National Geographic : 1962 Dec
Dorado Beach was built by Laurance S. Rockefeller in a former grapefruit plantation. On the Dorado Beach golf course, two young Puerto Ricans strolled near a lushly manicured green. I assumed they were cad dies until one scooted up a palm; in an instant, two coconuts thudded to earth. "We take no chance," said the young man on the ground. "We remove coconuts so no golfer will be surprised at his play." Perhaps the greatest chance to be taken here is to drive a car in island traffic. Vehicles have increased six-fold since 1940, and they ricochet along the roads in the hands of dar ing drivers. One visitor, just back from the KODACHROMEBY B. ANTHONYSTEWART(ABOVE) AND EKTACHROMEBY THOMASE. BENNER, SHOSTAL© N.G.S. 770 mountains, shakily gave me his impressions: "It's bad enough to see the flattened pigs and chickens. Then you pass those white crosses marking fatal accidents. And after that, you even see crosses knocked down by other cars." Business Tugs at Bootstraps But Puerto Rico must move at a fast pace. "We have some 800 factories here now," said a staff member of Fomento (the Economic Development Administration), which helps implement Operation Bootstrap. "And two new plants open every week." Investors report extraordinary results: The year 1960 saw an average 29 percent return on money invested in the island's future. When Puerto Rico was still called the "poorhouse of the Caribbean," the brilliant political leader Luis Mufioz Marin insisted that short-range relief was not enough. "We need more vitamins," he said, "and less aspi rin." Now, literally, Puerto Rico has both; pharmaceutical plants are booming here (pre vious page). So are firms producing cigars, petrochemicals, and electronic equipment. To power the new factories-and the fam ilies' new washing machines and TV sets Puerto Ricans are festooning their steep hills with electric transmission lines. They do this job inventively, using helicopters. I flew out in a Water Resources helicopter one morning, skimming steep fields and res ervoirs and thin, rainbow-trimmed water falls. We touched down in the center of the island near Orocovis. "See-the people are happy," said pilot Francisco de Le6n. Fourteen jibaros-coun try people-stood by their little homes, view ing a show that would bring electric lights. A big Sikorsky S-58 helicopter thrashed toward the hillside, hovered over a stack of Community TV, a gift of native sons who migrated to the U. S. mainland, entertains strollers in the plaza of San Lorenzo, 15 miles southeast of San Juan. Sunday eve ning viewing in predominantly Roman Cath olic Puerto Rico includes a talk by a priest. Sea of shanties along Martin Pefia Chan nel contrasts with gleaming new Santurce buildings that overlook the ocean. Commu nities of wooden-box houses bear odd names: El Fanguito (the Mud Hole), and La Perla (the Pearl). Some dwellings sit on stilts above tidewater; a few show television antennas. But slums are disappearing as housing proj ects mushroom throughout the capital.