Puerto Rico Instituto de
Research Institute Investigaci6n Puertorriqueho
P.O. Box 11204 Apartado Postal 11204
Washington, D.C. 20008 Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 337-2234 (202) 337-2234
June 12, 1989
Dr. Helen Safa
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
319 Grinter Hall
Gainsville, Florida 32611
Dear Dr. Safa:
Thank you for your letter of May 31 and your article about Puerto
Rican women in the assembly industry. It has given me useful
insights for the research we are undertaking in Vieques. Many of
the young, single women just entering the workforce have left
Vieques to seek work on the main island of Puerto Rico or in the
U.S. The assembly plants tend to employ older women since this
middle generation is almost non-existent and it is the older
people and the young children that are left. I found
particularly interesting your identification of the conflicting
tendencies inherent in the proletarianization process. While
liberating women somewhat from the repressive hold of patriarchy,
the proletarianization process has isolated the family,
fragmented kin groups, and increased the women's burden in
maintaining the household economy. This is a common theme in
what I have seen in Puerto Rico (and the U.S. for that matter).
Since you wrote the article, much of the remaining apparel
industry in Puerto Rico has come to rely on Defense Department
contracts to remain viable. The U.S. government has worked
actively to increase federal procurement contracts in Puerto Rico
and the Caribbean as part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative and
the overall effort to stimulate the Puerto Rican and Caribbean
economies. This effort has lost some steam as Amertex, the major
defense contractor in Puerto Rico, was debarred from receiving
federal contracts due to corruption charges. Amertex had a
subsidiary in Vieques (Dandie) that has also closed. Dandie,
which made chemical protection suits for the Army, had become a
major employer on the island and, until the scandel broke, was
considered the success of the Navy's economic adjustment program.
Things have become very tense on the island of Vieques in recent
weeks as 300 squatters have entered alleged Navy land and it is
rumored that the Navy is sending Marines from Norfolk to evict
the squatters. It seems a confrontation is inevitable.
We are working on a variety of projects in addition to the
Veques study. They include on-going work on the Caribbean Basin
Initiative, the Law of the Sea, and the implications of the
Micronesian Compacts for U.S. territorial policy and Puerto Rican
status. We are always interested in having interns participate
in our research, but, unfortunately, as a low-budget, non-profit,
research organization, we would not have funds to pay a salary.
We would appreciate your encouraging any graduate students
interested in these topics to contact us.
I have enclosed two reports on the CBI and Puerto Rico.
Thank you very much for your timely response to my letter and I
hope we will remain in touch in the future. I will send you a
copy of the Vieques study when it is completed and look forward
to your comments.