In “The Emptying Island: Puerto Rican Expulsion in Post-Maria Time,” Unpayable Debt co-director Frances Negrón-Muntaner discusses the recent exodus of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and its connection to a larger process of population expulsion policies in Puerto Rico over the last 525 years.
Negrón-Muntaner argues that “colonial emptying, rather than “normal” population growth, has been the most common experience in Puerto Rico” since Christopher Columbus claimed it for Spain in 1493. She traces back more than 100 years of US policies on the island that have efficiently exported hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans to the US mainland, highlighting the social, economic, and political implications of this “emptying island.”
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Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a filmmaker, writer, curator, scholar and professor at Columbia University, where she is also the founding curator of the Latino Arts and Activism Archive.