Settler Influx, Neoliberal Policies, and Resistance in Puerto Rico, Echoes of Palestine

The historic streets of Old San Juan, once vibrant with the rich culture and community life of its residents, now echo an ominous silence. The drastic changes are starkly visible – a result of reluctant migrations seeking economic opportunities and forced displacements that have reshaped the landscape.

This transformation, driven by neoliberal policies and opportunistic settlers, has given rise to tensions between the incoming colonizers, often referred to as "gringos," and the local Puerto Rican population.

Neoliberal Policies and Settler Influx:

Act 60 (Ley 20 y 22):

Enacted in 2012, Act 60 aims to stimulate economic development by offering nonresident individuals 100% tax exemptions on interest, dividends, and long-term capital gains. It has attracted settlers seeking fiscal benefits, leading to a surge in property acquisitions.

Opportunity Zones:

98.5% of Puerto Rico, including 99% of its beaches, is designated as opportunity zones. These zones, defined as economically distressed communities, offer preferential tax treatment to spur private and public investment, akin to the settler colonialism philosophies of Manifest Destiny and PROMESA.

Exploitation and Cultural Erosion:

Crypto Venture Capitalists:

Settlers, including influential figures like Brock Pierce, a crypto venture capitalist, have exploited Puerto Rico's economic vulnerabilities post-Hurricane Maria. Pierce's "Puertopia" vision and ties to Israel suggest an unsettling parallel with settler colonialism.

Public Backlash:

Settlers like Kira Golden and Martin William Drew have faced public backlash for their exploitative practices, including rent hikes and disrespectful behavior. The clash between settlers and Puerto Ricans is evident in online exchanges and graffiti expressing sentiments like "Gringo go home."

Settler Strategies and Coercive Tactics:

Electoral Politics:

Some settlers, including Brock Pierce, have engaged in electoral politics to influence the local landscape. Pierce's philanthropic project, Integro Foundation, is a soft power tactic aimed at co-opting local initiatives.

International Ties:

Settlers' ties to Israel, exemplified by Pierce's visit and involvement in Zionist events, raise concerns about potential coercive tactics. The settlers' funding of Israeli military endeavors highlights their alignment with oppressive regimes.

Historical Parallel with Palestine:

Vieques and Palestine:

The historical parallels between Vieques and Palestine, both subjected to military occupations, illustrate the devastating impact of settler colonialism. The struggles resonate globally, connecting anti-colonial and anti-imperial movements.

Common U.S. Role:

The integral role of the United States in supporting Israel and influencing Puerto Rican affairs is evident. The United States' foreign assistance to Israel mirrors its historical and ongoing subjugation of Puerto Rico.

Resistance and Unity:

Anti-Colonial Resistance:

The resilient cry of "Gringo go home" echoes the rich history of Puerto Rican anti-colonial resistance. The people of Puerto Rico refuse to be silenced, standing against cultural erasure and exploitation.

Solidarity with Palestine:

The call for "Que viva Palestina!" reflects the deep solidarity between Puerto Ricans and Palestinians. Both communities share the struggle against settler colonialism, dispossession, and genocide.

As Puerto Rico grapples with the influx of settlers and the erosion of its cultural fabric, the resistance remains strong. The echoes of Vieques and the solidarity with Palestine serve as reminders of the global fight against settler colonialism.

The people of Puerto Rico, rooted in a legacy of resilience, continue to assert their identity, rejecting the encroachment of colonial forces. The shadow of Palestine looms over Puerto Rico, emphasizing the urgency of defending against a future marked by dispossession, apartheid, and genocide.



DATA SOURCE: The Shadow of Palestine in Puerto Rico | Intervenxions Journal — The Latinx Project at NYU