A multidimensional study of the Latino-American narrative

Plan Author

Emmett Wood, 2019

Fields of Concentration

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Clare Gillis, freelance correspondent


My Plan paper looks at the effects of some of the laws and labor programs established by the American government in the nearby nation of Mexico and the territory of Puerto Rico. By examining how the Treaty of Paris, The Jones Act, Operation Bootstrap, and the Bracero Act changed the Mexican and Puerto Rican economies, this research seeks to explore the U.S’s largely self-inflicted Latino immigration “problem.” It simultaneously allows space for the voices of modern day Puerto Rican Americans struggling with many of the same issues as those who came before them. This Plan also includes reflections on a class I taught on “gonzo journalism.”


Puerto-Rican Americans have felt snubbed by the Jones act since its inception. More than one of the Latino Americans interviewed for this project mentioned the act unprompted as one of the many tools used by the United States government to keep the economies of nearby Latin American countries weak and increase the amount of profits made by U.S. companies. The Jones Act is only one example of deals like this, however. Trade laws and work programs passed by the United States in nearby Puerto Rico and Mexico have weakened the economies of the already struggling countries, and strengthened the U.S’s for many years.

“A government where decisions are made by people that you have no role in electing-that to me defines a colony,” said Rafael from his office at at a small liberal arts school. He leaned back in his chair, “the U.S. retains the power to change any law passed by local government. Sopart of the Puerto Rican constitution establishes that if the government ever passes a law that the U.S. disagrees with, the U.S. has the ability to nullify it…I believe that Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States.”

On one of the days that we were looking at Thompson’s critics, a student approached me after the class was over. She had been struggling with the assignments, so I didn’t think it very out of the ordinary that she may want to talk things over. She told me not to be offended, but that she was surprised that I could support Thompson as a person. She understood that the writing style was interesting, but just couldn’t see someone like myself justifying the actions of a old white man with questionable politics. I remember thinking up my defense, and then stopping short. She was right.