular Democratic Party, also attacked Fernández’s measure. He said that if the measure were ever to be approved, he will introduce a resolution, if elected, to return the money to the Ateneo.

Nov. 11 was the last day to pass bills so the resolution will have to wait for the January session.

“Once more the San Juan district is a witness to the frontal attack of Rep. Fernández to Puerto Rican entities that have served the people of Puerto Rico well,” he said.

Nieves noted that the Ateneo was founded in 1876 and is one of the oldest cultural entities of Puerto Rico.

He noted that Fernández seeks to punish the Ateneo for its free speech rights. “Why doesn’t the money for the Bone Marrow Unit come from Gov. Luis Fortuño’s $300 million advertising expenditures?” he asked.