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Decolonization Models for America’s Last Colony

Puerto Rico

Angel Collado-Schwarz

Publication Year: 2012

Addresses the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, and provides the long-term options that Puerto Rico might have as a sovereign country using six countries as case studies- Singapore, Ireland, New Zealand, Estonia, Slovenia and Israel

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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pp. i-ii

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction to the 2011 English Edition

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pp. xiii-xviii

The year 2011 began with dictators being deposed in Tunisia and Egypt, turmoil in the Middle East, and accompanying cries for democracy. The United States is paying attention to the world’s trouble spots, yet it is failing to conduct a reality check regarding its...

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Introduction to the Third Edition (2010)

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pp. xix-xvi

These quotations dramatize how perspectives on Puerto Rico’s colonial status have evolved over the past 112 years: from a classic colony to one with limited powers of self-government and finally to acceptance that there is a colonial problem and that a sovereign...

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Introduction to the First Edition (2008)

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pp. xxvii

The changes in the twenty-first century are even more dramatic than those mentioned by Henry Kissinger in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1945, the United Nations had 49 sovereign states as members; by 2008, it had 192 member states....

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General Note

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pp. xxxiii

The six “country interviews” in this book were conducted in early 2007, just before the global financial crisis began. Therefore, in this edition we append this brief note about the impact of that ongoing crisis on the six countries....

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P A R T 1

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pp. 1-13

The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, located between the Greater and the Lesser Antilles, has a rich history. It has been populated for almost 6,000 years. The native population that the Europeans found when they discovered...

P A R T 2

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pp. 14-15

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Successful Sovereignties

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pp. 17-34

FRANCISCO CATALÁ-OLIVERAS: As we can see in the news we read every day, Puerto Rico’s current economic situation is critical, so much so that I do not think it should be classified as a recession or a depression—it is even worse. However, let us...

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pp. 35-54

Singapore’s average rate of real GDP growth was higher than 7 percent between 2004 and 2007. Growth slowed to a mere 1.1 percent in 2008, and a sharp contraction was expected in 2009 owing to the financial crisis. Thanks to an expansionary fiscal policy, however, the...

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pp. 55-74

The Slovenian economy grew at an excellent pace during 2004–7, averaging better than 5 percent. In 2007, before the fi nancial crisis, real GDP increased 6.8 percent. It grew also in 2008, albeit at a reduced rate of 3.5 percent. The global recession’s impact...

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pp. 75-96

For more than two decades, Ireland’s rate of economic growth was more than 6 percent per year. During most of that period, growth was based on the coupling of Irish human capital to export-oriented investments. There was then a turning point—the precise time is still ill...

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pp. 97-116

Israel’s economy grew better than 5 percent per year during 2004–7. After a 4 percent gain in real GDP in 2008, Israel felt the global recession in 2009, when growth slowed to virtually zero (0.6 percent). Unemployment peaked at 7.6 percent in 2009....

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New Zealand

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pp. 117-136

Real GDP growth in New Zealand averaged about 3 percent per year during 2004–9. The contraction in the crisis years was relatively mild: –1.1 percent in 2008 and –0.6 percent in 2009. The unemployment rate has been between 6.2 percent and 6.5 percent. The...

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pp. 137-156

Estonia has the smallest and most vulnerable economy of the six interview countries. Starting from the lowest base in the group, it experienced the highest growth rate in the years before the global financial crisis in 2008. Real GDP growth was 7.2 percent...

P A R T 3

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pp. 157-160

P A R T 4

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pp. 161-162

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Federal Laws Mean Hardships for Puerto Rican Consumers

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pp. 163-165

Puerto Rican consumers have begun the twenty-fi rst century struggling with increases in the cost of living—increases in power and water rates, in the price of gasoline, in tolls and bus fares, and in postage stamps, along with a possible regressive tax on consumption...

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China and Latin America

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pp. 166-168

Chinese civilization, which is thousands of years old, has been the most successful in the history of the universe. Its most extraordinary icon is the Great Wall, constructed more than two thousand years ago. It is the biggest construction project ever...

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The Visits of Five Presidents, a Pope, and a King

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pp. 169-171

In the five hundred years that have passed since its colonization, Puerto Rico has had official visits from seven figures of the highest international rank. All of these visits took place after the US invasion in 1898....

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The Bride Refuses to Marry

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pp. 172-174

Statehood, which [José Celso] Barbosa referred to as the “regional homeland” and others have called “jibaro statehood,” does not exist. The United States is very different today from what the Founding Fathers of the first democracy conceived as a federation...

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Ireland Is Stealing Our Cookies

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pp. 175-177

Fifty years ago Puerto Rico was a model for Ireland. Now the roles have switched: Ireland is the star of the European Union, with a per capita income higher than that of Germany, France, or its own former colonial power, the United Kingdom. [Although Ireland’s...

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Puerto Rico: An Archipelago Without Fresh Seafood?

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pp. 178-180

One of the biggest surprises for visitors to the archipelago that is Puerto Rico is the lack of a healthy and well-developed fishing industry, such as exists on every other island or country with a coastline. The main restaurants in San Juan import seafood...

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The Bahamas, Small Yet Sovereign

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pp. 181-183

Throughout our history, we have been told that to be sovereign means to be like the poor states of the Caribbean. We have avoided discussion of remarkable examples from all over the world of countries of a scale similar to that of Puerto Rico that have achieved...

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The Spirit of Bangalore

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pp. 184-186

Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India—that is, the high-technology and information technology services center of India. It is the creator of the controversial outsourcing or transfer of information technology, accounting, and customer services of multinational...

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The Neglect of Solar Energy

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pp. 187-189

The sun is an electricity-generating plant of gigantic dimensions that costs nothing. It is estimated that this year the sun will shed on the earth around 4,000 times more energy than we will consume. The sun is a clean, renewable, and inexhaustible source of energy....

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An Agricultural Country Without Agriculture

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pp. 190-192

In the 1940s, the last foreign governor of Puerto Rico, Rexford G. Tugwell, exclaimed in amazement: “Imagine, food is imported. They have lost the art of the tropics. No one under that sun, with good soils and 40 inches of rain, should suffer hunger.” With...

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Violence, Mental Health, and Status

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pp. 193-195

The headlines were recently all about a young American tourist, Sarah Kuszak, who was kidnapped and raped and had her throat slit. Kuszak, who was six months pregnant, was intercepted while jogging through the lovely countryside around Ceiba. The gruesome...

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Sovereign Gardens

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pp. 196-198

Rexford G. Tugwell, the last foreign governor of Puerto Rico, was amazed in the 1940s by the fact that Puerto Ricans, having the perfect climate and soils to be self-sufficient with regard to food, imported their food. Six decades later the situation has deteriorated...

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Alaskan Statehood

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pp. 199-201

In 1867, the United States acquired the Territory of Alaska from Russia. In 1912, Alaska took the fi rst step toward being a state of the union by becoming an incorporated territory. (Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory.)...

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The Most Exclusive Club in the World

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pp. 202-204

The US Senate is the most exclusive club in the world. The vice president of the United States presides over this powerful legislative body, which is composed of two senators from each state....

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Sovereignty for Development

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pp. 205-206

Puerto Rico’s economic model froze in the 1950s. Corporations operating under Section 936 [of the US Internal Revenue Code] gave it some oxygen and managed to keep it going until the 1990s. Public debt and food stamps have kept the people from...

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A Quarter-Century Lost

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pp. 207-209

In 1985, having experienced eight years of the Carlos Romero-Barceló administration, the Puerto Rico Planning Board circulated an informe social, a report on Puerto Rican society, which discussed the quality-of life issue that was a concern twenty-four...

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The Bankers Club and Puerto Rico

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pp. 210-212

The closing of the Bankers Club, the legendary icon of Puerto Rico’s financial world, founded in 1939, illustrates the changes that Puerto Rico is undergoing. It was a death foretold from the moment that the club failed to continue to run its historic venue in Old...

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Drug Trafficking and the Feds

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pp. 213-215

Daily news headlines confirm that drug trafficking is the main cause of the high crime rate in Puerto Rico....

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A Federal Plebiscite—so Close Yet so Far

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pp. 216-253218

On January 17, 1989, Governor Rafael Hernández-Colón (Popular Democratic Party), Baltasar Corrada-del-Río, afterward replaced in the initiative by Carlos Romero-Barceló (New Progressive Party), and Rubén Berríos (Puerto Rican Independence Party) cosigned...

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The Territorial Clause Versus Sovereignty

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pp. 219-220

The US Constitution adopted in 1787 specifes in Article 4, Section 3, that “the Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.”...

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The Experts and the Territorial Clause

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pp. 221-222

The interpretation of the Territorial Clause that matters is not that of the residents of the territory, whose perspectives are colonized, but that of the members of the colonial power who run the show....

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The Hispanic Effect and Statehood

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pp. 223-224

The 47.8 million Hispanics living in the United States have become its largest minority group; they now constitute 15.5 percent of the US population. It is projected that by the year 2050 the percentage of Hispanics will reach 24.4 percent....

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The Flight of the Pharmaceuticals and Commonwealth

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pp. 225-227

News of the expiration of the patent for Lipitor (Pfi zer), the prescription medicine with the greatest sales in history, and the consequent loss of thousands of direct and indirect jobs are an event that has been known to all and expected for years but ignored by the...

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pp. 228-230

The key to overcoming an economic crisis and being able to structure a new country is the creation of jobs....

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Asia Headed Toward the Lead

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pp. 231-233

During most of its long recorded history, Asia led the world in terms of population and the economy. In the year 1000, the West’s share of the world’s gross domestic product was 8.7 percent, whereas Asia’s was 70.3 percent....

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A Decade Lost: 2000–2010

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pp. 234-235

The first decade of the twenty-first century began in 2000, with the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in control of the three branches of [Puerto Rico’s] government and headed by the first woman governor, who had experience in government and the private sector....

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Obama’s 238 Minutes in Puerto Rico

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pp. 236-238

After a wait of half a century, finally a president of the United States has officially visited Puerto Rico, its unincorporated territory. The last visit was in 1961 and lasted two days; this one lasted barely 238 minutes and ended one hour earlier than anticipated....

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The Thirty-Eighth Parallel and Commonwealth Status

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pp. 239-241

The Thirty-Eighth Parallel on the Korean Peninsula and the status of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have something in common: both are relics of the Cold War....

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Stagnation and the Lack of Indignados

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pp. 242-246

Thousands of jobs have been lost in the private sector; there are only a few job openings for university graduates; inequality increases; criminality surges ahead triumphantly while federal authorities point to abuses and ineptitude in our police...

Suggested Reading

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pp. 247-250


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pp. 251-252


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pp. 253-268

Back Cover

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pp. 269

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651086
E-ISBN-10: 0815651082
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609636
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609639

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 6 maps and 3 tables
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Catalá Oliveras, Francisco A. -- Interviews.
  • Economic development -- Case studies.
  • Economic policy -- Case studies.
  • Decolonization -- Case studies.
  • Economic development -- Puerto Rico.
  • Decolonization -- Puerto Rico.
  • Puerto Rico -- Economic policy.
  • Lara, Juan, Dr. -- Interviews.
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