Christopher Columbus, who one might consider Puerto Rico’s first tourist, was mesmerized by the island—its climate, its beauty, and yes its resources, from whence it got its name “rich port.” It was the gem of the Spanish colonial empire until 1898 when the Spanish-American War resulted in the dissolution of the Spanish empire. Puerto Rico, along with other Caribbean islands, were ceded to the United States, and soon after Puerto Rico officially became recognized as an American territory. Puerto Rico, however, has never allowed itself to be completely indoctrinated into the U.S. Puerto Rico’s own constitution was created in 1952, creating the Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico).
Puerto Rico’s economic well being, however, was perhaps too intertwined with the American economy—when the U.S. economy faltered, the Puerto Rican one followed suit. Successive recessions drove American industries to leave Puerto Rico in search of business opportunities elsewhere, and luxury hotels, forced to shut their doors, dragged local retailers and vendors down with them.
Winter 2002, Volume I, Number 2
Ellen Schneider’s description of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in her provocative article on Nicaraguan democracy sent me scurrying to my oversized scrapbooks of newspaper articles. I wanted to show her that rather than being perceived as a caudillo
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