Edil Torres Rivera and Loan T. Phan
Puerto Rico is a small island in the Caribbean with a population of 3.8 million people living in an area smaller than Rhode Island (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). For more than five hundred years, this island nation has endured colonial governments, first under Spain's monarchy and, in the last one hundred years, under the United States. A number of Puerto Rican historians are convinced that the gang problem in Puerto Rico is due to political ambiguity and a long history of human rights violations of inmates in the Puerto Rican prisons (Picó, 1998). The problem of gangs in Puerto Rico is not widespread, and a number of experts believe that it is not a big problem. This is supported by the fact that the only literature about gangs that can be found in Puerto Rican libraries is the product of newspapers and not academic literature (De Jesús Mangual, 2002; Serrano, 2002).
Puerto Rico, as a United States territory, exhibits a similar diversity of cultural characteristics in its society to that which exists in the United States. However, Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States and, as such, experiences immense political ambiguity, which has impacted how Puerto Ricans define themselves legally and economically (Fitzpatrick, 1987; Quintero Rivera, González, Campos, and Flores, 1960; Rivera Ramos, 2001). Puerto Rico centers around the future status of the country: attaining U.S. state-