Energy Colonialism Powers the Ongoing Unnatural Disaster in Puerto Rico

Lauryn Hubbard, Zachary Chapins, Vianney Senlecq

de Onís CM (2018) Energy Colonialism Powers the Ongoing Unnatural Disaster in Puerto Rico. Front. Commun. 3:2. doi: 10.3389

Catalina M. De Onis is a professor and scholar at Williamette University and the author of several books and studies on environmental topics, especially on Latin culture, colonialism, energy, race and gender. Member of several organizations that act in this way, De Onis is also an activist with a commitment in the City of Salem and Detroit’s environmental topics (Detroit Lake’s cyanotoxins). Considering her background, we can easily say that she has the legitimacy to talk about a topic that mixes Latin culture, energy, colonialism and race in the same document. The reading aims everyone as it was written for the journal Frontiers In Communication in the Science and Environmental Communication section.

The overarching argument of de Onis paper is that because of the natural disasters that affect Puerto Rico and the control the U.S. has over the land, the society, environment and energy systems. The area throughout history has been greatly shaped by colonialism.

The argument that colonialism is a key concept for studying the way Puerto Rico has grown is highly supported through history. For example, the hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico has been negatively affected due to the laws like 1920 Jones Act, and areas of Puerto Rico have become completely controlled by outside companies because of “Operation Bootstrap” , implemented in the twentieth century. Policies like this that are still in play today are very much influential in the type of energy sources Puerto Rico relies on.

Also, the demographic of Puerto Rico has very much changed due to colonialism. Many of people residing in the area are moving to mainland America because of the lack of resources of the U.S. colony. This depletion of natural resources is of course, a result of colonialism.

The writing of de Onis is very different to past reading in this class. We have studied the effects of poverty and resource depletion on underdeveloped countries, but the main focus of this article is that colonialism still impacts Puerto Rico in present day. Many countries in the Caribbean are recovering from the effects, yet Puerto Rico still faces the negative impacts. This illuminates a greater issue that, colonialism still present in Puerto Rico needs to be addressed and assessed to determine if it is actually beneficial to the area.

This article mainly focuses on colonial energy powers and how they were used during the aftermath of the hurricane. One way this work inspired new research is that since this article explained how Puerto-Rico was in need of clean energy and it was not being used properly. This caused a mini energy crisis since most people would not have access to power because the only source of power was not being distributed properly until INESI, a government organization that created a sustainable and efficient energy system.


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