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Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World Paperback – February 8, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0300076189 ISBN-10: 0300076185

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (February 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300076185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300076189
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although Puerto Rico is technically a territory of the United States, José Trias Monge prefers the unvarnished term "colony" to describe his homeland's difficult position. Spain ceded control of the island to the United States more than 100 years ago, and in that time Washington has continually avowed its desire to respect the wishes of the Puerto Ricans while systematically limiting its sovereignty. Only three options remain open to the island: Puerto Rico can remain a territory with greater sovereignty, become an independent nation, or join the U.S. as the 51st state. Yet frequent plebiscites held in the territory have resolved nothing. primarily due, Monge asserts, to the U.S.'s reluctance to truly allow Puerto Rico to become self-governing before any final decision is made about the territory's status. Though Monge is quick to point out how Puerto Rico has benefited from its relationship with the U.S., he is unwavering in his support of the idea that "Nobody has the right to govern another: it is as simple as that." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Monge presents a pithy account of Puerto Rico's troubled 500-year history while also setting out a carefully reasoned case for a new approach to the perennially unresolved issue of Puerto Rico's status vis-á-vis the United States.... Monge's reasoning is relentless. Yet one leaves this thoughtful book with the unpleasant suspicion that logic alone, no matter how compelling, will not be enough to rouse the United States Government to unstick this policy problem. -- The New York Times Book Review, Thomas Carothers --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. R. Costas Jr. on January 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a relative short (less than 200 pages), straightforward and direct book on the most important subject facing PR for 100 years. The author gives us a great background on the evolution of the status question (independence, statehood or commonwealth) for PR since Spain ceded it to the U.S. after the Spanish American War of 1898. Other lands that were ceded after the war (Philippines, Cuba) were granted more autonomy and even independence than PR was. But why? The author tries to answer that.

The bigger issue is that the Commonwealth status that PR and the US enacted in 1952, while a step forward, is not really the "true" associated free state that PR envisioned for itself. While PR generally makes its own laws and governs itself, in the things that it cannot do and the ability of Congress to abolish some laws, the island can be defined as a colony in the purest sense of the word. The author goes on to state many times that it is not an issue of dislike toward the Americans, something so fashionable these days. In fact, he clearly states that whether PR chooses to be independent or perfects the commonwealth status, a close association with the U.S. would be a very desirable thing. The U.S. has generally been a very positive influence in the economic development of the island.

However, the island was told early on by the U.S. that when the day came and it was ready, the U.S. would allow it to choose its destiny in terms of self-government and would honor it...a "promise" that has not been kept. In my opinion, with 400 years of Spanish rule in the background, I don't think Puerto Ricans would ever assimilate culturally to being a state. They would never let that happen. An improved associated free state is the likeliest outcome.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Essentially, Trias Monge is not the most appropriate person to demand additional autonomy for Puerto Rico (he was responsible for the systematic use of dossiers by the Puerto Rican police to gather intelligence against those who precisely demanded in the past the same things that he's demanding now), but he has a point. Puerto Rico has become a military colony, exchanging "cupones" (entitlements) for "megatones" (no need to explain here). Faust would be proud; Trias' point is precisely that. Puerto Ricans are nominal US citizens, furthering annexation would require a change in the island's cultural mindset. An eye opener, should be required reading for US Congressmen and Puerto Ricans alike.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Victor Dominguez on September 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was very skeptical of this book since I am Pro-Independence and the author is pro "maintain the status quo while getting a little more autonomy". But after reading the book, I will admit that it is definitely a keeper and one that I will read again numerous times as well as use it as a reference. The author dips in to the different issues plaguing Puerto Rico, mainly the status issue. He eventually gives a pretty well done (but still somewhat) unbiased opinion on the benefits and drawbacks of the three different status options for Puerto Rico; Independence, Free Associated State/Commonwealth, and Statehood. He provides cost estimates for the three options as well as ways of achieving each one. Its been a few months since I read the book so I dont remember every single detail (which only means I will be reading it again soon) but I wanted to basically point out that it was very well written, easy to read, understand and follow; and I honestly believe that it is a very good starting point for anyone that wishes to familiarize themselves with the beautiful country known as Puerto Rico and it's issues. I also believe that Puerto Ricans themselves should read this book because even though we live here, the majority of the population (like America's) doesnt conduct it's own research and/or tries to find out the truth on various issues. We (just like the US) have been indoctrinated into believing everything that we read in the newspapers, watch on TV or are TOLD in school. Learning is no longer promoted in today's schools unfortunately. The modern way to teach is to regurgitate what you have heard from the next guy and it's almost guaranteed to continue being passed on. This is unhealthy for both the individuals and the country and is a very good explanation on why Puerto Rico is the way it is now. Read the book, I promise you will not be disappointed...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mario J. on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a must read for any person who would like to learn about Puerto Rico, its history and its relationship with the U.S.A. Also, the author makes a good explanation about other territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific, which is good to make a comparison with the political status of Puerto Rico. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By El Coquí on September 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Great book will open your eyes as to what has happened in the past and how it is still an on going issue.
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