Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico

Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico

by Ed Morales


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A crucial, clear-eyed accounting of Puerto Rico's 122 years as a colony of the US.

Since its acquisition by the US in 1898, Puerto Rico has served as a testing ground for the most aggressive and exploitative US economic, political, and social policies. The devastation that ensued finally grew impossible to ignore in 2017, in the wake of Hurricane María, as the physical destruction compounded the infrastructure collapse and trauma inflicted by the debt crisis. In Fantasy Island, Ed Morales traces how, over the years, Puerto Rico has served as a colonial satellite, a Cold War Caribbean showcase, a dumping ground for US manufactured goods, and a corporate tax shelter. He also shows how it has become a blank canvas for mercenary experiments in disaster capitalism on the frontlines of climate change, hamstrung by internal political corruption and the US federal government's prioritization of outside financial interests.

Taking readers from San Juan to New York City and back to his family's home in the Luquillo Mountains, Morales shows us the machinations of financial and political interests in both the US and Puerto Rico, and the resistance efforts of Puerto Rican artists and activists. Through it all, he emphasizes that the only way to stop Puerto Rico from being bled is to let Puerto Ricans take control of their own destiny, going beyond the statehood-commonwealth-independence debate to complete decolonization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568588995
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 279,374
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ed Morales is the author of Latinx, The Latin Beat, and Living in Spanglish. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and The Nation, among other national publications. He has also appeared on numerous television programs, is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 A Brief History of US Colonialism in Puerto Rico 19

2 Clear and Present Danger: Prelude to the Crisis 49

3 The Diablo in Derivatives: Borrowing to Meet Basic Needs 74

4 Bond Emissions, Corruption, and Betrayal: How Two Governments Failed Puerto Rico 104

5 PROMESA = Pobreza 139

6 Status Update? 167

7 Hurricane Maria Destroys the Commonwealth Fantasy 197

8 The Trump Factor: Vultures, Lobbyists, and Disaster Capitalism 227

9 The Art of Resistance 253

10 Fantasy's End 282

Acknowledgments 305

Notes 309

Index 323

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