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Casa Pueblo, Puerto Rico

Generated out of the resistance to mining operations, this initiative has strengthened community participation and education on matters pertaining the conservation of natural resources, living space and cultural heritage


The United States government during the post-war period had the intention of industrializing Puerto Rico and using the available resources in the island to power the resurging economy. Operation Bootstrap, the name given to the package of political and economic policies implemented by the local government intended the exploration of ore and minerals by foreign actors for industrial use. The United States foresaw the potential of utilizing Puerto Rico as a locality for extracting raw materials for industrial development in the continental USA.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Casa Pueblo, Puerto Rico
Country:Puerto Rico
State or province:Puerto Rico
Location of conflict: Adjuntas, Utuado, Lares, and Jayuya
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The project was not realized, therefore the natural resources were not extracted.

Project area: 14,148
Level of Investment:250,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population: 500,00 - 1,500,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1960
End of the conflict:01/01/1995
Relevant government actors:Government of Puerto Rico (Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico)
The Socialist League (Political Party)
The 'independentista' movement (Political Party)
Casa Pueblo, or, the People's House, founded in 1980 as a community led government effort. (Community-government)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Casa Pueblo, enviromentalists
The Socialist League, a now defunct political party active until 1993, further reading found in
The "Hostosiano Movement" the currently active socialist movement,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactsn/a
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsn/a
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsn/a
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Development of alternatives:The alternatives were brought about by the Casa Pueblo ejo. Throughout the time that the mining and ore exploration requests by the United States government sponsored foreign corporations the community managed to appeal to official channels to stop the project completely. The area is now managed jointly by Casa Pueblo and the Puerto Rican government, these entities provide education, work and research opportunities for the local community and outside agents. The Casa Pueblo initiative has strengthened community participation and education on matters pertaining the conservation of natural resources, living space and cultural heritage.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The government discarded the project after continous efforts from the Casa Pueblo members. Also, other aditional areas were included into the originally proposed conservation space.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ley de Bosques de Puerto Rico, 1975.
[click to view]

Ley del Bosque Modelo de Puerto Rico. 2014, This law contains the 1994 law that permitted the creation of the people's forest, also it contemplates the organization and regulation of different ecological zones.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

García López, Gustavo A., Irina Velicu, and Giacomo D’Alisa. "Performing Counter-Hegemonic Common (s) Senses: Rearticulating Democracy, Community and Forests in Puerto Rico." Capitalism Nature Socialism (2017): 1-20.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

A newspaper column by Efrén Rivera on Casa Pueblo and its implications for the Puerto Rican economic paradigm, Professor of the University of Puerto Rico's School of Law.
[click to view]

Article detailing recent struggles for the operation of Casa Pueblo, namely, infrastructure legality problems.
[click to view]

Local newpaper detailing the efforts to realize a new economic paradigm, Casa Pueblo is used as the main example.
[click to view]

Alexis Massol Gonzalez

2002 Goldman Prize Recipient

Islands and Island Nation
[click to view]

Organization that actively seeks to conserve the areas of Adjuntas, Lares and Yauco.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

photo of area
[click to view]

photo of area
[click to view]

Other documents

Bosque del Pueblo
[click to view]

Other comments:For his efforts to the conservation of the forests and environment pertaining the planned open mines, Ing. Alexis Massol González won the Goldman award 2002.
Meta information
Contributor:Esteban J. Vizcarrondo Garrastegui, Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Mayaguez, [email protected]
Last update06/06/2017
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