Confronting Styles and Scales in Puerto Rico: Comprehensive Versus Participative Planning Under a Colonial Estate

  • José R. Díaz-GarayúaEmail author
  • Carlos J. Guilbe-López


The ongoing economic and colonial crisis in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has sharpened an already polarized environment between the government and many sectors of the local society. These conflicts had translated in the implementation of planning practices at different scales. Public planning has been coordinated by the Puerto Rico Planning Board since 1942 but in the past 25 years has been adopting neoliberal approaches and spatial frameworks. During this period numerous marginal communities, local governments, environmental organizations, political groups, and scholars’ groups has been confronting the institutional styles in the planning decision-making process. These communities and organizations has progressively been responding through open demonstrations such as mobilizations, camp sites, blockages, and open forums in social networks as a daily response against public planning. Every day, more citizens demand more participation in the formal planning processes. The local recession and the ratified colonial status of Puerto Rico by the U.S. government has widened the difference not only in the development scenarios but also in the planning process. This chapter’s focus lies on the Puerto Rican experience where planning has been serving as a method to construct a sense of democracy in the status quo. Participative planning practices have been used as framework to challenge not only the institutionalized normative planning but the existing colonial conditions in the island.


Colonialism Comprehensive planning Participative planning Puerto Rico 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • José R. Díaz-Garayúa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlos J. Guilbe-López
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Geography & Ethnic StudiesCalifornia State University, StanislausTurlockUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de GeografíaUniversity of Puerto RicoRio PiedrasUSA

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