The Last Colony: A Meditation on Puerto Rico's Political Status

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“So, is Puerto Rico, like, a state?”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that question since I moved from the Island three years ago. I’ve tried to explain it to Americans, South Americans and Europeans, and they all look at me with a que qué?! face. Just yesterday I was at the bank and encountered a common technical nuisance that comes with having a driver’s license/ID from Puerto Rico: the bank teller simply didn’t have the option to choose PR in the “State” drop-down menu yet at the same time couldn’t select “Foreign ID”.  I grew up repeating what everyone told me we were: a long, weird word that sound like “Unestadolibreasociado” aka, a Free-Associated-State or Commonwealth.

So where we at? After the UN General Assembly urged the United States to “expedite a process that would allow Puerto Ricans to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination” last Summer, the Gobe, Luis Fortuño, signed an act that will allow a referendum on the status issue on Election Day 2012, November 6th.

And so, in a very timely manner, enter Emmy-award winner for documentary 100,000 Juan Agustín Márquez. His new documentary, The Last Colony,  is an in-depth exploration of Puerto Rico’s political status and its unique relationship to the US. With a mix of formal interviews and street interviews, Márquez  presents the various sides of the argument (pro-independence, “soberanista”, pro-statehood) in hopes of answering the question: What is Puerto Rico?  Though the doc is still in its production stage and according to Márquez there’s still interviews to be filmed in Washington, the teaser  was just released this week.

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Whether you’re living on the Island or the Mainland, a referendum regarding the status of a possible state does affect a lot of people. Staying away from fanaticism and rash comments, the only way to not make this vote a waste of time is by looking at all the available options clearly. Start by watching this, and maybe, in the spirit of the election year and that whole inalienable human rights thing, make an informed decision.