Cabo Rojo, PR: Under most circumstances having the figure and name of the great Roberto Clemente added to anything in Puerto Rico would be met with much applause and support. Unfortunately, that is not the case with what apparently was proposed by legislator, Ángel Matos, passed by both the Assembly and island Senate and signed into law by Governor Pedro Pierluisi.
The controversy began with the confusion of whether the new 2022 registration stickers commemorating Clemente’s 50th anniversary of getting his 3000th hit would be a voluntary donation that the motorist could make if they chose to get one, or is it mandatory? The cost of the registration sticker would be an additional five dollars and any new license plate for twenty-one dollars. With over two million motorists in Puerto Rico that would be approximately ten million dollars on the registration alone that the government would raise supposedly for the University of Puerto Rico and for a “Fondo del Distrito Roberto Clemente.” It gets more confusing because very few ever heard of that foundation which is not to be confused with the Fundación Roberto Clemente (Roberto Clemente Foundation) which the Clemente family is involved with and that oversaw the administration of Roberto Clemente Sports City.
It gets even more confusing because the Clemente family knew nothing of this and were never consulted. Clemente’s middle son, Luis Clemente learned of this sticker, license plate with his father’s image like everyone else, he saw it in the news. He was taken back and went on social media with the following statement: “Not even the Roberto Clemente Foundation, much less my family, has any influence on that charge, and even more so, we are not the beneficiaries of this fund.”
He added that “in fact, our approval was not sought for the use of our father’s image on the commemorative registration stickers and license plates. Image to which we legitimately have the rights to use. In addition, the government of Puerto Rico did not seek or obtain the approval of other entities that claim the rights involved in the image.”
The public has been critical of what they perceive yet another imposed tax to pay for something that they had no input whatsoever. The public and the Clemente family are not the only ones confused.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the DTOP explained that her agency had nothing to do with the measures that imposed the additional charge on registration stickers (Malvetes) and plates.
“That comes out of joint resolution 16 and 17, it comes out of the Legislature. It establishes charging an additional $21 for the license plate and $5 for the tag. But it is not a DTOP position,” said Secretary Vélez.
Specifically, regarding the sticker, she stated that “it is an additional charge, it is not optional. It is optional if you want to donate more than $5″.
José Bebo Avellanet from Mayagüez expressed outrage. “They want to raise millions of dollars for what? I’m not against naming and supporting Roberto Clemente, but this island has other bigger priorities. Why can’t they do that to raise money to raise the salaries, or pensions of the Puerto Rican police who’s pension might not even reach $500 a month.” He continued, “why can’t they raise money to build a second trauma center here in Mayagüez Medical Center. Puerto Rico only has one trauma center located in San Juan so patients on the West Coast have to be transported to San Juan which is ridiculous and puts many patients at risk.”
Other’s I spoke to were confused and were against any money going to the Clemente Foundation administered by the family for the Clemente Sports city stating that they have received millions and the Sports City today is totally abandoned and in shambles.
The fact is that there is much confusion on a beautiful Clemente sticker and license plate that many Roberto Clemente fans and collectors would love to have, but not most of the people in Puerto Rico who are tired of the government continuing to take money from them.
Guest columnist Mayra Montero for El Nuevo Día states it best. The title of her piece,
“The robbery of the century in the Registration stickers.”
She writes. “The situation is very simple: as politicians find it increasingly difficult to raise money for their luxuries, their legislative offices full of party friends, their trips, petty cash, whims, and those campaign promises that, because this is a bankrupt country, they cannot and will not comply, they have found a way to rob citizens and extract 5 dollars a head. That to start. It is an experiment that could be extended.”
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