28 thoughts on “What impact has Puerto Rico had on the United States? Economically? Politically? Culturally?

  1. Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    I will try to just list of few influences we have had:

    –We established the first Latino museum in New York City and probably in the U.S., El Museo del Barrio,

    –We established the first African American archive, now called the Schomburg Library. Arturo Schomburg was Puerto Rican. Also in NYC

    –We made New York City thee Salsa capital of the English-speaking world and were and still are the major market for Latin Dance Music in the U.S.

    –We were a major force in organizing workers in the hospital and garment areas.

    –We are a major force in tthe evolution of Latin Jazz. Think of Tito Puente, Dave Valentin, and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band.

    –We made New York a bilinggual city. With public signs and announcements in English and Spanish.

  2. RE: Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    I forgot to include in this preliminary list that Puerto Ricans established the largest Latino archive in the U.S. That is the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

  3. RE: RE: Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    A few others come to mind:

    –Puerto Ricans also were ddirectly involved in the creation/invention of rap and break dancing.

    –Jose Ferrer, a Puerto Riccan, was the first Latino actor to win an Academy Award. Just as Rita Moreno is the only actress to hold an Oscar, an Emmy and a Grammy (I forgot the others). Anyway, she’s the only actress, Latina or not, to hold awards in different areas of the performing arts.

  4. Economics.
    I think it is wrong to say that the US is doing Puerto Rico a favor with its relationship. For the first half of the 1900s the island became a sugar producer for the US (this unfortanely destroyed a high quality tobacco and coffee industry). The island is currently the #4 or #5 importer of US goods compared to other “nations”.

    And let the US be honest about the bases on the island. This has helped them controll the Caribbean basin for decades. How many Allied ships have refueled at Roosevelt Roads, how many sabotage missions aimed at Cuba have been launched from Vieques, and how many Latin American officers have been trained on the island’s instalations?

  5. RE: RE: RE: Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    Clara –
    Rita Moreno was the first artist to win a Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, and the TONY!!! [thought i help you on that one]

    Let’s not forget the Nuyorican poetry and literature movement.

    Roberto Clemente was the first Latino baseball player elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown). And, Puerto Ricans are still some of the top baseball players in baseball.

    In New York City, Puerto Ricans spurred the growth of “convenience” stores. Or, what we Nuyoricans and New Yorkers of all shades fondly call the bodega! [Fellow Nuyoricans — imagine NYC without a bodega. I shudder to think…]


  6. RE: Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    One influence that goes to the very bottom of North American culture is the fact that until recently, any Hispanic on the East Coast was referred to as a Puerto Rican. In other words, the very notion of Hispanic to North Americans was, for decades, equivalent to being Puerto Rican. When you become the principal frame of reference in a foreign culture, youve penetrated the very deepest levels of consciousness. And the key thing is that this can only happend by the dominant culture absorbing very different kinds of information on a regular basis about the subject culture. Whether that information reports successes or failures is beside the point. We are constantly on their minds.

    It is astounding the impact that the People of a rather small Island have had on a culture that occupies a massive land mass.

  7. Colonial condition means profits for the U.S.
    It should be obvious that a colonial situation means by its very nature an exploitive one. That is, the United States is so willing to prolong Puerto Rico’s colonial condition because it benefits it. Without going into the specifics, the U.S. sees the advantages in having Puerto Rico as its colony. The day PR begins to cost the U.S., it will be given its freedom. But the geographical and social advantages of owning PR should be obvious too. PR is a key to the Caribbean and South America. PR too provides the U.S. with a Spanish-speaking wing to its army. We know how perfect PR is for target practice and military games but it is also great to rent to other countries to the tune of $80 million per year. I’m not going to start drawing up a list of revenues that of course have involved some investments. But the economic impact of the island on the U.S. is actually a fascinating question which is often posited in the reverse. That is, how often is the U.S. economic impact on Puerto Rico drummed into us? I would like to hear more on this. Can anybody suggest a book or two?

  8. Catalogue…
    Now that PR Dream raises the question, maybe it would be nice to a comprehensive list of accomplishments by Puerto Ricans (Mainland as well as in United States) in all categories, beginning with early migration. This catalogue would include everything from martyrs of the early labor migrations, liberationists, the arts, sciences, trades, &tc. The information posted in “La Patria” section of this site is excellent, but I would like to see an exhaustive list.

    Maybe colleges & universities with data banks on Puerto Ricans could post compilations here, as a central access site to their data.

  9. RE: Colonial condition means profits for the U.S.
    There’s some nice stuff in Ronald Fernandez’s book: The Disenchanted Island. Nevertheless, I think u raise an interesting point: think of the program (Section 236?) that allowed US pharmecutical companies to establish on the island and not pay US taxes and hire just a tiny tiny workforce on the island–oh, and they paid no taxes to PR

  10. expanded welfare rolls %3D marginal underclass
    puerto ricans expanded the welfare rolls of the u.s. resulting in our further marginalization in the states and the creation of a similar marginal underclass in Puerto Rico.

  11. Latino filmmaking on the east coast
    Latino filmmaking on the east coast was Puerto Rican up until recently. Puerto Ricans were the Latino Filmmakers of the East Coast for Thirty Years. When one speaks of Latino filmmaking on the East coast of the U.S. between the seventies and nineties, up until recently, one is almost exclusively speaking of Puerto Rican filmmaking.

  12. Bilingual Education
    Puerto Ricans were instrumental in the creation and passage of bilingual education. The law was the ASPIRA Consent Decree.

  13. Founder of Exit Art is Puerto Rican
    Papo Colo un puertorriqueño is the founder of EXIT ART, a cutting-edge art gallery in SOHO. The current exhibition is called PARADISE NOW and it explores by displaying the works of several artists, the implications of mapping the human genome. This is just another contribution of our people to American culure and society.

  14. steroetyping
    My husband is of puerto rican decent and it seems wherever we go together, people tend to treat him negatively when our last name is mentioned. For instance at the bank or at the doctor’s office. I’m irish/german decent and I hear all the time,”you don’t look like a Rodriguez!”
    I take that as a personal attack, what exactly is a Rodriguez supposed to look like?

  15. RE: stereotyping
    you’re right melanie. it’s more an example of their ignorance than anything else and it’s extremely frustrating and hurtful. i guess what i usually do is explain that Puerto Rico like the u.s. has people of different races and mixtures. so that it would be a mistake for one to think that all americans look like oprah winfrey although that person would not be wrong in thinking that some americans look that way. you understand what i mean? but i sympathize with you. it is painful to think how Puerto Ricans are perceived. i guess that’s why this website and others like it exist.

  16. RE: RE: stereotyping
    Equally as frustrating (or perhaps even more) is the reaction that other Puerto Ricans or Latinos give one who is light skin.

    For example, in high school I was referred to as a “white girl”. It didn’t matter that I told my classmates both of my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico. No one could ever get around the color of my skin.

    Further I felt somewhat like an outcast because I didn’t have distinctly recognizable latino features (whatever that may be.) Believe it or not, the only time I truly felt like a Latina was my time spent in the Midwest attending college. The “true” white girls (and boys) never let me forget that I wasn’t one of them.

    As one PHD candidate (a Puerto Rican) at my university told me one day, there was no mistaking my “mancha de platano”.


  17. RE: Economics.
    I would like to know more about my contries economy(Puerto Rico)for my own knowledge and for a report I am doing.I am 14 and am very inturested in my contry.

  18. impact of our numbers
    that’s not my point. it’s just the sheer number of our people who wound up on welfare and how it effected the u.s. that i was getting at. it was definitely more damaging to our community to be on welfare. we see that today. it truly is a method of managing or controlling the poor–or a pool of surplus labor that can become extremely explosive. that actually was more along the lines of my thinking. our involvement in the welfare system of the u.s. had a profound impact on the u.s. economy–especially when it was extended to Puerto Rico along with other federal programs like food stamps, ssi, etc. sorry i guess i ruffled a lot of feathers. and i’m not saying we make up the bulk of welfare recipients either. but we are a substantial block that was politically diffused here and on the island.

  19. this day in history
    Greetings everyone…….

    I figure I’d enclose the “this day in history” that comes daily with my excite home page…. I think it’s fair to say that this day one hundred and two years ago would alter the course of my family history…..
    On Oct. 18, 1898, the American flag
    was raised in Puerto Rico shortly before
    Spain formally relinquished control of the island to the United States.

    I would not be here in the form that I’m in if this day hadn’t happened…..

    Then again, I guess I wouldn’t be here if I had missed any of the preceding days… huh?

    peace and love

  20. RE: RE: Puerto Rican influences on American Culture
    Why do you all think that when a person from the United States is asked where they are from they answer America when all of the Americas from Greenland (North Pole) to the Antartica (down to Chile) is really America—what happened to the fact that anyone from North, Central,and South America (including the Caribe) is an American too??? This seems like a superiority complex among the people from here in the states…

  21. You’re right but…
    Yes. You’re right, but what’s your point and how is it relevant to the discussion here? Perhaps, we could also look at the influence of Puerto Ricans in Latin America as well. People such as Hostos, Hernandez, Marin, etc.

  22. Founder and President of QBR is Puerto Rican
    Max Rodriguez is the founder and president of QBR/The Blackbook Review a literary magazine on African American literature. He is Puerto Rican.

  23. Pues como decia mi mama Josefa Torres aqui en nueva york hay muchas cosas pero no hay mi encanto, mi corazon, o mi isla Borinquena, Port Rico. I know my parents Juan Ignacio Rovira y Santiago and mi madre Josefa Torres y Palma were the earlier immigrants to New York. They came by ship from Puerto Rico sometime between 1930 and 1935. Mi Padre era tabaquerro and he eventually started his own small store and factory La Rovira Cigar Company, Boston Road, Bronx around 1940. He purchased his raw tobacco from LeBlanc in the Bronx.
    He worked prior to that in the Brooklyn Navy yard. Mi madre worked as a seamtress in Manhattan. They came to live on East 103rd Street between Park Avenue and Madison Avenue.
    Mi padre was very serious about his politics and was an avid supporter of Pedro Albizu Campos. As a child, I was exposed around the age of 5 or 6 to teachers; who would come to his tobacco shop and teach the tabaquerros, while they were working.
    In addition, I remember hot and tense fierce conversations and dialoque in our apartment with members of several Puerto Rican organizations.
    Davila, Don Pedro, and others. I know mi padre as recorded in “Las Memorias de Bernardo Vega” was mentioned as being in the East village in a house party, where the left of center would congregate to discuss politics and freeing Puerto Rico from the United States. He and others met in union rallies at Peter Cooper Union in the East Village. Moreover, he is mentioned in “La Historia Colonial de Puerto Rico” as an activist and founder and board member of several cultural and political organizations, and a baseball club. He lived in El Barrios for about 10 years and then in 1941 he moved to the Bronx. (928 Tiffany Street)
    In fact, I remember a conversation about freeing Cuba from Spain and money being collected to send a ship over to Cuba.
    I wish I had been older to remember more.
    I know he made cigars, which he designed and packaged in cellophane wrappers with inscriptions for birthdays, barmiztzars etc. His best customers were a man named Herman Billingsly. He owned a big important restaurant called the Stork Club and another heavy set man his name escapes me, who also owned another important well known restaurant. Many Jewish customers who owned business, mostly factories would buy from my father tobacco; by the hundreds for their affairs.
    I know my father’s funeral at the Ortiz funeral home had about 200 hundred persons, and although he was given a Mass at St. Athansius he had a Masonic Ceremony at the funeral parlor, with aprons and swords etc. It all seemed like a dream. I donated my father’s papers to El Centro Puerto Ricquenno. de Hunter College. His Logia Acacia numero 48
    certificate and his pictures and my family pictures.
    Now, I remember the name of the other restaurant owner Toots Shore.
    My father became so close to these people ( his customers) that he joined a private club in the Bronx, where todos los judeos evan a nadar. Esse sitio se llamava Shore Haven. It had lockers pool, showers, toilets and even a place to wash your bathing suit.
    The Bronx at that time was mostly blancos, to see another Latino or Black you would walk 100 blocks. My entire 8 years at St. Athanasius School was spent with just 4 other Latinos Matos(female) Richard (Peruvian) another Puerto Rican boy and myself.
    We danced the irish jig 4 eight years every time their was a Christmas party, Thanksgiving, and the Irish Parade.
    I really did not experience my culture outside of my own family, until I was about 22 years of age.
    That’s when, the Black experience of civil rights was in full force…
    I went through the black experience, before I finally found the Puerto Rican experience. wow que historia…
    To be continued…
    Bueno mi familia fellow Puerto Ricans asta la proxima etapa.
    Por favor de escusar mi espanol.

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