National Geographic : 2003 Mar
obliterating its blue cobblestone streets and pastel row houses. "They wanted to tear the city down and create what they promised would be a mini-New York," recalls Ricardo Alegria, founder of the Insti tute of Puerto Rican Culture, which played a leading role in saving the old city. "There were similar plans for Ponce," another gem of colonial architecture. "That was going to be a mini-Chicago." Puerto Ricans appear to be withstanding all attempts at molding them into a slice of the U.S. They have resisted attempts to turn them into English-speakers; in Hawaii, there are even families whose ancestors left Puerto Rico in the 1890s that are still obdurately speaking Spanish and eating rice and beans. Nowadays Puerto Rico is spearheading the Latin invasion of American popular music, thanks to the international success of stars like Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and the group Plena Libre. intent on obliterating its blue cobblestone streets.