Ulster Logo
Link to facebook  Link to INCOREinfo on twitter  Link to INCORE rss feed    Linkedin link Linkedin link

The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 .

The Puerto Rican Movement
Edited by Andrés Torres & José E Velázquez

(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998)
381pp. Index. Bibl. $69.95; ISBN 1-56639-617-4. Pb.: $24.95; 1-56639-618-2.

The editors of this book make the bold assertion that their anthology represents the "most comprehensive assessment yet of the experience of the Puerto Rican movement in the United States" (p. xii). While some of the chapters of the anthology are better written than others, and some offer more compelling evidence to the editor's claim than others, the book on the whole succeeds on many fronts.

The context of the book, the history of Puerto Rico and its often tumultuous relationship with the United States, is a fascinating one. During the mid-nineteenth century, most Spanish colonies in Latin America achieved their independence from Spain. Although an independence movement emerged in Puerto Rico during this period, the island remained under Spanish control. As a result of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Spain ceded its colonial territory in Latin America and the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico) to the United States. As Puerto Rico went from Spanish colonial domination to U.S. control, its citizens obtained some of the rights of U.S. citizens, such as the right to be drafted into the armed forces, but not others, such as the right to vote in Federal elections. Estimates indicate that up to one half of the population of Puerto Rico currently lives in the United States.

The book tells the story of the Puerto Rican movement of the late 1960s up until the early 1980s. The Puerto Rican movement is unique among other radical movements during the late 1960s in the United States, such as the Black Panther or Chicano movements. While the latter movements focused exclusively on conditions in the U.S., the Puerto Rican movement had two goals: independence for the island of Puerto Rico and rights for Puerto Ricans in the United States. Many of the chapters of the anthology offer interesting explanations of how these dual goals intersected to become at times powerful rallying cries for the movement, but also served to cause much dissension and confusion among groups within the movement.

The most fascinating parts of the book are those in which the authors, who are all direct participants in the movement, are able to shed some light on the complexity of the issues involved, and the motivations of the participants themselves. The main shortcoming of the book is that at times, the various authors fall into the trap of offering too many details as to the names of people involved, or names of people who should have been involved, or should not have, depending on the perspectives given. However, despite the minor shortcoming, the book offers a comprehensive treatment of an often ignored social movement in the United States.

Heather McPhail, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington DC

Disclaimer: © INCORE 2010 Last Updated on Monday, 10-Aug-2015 12:20
contact usgoto the search page
go to the top of this page