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Latin American Research Review 40.3 (2005) 163-176

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The Puerto Rican Paradox:

Colonialism Revisited

University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Foreign In A Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion And The Constitution. Edited by Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001. Pp. xv+422. $79.95 cloth, $25.95 paper.)
Islands Of Resistance: Puerto Rico, Vieques And U.S. Policy. By Mario Murillo. (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001. Pp. 90. $9.95 paper.)
Military Power And Popular Protest: The U.S. Navy In Vieques, Puerto Rico. By Katherine T. McCaffrey. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Pp. xvii+218. $60.00 cloth, $22.00 paper.)
The Politics Of Language In Puerto Rico. By AmíLcar Antonio Barreto. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001. Pp. xiv+221. $55.00 cloth.)
Puerto Ricans In The United States. By María E. Pérez y González. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. Pp. xii+186. $45.00 cloth.)
The Puerto Rican Nation On The Move: Identities On The Island And In The United States. By Jorge Duany. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. Pp. xv+341. $49.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.) [End Page 163]
Puerto Rico: Negotiating Development And Change. By James L. Dietz. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003. Pp. viii+219. $49.95 cloth, 19.95 paper.)
Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, And U.S. Imperialism In Puerto Rico. By Laura Briggs. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Pp. xi+278. $49.95 cloth, $19.95 paper.)
Understanding Mainland Puerto Rican Poverty. By Susan S. Baker. (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2002. Pp. xvi+235. $69.50 cloth, $22.95 paper.)
Puerto Ricans live in purgatory, trapped between Anglo North America and Latin America. And this no-man's-land is epitomized by the perennial debate over the island's political status.
Amílcar Antonio Barreto (3)
As a colonized minority citizenry, Puerto Ricans face a unique marginalization that neither affords them the benefits of full citizenship . . . nor allows them to adapt through normal immigrants channels.
Susan S. Baker (120)

A colleague once quipped that the end of the Puerto Rican political status question would also mean the end of many academic careers. Although American policy makers steadfastly refuse to recognize that Puerto Rico is a colony or that the United States is a colonial power, the unresolved question of the Island's political status continues to be a dominant theme of intellectual endeavor. Officially, Puerto Rico is a "possession" of the United States defined in American jurisprudence as belonging to but not being a part of the United States. That is, "foreign in a domestic sense," as the title of Burnett and Marshall's book aptly puts it. In spite of the claim that the creation of the political formula called "commonwealth" (estado libre asociado in Spanish) in 1952 ended Puerto Rico's colonial status, mainstream and radical research continues to document the dialectics of colonial domination and resistance in United States-Puerto Rico relations. Long-winded debates over language and population control policies, American military presence, culture, identity, migration, and the juridical standing of Commonwealth carry on.

Whether it is formally recognized or not, American colonialism has had, and continues to have, an enormous impact on both Puerto Ricans and Americans. The troublesome and contradictory outcomes of the relationship between the colony and the metropolis are revisited and scrutinized from every conceivable conceptual, social, and political perspective in the books reviewed here. After reading these books the reader will wonder why Puerto Ricans do not vote for independence or statehood and put an end to this uncertainty, or why the U.S. Congress and president do not take action to resolve the problems created by trying to manage and conceal the realities of colonialism. [End Page 164]

The fact is that there is an ambivalence among Puerto Ricans vis-à-vis the United States, and among Americans vis-à-vis Puerto Rico. On the one hand, Puerto Ricans know that they are a...


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