Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World

Jose Trias Monge

Published by Yale University Press, 1997
ISBN 10: 0300071108 / ISBN 13: 9780300071108
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Synopsis: The island of Puerto Rico has a severely distressed economy, is one of the most densely populated places on earth, and enjoys only limited political freedom. As a United States commonwealth, it is still treated by Congress as one of the last remaining colonies in the world. In this book a distinguished Puerto Rican legal scholar and former government official discusses the island’s century-old relationship with the United States and argues that the process of decolonization should begin immediately.

José Trías Monge first describes the Spanish rule over Puerto Rico and then traces the impact of American colonial policies there, comparing them with those in the Pacific and the British, French, and Dutch experiences in the Caribbean. He argues that the large amounts of money the United States has given to Puerto Rico have not been productive: not only has the island become frightfully dependent on United States munificence but more than 60 percent of Puerto Rican families still live below the poverty line. Politically, the situation is even worse. The United States has granted Puerto Rico limited self-government but has ignored the wishes of the Puerto Rican people?as expressed in two plebiscites?for greater autonomy, since it cannot make up its mind which decolonization option best serves American interests. Trías Monge discusses the various options of Puerto Rican independence, statehood, and an enhanced commonwealth status and urges the United States to end its present policy of inattention and inaction.

Review: Although Puerto Rico is technically a territory of the United States, Josť Trias Monge prefers the unvarnished term "colony" to describe his homeland's difficult position. Spain ceded control of the island to the United States more than 100 years ago, and in that time Washington has continually avowed its desire to respect the wishes of the Puerto Ricans while systematically limiting its sovereignty. Only three options remain open to the island: Puerto Rico can remain a territory with greater sovereignty, become an independent nation, or join the U.S. as the 51st state. Yet frequent plebiscites held in the territory have resolved nothing. primarily due, Monge asserts, to the U.S.'s reluctance to truly allow Puerto Rico to become self-governing before any final decision is made about the territory's status. Though Monge is quick to point out how Puerto Rico has benefited from its relationship with the U.S., he is unwavering in his support of the idea that "Nobody has the right to govern another: it is as simple as that."

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Title: Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony...
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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