chapter  14
11 Pages

To be for (an) other: the Caribe Hilton or ambivalence as presence in a United States colony

In 1898, as an end to the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded its remaining colonies to the United States. Early in the colonial transfer and partly due to its Spanish heritage, Puerto Rico was appointed the role of the bridge between the Americas. By the mid-twentieth century that recurring and much exploited theme became a crucial geopolitical tool supported by the power of the architectural image. Modern architecture lent itself visibility and helped to promote Puerto Rico, first as a laboratory of democracy and then as its showcase (Tugwell 1947: 10; Time Magazine 1958). On the one hand, the Island needed to cater to potential North American investors to drive its development. But also within the context of the Cold War, the United States sought to consolidate hemispheric harmony by exposing the benefits that a political and economic partnership could provide to underdeveloped territories. Thus, during the 1950s, through its apparently thriving colony, the United States intended to discourage Latin American countries from alliances with totalitarian regimes by showing where democratic capitalism could lead.