The disaster that Hurricane Maria created in Puerto Rico is only the most obvious part of the rolling disaster that white America has been inflicting on this enslaved nation for over a hundred years. Yup – enslaved. We call it a “territory”, which is a nice-sounding but evil concept right out of colonialism and it has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. A deliberately innocent word that
actually means ownership. Puerto Ricans are American slaves by definition. “It’s our territory. Sure, you’ve got house privileges but you’re still slaves. We’ll even pretend you’re citizens if that makes you feel better, but we own you.”
Clearly two things have to happen for recovery not just from Hurricane Maria but from 100+ years of American colonial enslavement. Puerto Rico needs to break its chains and declare itself an independent nation – not a US state – and then they need to declare the cultivation of Coca legal. The US would scream and threaten and probably take all their marbles and go home, but it’s a safe bet that Puerto Rico could pull the whole thing off with style. The world would be watching every move and there would be absolutely no shortage of capital flowing in – not aid, investment.
I apologize if I appear to be commenting as an outsider without a dog in the race, but when you look at the history of Coca, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti all have a documented history of more-or-less successful coca cultivation. That history was interrupted by American prohibitionist/imperialists a hundred years ago, and it now lies almost forgotten in obscure archives. My dog in the race is to dig out and point to that history and ask questions that might help people reconnect.
IMO Puerto Rico has an incredible opportunity in Coca cultivation, based on pretty solid evidence. In the 1930’s the USDA Experimental Station in Mayaguez ran a series of experiments, growing thousands of Coca plants around the island. They found that Puerto Rico’s “coffee country” is a highly productive coca-growing region with nearly ideal conditions. (Report of the Puerto Rico Experiment Station, 1939, USDA, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Issued 10/40)
The coffee-growing region of Puerto Rico was literally wiped out by Maria – the entire region will have to be re-planted. This is the perfect time to declare independence and re-plant the coffee region with Coffee, Coca and Cannabis. I don’t see why all three can’t be inter-planted, although it would probably take working out some innovative techniques – wouldn’t that be great fun!
Imagine, for example, that Puerto Rico might become a major supplier of Coca leaf to Coca Cola which buys tens of millions of dollars worth of this green gold each year from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Or even better, Puerto Rico might become a world-class producer of Coca Leaf and establish an its own independent Coca drink industry. Puerto Rico’s tourism industry might flourish with Coca and Cannabis spas, clinics and even retirement homes. Innovative Coca-based products might emerge and contribute to economic growth. How about Coca Rum tonic? Coca Rico?
In another post I wrote about the potential for Coca Therapy spas in Mexico, and the same kind of medical tourism opportunities apply to Puerto Rico.
On a broader scale, if Puerto Rico were to do this right, the entire island could create dozens of regional coca-growing cooperatives, with thousands of small farmers each growing enough Coca on very small acreage to provide every farm family with a good living. Puerto Rico would have a new high-value national crop coming to market just as the re-building gathers momentum. Existing coffee-growers organizations might form a logical core around which to begin building a Coca economy. In fact, one might expect some very interesting coffee/coca drinks to emerge from such a collaboration.
Before Maria, Puerto Rico imported nearly 90% of its food, so there is plenty of room for an agricultural evolution if anyone cares to make one. With a guaranteed income from their individual Coca patch, with their leaf purchased by their cooperativa, thousands of farmers could concentrate on growing food for the local market without worrying about whether they can get a penny more or less per pound for their veggies.
As a plus to the idea of a Coca Rico, the island isn’t big enough to grow enough Coca plants to support massive Cocaine production so an emerging Coca Rico economy based strictly on Coca Leaf and Cannabis shouldn’t threaten the Cartels – in fact, supporting an Independence/Coca Leaf movement might make political sense to astute Cartel leadership.
As for getting this thing started, I can see potential for a very successful Go-Fund-Me campaign by a Puerto Rican 501.c.3 to support full national Independence and a swift transition to a Coca Leaf-assisted economy.
The danger, of course, is that a Coca Leaf-based economy could default to Cocaine production even on the relatively small scale possible, and Puerto Ricans would simply exchange one form of slavery under the Americans for another under Coca Capitalists.
Perhaps this danger can be avoided if both Independence and the Coca Leaf economy emerge together under the control of a bullet-proof legal structure put in place with the help of the best minds in the world as part of an effort to help Puerto Rico emerge intact and newly prosperous from under the heel of the US.
Hey – it’s a little insane, but does anyone have a better proposal? Let’s have it.