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The Deal That Puerto Rico Didn't Ask for and Didn't Want


The Deal That Puerto Rico Didn't Ask for and Didn't Want

Stephen Kinzer

Painful truths sometimes become so obvious that they must be faced. Let’s finally be honest. Even though I forced you to marry me, I never loved you — not even on our wedding day. I didn’t know a thing about you, so how could I? You always seemed strange, with your own language and habits. Over the years, we kept our distance. I tried to ignore you. Now, suddenly, you’re in trouble and want my help. Forget it! I’m not wasting my money on a spouse I picked up on a beach by accident and never cared for.


The shotgun used in this forced marriage between Trump and Puerto Rico, could be better put to use.

The people of Puerto Rico deserve better.


Didn’t Puertoricans vote for statehood?


First, several people, starting with Thomas Hobbes, Rev. Malthus and Adam Smith, have observed that the natural condition of man is ‘impoverished’. (We should thank God each morning that we are able to live better than that.)

Violent efforts by Puerto Rican independence seekers making news in the early 1950s, and the political appeal of the Cuban Revolution got the US Government to provide some government aid to improve conditions on the island. As the article said, some tax breaks were artificial. And other laws work against Puerto Rico, such as the Jones Act requiring US flagged and manned ships between the US and Puerto Rico.

BTW, worth a serious look at whether the Cuban Revolution made life better for Cubans. Back before the revolution Cuba had a free press, active independent labor unions and civic organizations and perhaps the highest standard of living in Latin America, higher than some European nations. Now there is no free press in Cuba. There are no independent-of-the-government organizations, and they are one of the most impoverished nations in Latin America.

I have heard of three or four votes. The first three votes Puerto Rico voted to continue the existing commonwealth arrangement. The pro-Commonwealth party favored renegotiating it to get better terms for Puerto Rico. I haven’t heard definitely about the most recent vote. If there was one Puerto Rico was plainly angling for more money from Washington DC.


This article really pisses me off.

Thomas Hobbes, Rev. Malthus and Adam Smith are quite the authorities on the chauvinist imperialist perspective then?

Convenient to believe that people are somehow inherently ‘impoverished’. It leads to the belief that because one has money, one is superior - so unapologetic exploitation of anyone and everyone available is excusable.

Mankind won’t really have evolved until we leave this bs toward each other behind.


Why won’t the US grant them statehood if PR voted for it?


Mid June 2017

The Atlantic article might say more on the subject than I can.
I will say that arguments over and Congress’ unwillingness to act are not unprecedented.

  1. There was a fight over admitting Kansas as a pro-slavery or not state.
  2. The Indian Territories wanted statehood, but Congress wouldn’t grant it until they merged Indian Territories with Oklahoma Territory in 1907.
  3. The Mormons in Salt Lake City wanted statehood, but Congress wouldn’t grant it until they had suppressed polygamy.


PRicans have been drinking the cool-aide for over 120 years; still believing it isn’t poisoned.
No master wants, or treats, his slaves as an equal; rather, his desire is to maximize profits quickly, without mayor investment, or effort; and in complete disregard for the well being of the slave.
Island residents, in their quest to be the masters favorite, choose to stab their own rather than join forces to rid themselves of slavery.


Or how about suddenly getting a few hundred thousand more Democrat votes?

Or how are they going to afford more services and benefits stateside for so many jobless Puertorican citizens?

Or that they prefer to keep these mostly brown, non-Scandinavians from coming here?

Or how not wanting to give these citizens who fight its wars voting rights and representation?

And not wanting our politicians to lose their Big Fossil bribes when Puertoricans adopt renewable power and decide not to be a fossil fuel “hub” for the south?

And so on ad nauseam.

Democracia Directa. Que el pueblo decida.


typo deleted


Where to begin…Fighting the Jones act is a favorite of right wing anti labor groups. They have been trying to get rid of it for years. It is marine cabotage. If you want foreign crews and foreign ships carrying freight between American ports, I’ll have to ask you if you want Luftansa flying passengers between Chicago and Des Moines? Do you want Japanese truck drivers carrying freight from Dallas to Topeka? That is what you are advocating by wanting to kill the Jones act.

Puerto Rico can import things directly from Europe or South America or Asia using foreign ships with foreign crews, but between the US, it needs to use American flagged ships. This is the same requirement as between any two US ports such as Seattle and Anchorage or San Diego and Hilo or Charleston and Galveston.

Being against the Jones act is being against well paying American union jobs.

As for your observations of Cuba, the Batista regime was one of the most corrupt this hemisphere has seen. You can try to demonize Castro but:



Likewise, where to begin. You explicitly are favoring restraint of trade.
- You would have been more on point with “Do you want Mexican truck drivers transporting produce from Hermosillo to Los Angeles.” We promised this in NAFTA, but due to Teamster protests we haven’t implemented it.
- I read once of an example of how this works. Two trains come to the Bolivia/Chile border in the high Andes. A crew unloads the Bolivian train, carts the cargo across the border as the border agents account for it, then loads the cargo onto the Chilean train. Protecting their ‘national economic interests’ thus ‘justifies’ inefficiency and higher costs of doing it this way.
- Similarly, all the European colonial nations had similar ‘Jones Act’ restrictions on their colonies. Spain was particularly bad in the 18th century. Only traders from the Spanish port of Seville could do business with Spain’s colony in Cuba. Such restrictions were one reason why colonies declared independence. Why shouldn’t Puerto Rico declare independence from the USA? And why shouldn’t the Jones Act be one reason for it?

As for your observations of Cuba, it is common-place after the fact to declare Batista “one of the most corrupt”, but how do you measure corruption? Batista was President of Cuba two separate times, during WWII, and then after an interval again starting in 1952. He did a good enough job the first time that people in 1952 at first thought he was an improvement over his predecessor. As for your source, telesur TV, in the past few days I’ve seen two reports by John Stossel that telesur is funded by Cuba and Venezuela. It is a propaganda mouthpiece for those two countries. Stossel reported on several lies that telesur has told. - I stand by my earlier statement that Cuba was a more prosperous nation before the revolution than it has been the past few decades.


While democratically elected in the 40’s, Batista seized power in 1952, evidently he thought he was good enough the first time…the people not so much.

I specifically did not use the example of Mexican truck drivers as a case could be made for them. The Jones act allows any foreign flagged ship to bring freight from a foreign port to a US port, just not between US ports. Those who want to do away with the Jones Act want to allow any foreign ship with any foreign crew to carry freight between US ports. You would have US flagged ships competing with rust buckets from Liberia or Panama with crews from Thailand or the Philippines. If you really want to allow no trade restraints on US transport, why stop there? Why not just have an open border and allow folks from Albania, Greece, Cambodia, or China come to the US and compete against those overpaid trade restraining American workers? So yeah, I am explicitly favoring trade restraints.


Jones Act. On the specific topic of Puerto Rico, is Puerto Rico better off because the US enforces the Jones Act on shipments between US state ports and Puerto Rico, … or not?


If the people of PR decided that this shotgun marriage doesn’t work for them and decide to hold a non-violent election to declare their Independence, how fast do you think the media would start calling them “communists” and how fast do you think the US military would be on the island to violently suppress those “communists”?

Probably their best bet is to wait for the American empire to implode on its own and then declare its independence once the US no longer has the resources to stop it.


No. Puerto Ricans are forced to purchase overpriced crap from the mainland when they could receive cheaper goods and fresher food products from their neighbors who are closer.


And if they shipped those products from those other locations rather than the US, they could use foreign flagged and crewed ships. If food was shipped from Columbia to Puerto Rico they could use foreign flagged ships, the Jones Act only applies to shipping from US port to US port. You are being disingenuous.