U.S Mint’s El Yunque Five-Ounce Silver Coin A Reminder of U.S. Imperialism in Latin America
The United States Mint has started taking orders from authorized purchasers for the first 2012 America the Beautiful Five ounce silver coin, a coin that ought to serve as a reminder to the buying public of more than a century of U.S. domination of Latin America. The first coin for 2012 is set to go on sale this week and features El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. On May 21, the US Mint began accepting orders for the 2012 El Yunque five ounce coin, which will carry the “P” mint mark. Pricing is set to the public at $204.95 each, with a maximum mintage of 25,000.
The El Yunque national forest is located northeastern Puerto Rico and is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. Ample rainfall creates a jungle-like setting – lush folioage, crags, waterfalls and rivers.
The coin celebrates more than one hundred years of imperial domination by the United States over Puerto Rico and the rest of Latin America. This is territory won by the United States through political and military manipulation, economic suffocation and welfare. U.S. holding of the island is one symptom of a U.S. policy that Latin America will be the U.S’s backyard. For the rest of the world, including interests in Latin America, it has been “hands off.”
At the tail-end of the nineteenth century, Secretary of States James Blaine observed that “there are only three places that are of value enough to be taken. One is Hawaii. The others are Cuba and Puerto Rico.”
On the heels of Hawaii and Cuba, Puerto Rico was taken over in 1898, and would remain a “virtual colony” of the United States through today. Puerto Rico was turned into a plantation for U.S. agribusiness, and later an export platform for subsidized U.S. corporations as well as the site of major U.S. military bases and petroleum refineries.
Throughout the colonization of Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans emigrated to U.S. urban slums in droves – approximately 40% of the population by the mid-1980s. As economist Richard Weisskoff described the process, “the U.S. public underwrites the Puerto Rican people, while U.S. corporations shift profits through their Puerto Rican plants and back to the United States, tax free,” leaving a “bankrupt, dismembered economy heavily dependent on welfare.”
Sure, the standard of living in Puerto Rico is higher than the rest of Latin America, but this is artificially so. It is based on the royalties of U.S. taxes, corporations that want low wage labor, drug trafficking, aids to keep the people contained. This enables the U.S. and its enterprise division to do with Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people whatever they want – that is, military bases, soldiers, chemical plants, pharmaceutics and a quiet and obedient people.