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For years, Puerto Rico’s government has been combating its colonial and illegal debt with the United States by selling off land and properties to foreign investors, while increasing austerity measures and dispossessing the local population.


Following the establishment of Act 20 and 22, a law that gives tax benefits to wealthy Americans moving to the Island, the privatization of beaches, which is illegal in Puerto Rico, became an increasing practice in coastal towns in the archipelago. These coastal towns and beaches are being privatized for large foreign developments, and private communities to accommodate the wealthy Americans moving to Puerto Rico. 

Part of a group performance in the Cüirtopia Ball, presented in Puerto Rico’s Contemporary Art Museum,  organized and performed by the Laboratoria Boricua de Vogue, this powerful performance culminates with the dropping of a banner that reads “Utopía será un país sin gringos” (The utopia is a country without gringos). This vogue ball comes from a larger project Cüirtopia that reimagines how cüir (queer) spaces are mapped, documented, and celebrated in the Caribbean. 


The term gringo is commonly used by Latin American, Central American and Caribbean communities to pejoratively refer to foreigners, mostly white North Americans or Europeans. In recent years, foreigners have been trying to make the term gringo a slur, to the degree that posts containing this word have been censored on social media. Considering the historic injustices and unbalanced power relations between gringos and local populations in Puerto Rico, this argument is often seen as tone deaf from politically active individuals.


In this vogue ball, cüir individuality, beauty, and passion is celebrated while also delivering a politically relevant message in relation to the dispossession Puerto Ricans are currently experiencing. Through short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, or the hordes of gringos moving to Puerto Rico, who objectively gain more money than locals, Puerto Ricans are losing their homes as they are unable to compete and pay the inflated rental and mortgage prices. Entire coastal towns are changing quickly and drastically to accommodate and house foreigners, especially from the United States. Because of this crisis, the phrase gringo go home has also been spread as a response to try to maintain a local population, and combat the erasure of Puerto Rican culture and life. 

José R. Alicea, Las playas para el pueblo, lithography 1971.

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