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Date: Tue, 3 Feb 98 16:14:40 CST
From: bghauk@berlin.infomatch.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Puerto Rico: 100 Years Fighting Against U.S. Imperialism
Organization: InfoMatch Internet - Vancouver BC
Article: 26988

From rich Sat Jan 31 22:17:06 1998
Received: by pencil.math.missouri.edu.math.missouri.edu (4.1/SMI-4.1)

100 Years Fighting Against U.S. Imperialism

By José Pérez, theMilitant,
Vol. 62, no. 5 9 February 1998

As part of celebrating the 100th anniversary of anti-imperialist struggle, we reprint below an excerpt from Puerto Rico: U.S. Colony in the Caribbean, by Jose' G. Pe'rez. It is copyright 1976 by Pathfinder Press. Subheadings and footnotes are by the Militant.

It is necessary to begin from one simple fact, which the capitalist press and politicians don't like to admit: Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States.

Not a colony in some new or stretched sense of the term, but a colony in the classical pattern - a country ruled by another country; a nation that cannot make its own laws, decide its own foreign relations, or control its own economic affairs.

And the "Compact of Permanent Union" is merely the latest in a long series of attempts to cover up that imperialist relationship before the public opinion of the world, a world full of newly independent nations and national liberation movements.

This article will trace the history of that colonial relationship, what it has done to the Puerto Rican people, and their long record of struggle to control their own destiny.

From one oppressor to another

Puerto Rico is an island with a population of 3 million. Its strategic location in the Caribbean, near transatlantic shipping routes to Central and South America, has played a large part in its history ever since Columbus lost his way en route to India and ran into the Western Hemisphere.

The Puerto Rican people of today originated from three cultures: the indigenous population, the Spanish colonial settlers, and the African slaves brought by the Spanish. For four centuries, until 1898, Puerto Rico was under Spanish occupation. The rulers of the Spanish empire prized it as a military base and as a key link in the chain of ports from Spain to its colonies in the New World. The Spanish ruled through an absolute military-church dictatorship and brutally suppressed uprisings by slaves, Indians, and peasants.

In the early 1800s nationalism began to rise up as a force in Puerto Rico, as it did in many other countries in the Western Hemisphere at that time. A native culture had developed, distinct from that of Spain, containing elements from the three cultures mentioned earlier. For the first time, people began to talk of Puerto Ricans, or criollos -the native- born population - as a distinct people. A political debate arose on the question of status vis-a-vis Spain.

It is worth outlining this debate on status, which dominated the island's political life through the 1800s. Although the colonial masters of Puerto Rico have changed, the same debate has continued uninterruptedly, and is being conducted with increasing intensity today.

Three broad currents were involved. The assimilationists, or, as they called themselves, "unconditionalists," were for complete Spanish rule over the country. The second current, the autonomists, reflected the rising nationalist aspirations of the Puerto Rican people, but in a distorted way. They supported a permanent connection with Spain together with some degree of local self-rule. The independentistas, the third current, were the supporters of complete separation.

In 1868 Ramo'n Emeterio Betances led a revolt for independence known as El Grito de Lares, which is commemorated yearly by large proindependence demonstrations on the island. Betances had organized a network of clubs throughout Puerto Rico that planned to carry out a coordinated uprising. The plan was discovered by the Spanish and when the revolt occurred it was crushed.

This movement enjoyed broad support from the Puerto Rican people, especially from the agricultural wage laborers, who made up a large part of the rebel force of 400 men. The demands that were raised by the revoluti [the original breaks at this point]

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