Humberto Garcia Muniz: Sugar and Power in the Caribbean: The South Porto Rico Sugar Company in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, 1900-1921

By Bolivar, Jose L. | Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, July 2011 | Go to article overview

Humberto Garcia Muniz: Sugar and Power in the Caribbean: The South Porto Rico Sugar Company in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, 1900-1921


Bolivar, Jose L., Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies


Humberto Garcia Muniz

Sugar and Power in the Caribbean: The South Porto Rico Sugar Company in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, 1900- 1921

Kingston, Miami: Ian Randle Publishers, La Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, 2010, vi + 540 pp.

Sugar and Power in the Caribbean: The South Porto Rico Sugar Company in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, 1900-1921 is a toughly researched book that details the history of this New Jersey company dedicated to the growing, manufacturing, and exporting of raw sugar in Puerto Rico in the 1900s, and in the Dominican Republic in the 1910s. Sugar and Power is the first book that describes in great detail the intricacies of one of the three most important US sugar corporations that operated in Puerto Rico at the beginning of the 20th century. The South Porto Rico Sugar Company (SPRSC) was the only sugar company in all of the Caribbean, if not the world, that operated in two countries simultaneously, that is, cultivating cane in one country (the Dominican Republic) and producing sugar in another (Guanica Central in Puerto Rico). In Sugar and Power, Garcia provides his readers with a unique vision of the US sugar industry seen through the spectrum of multiple economic sectors--industrial, financial, and agricultural. It highlights the investments of German capital both prior to and after World War I, and the lasting affects the war had on their participation. Garcia also illustrates the use of technical expertise provided by personnel imported from Louisiana and Barbados, the decisions that resulted from meetings between the company's executives and the New York based law firms that represented SPRSC, and the decisions made in Puerto Rico by the company's management.

Sugar and Power is a history of conflicts and interactions between two distinct cultures and financial goals and objectives, those of the US and those of the Puerto Rican entrepreneurs. It is also a social history of the sugar industry in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, particularly as related to land tenure and the exploitation of workers employed by the SPRSC (which was no different from the exploitation by the rest of the industry). As if this was not sufficient, Garcia treats the readers to research highlighting the significant impact the sugar industry (and in particular the SPRSC) had on the manufactures of machinery, the railroads (required to transport both cane and sugar), the insurance industry (which was also a must for the continuance of this volatile industry), and interesting and unique biographical data on the executives, lawyers, financiers, and Germans, among others, that impacted one of the most important sugar companies of the Caribbean. …

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