Saturday, April 4, 2009

Colonial Currency

I have been absent from here because of the mid-semester administrative crunch (see the Conference of Nerds and Keeping Cool posts), fall-0ut catching-up after my travels, and a Spring Break odyssey to a lovely far-away location for study and relaxation (less of the latter than the former) that culminated in a debilitating illness that I brought back as an unwelcome souvenir. The trip was so enlightening, inspiring, and fabulous that being sick for almost two weeks was worth it! And I did bring back gorgeous souvenirs including clothes, jewelry, textiles, and political propaganda tchochkes - (Zapatista Barbies - these deserve their own post, sometime) some of my favorite things. 

The US government has been issuing quarters commemorating the 50 states - my dad has a special case fitted out to display them -collect them all! But I never expected to have the US's forgotten or unknown (to most citizens) territories represented, including my birthplace, Puerto Rico. The NY Daily News article (link below) has a fabulous title: Puerto Rico Gets Some Change. I hope that the writer is being ironic, pointing to the fact that we never do get the change we need. Rather, we are mired in a constant colonial dilemma, where the US always wins: divide and conquer, so the political parties on the Island battle each other, while the country remains under US control. Change has not come, despite this being Obama's slogan. And "change" is equivalent to the aid from the US government, whose policies decimate the Island's economy. Many people I meet don't fully understand Puerto Rico's status vis-a-vis the US, even educated Latin Americans, and the circulation of this silly bit of demagogic coinage will only confuse the matter more. Still, I will try to get one, it will go nicely with my vintage colonial tchotchke collection (see my post under "Collecting Schlock) including salt and pepper shakers, ashtrays, and the fabulous tablecloth with the map of Puerto Rico including various stages of Spanish and then US military invasion and occupation of the island.