Puerto Ricans March Guillotine to Gov's Mansion as Fury Over Hurricane Maria Revelations Explodes


While the guillotine is best known as the instrument of choice to kill dissenters during the French Revolution, it has a history spanning back to the 13th Century.

It was perfected by the Gallic people, however.

While the guillotine has generally fallen out of favor in the age of the more civilized torture — like a four-part series on Nancy Grace — it retains a certain popularity among people wishing for the good ol’ days when heads would roll for pretty minor offenses.

The device might be making a comeback in Puerto Rico — and while it almost certainly won’t be taking anyone’s life, it’s going to send a message to the island’s political establishment.

The move comes after another week of unrest in the United States territory, this time over Hurricane Maria.

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Hurricane Maria, you may say, was over 2 years ago. Yes, exactly.

And, as recent video showed, disaster relief supplies given to the island from the storm weren’t distributed among the people.

The problems for the territorial government began last Saturday when a social media user calling himself “El León Fiscalizador” (translation: “The Lion of Accountability”) managed to sneak into a warehouse in the southern city of Ponce and find massive amounts of Hurricane Maria-era supplies that hadn’t been distributed to the island’s residents despite the fact that the hurricane occurred over 2 years ago and the island was undergoing another catastrophe — a series of earthquakes which had left many people sleeping outdoors.

The video prompted massive outrage, and it wasn’t long before a number of officials were sacked.

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That wasn’t enough for many Puerto Ricans, however, since they wanted yet another governor gone — this time Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who replaced Ricardo Rosselló after a text-message scandal forced Rosselló out last year.

According to CBS News, fired Housing Secretary Fernando Gil Enseñat has accused the governor of knowing about the warehouse in Ponce full of supplies that weren’t being distributed.

“Gil Enseñat has told local news outlets his agency had ‘nothing to do’ with the supplies found in Ponce. He clarified that his agency is tasked with overseeing emergency supply warehouses in the towns of Cabo Rojo and Río Piedras, not Ponce, adding that updated information on the inventory of both warehouses was made available to the governor,” NBC News reported.

Vázquez, for her part, said her former housing secretary “doesn’t have my trust due to various circumstances.”

Whether one of those circumstances is the fact that he’s more than willing to go to the media to make his case that Vázquez knew full well the location of emergency supplies remained unsurprisingly unclear as of Saturday morning.

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There was, however, a certain clarity in whether or not the top of the Puerto Rican food chain knew where these supplies were.

“The locations of the emergency supply warehouses situated in Ponce and in other towns are included in Puerto Rico’s emergency management plan,” NBC News reported.

“The plan was signed by Vázquez in August 2019, suggesting that she already knew about the existence of the warehouses before outraged residents broke into the Ponce warehouse last week.”

That’s a problem, and the Puerto Rican people have taken to the streets to express their fury at the entire scandal.

On Thursday, a crowd of protesters assembled a crude guillotine, and (spoiler alert) it wasn’t going to Enseñat’s place of residence:

Residente, legal name René Juan Pérez Joglar, is a Puerto Rican hip-hop artist and filmmaker who — and I’m spitballing here — isn’t on team Vázquez.

I’m not a guillotine expert, but it looks a bit too wobbly and inexact to do any real damage.

It’s like strapping a few stripped wires to an IKEA ottoman and calling it an electric chair.

That said, there’s something positively Boston circa 1775 about these pictures. As if it had to be said, I mean that in a good way.

The Puerto Rican people are learning with a decided quickness they can’t trust a territorial government that’s unresponsive when it isn’t completely ruthless.

When Hurricane Maria hit, they feuded with Washington over who was to blame for the slow response and ineffectual distribution of emergency supplies.

At the time, the general consensus was that the Trump administration was somehow to blame. I don’t fault Puerto Ricans for buying that.

They shouldn’t buy it now, not when they see those emergency supplies from two years prior rotting away in a warehouse. Island residents deserve better.

They don’t need a guillotine to get it, but they do need to hold their elected officials accountable — and that doesn’t just mean a few recalls here and there.

The entire apparatus has rotted from the head on down.

It needs to be replaced.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture