‘Do not make peace until we get Porto Rico,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1898 to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, his closest friend and political partner. Lodge’s answer was reassuring: “Porto Rico is not forgotten and we mean to have it.”
A few weeks after that exchange, American troops landed in Puerto Rico, seized it, and proclaimed it part of the United States. The colonial experiment has not gone well. By most standards — health, education, per capita income, rates of violent crime — Puerto Rico compares poorly to even the most backward US states. Now it is broke.
Puerto Rico’s governor has restricted withdrawals from the government development bank and placed the highway authority in a “state of emergency” so creditors cannot seize its assets. Hundreds of businesses have closed. Schools lack electricity. Hospitals have reduced their services. The Zika virus is spreading and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may afflict one-fourth of the population by the end of this year. Planeloads of Puerto Ricans are emigrating each week, including many teachers and other professionals. The remaining population is older, poorer, and more in need of services the government cannot provide.
This parlous state of affairs is called “fiscal emergency.” Puerto Rico’s economy is shrinking, and it cannot service its $72 billion foreign debt. Last week the US Supreme Court ruled that although any of the 50 states may permit cities and utility agencies to declare bankruptcy and begin restructuring, Puerto Rico cannot. Congress is working to create a “control board” to direct the island’s finances, but even if it succeeds, the board will only address immediate issues, not the deeper problem.
Puerto Rico occupies an extraordinary position in the global cartography. It is property of the United States and its residents are US citizens, but they have no voting representative in Congress and may not cast ballots in presidential elections. As a result, Puerto Ricans must obey laws they play no role in shaping, follow the rulings of judges they have no role in appointing, and accept a range of US policies without being able to influence them. The island is called a “commonwealth,” an “unincorporated territory,” or a “free associated state,” but those are semantic tricks invented to disguise the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the world’s last colonies
In 1901 the Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Ricans are not entitled to the rights of other Americans. “The Constitution does not apply to foreign countries,” it found. “There may be territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States which are not of the United States.” That principle still guides Washington’s relationship to Puerto Rico. Caught in seemingly eternal limbo — neither a state nor an independent country — the island is doomed to be ignored until trouble erupts. Even if fiscal and social catastrophe can be temporarily avoided, the central question remains.
The operation in which the United States seized Puerto Rico was an afterthought. Puerto Ricans had just accepted a far-reaching autonomy agreement with Spain and installed an elected government, but that meant nothing to American invaders of 1898. The United States had defeated Spain on the battlefield in Cuba, and expansionists in Washington reasoned that by the principle of war conquest, the United States had won the right to own Puerto Rico, the last remaining Spanish colony in the Western Hemisphere.
As is often the case after Americans intervene abroad, we quickly forgot about Puerto Rico. Sugar companies took over much of the island’s land, depriving many small farmers of their income. In the 1950s, embarrassed by terrible conditions in Puerto Rico, Congress enacted a series of measures aimed at making it a “showcase” for American beneficence and a “shining star” in the Caribbean. That created a short boom, followed by a long decline that led to poverty and a culture of dependence. Puerto Ricans pay no federal income tax, and more than one-third of them receive food stamps.
In a 2012 plebiscite, 54 percent of Puerto Ricans pronounced themselves opposed to the island’s current political status. They disagree on whether statehood or independence would be a better alternative. Congress, however, is highly unlikely to accept Puerto Rico as the 51st state. That makes sense. When asked their nationality, Puerto Ricans usually reply “Puerto Rican,” not “American.” Most do not speak English. They send their own team to the Olympic Games and are even more passionate than Texans in guarding their native heritage.
Puerto Rico has a population of 3.5 million, larger than that of 20 American states. Holding it was considered essential during the Cold War, but that argument has evaporated. The current political arrangement has failed to serve the needs of either Puerto Ricans or mainland Americans. Since Congress is not prepared to admit Puerto Rico to the union, it should consider laying the groundwork for decolonization and eventual independence.
Arguments about the 1898 invasion — and whether Puerto Ricans would have been better off without American tutelage — are now the province of historians. Charges that Puerto Rican leaders bear much blame for creating today’s crisis, though true, are also beside the point. This crisis is a disaster for the island and an unwelcome distraction in Washington. It will prove a blessing in disguise, however, if it leads us finally to address the root cause of Puerto Rico’s trouble: its eternally uncertain political status.
Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He is also an award-winning author and foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling.” He was Latin America correspondent for The Boston Globe, and then spent more than 20 years working for the New York Times, with extended postings in Nicaragua, Germany, and Turkey. He is a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. His most recent book is “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War.”
DS Harold Hoang Hall… incredibly witty: “There WILL be consequences. There WILL be repercussions”. He had an answer for everything.
DS Cedric McClean trashing his own office, and 2nd Platoon’s whole area because he couldn’t find something.
How do you perform First Aid on a guy with a snake bite on his penis? Break his back and let him suck his own dick.
4th Platoon’s Keene, Clary & Spence… When 4th Platoon won the highest PT award, nobody envied them… They spent more time on their faces than on their feet. One day they were told to smoke themselves… they’re running, screaming and laughing. Poor bastards, they finally lost their minds.
PVT Robinson, who was allegedly stealing candy from the Chow Hall and selling snicker bars for $5.00 a piece… and then went AWOL… We watch as the DS found all those sweet stuff in his locker. Nobody slept that night as they tore the barracks apart looking for snickers, skittles and honey buns. Robinson returned just in time to watch us graduate, talking about having a heart murmur. For those of us that thought that no one would be foolish enough to pay $5.00 for a Snickers… Robinson had a roll of 5 dollar bills in his pocket when he was caught. I found him and now he deactivated his profile…
When one guy stabbed another guy 9 times with a PEN. Over a racist remark cause one guy wanted to wash clothes during duty hours. Then I bumped into him later at Ft. Lee… he graduated…
Alas, poor PVT Sedlak. We knew him well. He alleged that he was molested as a child and that seeing all these guys together in the shower brought back painful memories for him… LOS.( LINE OF SIGHT)
PVT Gaymon and his “Fifi”… yuck. The only PVT ordered to use boxers. He yanked himself into a really bad case of jock rash.
I created this page and set myself upon the task of finding all the former members of 1st PLT, A-1/46. I found most of them and all of our DS except DS Corey Wilson.
15 years after graduating from BCT, some people have no interest in revisiting the past, I guess. Maybe not everyone has pleasant memories of these times.
My only regret is not having found DS Corey Wilson. I can almost hear him laughing while we smoke ourselves…
I found my battle buddy, Ozzie Santos on Twitter (ozboi83)… We’ve chatted a bit, and I’m glad. It is to him that I owe my graduation. He pulled that M249 SAW out of my hands when I was going to pass out on that last 15K march. All those years later I haven’t forgotten that single act of comraderie that saved my ass.
I have left invitations for Fabian Zuluaga, Jermaine Basley, Joseph Flint, Terrence Walker, Michael McCloskey, Tony Ware, Pierre Johnson and Shabbar Robinson.
As for McClean, Blackwell, Brewton, Clary, Keene and Spence… Well… I’ve written letters inviting them to the page, but I doubt they’ll give a rat’s ass about a bunch of privates who want to relive BCT. Also, these guys probably don’t want us to know what they’re doing after leaving the service…
On the other hand, I once found an old co-worker on Facebook who never answered my letters. I later discovered she had died a few years before… so you never know.
But I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that Harold Hoang Hall will answer my letter.
An amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but are served gratis and according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine. The term is French, literally translated as “mouth amuser”
J.S. Bach, Concerto for harpsichord, 2 flutes, strings & continuo No. 6 in F major BWV 1057 – I
Œufs, eggs in English, are ubiquitous in French cooking. Not only as a supporting player, but also as the star performer. In a country that has traditionally eaten a light breakfast, eggs make their appearance during lunch and dinner. Where Americans think of eggs mostly as a breakfast item, the French welcome them in a multitude of forms as part of l’entrée, the starter, or le plat, the main course.
Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring (Hannibal tries Graham’s piano)
French cheese – Fromage is an alternative to the outdated savory course, and may be served before or after the sweet course. It is usually served with butter, crackers and occasionally celery. Gouda, Camembert and Cheddar are some examples of cheese. All types of cheese may be offered together with appropriate accompaniments, the ideal cheese board will combine hard, semi-hard, soft or cream, blue and fresh cheese.
Christian Petzold, Minuet in G BWV-anh 114 & 115 from the notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach, formerly attributed to J.S. Bach. (Tobias teaches cello)
Rôti – meaning Roast – was the 9th course in the French Classical Menu.
At this stage the balance of the courses is gradually returning from heavy to light. It is the course which is consisting of roast game or poultry chicken, turkey, pheasant, duck, quail. Each of these dishes is accompanied by its own particular sauce & gravy with green salad, served separately on a crescent shape dish or half-moon salad plate.
Debussy, “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir” (Dinner with Dr. Chilton)
Also known as “piece de resistance”. This is the main meat course on the menu, releves are normally larger than entrees and take the form of butcher’s joints which have to be carved. These joints are normally roasted. A sauce or a roast gravy with potatoes and green vegetables are always served with this course.
Beethoven, ‘Ghost trio’ op. 70 No. 1, Largo assai ed espressivo (In Bedelia Du Maurier’s kitchen)
Kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. To this end, only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and are prepared in ways that aim to enhance their flavor. Local ingredients are often included as well. Finished dishes are carefully presented on colorful plates that are chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal. Dishes are beautifully arranged and garnished, often with real leaves and flowers, as well as edible garnishes designed to resemble natural plants and animals.
Schubert, impromptu No. 3 in B flat major D. 935 (Dinner with Jack Crawford)
The antipasto is a slightly heavier appetizer than an aperitivo. It is usually cold and lighter than the first course. Examples of foods eaten are salumi (such as salame, mortadella, prosciutto, bresaola and other charcuterie products), cheeses, sandwich-like foods (panino, bruschetta, tramezzino, crostino), vegetables, cold salmon or prawn cocktails; more elaborate dishes are occasionally prepared.
Beethoven, Piano Sonata no. 21 in C, op. 53 “Waldstein,” III: Rondo (Meeting Dimmond)
Pasta Primavera, which translates to “Spring Pasta” in English, is a classic dish that uses a mixture of bright green vegetables mixed with pasta.
“Primavera” is also a 1482 tempera panel painting by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. Most critics agree that the painting, depicting a group of mythological figures in a garden, is allegorical for the lush growth of Spring.
Since 1919 the painting has been part of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
A contorno is a side dish and it’s commonly served alongside a secondo. These usually consist of vegetables, raw or cooked, hot or cold. They are always served in a separate dish, never on the same plate as the meat
Mozart, Sonata No. 13 in B-flat major – III. Allegretto grazioso
Next follows the dolce, or dessert. Frequent dishes include tiramisu, zuppa inglese, panna cotta, cake or pie, panettone or pandoro (the last two are mainly served at Christmas time) and the Colomba Pasquale (an Easter cake). A gelato or a sorbetto can be eaten too. Though there are nationwide desserts, popular across Italy, many regions and cities have local specialities. In Naples, for instance, zeppole and rum baba are popular; in Sicily, cassata and cannoli are commonly consumed; mostarda, on the other hand, is more of a Northern dish.
Franz Schubert – Adagio in E flat, D. 897 ‘Notturno’
The digestivo, also called ammazzacaffè if served after the coffee, is the drink to conclude the meal. Drinks such as grappa, amaro, limoncello or other fruit/herbal drinks are drunk. Digestivo indicates that the drinks served at this time are meant to ease digestion of a long meal.
WA Mozart, Piano Concerto #21 In C “Elvira Madigan” – 2. Andante