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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Puerto Rico

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Transforming a landfill into an oceanside oasis isn’t easy, but it’s necessary

Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Photos courtesy of the author

As you drive down Puerto Rico’s Route 466, the Spanish-style houses and roadside start to peel away. The road buckles and plunges toward a white-capped Atlantic. Seaside cliffs rise, and trees stretch gnarled limbs into a semi-canopy.

Driving farther still, you reach the remnants of a dune sea tracing the asphalt. Beyond the sandy, mangrove-dotted hills, the sound of the ocean rises as it hammers the shore. This is the Mabodamaca Community Natural Reserve in Isabela, Puerto Rico. …


It is easy to believe that Puerto Rico cannot stand on its own and needs statehood, but the truth is a more complicated matter

A woman waves a Puerto Rican flag during a protest against the referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico in San Juan on June 11, 2017. Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

The clouds in Puerto Rico possess a unique beauty. White and drunk with humidity, their billowy faces tumble over each other; they graze on the horizon more than move over it. And beneath them, almost everywhere you go on the island, you’ll find a flag displaying a single white star shining amid a bed of blue.

But that single star has become a renewed source of contention in political arenas looking to decide once and for all whether that star will be incorporated among the 50 other gems in the crown of America, or stand on its own.

In this…


‘Force of Nature’ is written by White people for White people, set in an ‘exotic’ locale for maximum entertainment

Screenshot via “Force of Nature” trailer

“I’m staying here. I’m not leaving.”

That’s what Mel Gibson grumbles at Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth in their new film, . He delivers the lines with that grizzled, defiant, anti-authority attitude Americans seem to eat up at the box office.

But isn’t set in America; at least, not in the United States. It takes place in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, amid the backdrop of Hurricane Maria in 2017. It’s important to note that while the film is set during Hurricane Maria, it’s not about the devastating disaster at all. …


Tourists need to stay away from Puerto Rico during these uncertain coronavirus times

Tourists on a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico in defiance of a coronavirus stay-at-home order on March 21, 2020. Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO/Getty

Puerto Rico under quarantine is not so different from Puerto Rico on a regular day. Thick, pillowy clouds tumble over themselves just above the horizon. The sun beats down with unrelenting heat, bronzing skin and fading paint on houses. Giant, tapering palms sway in the gentle trade winds. But over it all, a pervasive sense of emptiness descends.

This month, the island’s supermarket shelves have been raided for antibacterial soap. Aisles are devoid of the masses; customers line up single file, waiting to enter one at a time. …


Nearly 20 years ago, the genre-defining artist found the Black power in Puerto Rican identity

Tego Calderon. Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

We already know that reggaeton is a thriving multimillion-dollar business dominating global charts. Colombian superstar J Balvin and Spanish up-and-comer Rosalía continue to gain momentum, and even on Top 40 stations you’re liable to hear a reggaeton-inspired song at any given moment. Yet, that visibility has its limits. While artists like Balvin and Becky G score crossover hits and Bad Bunny nabs Drake features, those who aren’t light-skinned or don’t fit European beauty ideals enjoy considerably less exposure — especially Afro-Latinx artists.

Though artists like Afro-Panamanian singer Sech provide vital representation, the whitening of reggaeton is a valid concern as…


There are endless ways we can help La Isla Del Encanto. Here’s how you can do your part.

Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

Early Tuesday morning (January 7), a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Puerto Rico. Just three hours later, a powerful 6.0 aftershock rocked homes, cut electricity to parts of the island, and caused several buildings to collapse. Days after the quake, many residents are still without power and water. Some are even sleeping outside in fear of more structural collapses and aftershocks.

Puerto Rico is still in a state of recovery and rebuilding after Hurricane Maria devastated the island as a deadly Category 5 storm in September 2017. While many organizations are still on the ground following Maria, more…

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