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.