Puerto Rico’s Mental Health as a Community and a U.S. Colony

“All men are created equally, but then private interest met policy.”

Controversy reached New York when the directive officials of the New York’s Puerto Rican Parade wanted to honor the nationalist Oscar Lopez for 2017 summer celebration of “bocicuaness”. This little man was an ex member of the militant group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (F.A.L.N.) and was accused and convicted for seditious conspiracy against the US government on Puerto Rico in August of 1981; specially after being caught transporting firearms and explosives to demolish public property. Seeing this old man march across the fifth Ave in Manhattan, leading thousands of marchers with single stared flags —which was once illegal for nine years under the Gag Law (Law 53 of 1948)—, after serving thirty-five years of prison, would be one of the biggest contradictions to see this year. As if magic realism withdrawn from a García Marquez novel. But isn’t colonialism a paradoxical institution?

The imperialist relationship existing between the US and Puerto Rico, which people like Oscar where willing to sacrifice so much to undo, has had quite a few insidious peculiarities ever since its forced inception. Affecting the hegemonized people’s mental wellbeing and compromising its future sustainability. First and foremost, colonies are meant to exist so that the metropolis that possess it can outsource it dry, and with that finality only; it does not matter how much the oppressor claims to be a benevolent benefactor. So, after four hundred years of Spanish rule since 1492 until 1898, Borinquen was to continue fulfill that same purpose for its new master. This Caribbean community was seen as a group savages, inferior raced with substantial senility and unable to govern themselves, hence the necessity of a external “supporter” to lead them towards development and civilization and justify its occupation. This lead to atrocities as the appropriation of local farmer’s land by U.S. Banks, after systematically imposing onerous taxes that these were not able to pay, forcing them to obtain loans in which they will eventually default; the founding of laws that violated international regulations as the Treaty of Paris, being a real state closing with regard to Puerto Rico; the issuance of citizenship to Puerto Ricans on March 2, 1917 with the Jones-Shafroth Act, one month prior of President Wilson declaring War to Germany; the first and only time the US bombarded its own citizens, with five hundred pounds of bombs in the town of Jayuya; Mass arrest throughout the country; medical experimentation by DR. Cornelius Rhoads, whom wrote to a friend “I have done my best to further the process of their extermination by killing off eight and transplanting cancer into several more”; The emblematic Ponce massacre, were nineteen men, one woman, and a seven year old girl were killed on palm Sunday and over two hundred were gravely wounded. And so, the list goes on.

—Nelson A. Dennis, “War Against All Puerto Ricans”.

Many of these attacks to humanity would not have been possible of course, without internal aid, like that of Luis Muñoz Marin, first democratically elected governor of the island and father of the Partido Popular Democratico and architect of the commonwealth (our current socio-economic-unsustainable-reality-with-fiscal-deficit  mess), whom carpeted by the FBI just as any other nationalist, was advised by J Edgar hoover himself, the FBI director at the time, that he should adhere to govern aligned with the North Americans interests, or else he would be forced to leak the files he had collected of he being a drug addict and destroy his political career. And so, he became the puppet of the colonizer interest against his own people.

One of the biggest attacks the nationalist party leader and head of the independence movement, Pedro Albizu Campos, could have made back then against tyranny, when independence was still possible, was to distribute as many copies of the Albert Memmi’s book The Colonizer and the Colonized across the island. People would then see their portrait and that of the oppressor, and both expressions in their context, and then only after of fully conscious understanding of who they were and what they represented, they would be able to fight for their independence with conviction as many countries in the Americas had been able to. For their subjugated situation was going to be justified by all means, whatsoever; even biologically if necessary. That’s where we encounter the usage and practicality of racial supremacy. Memmi would write that “colonial racism is built from three major ideological components: one, the gulf between the culture of the colonialist and the colonized; two, the exploitation of these difference; three, the use of these differences as standards of absolute facts.” So less open the doors for reality misrepresentations in order to maintain the American way of life, sustained by the whole planet (as the author of War Against All Puerto Ricans Mr. Dennis would say). Memmis text might have been written with the struggle of the French Tunisia in mind, but the words in it were universal as fuck.

—New York Times, “Puerto Rican Day Parade Plants Its Flag in Disputed Territory”.

I wonder how much Muñoz Marin must have hated Albizu Campos, because according to history books he gave him a hard time to rule Puerto Rico as a leader of the opposition, and so did his persecuted followers whom even attempted to assassinate him.

Political prisoner or terrorist, is for you to interpret what adjective attach to Oscar, whom sure followed the footsteps of The Master Albizu. According to New York Times article on Thursday, May 18, one mayor sponsor, Goya is avoiding the financial support for the upcoming parade to save guard its business interest, given the political uproar the appointing of Oscar as an Honored person has caused. I foresee this is going to be revolution in people’s mind, for nowadays things like independence are acquired through social media, and this mediatic exposure was exactly what the cause needed to advance in its fight.