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The Affects Of The Tourist Economy On Puerto Rico

2120 words - 9 pages

To Americans Puerto Rico is an island destination where they can relax on the beach. In reality, Puerto Rico has deep social problems that have been hidden by tourism. It is easy to see pictures of magnificent beaches and assume the whole island is as beautiful and picturesque as that beach. There is no arguing that Puerto Rico is an incredible place with a thriving culture the disregard of its problems has created an American population that knows nothing of its commonwealth neighbor. The Rum Diary by director Bruce Robinson explores these issues, especially transparency regarding social ills. In the movie, Johnny Depp’s character, Paul Kemp is a freelance journalist who is only allowed to ...view middle of the document...

In the US, Puerto Ricans were known as unemployed and uneducated people who relied on the government for help (Merrill). This hurt the island’s image because people were not particularly enthusiastic about vacationing on an island that had people like this, whether or not those people were actually like that. As a result, the US government started a massive public relations campaign to change the public’s perception of Puerto Rico, and began construction on the island to accommodate the influx of tourists (Merrill). From the beginning Puerto Rico was only seen for profit, and not as a common wealth that could be developed to be as great or greater than America. Tourism sparked interest in the modernization of Puerto Rico, but it was not for the sake of the people living there or the island itself. It was to take advantage of all that the island offered, but for a profit.
Tourism is a massive industry in Puerto Rico, which provides many opportunities for the island. Tourism has been growing in recent years, which brings its own problems because “globalized, top-down approaches of tourism and urban development has often resulted in social and economic marginalization of base communities, increasing unemployment, crime, drug abuse, prostitution, child abuse, declining quality of life, and impoverished livelihoods” (Lucking et al 359). Yes, tourism has provided the island with jobs, and the means to modernize and improve infrastructure, but it has also caused significant problems. There is a point where the development of tourism needs to stop and the development of the island needs to begin because the locals who have built their lives in Puerto Rico are not prioritized as much as the foreigners who vacation there every year. There is this view that Puerto Rico is just for the pleasure of American tourists, and not an extension of America, which many people do not know about. That is the root of the problem because if Puerto Ricans were seen as Americans then there might not be as much ignorance surrounding the truth of the situation in Puerto Rico.
There is a scene in The Rum Diary, and Paul Kemp is talking to his boss about reporting on the social problems of Puerto Rico, and his boss says no one wants to know about the terrible things because Puerto Rico is the American Dream (Robinson). His boss says Puerto Rico is the place a middle class worker can take his family to relax, and that is interesting because Puerto Rico is a common wealth, which is an extension of America. Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and they have equal ownership of the “American Dream.” That scene shows how people are willing to go to an island enjoy its beauty, but leave the problems behind. The scene makes it seem like America has no responsibility to Puerto Rico as if Puerto Rico is only good for what it can give tourists, but no one is asking what can America give to Puerto Rico? In another scene, Paul says this (Puerto Rico) is America, but his boss says no...

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