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Puerto Rico and Its Rich Ethnography

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Puerto Rico has been a part of the U.S.A since 1898, during the Spanish-American War. When thinking about Puerto Rico, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is an island, not a part of America. Puerto Rico has very strong Hispanic influences and culture, nothing like the country it is a part of. The way of life is the complete opposite of America. Americans are stuck in this high pace, high stress everyday life. The Puerto Rican life takes after a very slow-paced day and positive attitude. The US owned territory was right in the eye of Hurricane Maria in 2018. It was a devastating hurricane with more than 3,000 deaths, and the island was without power for months. The U.S did little to nothing to help with the disastrous clean up for its own territory. Puerto Rico, as an island and territory, has a lot to offer in terms of supplies, food, life, and a positive outlook. Often times, the island gets look over and not even given much thought about what Puerto Rico could actually become. The island has beautiful ethnography that should be explored of every American.

Puerto Ricans have had a long, tough journey being a part of America. Puerto Rico was ruled by Spain for centuries, until Puerto Rico became independent from them in 1898. The citizens of Puerto Rico had much to celebrate and be happy about, but the joy would be coming to an end. The U.S invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War, not just because of the war but because Puerto Rico was showing interest in a potential sugar market there. “When the Americans arrived, General [Nelson] Miles issued, very famously, a decree manifesto in which he promised to protect the life, liberty, and happiness of Puerto Ricans, and their property,” she says. “A lot of Puerto Ricans who were poor, who were working-class, who were peasants, took this as an invitation to side with the Americans in what was still a war against Spain.” If I was a Puerto Rican, this offer would sound great to me after being ruled and under Spain’s control for decades. Soon after the war ended, so did the empty promises of Americans to their new colonized territory. America and Puerto Rico never started off on the right foot and it has impacted the status of the territory to the American citizens. America has never been fair to them right in the beginning and they had to wait almost 20 years to be actually taken seriously and like the island was actually apart of America.

The Caribbean Island was struggling under the new rule and power of America. When the Americans first came in, they implemented an extreme sugar tax making the Puerto Rican coffee industry vanish. Puerto Ricans also did not become citizens of the U.S. straight away either. In 1917, they finally received an American passport. Nearly twenty years after the U.S. took over the island, they had no real legal standing point. Still today, Puerto Ricans cannot even vote in the United States! The legal and economic standpoint of the island worsened after the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2018. A few months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans voted for referendum for statehood, as many Puerto Ricans can vote for it, but ultimately the decision is up to Congress. Americans need to move forward in their political views and standpoints. With our current president now, moving forward does not seem to be a theme, but to rather resort to how things once were and bring the country backwards. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s parents were born in Puerto Rico and today she sits on the Supreme Court and has spoken about the issue. “It’s very unlikely that statehood will ever happen, at least not in our lifetimes, unless something in the political culture of the U.S. Congress shifts radically to suddenly embrace Latin Americans, Latinos, and Puerto Ricans,” she says. “And I don’t think we’re going that direction.”

Hurricane Maria was a devastating natural catastrophe that hit Puerto Rico in 2018. Being a part of the U.S, the country helps with the loss and devastation. The President comes and shows his support, but during this particular instance there was no help at all from the nation’s ruler. President Donald Trump wanted to cut off the relief fund for the hurricane, accusing of Puerto Rico using the money to pay off their debts. Trump saw it as a waste of money to an island who did not matter to him or benefit him in any way. Many local citizens and even citizen around the country, were trying and doing all that they could to raise money for the island and even fly there to help out. When I visited Puerto Rico, there were still parts of the island, houses, beaches that still were not recovered at all. It was very sad to see and on top of that hearing our own president was not there for them. “Trump spread misinformation about hurricane victims in September, as well, when he disputed the official death toll of the storm- again without evidence. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said there were at least 3,000 hurricane-related deaths as of August, which the president inaccurately questioned in a pair of tweets” Having the nation’s president and ruler not even care enough about the disaster made all of Puerto Rico suffer because of it. The National Relief Fund was then put on a long hiatus by president Donald Trump. Puerto Rico did not receive the same level as concern as for other states if this were to happen to them.

Growing up in America, being an immigrant is a very difficult thing to do. There are challenges and adversity that often get overlooked by those who are not immigrants. Being “a part” of America should give you a better life and advantages, but for many that is not the case. The article I read, was pertaining to Puerto Ricans in New York. Puerto Ricans are never acknowledged when the papers are talking about poor communities in the South Bronx and how it affects the Puerto Rican community the most. New York has the most Puerto Ricans living in their state, then any other state. This is why the book and author focus on New York because there is more room to collect data and observation. The Puerto Rican community is stuck in a limbo, like many other immigrants, between hard-working poor class to getting a big break and moving up the social ladder. It is hard being a hard worker and not receiving the credit you should be just because of where you come from or what you look like. Puerto Ricans have to earn their privilege versus a lot of Americans who just get that un-earned privilege because we look a certain way. Puerto Ricans get overlooked when talking about economic issues and concerns and do not get mentioned in the papers about being the poorest group in the South Bronx. Puerto Rico is America’s only line of trade into the Caribbean and first line of defense in Latin America. The island should be treated better, considering just how valuable it is, but it falls short in being acknowledged properly. Many Puerto Ricans are not acknowledged from the work they did and when they move to the states. They do not get the same job or even close to the same job they once had, rather they get the job no American deems desirable. Puerto Ricans cannot make a living like they once had and struggle economically once they move to the states because of it.

Puerto Rican culture is amazing. It is embraced by the people and is a completely different way of life. When I visited Puerto Rico for a couple of days, everything seemed to be different and the one thing that really stood out to me was how relaxed everyone seemed to be. No one was ever in a hurry during the day, just seemed happy and living in the moment. Americans struggle with living in the moment, everyone could benefit from learning from Puerto Ricans, not the other way around. The “island” life is a very different life and is much more relaxed, everyone’s mood is shifted by the amazing island all around them. There were no billboards on any road or highway, just the beauty of nature. Most of the citizens that I saw were all relaxing and drinking the day away without a care in the world. It was a culture shock for sure and I was in complete awe with the way of life. In the everyday American life, nothing can ever be taken lightly. Everyone has somewhere the just need to be at every moment. There are always deadlines that are expected to be met. Granted, I did not attend school there or even dive deep into the roots of the culture, but the whole atmosphere was very different. Puerto Rico is known for their Hispanic cuisines and different takes on Spanish dishes. Visitors are eager to try and to see the different takes that the Puerto Rican culture can have. The drinking age is also different from that of the U.S. The drinking age is 18 there and if you were not 18, I do not think it would be as strict as it is for the youth of America.

Puerto Rico’s ethnography is very different from America’s. The ethnography is not the same and have very different influences on their everyday life. Puerto Rico has struggled in the ruling of America. The citizens of Puerto Rico have not received the fair and right treatment that everyone deserves to have. Puerto Rico became a part of America on empty promises that were never fulfilled and promises that made their land and island worse. The president of America accused Puerto Rico of using the Nation Relief Fund for the devastation of Hurricane Maria, for debt that they owed other nations or to fix other things. Puerto Ricans do not have any rights as the normal American would. It took many years for them to even be able to get an American passport and they still are not able to vote. During Hurricane Maria they put a vote in place stating they wanted to be considered for statehood, so nothing like what happened during that natural disaster would ever happen to them again. That decision to be a state is a huge decision and unfortunately it is not up to all the Puerto Ricans that voted, but like many other things it will be up to Congress to decide. 

In conclusion, Puerto Rico has a very beautiful, ethnic ethnography all around. It is a U.S. territory, but it is treated very poorly in terms of the rest of the country. It was hurt very badly after the hurricane and their own ruler accused the island of not using the money to help re-build what was lost. Puerto Rico is just owned by America but look forward to changing their status and the world’s view.

Works Cited

  1. Corbett, Erin. “Trump Wants To Cut Federal Relief Funds For Puerto Rico: Report.” Fortune, 12 Nov. 2018, fortune.com/2018/11/12/trump-cut-federal-relief-puerto-rico/.
  2. Go, Julian. “American Empire and the Politics of Meaning.” Google Books, books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8X_4sF-nT7wC&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=Puerto Rico versus US&ots=oz3kDKJMjh&sig=3q8-9G3_lA0PauA_EXh2_c1hbrY#v=onepage&q=Puerto Rico versus US&f=false.
  3. Rodríguez, Clara E. “Puerto Ricans.” Google Books, books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LDnuKazsQEgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=Puerto Rico versus USA&ots=yhAElEme63&sig=jRTZOGbtGboPH5UgWwbR3DaHJ3o#v=onepage&q=Puerto Rico versus USA&f=false.
  4. “U.S. Trade with Puerto Rico and U.S. Possessions.” Google Books, U.S Department of Commerce, books.google.com/books?id=crsTljpwUTMC&pg=PP7&dq=Puerto Rico and how it is not apart of the us&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwirudG6t9fhAhVJrVkKHWfOA-0Q6AEIOjAD#v=onepage&q=Puerto Rico and how it is not apart of the us&f=false.

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Puerto Rico and its Rich Ethnography. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/puerto-rico-and-its-rich-ethnography/
“Puerto Rico and its Rich Ethnography.” GradesFixer, 08 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/puerto-rico-and-its-rich-ethnography/
Puerto Rico and its Rich Ethnography. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/puerto-rico-and-its-rich-ethnography/> [Accessed 17 May 2022].
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