The Psychology of Puerto Rico

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony


There is a highly developed literature regarding the psychological effects of colonialism. 

Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth), Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed), Reinhold Niebuhr (Moral Man and Immoral Society), Eduardo Galeano (Open Veins of Latin America; Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World), Almert Memmi (The Colonizer and the Colonized), George Orwell (Animal Farm) and others have documented the mechanisms, and horrible effects, of colonialism on the human mind.

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” describes much of this colonial psychology…where the captive colony begins to identify with, and then embrace, the will of their masters.

A great deal of this is happening in Puerto Rico right now. For nearly a century, one politician after another has “embraced” the US and served their interests. We now have an incapacitated island: devoid of any real leadership, with no sense of direction, and a government on the edge of bankruptcy.

Puerto Rico is not functioning.  But what is the psychology that brought us to this point?

Dr. Ángel Collado Schwarz discussed this with Nelson Denis, the author of War Against All Puerto Ricans.  In a wide-ranging discussion, they analyzed the psychological effects of Public Law 53 (aka the Gag Law, La Ley de la Mordaza), six decades of surveillance by the FBI, secret police files kept on 100,000 Puerto Ricans (the “carpetas” program), the Ponce Massacre, the torture of Pedro Albizu Campos, the bombing of Utuado and Jayuya, the warrantless arrest of 3,000 Puerto Ricans…and going to jail for ten years, just for owning a Puerto Rican flag.

The cumulative psychological impact of all these things, had an overwhelming effect on the Puerto Rican people…and on Puerto Rico’s present, and its future. 

Dr. Ángel Collado Schwarz is a historian, author, and President of Carlos Albizu University: the first academic institution for post-graduate study of psychology, in the entire Caribbean. He is also the author of  La Economía y la Salud Mental (The Economy and Mental Health, Aug. 5, 2014) and other studies in this area.

We thank Dr. Schwarz, Ms. Lourdes Correa, and everyone at La Voz del Centro for this thoughtful interview. You can hear the entire interview, right here:

6 Comments on “The Psychology of Puerto Rico

  1. How else can empires like british/amer. empires pay their elite class of create nothing politicos and their lackeys good life ? Puerto rico is one of many but soon citizens united are going to hold corporations to the same standards as persons/ citizens, after they slaughter the expendable troublemakers. Do you recognize propaganda when you read it


  2. Hey Bro, the war against Puerto Ricans was so ignorant that it was meaningless and affected a very very small minority. I was born and raised in NYC and the article you posted from some other person is not all that factual. The Boricuas are the only Hispanic nationality with automatic American Citizenship. The saying (que viva Puerto Rico was not so) it was more like “I’m Proud To Be A Puerto Rican” . I was raised with a variety of cultures: Italians, Jewish, Polish, Chinese, African , etc. The torture, racism, injustice that the African American and Jewish Nation lived for hundreds of years was so wrong that the war against Boricuas was so ignorant that we were the same as any other nation that immigrated to New York with a Dream that consisted in Equality, Freedom and Justice for All. I and many other cultures that were raised together did not believe in the evil that existed throughout the world. You know that the assignation of JFK , Martin L. King and RFK affected my feelings and beliefs at the age of six that I knew then was good and evil is. It is created in one’s Body and Soul to be the way to live life as one culture created by different cultures. So the (War Against Puerto Ricans) did not stop the “Dream” cause we had it from the get go. We are all Americans and many other nations could have had the “Dream” be reality. This is the way it was for the American Puerto Rican in NYC. P.R. is known as “La Isla del Encanto”. Cuba and Mexico were known as the “Que Viva” nations.


  3. There’s yet many other studies that show how propaganda (like the shown book) has taxed the psychological well being of children raised under such preconceived concepts. In fact the current government in PR has developed economical terrorism in accord with the islands separatist who are working from every angle of Rican society to try and develop a fault placing using the federal system as a culprit without regard to what the majority of Ricans think and desires, thus placing even more stress in our society… It’s only accommodating that many of this propagandists choose to live on the mainland USA to disperse their propaganda faster… However, Ricans in the island aren’t in tune to centuries old agendas, that relates to nothing current.


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