Losing Puerto Rico

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Losing Puerto Rico Post-Production!



Puerto Rico is a mournful song. Abused, exploited, sold off to outsiders. Many Puerto Ricans have been forced to flee their homeland. Twice as many Boricuas live off-island. A movement is fighting back to save their identity and land from the many interests competing to keep Puerto Rico under control.

The United States prides itself as the most successful experiment in democracy. Yet, just a few hundred miles off the Florida coast, the US presides over a conspicuous example of undemocratic colonialism – an example that has gone on long after most of the world’s other colonies have been liberated. Losing Puerto Rico is a feature length documentary on the tragedy – or, really, multiple tragedies – currently unfolding on this Caribbean territory, a land trapped between its owner, the United States, its national aspirations and a new breed of predatory colonizers using their wealth to buy up everything they can. Loss is everywhere, hence our title.

The world watched the horrors of Hurricane Maria’s wrath as millions of Puerto Ricans were drowning in water and had no power; perhaps even shaking their heads when President Trump’s response was to toss paper towels. But that is the limit of what most Americans understand.

Bad Bunny’s remarkable moment at the 2023 Grammys brought these contradictions to a global audience. Everyone loves him - he’s the most streamed musician in the world - yet the Grammys didn’t even translate his music. “Speaking non-English,” was all the subtitles said. So most of the audience had no idea what he was actually singing and saying about his national identity even as they celebrated him, a pungent metaphor of our continued distancing from Puerto Rico.

The “Island of Enchantment,” as it’s known, is a place you can’t explain. You feel Puerto Rico. Through Losing Puerto Rico, we invite you on a journey to feel what Puerto Rico is feeling.

This vibrant “Island of Enchantment” is painfully juxtaposed against economic and political realities that the US consciously fails to address, despite owning Puerto Rico since “winning” it from Spain in1898. The decision to turn Puerto Rico into a tax haven, originally a way to encourage industrial investment, has recently become a license for bitcoin gamblers who see themselves as The New Conquistadors. To others, they are Crypto Colonizers. 


Yet, it’s not just the wealthy who swooped onto the island, it’s a certain type of wealthy. Many Trump folks. Influencers. A desultory band of digital nomads. Each using Puerto Rico for their own purposes and gains, as they evangelize avoiding taxes and distressed property deals to their greater digital community. And in a few short years they’ve driven up housing costs, rentals and hotel rates, creating a speculative bubble partly driven off an unstable and unregulated currency.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Boricuas are fleeing in economic plight -- all while tens of thousands of these outsiders with no Puerto Rican identity or heritage are seizing their paradise. The “Gringo Go Home” movement feels it’s not just land being stolen, but their nation, through cultural erasure. And boy does Puerto Rico have a cultural identity – from its own Olympic team and Miss Universe contestants to salsa on Calle San Sebastia╠ün and bomba in La Perla, to world famous poets and of course, Bad Bunny. We will feel it all in this film.

Boricuas open their hearts through hundreds of hours of compelling tape shot with director Nomiki Konst. Going back to her first reports in the wake of Hurricane Maria, continuing for five years as she was embedded with communities during the crises that led to this boiling point. As we peel back those layers of crises - a bankruptcy, natural disasters, poverty, austerity, the high cost of living, tax breaks and displacement - at the core of the onion is a singular question. Why does the US still tightly grip its colony?

Organized by Losing Puerto Rico