How to use this website

The materials gathered help place the current moment within the larger political, social, and economic history of this U.S. territory and illuminate how both the crisis and its proposed solutions are impacting the daily lives of millions of Puerto Ricans both within the territory and across its growing diaspora.

Each topic has a few key texts along with some primary documents, multimedia, and suggestions for further reading. We’ve included texts in both English and Spanish to make this syllabus as accessible as possible, and are working towards a fully bilingual version.

We realize that the topic of debt is intimidating for many, so we’ve sought to provide a carefully curated portal with various points of entry, along with a longer extended bibliography that continues to grow with your suggestions. We hope these materials can help make sense of a context which is yet to be fully historicized and analyzed. As events continue to unfold, we expect this syllabus to evolve; we welcome suggestions via our contact form or using the hashtag #PRSyllabus on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Goals of the Syllabus

  • To understand how the contemporary Puerto Rican debt crisis has its roots in the colonial and capitalist relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States
  • To show how the debt crisis is affecting the lives of millions of Puerto Ricans in the territory and the diaspora.
  • To provide examples of Puerto Rican groups organizing against the austerity measures being imposed upon them by Washington and Wall Street.

Project leaders

Hashtag Syllabi

This project draws inspiration from and is in dialogue with other collective projects of intellectual community building such as the #CharlestonSyllabus, #StandingRockSyllabus, #ImmigrationSyllabus, #TrumpSyllabus2.0 and #IslamophobiaIsRacismSyllabus. (Greater discussion about the concept of hashtag syllabi can be found here, here, and here.)

As educators committed to social justice, we hope that this syllabus project not only educates a greater public about what is occurring in Puerto Rico, but also serves as a call to action against the imposition of even greater neoliberal austerity measures, which will only increase harm and insecurity in the lives of more and more Puerto Ricans.

#PRSyllabus is the first in a series of three syllabi on the theme of debt that Unpayable Debt will release in response to the crippling effect on debt on various regions of the world, including Detroit, the Caribbean, Argentina, and Greece.


The contributors would like to thank Ed Morales, Patricia Silver, Vladimir Pérez, Shakti Castro, and Amanda Haziz-Ginsberg for their feedback and contributions. We are also grateful to Xiomara Caro and Mario Ruben Carrion for sharing their photographs with us.

Traducción al español: Gabriel Carle

New website design: Victoria Valadez, web and graphic designer in Austin, TX.

Section header photo credits:

Homepage (img)
Historical Context (
Explosion of the Debt Crisis (img)
The Question of Sovereignty (img)
Infrastructure & Everyday Crisis (img)
The New Great Migration (img)
Resistance and New Imaginaries (img)
Hurricane Maria (img 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Verano Boricua / #RickyRenunica (img)