PUERTO RICO by Manuel Maldonado-Denis

PUERTO RICO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The engine of this rather feebly traced history of the three centuries of Puerto Rico's existence is the struggle between colonialism and anti-colonialism. Only a smattering of the pre-U.S. conquest years is given, and although the Spanish regime receives no applause, the weight of Maldonado-Denis's volleys falls on Yankee imperialism which is ""inherently a system of global domination."" Tangible objections to imperialism, cultural assimilation, land takeovers by U.S. sugar interests, and Puerto Rico's lack of economic self-sufficiency are not offered; these phenomena are simply viewed as ipso facto evil, and data on Puerto Rican poverty is not concretely linked to the mechanisms of imperialism. 20th century Puerto Rican politics are portrayed as a battle between the ""autonomists"" and the ""annexationists,"" and while he admits the failures of nationalism, the author holds Albizu Campos' violent nationalism in romantic esteem. The best part of the book deals with the massive tax giveaways prompted by Operation Bootstrap, to which Maldonado-Denis credits the successes of the Popular Democratic Party. Its leader, Munoz Marin, is viewed as a renegade sellout because he threw the nationalists out of the PDP in 1944. Despite the economic misery of the island and the plundering of its resources, Maldonado-Denis argues that the greatest threat is ""the danger of our loss of heritage"" stemming from ""our elephantine middle class."" And-Americanism among students, peasants and other Puerto Ricans heartens the author but the lack of any defined political perspectives for achieving his insular nationalism equates much of this with wishful thinking.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Random House