Exploring the Long History of US Dominance in Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rico was taken over by the US in 1898 and has been an unincorporated territory since 1922
- US banks giving out predatory loans, coupled with laws forbidding the use of the local currency and favoring American businesses, have caused Puerto Ricans to become economically dependent on mainland shipments
- Political control was given to American leaders who had little knowledge of the island, language, or culture
- The US citizenry was granted to Puerto Ricans just before a global war, leading them to fight for their colonizers
- In schools and public institutions, Spanish is forbidden.
The US Takeover of Puerto Rico: Outrage over Big Banks and Military Control, Low Wages, and Hazardous Waste Sites
- In the early 1900s, US takeover of Puerto Rico caused poverty and malnutrition
- Big banks and US military took control of the majority of the land, low wages and hazardous waste sites were created
- Pedro Albizu Campos, a Harvard Law School graduate, led a movement for independence
- Cornelius Rhodes’s letter sparked outrage across the island
- FBI spies infiltrated the movement to monitor and sabotage any attempts at gaining autonomy.
Revealed After 50 Years: US Surveillance and Armed Conflict in Puerto Rico
- The FBI initiated a program in Puerto Rico to spy on and track citizens who wanted independence
- They used methods such as phone tapping, letter interception, payment of informers, coercion, manipulation and undercover surveillance
- The detailed files, known as Carpetas, documented everything from physical descriptions to locations and activities of the people being tracked
- The FBI attempted to create a psychological war against those fighting for independence with tactics such as kidnapping children and denying them government jobs if they had a Carpeta
- This eventually escalated into an armed revolution which led to the US bombing its own citizens in 1950
- President Truman downplayed the incident and two days later two nationalists attempted to assassinate him
- When all was said and done after 50 years of surveillance 1.8 million pages of documentation were collected and many victims are still alive today.
Unpacking the Impact of Colonialism on Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rico is an unincorporated US territory, without full representation in democracy and the right to vote for the president
- Historically, the US has maintained control over Puerto Rico through aggressive policies of division, mistrust, betrayal and fear
- Despite this history, Puerto Rican culture has had a major impact on American culture with their contributions in food, music, dance and art
- However, when natural disasters occur on the island, citizens are reminded of its status as a colonial possession with deep wounds left by oppressive forces.