Academic journal article Centro Journal

Decolonization Models for America's Last Colony: Puerto Rico

Academic journal article Centro Journal

Decolonization Models for America's Last Colony: Puerto Rico

Article excerpt

Decolonization Models for America's Last Colony: Puerto Rico By Ángel Collado-Schwarz Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2012 ISBN: 978-0-8156-0963-6 256 pages; $29.95 [paper] Reviewer: Ángel Israel Rivera, Universidad de Puerto Rico-Río Piedras

This book is much more than just a translation to English of the original work in Spanish, Soberanías Exitosas (Successful Sovereignties). Ángel Collado Schwarz, a successful advertising agent for many years, is now a prestigious University Professor and historian who recently obtained a doctorate in History from Complutense University at Madrid, Spain. He currently teaches Puerto Rican History to doctoral candidates at San Juan's Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe (Center of Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean). Collado also is a noted communicator. From various editions of his weekly radio program La Voz del Centro, broadcasted by Univision Puerto Rico, and some newspaper columns authored by himself or by the two distinguished economists Francisco Catalá Oliveras and Juan Lara, Collado constructed the first edition in Spanish. It basically consisted of transcriptions of radio interviews in which Collado and Catalá, or Collado and Juan Lara, discussed the current crisis and free fall of the Puerto Rican economy and contrasted such an unfortunate and distressful situation to the experiences of other small countries and their peoples, who did manage to construct growing, successful economies after ending colonial relations-or minority group subordinate status-and establishing their own sovereign states: Israel, Slovenia, Singapore, Estonia, New Zealand, and Ireland.

This English enlarged and updated edition of the original work is aimed at the American public, and mainly, at Washington legislators and policymakers. The book is presided by quite impressive praise and laudatory comments by James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank 1995-2005; Thomas E. Hughes, former US Assistant Secretary of State and former President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Ambassador Peter R. Rosenblatt, President Carter's personal representative in negotiations toward terminating the US Trusteeship of the Pacific and for establishing sovereign free association for Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau; and Moisés Naim, fomer editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.) and columnist of El País newspaper of Madrid.

The basic main and reiterated argument of this volume is that, under the new globalized capitalist economy, small countries are much better offwhen they possess the powers and competences of full sovereignty and, at the same time, enjoy interesting, constructive, and interdependent relations with their respective former metropolis, as well as with other key advanced countries. In order for this to happen, of course, the powers of sovereignty must be effectively and efficiently managed by the power elites in those small countries. This meant that such elites had to be really committed at aiming to attain sustained development, more beneficial economic interrelations with advanced countries, and improved income and social benefits distribution-such as education and health-for the benefit of all population sectors of their countries and not just for a privileged egotistic elite-as currently is the case in colonial Puerto Rico. In other words, sovereignty is not by itself a panacea for all economic and social problems of formerly colonial societies, but rather a set of tools to be correctly managed by political elites that were not egotistic or committed only to seeking benefits for their own privileged class. This is why, Collado, Catalá and Lara did not focus in small independent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean but rather in countries located in Europe, the Middle East, Asia or Oceania. For example, by 2012, both Trinidad-Tobago and Panama already have rapidly growing economies, while the Puerto Rican economy still is stagnated. …

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