The Problem with Tourism in Puerto Rico 

By Jen Mejia

The phenomenon of white individuals moving to a new country or location and holding control over the indigenous population is known as colonization. Currently many Puerto Ricans are being forced to leave Puerto Rico to be able to afford to live. While some may argue that the movement of white Americans moving to Puerto Rico does not count as colonization, there are some notable resemblances. Regardless of whether these American seek to avoid paying taxes, the island’s negative effects cannot be ignored. Companies’ target audiences shift when more white people move in, often to the disadvantage of the community. For example, the Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Beach, which charges an average of $3,000 per night, has begun to block access to a public beach, requiring locals to cross dangerous areas to get to the beach (Polanco). While these beaches intend to remain open to the public, the privatization of natural resources in Puerto Rico has become a point of argument. In protest of this practice, many Puerto Ricans have risen to the rocky areas that surround these beaches to demand access to their own land. This behavior reflects the displacement and disenfranchisement experienced by indigenous populations throughout history. The issue with tourism is beyond being able to attend beaches, it also includes individuals not being able to afford to live in their own homes . Journalist Bianca Graulau, who focuses on the coverage of Puerto Rico, recently interviewed a resident from Puerto Rico. The elderly woman said, “People from other countries, Americans, come here and all they see is all this and they immediately start seeing dollar signs. Now some Puerto Ricans are having to pack their bags and move out.” In Graulau’s video, she goes on to explain how the woman who had to leave her house and other Puerto Ricans were forced to leave the apartment complex where they had lived for years.  The building had recently been bought by an investor and he proceeded to tell all the tenants to leave. This has not been the first time incidents like this have occurred in Puerto Rico. Many inhabitants of the island have been kicked out because the new owner of the building seeks to do something that will create more profit.  It is inexcusable that people are being evicted from their own land, which is analogous to colonization, the process of taking over. If people are barred from their own land and natural resources, something like preventing Americans from moving to Puerto Rico may occur.

As more American businesses and companies start to pop up in Puerto Rico there is a shift from traditional jobs in agriculture to newer industries (Graulau).  Recently a worldwide known corporation stated, “With an investment of nearly $2 million, Starbucks enters the city of Hatillo and reopens a store at Fairmont El San Juan Hotel.  The openings will bring new jobs to the island.” (Starbucks 2022). The dependency on money to live from these big corporations ultimately leads to a loss of heritage as the people are not closely tied to their traditional jobs. Not only is culture being diminished but also the culture that is left is fleeing from Puerto Rico. There are many talented individuals who constantly help the small island community with their cultural art, food, and beliefs but because of the high prices these individuals can not afford to stay in their own land so they seek asylum in the States or elsewhere. Once they are gone it can result in a loss of cultural knowledge that was possessed by the talented individuals who are going to be all gone.