Puerto Rico has been a territorial possession of the United States for over one hundred years. As a strategic insular possession and guardian of the Panama Canal, a lucrative offshore investment site for U.S. multinational corporations, and a long-standing source of labor power, Puerto Rico has had an important role in American history since 1898.This book provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of how the United States attempted to transform Puerto Rico from a neglected backwater of the Spanish empire into one of its key props in establishing hegemony in the western hemisphere. The book looks at the formative three-and-one-half decades of U.S. colonial rule, when the colony’s key institutions, economic structures, and legal doctrines were transformed. Policy papers, speeches, newspaper articles, and memoirs from the period inform the study with particular detail and insight. The book also looks at the dynamics of U.S. expansionism during the Progressive Era and examines the normative and ideological constructions that were used to rationalize a campaign of territorial acquisition and colonial administration. It also demonstrates how the military and subsequent civilian regimes directed a process of institutional transformation, state building, and capitalist development.
Given the recent controversial Presidential clemency for imprisoned Puerto Rican independence activists, this interpretation of the formative decades of US rule in this gateway to Latin America is especially timely. Caban (Latino politics, Rutgers U.) studies the role Puerto Rico has played in American history since the US transformed this backwater of the former Spanish empire into a hub of its regional hegemony. The author analyzes US Progressive Era expansionism, and the legacy of accommodation and resistance to US military occupation (1898-1900), which left "the new and improved colonial state" in a state of sociopolitical crisis by 1932. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)