SCP 2023


Pre-Conference Webinar on the Historical and Political Background of Puerto Rico, 9 Feb 2023


Author: Eric Yorkston


register at


  • February 9, 2023 from 1pm – 2pm ET
  • Jessica Méndez Colberg, MBA JD, Bufete Emmanuelli
  • Dr. Jose Atiles, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Historical and Political Overview of Puerto Rico – The Enchanted Colony (Jessica). Puerto Rico is known as the beautiful “Island of Enchantment”. Yet, it’s history and political relationship with the United States, can surprisingly be unknown, misrepresented or misunderstood. Indeed, a relationship that is rooted under a colonial regime. This conference attempts to provide an overview of Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States, with a particular emphasis on how legislation enacted by Congress since the invasion in 1898 until this date has determined the local governance and impacted the island’s economy and people’s everyday lives. This talk will also reference important cases decided by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico that have reiterated the colonial regime. Finally, notwithstanding the multiple impacts of colonialism on the People, Puerto Ricans have strived maintain strong cultural roots that differentiates them and has gained them pride to live in the Island of Enchantment.

A Paradise of Opportunities: From Multilayered Crisis to a Tax- haven Economy in Puerto Rico (José). The 16-years-long multi-layered Puerto Rican crisis (2006 to 2022) has been marked by the US and PR governments’ imposition of a permanent state of emergency to deal with the economic crisis, bankruptcy, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. While Puerto Ricans have been enduring this multilayered crisis, the local government have implemented a series of economic policies that have transformed Puerto Rico into a tax-haven, exacerbating, in many ways, the effects of the crisis. This talk provides a general overview of the current crisis and aims to answer the following questions: 1) how does/did US contribute to the current multi-layered crisis?; 2) what has been the role of law and emergency powers in the Puerto Rican multi-layered crisis?; 3) and how Puerto Rico when from a multilayered crisis to a tax-haven? Altogether, this talk aims to facilitate a conversation about the current sociolegal and political challenges Puerto Rico is facing and identifying ways in which the case of PR can help us understand similar process taking place in other global south, Caribbean and colonized countries.


Jessica E. Méndez-Colberg, M.B.A., J.D

Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Human Resources and Industrial Management from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. She also has a Juris Doctor and a master’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Human Resources and General Commerce from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus. She is currently pursuing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the Thomas Jefferson University in San Diego, California, under the Risk Management and Financial Compliance program.  Jessica is a Capital Partner and Vice President of Bufete Emmanuelli, C.S.P., a law firm in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where she also serves as Chief Operating Officer. Her practice focuses on Labor and Consumer Law, and extends to civil matters. She is lead attorney in bankruptcy cases for consumers as well as small businesses and is an expert in student loan matters and federal litigation in cases related to the bankruptcy proceedings of the government of Puerto Rico and its instrumentalities under the P.R.O.M.E.S.A. Act in Puerto Rico. Jessica is admitted to the Federal Court for the District of Puerto Rico, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. At 33 years old, she became the youngest Puerto Rican woman to present oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Jose Atiles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jose holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Law from the University of Coimbra (Portugal), a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of the Basque Country (Spain), and a MA in Sociology of Law from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Oñati). His research and publications focus primarily on the sociolegal and criminological implications of US colonialism in Puerto Rico, and to elucidate how corruption, state violence and state-corporate crime exacerbates the unequal and undemocratic condition of Puerto Rico. He has published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Sociological Review, British Journal of Criminology, Critical Criminology, Latin American Perspectives, Law and Policy, State Crime Journal, among others. Currently, Jose is working on his book manuscript Crisis by Design: Emergency Powers, Corruption and Resistance in Puerto Rico.  The book manuscript analyzes the role of law, the state of emergency, and anticorruption mobilizations in the current multilayered crisis of Puerto Rico: economic instability and insurmountable debt since 2006, devastation generated by hurricanes Irma and María in 2017, a swarm of earthquakes in January of 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please register at: