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The Untold History Between the U.S. and Puerto Rico

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La Perla is an ocean-side neighborhood in Old San Juan outside the walls of Castillo de San Cristóbal"

The United States has a long and complex relationship with Puerto Rico that changes dramatically depending on who is telling the tale. 

Is America a friendly benefactor who brought economic development to an agricultural island? Or is it an oppressive ruler who capitalized on the island's fertile and inexpensive land, and cheap labor, to advance U.S. economic interests at the expense of Puerto Ricans, many of whom wanted independence after the oppressive rule of Spain.

Nelson Antonio Denis, author of War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony, says the truth leans more towards the latter. He says the U.S. waged a war on Puerto Ricans, crushing their growing nationalist movement through political appointments and economic policies that were brutal in their oppression.

The oppression continues today. After all these years, Puerto Rico is still a U.S. territory with limited rights of citizenship. And, while Puerto Rico is attracting wealthy tourists to U.S.-backed development along its shoreline, the majority of the country is mired in crushing debt, high unemployment, and almost half the country is living under the poverty line.  


Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.
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