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Puerto Rico: Micro-Independence Revisited

By: Frank Worley-Lopez - Apr 15, 2015, 4:01 pm
The Grenadines' Happy Island: a model for the next step in Puerto Rico's independence? (Wikimedia)
The Grenadines’ Happy Island: a model for the next step in Puerto Rico’s independence? (Wikimedia)

EspañolA new island has sprung up from the azure waters of the Grenadines. It’s called “Happy Island.” The tiny spit of land, measuring just a few square feet, is home to a bar and grill, and the house of its sole owner, Janti Ramage.

Ramage and a few volunteers began to build the islet in 2002 entirely out of local and natural materials, with Conch shells discarded by fishermen being the primary building material. He then built a small structure on top of the new landmass, and kept adding to it, until it became his home.

Janti is a true capitalist, even though he may not call himself one. He had an idea, he made it a reality, and now he profits from it financially. His guests also benefit from visiting and trying his famous rum punch.

He’s also a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Puerto Rico independence movement.

Their stubborn support of communist dictatorships has driven everyone who might otherwise support independence away. Their lack of vision of how to make something profitable and pleasurable for the people of Puerto Rico and its neighbors in the Caribbean also hurts them immeasurably.

In a previous article I offered a plan for “micro-independence” as a way of solving Puerto Rico’s status stalemate. The proposal: take four to nine of the easternmost municipalities of Puerto Rico, including the Vieques and Culebra islands, and get all those who supported independence to move into these areas, establish a voting majority, and opt for independence.

Due to the lack of response for this plan, and my other efforts to rally conservatives and libertarians to the cause of DIY independence, it may be time to offer a new, more symbolic alternative. Why not follow Janti’s example and build a small artificial island off the coast of Puerto Rico and declare independence?

Striking Out for Freedom

This is a new twist on the idea of seasteading. Instead of building massive offshore cities, why not start small and make a statement about independence from a capitalist perspective? What’s missing from the idea of Puerto Rican independence is a solid example of how a free country with natural rights and a free-market economy could be better for the people of the commonwealth than their current ties with the United States.

A independent micro-state could offer such an example if it were allowed to exist for any length of time. Such an endeavor isn’t without risk, and should be carefully considered before being undertaken. However, following the simplest train of thought, it could be achieved through a small sandy island or a barge anchored to the bottom off the east or west coast of Puerto Rico.

Another opportunity exists right now that could trump that. A small island with a house and solar power is for sale off the south coast of Puerto Rico for $2.5 million. This would make a perfect location for an act of symbolic independence.

An independent nation six minutes off the mainland: ours for $2.5 million. (Sothebys)
An independent nation six minutes off the mainland: ours for $2.5 million. (Sothebys)

It would require raising the initial sum of money, and a bit more for improvements and to get the food supply started. A small group of settlers would have to live on the island permanently, establish the new government and economic system, and then show how it could work.

If it fails, it fails — the whole idea of experimentation is trial and error. The good news is that there are at least a few states that would be willing to recognize the new micro-country.

The bad news is they’re not the kinds of nations you really want to be allied with if you’re a capitalist society. If nothing else, it could survive selling passports and web addresses.

It never ceases to amaze me how the independence movement in Puerto Rico fails to see such easy opportunities to accomplish their goal. Moving to Vieques Island (it would only take about 3,000 adults to obtain an absolute majority) or Culebra Island (even fewer votes), or even jumping on boats, “occupying” Mona Island, and declaring an independent country.

So,I don’t really expect the Puerto Rico Independence Party to support such a simple, logical, and reasonable idea as starting a micro nation on an artificial island. It’s almost like the PIP doesn’t really want independence at all.

But then again, who among us would risk everything to start a new country in the name of freedom? Would you?