Incarceration Nation

Puerto Rico—A Colony by Any Name

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

On Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to what was called the West Indies, he visited Puerto Rico, called Boriquen by the native Arawaks dwelling on the island. 

Columbus docked in November 1493, and with him came the force and greed of the Spanish Empire. For four centuries Spain brought imperial exploitation, slavery, repression and death to the Arawak and in its place arose a new people: the mixture of southern Europeans (Spain), the remnant of Indians, and Africans. 

After the U.S. pushed a weakened Spain out of Cuba, it seized Puerto Rico as well. 

From that seizure in 1898 by the U.S. until today, Puerto Rico has been an American property, under the U.S. government’s thumb. 

Did you know that Puerto Ricans can’t vote for president? That they, on the island, can’t vote in general elections? 

They fight in every American war—and die in every conflict. 

When U.S. businesses open up shop in Puerto Rico, they are exempt from taxes, money that could aid the island in its health and educational needs. 

And just days ago, after being lashed by nature’s fury as Hurricane Maria, when they dared complain about slow American response, the moronic U.S. president called Puerto Ricans “ingrates”—“Ingrates!”

Now, weeks later, they are still suffering—no water, no food, no power. 

They are Americans in name, but in fact they are colonial subjects of the U.S. Empire.

Used by America, and then forgotten.

Prison Radio, October 2017