Date: Tue, 3 Feb 98 16:14:40 CST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Puerto Rico: 100 Years Fighting Against U.S. Imperialism
Organization: InfoMatch Internet - Vancouver BC
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
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
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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