Manage episode 315348771 series 94072
For several years in the early nineteen-fifties, Puerto Rico received snow, right around Christmas. Children in San Juan rode a sled and had a giant snowball fight in the tropical weather. It wasn’t a miracle, or a meteorological outlier. The snow was a gift from San Juan’s longtime mayor, Felisa Rincón de Gautier, who had fallen in love with snow during her years in New York. It was delivered by Eastern Airlines, which milked the publicity for all it was worth. A young New Hampshire girl escorted one delivery, wearing a hat and a cable-knit sweater. The snow didn’t cost Puerto Rico anything, but it certainly came with strings attached. At a time when the independence movement was being harshly suppressed, in favor of a continued colonial relationship with the United States, the fetishization of the northern “white Christmas” reads to some as a gesture of cultural imperialism that has never quite ended. And even recently—as the island still faces routine blackouts of its electrical grid, years after Hurricane Maria—the mayor of a small town proposed building an ice-skating rink. WNYC’s Alana Casanova-Burgess reports on why the snow came, and what it meant to Puerto Ricans.
Our story was produced in collaboration with “La Brega,” from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios.