Our warmest congratulations to Maritza Stanchich (University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras) and Hilda Lloréns (University of Rhode Island) who won LASA Puerto Rico’s 2020 Blanca G. Silvestrini Prize for their co-authored article “Water is life, but the colony is a necropolis: Environmental terrains of struggle in Puerto Rico,” published in Cultural Dynamics Vol. 31 (1-2). (See abstract below.) Cristina Pérez Jiménez (Manhattan College) received an Honorable Mention for “Puerto Rican Colonialism, Caribbean Radicalism, and Pueblos Hispanos’s Inter-Nationalist Alliance,” published in Small Axe 23. (See abstract below.)
Abstract: “Water is life, but the colony is a necropolis: Environmental terrains of struggle in Puerto Rico” (Hilda Lloréns and Maritza Stanchich)
The catastrophic conditions after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, homeland to the second largest US Latinx group, also result from a long history of colonial exploitation exacerbated by economic downturn, debt crisis, and federally imposed austerity. US policies affecting agriculture and attracting contaminating industries set the groundwork for extreme environmental degradation, which in turn has long motivated local community activism, coalition-building, and de-colonial praxis. The authors illustrate that in Puerto Rico, environmental resistance has been a vanguard terrain of struggle against the deepening insertion of multinationals and continued degradation. Culminating with a glimpse of how the very basics needed for survival—such as water—have been sacrificed to the logics of capital extraction, this essay points to the urgency of making an environmental justice perspective of central concern to US Latinx Studies
Abstract: “Puerto Rican Colonialism, Caribbean Radicalism, and Pueblos Hispanos’s Inter-Nationalist Alliance” (Cristina Pérez Jiménez)
Drawing from Earl Browder’s papers, this essay examines the Communist-sponsored, New York Spanish-language newspaper Pueblos Hispanos (1943–44), arguing that the publication staged an uneasy alliance between the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and the US Communist Party by positioning Puerto Rican independence as central to a wider decolonial Caribbean and postwar world order. By analyzing Pueblos Hispanos’s practice of “inter-nationalism”—a term the author proposes to denote the flexible strategy used to mediate between competing political interests and which can serve as a model for understanding the compromised collaborations between Communist and nationalist leaders in the Caribbean—this essay expands our understanding of Communist influence in Caribbean liberation movements and begins to reinsert the contributions of early-and mid-twentieth-century Puerto Ricans, and more widely, Spanish caribeños, within a Marxist-inflected Caribbean radical tradition.