The Status Debate as an Example of Nationalist Politics for Puerto Ricans

The Status Debate as an Example of Nationalist Politics for Puerto Ricans

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The Status Debate as an Example of Nationalist Politics for Puerto Ricans

Puerto Rico and its people have endured a long history filled with colonialism and ambiguous rule. It is a nation whose citizens have endured years of imperial rule, enslavement and forced dependence on other countries for its existence. It is a nation which has changed drastically from the days when Tainoes were the exclusive inhabitants of the island. Unfortunately, Puerto Rico can no longer stand alone as its own country. Years of Spanish colonization have kept many Puerto Ricans at a "blue collar" level. Industrialization of the island, begun when the United States acquired Puerto Rico in the Spanish American War, has gradually forced Puerto Ricans to abandon their way of life, a way of life which once allowed many Puerto Ricans to reap the agricultural benefits of the island. Now, what was once an island where Puerto Ricans produced more than they could consume, has been reduced to an environmentalist's nightmare. Fields which once produced tropical fruits and vegetables as well as sugar and coffee have now been nearly destroyed by the harmful effects of industrialization. "The heat from the petrochemicals . . . ate away at the roots and in four years killed the plants and baked the dirt. That is not sand you see, it's dirt clay baked white. If you were to try to walk up that mountain, the soles would burn off your shoes." (Lopez, 1987: 75) Industrialization brought jobs which earned Puerto Ricans higher wages than they could earn in the fields. Thus, many abandoned the fields for factories, creating a shift to dependence on American industry in Puerto Rico for survival. Islanders could no longer feed their families on the fruits of...

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...Latinos into joining the collective voice to create necessary reforms. Through the creation of "imagined political communities" characteristic of Nationalism, members of the community may feel that together their voices can be heard, and, as a collective, the community can bring about reforms. The ability of the status debate to create among Puerto Ricans a sense of community and Nationalism just shows that perhaps nationalist politics could be the answer to mass political mobilization among Latinos.



1. Hardy-Fanta, Carol. 1993. Latina Politics, Latino Politics: Gender, Culture, and Politics Participation in Boston, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

2. Lopez, Alfredo. 1987. Dona Licha's Island: Modern Colonialism in Puerto Rico. Boston: South End Press.

3. Trias Monge, Chapter 14: 163.

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