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PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE: A SISYPHEAN CHALLENGE BY LYDIA RAMIREZ A Thesis Submitted to the division of International and Area Studies New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor's of Arts Und er the Sponsorship of Dr. Kathryn Dungy Sarasota, Florida April, 2010
i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract............................................................................ Pg. i Introduction...................................................................... Pg. ii The Evolution of Independence Sentim ents..................... Pg. 5 Revolution In Action........................................................ Pg. 28 The Modern Movement.................................................... Pg. 54 Conclusion.............................. ......................................... Pg. 70 Bibliography..................................................................... Pg. 72 Appendix A....................................................................... Pg. 73 Appendi x B....................................................................... Pg. 76 Appendix C....................................................................... Pg. 77
iii Introduction The Puerto Rican people's struggle for independence has been much like the Sisyphean Challenge. Puerto Rico is a nation1 The hopes of the Puerto Rican people began with a fight against Spain which spanned several hundred years. However their hopes were only to be dashed as the United States claimed Puerto Rico as their own in 1898. Then as the western hemisphere entered the Great Depression, Puerto Rico fought again to earn their rights to sovereignty but the end World War II also ended their dreams of autonomy. The struggle continues on and the fate of the island remains unclear. Puerto Rico remains a Commonwealth, a status which has yet to be clearly defined to this day and begs the question will the boulder of independence fall down the hil l once more? never released from the grips of its conquerors. Though many struggles occurred to gain freedoms the other nations of the Spanish Caribbean had already found, for one reason or another, li ke Sisyphus with his eternal task of rolling the boulder up the hill, Puerto Ricos search for independence has always fallen short. So long as the cause of independence is not espoused by those with the political and social power on the island independence will never come to fruition. When asking the essential question of why independence has never been achieved, we see t ime and time again that the boulder drops to the bottom on the hill only when those most in power 1 Nation: a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government http://www.merriam webster.com/dictionary/nation
iv let it go. In the 1800s Spain controlled the cause of independence and they were ready to give Puerto Ricans what they so greatly desired. However, by entering into war with the United States, Spain lost the battle and Puerto Rico lost their first chance at independence. Starting in the 1920's as Albizu Campos and Luis Muoz Marn rose to power, the goal of independence became more achievable. Albizu Campos had charisma and influence and Luis Muoz Marn had connections in Washington and diplomatic skills. Together the two moved people into action towards social change and the achievement of their nations sovereignty. However, Albizu Campos was incarcerated wh ich robbed him of his political power. When the Tydings Bill was proposed those in power in Puerto Rico rejected it. Finally, Luis Muoz Marn arguably the most powerful man in Puerto Rico in the 1940s and 50s, rejected the cause of independence. Without his support the cause faded away once more. The modern day the movement is quiet. It is mainly underground and no real status change has been achieved. Many believe that the independence movement is dead. It is not that the movement is dead so much as it i s not controlled by those who have the political power and therefore it will continue to roll down the hill. This paper is an examination of the growth and evolution of the Independence movement in Puerto Rico. Chapter one will examine the evolution of independence sentiments from the slaves rebellions to the Grito de Lares and diplomatic negotiations with Spain which lasted until 1898. Chapter two will examine the major movements the island created to achieve independence; from the history of the major independence leaders to the strongest independence movement Puerto Rico has ever saw. Finally, chapter three will examine where the nation stands today in its struggle towards
v being a free nation today; the current beliefs on status, the struggles of the modern movement and its current leaders. This paper hopes to show that when the cause of independence is dropped by those who control the power the goal of Puerto Rico's sovereignty is never achieved.
1 Chapter 1 The Evolution of Independence Sentiments In order to examine the struggle for independence in a nation one must understand two things. First, how the nation was discovered and conquered, and secondly what about the nation creates such a draw for ownership. This first section will discuss Puerto Ricos discovery, how Spanish abuses of natives and slaves led to the self identified Puerto Ricans. What made the Spanish stay long after the fall of Columbus, as well as many other trials and tribulations. Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Puerto Rico in 1493 as part of a conquest inspired by Spains search for economic and naval supremacy. At this time, Spain under Queen Isabella was looking for routes to Asia that circumnavigated the straight of Gibraltar.1 The first Puerto Rican settlers attempted to colonize the island the beginning of the 1500s. However, social structure was not easily organized As a result of Spains misfortune they were forced to find alternate routes and planned to sail around the tip of Africa over to Asia. Unfortunately, circumnavigations led the explorers, not to Asia, but rather to the Caribbeana new world. 1 In the late 1400s Asia was the key to economic power. Dominating trade routes to Asia allowed nations access to such goods as silks, gun powder, and spices, whic h were not available in Europe. Spain was at war with the Moors, who had conquered the southern end of the nation, and because of this Spanish traders were forced to find alternative means of reaching Asia. Diaz Soler, Luis M. Puerto Rico Desde Sus Orge nes Hasta El Cese De LA Dominacin Espaola (San Juan, La Editorial Universidad De Puerto Rico, 1994) 8196.
2 because of a deep lack of leadership. Columbus, who was more an explorer than a leader failed not only to accept that he had not found a route to Asia, but also to organize and lead those who followed him. Even when the island was left to his sons, leadership was still not found. According to Luis Diaz Soler, native rebellions against the colonist be gan, and the Spanish Crown was forced to find other leaders to bring Christianity and organization to the natives.2 Nicolas Ovando, the first governor of the Dominican Republic and representative of the crown, appointed Juan Ponce de Leon to stop native re bellions and lead the settlers of Puerto Rico. In 1508, Ponce de Leon and his men searched the island for a proper place for a settlement.3 Caparra was an ideal environment for the Spanish, however, it was a lso right in the middle of a Taino settlement. Ponce de Leon brought two hundred men with him on his journey, and quickly began to build a New Spain where the Taino settlement once resided. His priorities included, converting the natives, urbanizing the a rea, and making farmland. The farmland became especially important because half of the earnings were returned to Ponce de Leon personally. The Spanish agenda did not allow for the Taino way of life, and once the Taino people realized these visitors were The search was very difficult; many areas had no clean water, or were too humid and filled with bugs. While they set tled by many different rivers it was not until they reached areas near the center of the bay area, now known as Bayamon, that they were able to establish their first settlement, Caparra. 2 Diaz Soler, 103 107. 3 Ibid., 97.
3 in actuality invaders, any peace that had been maintained between the two cultures was quickly lost.4 Rebellions sprung to life all around the Spanish, as they begun to enslave the natives. The first major rebellions occurred in 1511. 5 They were characteri zed as being rapid and organized attacks where the Taino people joined with the other more warlike tribe found in the Spanish Caribbean the Caribes. To free themselves from the brutality of the Spaniards Tainos used many methods of escape. Some ran away on canoes, while others used such extreme measures as suicide to escape the hands of their captors. Unfortunately, with their superior weapons technology and their foreign diseases, as well as political strategizing, the Spanish quickly conquered the native people. 6 As the Spanish dominated the island the Taino people quickly died out. Eventually, only those who were of mixed blood remained. Being that the Spanish had been using the Taino people as workers to mine gold for the Crown and work the cane fields to make sugar, the decimation of their population posed a serious economic threat to the Spanish. By the mid to late 1500s they were forced to bring in African slaves to do the work the Taino people could no longer do. However, the African slaves quickly became rebellious and they, along with the remaining natives, formed settlements for escapees known as cimarrones 4 Diaz Soler, 98. 5 Ibid., 103. 6 Ibid., 104.
4 Fransisco Moscoso notes that these rebellious groups fought slave owners to gain their personal freedom as well as seek out justice and vengeance. The fights between slaves and slave owners were brutal. Slaves would burn down houses and cane fields as part of their attacks. Slave owners would kill those they found living in cimarrones and cut off appendages of many slaves that were recaptu red to teach the slaves still in captivity the consequences of escaping. For hundreds of years the slaves continued to fight. They were outspoken about injustice and poor social conditions. 7 By the 1770s the island was segregated by divisions Juan Ponce de Leon had drawn out in his life time. The rebellious exslaves had been moved out of the capital (now located in San Juan) to prevent any possible threat to Spanish development in that area. 8 7 Moscoso, Fransisco. Formas de Resistencia de los Escl avos en Puerto Rico Siglos XVI XVIII.America Negra, (1995): 38. They chose the San Mateo Cangrejos near Rio Piedras as the fir st settlement for the free slaves. Here, slaves formed militias and a farming community with a population of around six hundred and forty eight. The freed slaves cultivated rice, potatoes, yucca, and beans, which they would sell in the capital in order to survive. By 1776 there were thirty urban centrals similar to San Mateo Cangrejos around the capital including Loiza, Fajardo and later Humaco, Rio Piedras, and Guyama. The individuals living in these communities were 8 Diaz Soler, 312.
5 the first to identify themselves as Pue rto Ricans not Spaniards.9 While fighting with natives and rebellious slaves, the governments number one priority always remained gaining profit off the land to give back to the Spanish Crown. While the country began its endeavors using gold mining as t heir main source of income, in the end gold was not enough to sustain the island. By the mid 1500s the island had already been over mined and needed new resources to sustain the economy. With the economy in ruins and a series of natural disasters, Fransisc o Pizzaros discovery of the Inca treasures in Peru in 1530 left the island nearly abandoned by all those seeking gold and riches that the Puerto Rico did not have to offer. Only women and slaves were left on the island, which led to a major surge in the m ulatto (mixed race) people on the island. The only way to the stop this exodus was to create brutal consequences for all those who wanted to escape. The leader of the people at the time threatened death against the few Spanish men left on the island if any of them tried to escape. 10 Ten years after the exodus the country was back on its feet again. The leaders of the nation changed the economy from one supported by gold to one supported by agriculture. The country began to grow tobacco, sugar cane, and meat as their main exports. 11 9 Diaz Soler, 313. However, these were the products available from other countries of the Spanish Caribbean as well, and these countries were better suited for farming. This competition caused exports 10 Gutirrez Del Arroyo, Isabel. El xodo al Per Revista del ICP, (1958): 15 18 11 Scarano, Fransisco A. Puerto Rico: Cinco Siglos de Historia Third Edition / Includes CD ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill,162 2008.
6 out of Puerto Rico to be cut dramatically, which severely damaged the Puerto Rican economy.12 So what kept the Spanish interested in Puerto Rico? A country that was not particularly rich in gems and gold and not particularly successful in agriculture should find its way to independence with ease, should it not? The truth is it was not what the island had to offer agriculturally that interested the Spanish, but rather, the island's strategic location. After the discovery of the New World, Spain quickly became the strongest empire in the world with the Pope supporting their ventures and giving them sole jurisdiction over the New World. This meant that Spain controlled all trade in the West Indies and held a major economic advantage over the other European nations at the time.13 Puerto Rico became known as the key to the Indies because it was the first stop Sp anish ships made on their voyage to the New World. Its placement was strategic for several reasons and it was therefore forced to become a military bastion for Spain. Not only was it the first major island between Europe and the rest of the Indies, but it was also the island closest to French, English, and Dutch territories in the Caribbean, which allowed England and France, the other world powers, grew to resent the advantages that Spain held over them economically and felt it was vital to their nations that they too hold a piece of the New World. 12 Scarano, 166. 13 Morales Carrion, Arturo. Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 9 1983.
7 Spain to watch its competition. Spanish success led other nations to pirating. The French, followed by the English and the Dutch, both attempted several times to take Puerto Rico from the Spanish. Also, because all ships going to the Americas had to be sailed from Sevilla, the envious nations took to robbing cargo ships, to acquire goods. Puerto Rico was forced to build forts to maintain security. The firs t fort built was the Fortaleza in the early 1500s, but its poor construction led to its quick demise. By the 1540s the Spanish had built El Morro, the Spanish fort which remains in the capital until this day. This fort was constructed with cement and brick and served as the protection and lookout point the Spanish needed. 14 However, forts were not enough to solve Spains problems. While the forts managed to fend off attacks specifically against the capital, they did not stop pirating at sea. In order to s top this threat the Spanish were forced to re think how they navigated their trade routes. The Spanish started sending out a Flota one war ship with every ten cargo ships. 15 14 Morales Carrion,12 13. However, forcing the ships to stay together elongated their time spent at sea. Because they could not send one ship to each destination, it became a necessity for the Spanish to cut down on their trade stops, including Puerto Rico. The building of the forts protected Puerto Rico sufficiently for Spanish needs, thus the Spanish allowe d themselves more focus on economics, which meant focusing on other nations of the Spanish Caribbean that were more 15 Scarano, 173.
8 lucrative. 16 Leather, sugar and ginger became Spains main colonial crops and the countries that most successfully produced these products were Mexico, Cuba, and Santo Domingo, not Puerto Rico. 17 Havana, the capital of Cuba became the major trade stop for the Spanish Crown. It was common to import products to Puerto Rico but exporting products from Puerto Rico was rare.18 The lack of support from the Spanish meant several things for the Puerto Rican people. First, without economic support from Spain and without the ability to export their crops the people of Puerto Rico were virtually penniless. They had no earnings and thus no means by which to buy food or support themselves. Furthermore, the lack of Spanish participation in the life and culture of Puerto Ricans slowly evolved into Puerto Ricans finding difficulty identifying with the Spanish culture which they knew so little about. Thus Spani sh absence sowed the seeds of a Puerto Rican culture separate from Spanish culture. 19 Not only was economic negligence an issue but the lack of governmental order in the island continued, building resentment between the people of Puerto Rico and the Spani sh. Though Spain spent less and less time in Puerto Rico, they still tried to pass laws and enforce their way of life. In Mexico Spain appointed a Virrey, a royal representative of the king 16 Sc arano, 174. 17 Ibid., 173. 18 Ibid., 175. 19 Ibid., 176.
9 who enforced Spanish decrees throughout Latin America. In order to control the people of the Spanish Caribbean, Spain appointed Virreinatos (vice kings) to the islands to militarize the government, to control rebellious spirits and oversee all aspects of island life. They ran the finances, the judicial systems, and all administration. However, Spain faced the problem of having many new Spanish territories and very few Virreinatos The Virreinatos resided where Spain held the most economic interests. 20 At this time communications were very difficult. Word had to come from Spain to Mexico and then from Mexico to the Greater Antilles. The time it took for messages to be received made it very difficult to govern. It could take several months for a message to travel from Spain to Puerto Rico and once a message was received in Puerto Rico, there were very few officials on the island enforcing the rules. On top of the confusion of having a Virrey in Mexico, the Audencia, or judicial tribunal that would act out the wishes of the Virrey was in the Dominican Republic. 21 Under the V irrey was the Presidential Governor and the Captain General. The Presidential Governor was the individual who presided over the Audiencia. He held all of the same powers as a Virrey but was not a direct representative of the Spanish Monarchy. The President ial Governors were considered protectors of the Indies and were there to maintain the political organization necessary to run the islands, such as overseeing the elections for those who governed the islands. In places were there was no 20 Scarano, 177178. 21 Ibid, 179.
10 Audiencia there wer e Captain Generals. Captain Generals had all the responsibilities that a Presidential Governor had in places where there were Audiencias. He made sure that orders were carried through and was the leader of all symbolic political ceremonies such as passing the keys to the city from one Mayor to another. 22 For the Puerto Rican people the chain of command was very difficult to tolerate. All laws were coming from leaders in the Dominican Republic. This stirred up a lot of controversy because the people in the Dominican Republic could in no way understand what life was like in Puerto Rico, yet there was no democratic process through which they could change law, or reject them to better suit their needs. However, while the Puerto Ricans resented the Audencia it was also they only place they could bring grievances to the Spanish Crown. Moreover, one of the most important tasks leaders of these nations would carry out was overseeing abastos which were a basic rations of food provided to the community. 23 Not all laws and ordinances passed by the Spanish were there to positively effect the people of Puerto Rico. One hundred and fortyeight chapters of ordinances were created at this time t o protect the economic and social interests of the Spanish people. Abastos ar e an example of one of the more positives aspects of Spanish rule. 24 22 Diaz Soler, 185 186. The first thirty one were rules 23 Scarano, 180 24 Del Vas Mingo, Milagros. "Ordenanzas de 1573, sus Antecedentes y Consequencias." Quinto
11 based around the discovery, similar to a manual on the procedures for new lands are that are discovered. They also included justifications for their conque sts such as rules on how to treat the natives in such a way that the Spanish would be able to civilize them. One example was that all Tainos must be converted to Christianity.25 This way the justification of conquest could remain the civilization and Christ ianization of new lands. Chapters thirty two through thirty seven were created to organize the population and assign them to different areas. The final 137 were created to protect Spanish economic interest and keep the peace.26 One example of how the ord enanzas were suited only to meet the needs of the Spanish as well as detrimental to the Puerto Rican people, is an ordinance passed forbidding the harvesting of ginger, a lucrative Puerto Rican crop. The Spanish Government feared that the production of ginger would cut down the islands production of sugar, and therefore forbade cultivation of the crop. Ginger was a crop being grown mainly by the extremely poor citizens of the island, and thus the cutting production led the people into serious economic issues. 27 During the 1600s Puerto Rico knew nothing but abandonment. Between 1651 and 1662 no Spanish ships even came to Puerto Ri co. The Ordinances such as these showed the true disconnect between the needs of the Spanish and the needs of the Puerto Rican people. Centenario 8 (1985): 84. 25 Del Vas Mingo, 86. 26 Ibid., 92. 27 Scarano, 176.
12 nation was forced to find independent means of survival such as illegal trade with Spanish enemies including the French, English, and Portuguese.28 The minimal Spanish focus there remained in the capital and the rest of the island remained nearly la wless. Race relations became much more amicable in Puerto Rico than other parts of the Caribbean with no one to enforce racial dichotomies. The quality of education was abysmal because there was so little enforcement of academic attendance or even the cons truction of schools. In fact, there were only two schools on the entire island.29 It was not until the 1700s that any true changes begun to take place in Puerto Rico. At this time after nearly 150 years of negligence, the Spanish Crown returned its attentions to Puerto Rico as a military resource in its wars with England. At this point in history, after the death of King Carlos the I I in Spain, King Felipe, grandson of King Luis XVI of France became the ruler of Spain. Spain's society and economy were faltering. As ruler, King Luis XVI made many changes to assist the struggling nation. However, even in the midst of these changes, Spai ns focus was kept away from the nation of Puerto Rico until the middle of the 1700s. There was so little focus on the nation that even historical records are scarce because no one recorded what was happening. 30 As part of what is known as the Bourbon Reforms, the Spanish 28 Morales Carrion, 37 38. 29 Ibid., 49, 30 Scarano, 219221.
13 returned their focus to Puerto Rico.31 Pirating based out of Puerto Rico as well as the strengthening of en emy colonies, left Spanish territories and trade routes in danger. The Spanish returned to Puerto Rico to strengthen forts in the capital and crack down on the illicit trade that had been sustaining the Puerto Rican population for so long. By the mideig hteenth century, Puerto Ricos population was booming as more Spanish moved to the island and urbanization began to flourish as well. However, economic reforms meant to cut down on illegal trade were still weak. The Spanish refused to open up more than one port for legal trade and would not allow the Puerto Ricans to trade with the nonHispanic world. Furthermore, while they worked toward restructuring Puerto Rico's agriculture, Spanish policies that demanded the majority of profits go back to the Crown stunted all possible economic growth. Eventually, Spanish leaders were forced to open trade with other countries in order to stabilize what was left of the economy.32 Spanish intervention in the lives of the previously abandoned Puerto Ricans created import ant changes in the minds of the Puerto Rican people. As the Spanish attempted to enforce their monopoly of profits on the farmers and their trade reforms, the Puerto Rican people began to 31 In 1700 King Carlos II of Spain died without an air to the thrown, thus the Spanish Court had to choose a new King. The court along wi th the support of the French government chose Felipe de Anjou, the grandson of King Luis XIV. King Carlos II had left Spain in economic ruins with his subjects disease ridden and starving in the streets. In an attempt to remedy Spain's ailments King Felipe V issued a series of reforms focused on transatlantic commerce in order to earn back the money Spain had lost. Scarano, 219. 32 Morales Carrion, 51 52.
14 wonder who truly had rights to the land. How was it that the Spanish government who had left the Puerto Ricans to survive on their own for so long could return once more and demand obedience? Furthermore, how was it that the Spanish could be allowed to come into the farmland which had sustained the Puerto Rican people for so long and sell these lands to fellow Spaniards who could not even begin to understand the lives Puerto Ricans had been forced to live? As these thoughts floated through the mind of the people an important revolution on a sister island planted the seeds of independent sentiments. The Caribbean revolution that truly sent the word independence echoing through the Spanish Caribbean was the Haitian Revolution that culminated in 1804. The Haitian Revolution told the story of a country breaking the chains of oppression against an empire that ruled the nation without truly knowing what life was like there. The imperial center took their money and enforced unjust social constructions. The Haitian Revolution was a revolution of the proletariat, the working class people with nothing taking action against the country in power on their island, and most importantly winning.33 The Haitian Revolution highlighted what was wrong with Spanish rule in Puerto Rico. It gave Puerto Ricans a sense of patriotism and self reliance. It was proof that independence was an achievable dream. As It sent the message that if the African slaves of Haiti could win against their rulers why couldnt other colonies? 33 Scarano, 286287.
15 thoughts of independence spread, an anger and resentment against Spanis h rule also grew. While Puerto Rican anger grew, a crisis raged within Spain. Spain struggled with economic and social instability and Napoleon Bonaparte fought for world domination. In 1808 Napoleon took over Spain and with it the Spanish Crown. Napol eon forced King Charles IV to abdicate the throne in favor of his son Fernando VII.34 With new rulers came a new mentality that had been inspired by the French Revolution. The French king held a more liberal mentality and for the first time in history the k ing allowed a leader of the Puerto Rican people to go to the Spanish Court and express the grievances and wishes of the Puerto Rican people. In 1810 the Puerto Rican people chose Ramn Power, a man of mixed blood as their first representative.35 Power brought to the Spanish Court a representation of a unity and nationalism which shocked the Spanish people. His words presented the first verbalization of the fact that Spanish negligence had created a Puerto Rican people instead of Spanish subjects. He also br ought the first verbalization of independence sentiments from the people of the town of San German in Puerto Rico. The people of San German spoke of the injustice of being ruled by a nation who knew little of what struggles the Puerto Rican people were fa cing on a daily basis. 36 34 Scarano, 294295. 35 Ibid, 296 297. 36 Scarano, 297.
16 This was the first time in Puerto Rican history that the people of Puerto Rico had taken action to change their conquered status. This monumental moment in Puerto Rican history would become the catalyst for the independence moveme nt. Once Power returned to Puerto Rico the people begun to take action all over the island to ensure their voices were heard. Unfortunately, the tribunal who had listened to Power's grievances broke apart, meaning no changes occurred until two years late r in 1812 when Powers Law was promulgated on the island.37 Powers law granted many of the wishes the Puerto Rican people had expressed two years prior. It opened five new ports in Puerto Rico which allowed greater opportunity for economic growth. It also put the power in the hands of the people on the island instead of the Spanish government. Power's Law in conjunction with the new Spanish Constitution of 1812 gave the island of Puerto Rico provincial status, offering the first major push towards Puerto Rican sovereignty.38 This recognition did not mean the Spanish would make the road towards independence easy for the Puerto Rican people. Only two years after Puerto Rico gained its provincial status, Fernando VII reclaimed the throne and nullified Puerto Ricos new status. All over Latin America, nations were fighting and winning independence struggles against Spain. As ideas and independence propaganda slowly poured through Puerto Rican 37 Ibid., 303. 38 I bid., 303.
17 borders it was made illegal to bring propaganda espousing independence into the country or to own it. The Spanish also heightened their military presence in Puerto Rico to stamp out rising rebellious sentiments in its highly strategic colony.39 Nevertheless, in order to bolster loyalty in the midst of all these newly enf orced restraints, King Fernando VII passed what would later be known as the Cedula de Gracias in 1815. 40 This decree granted many of the wishes Power asked of the Spanish Courts in 1810. The King opened commerce to all Spanish allies and encouraged populati on growth by allowing free immigration to Puerto Rico from all Roman Catholic nations who were friendly with Spain. So long as the immigrants were white and pledged their allegiance to Spain they were given an average of six acres of Puerto Rican land for each family member and three acres for every slave. Freed people of color were also allowed to immigrate to the island but were given less land than white immigrants.41 39 Scarano, 304. After five years immigrants were granted permission to start businesses and become Span ish citizens. From the Cedula de Gracias the economy grew as well as the population; however, quality of life in many ways only improved for the rich. Because of free commerce, the island had more luxuries and political ideals moving across the upper class. For the poor life remained the same. Soon, however, advanced sugar technologies were brought to Puerto Rico by those fleeing 40 Ibid., 305. 41 Morales Carrion, 100.
18 the unrest in Haiti, truly changing the lives of rich and poor alike. As time passed the Cedula de Gracias was not enough to m ollify the people. When Puerto Ricos provincial status was revoked, the Governors of the island had been given nearly unlimited power and this was not tolerated by the Puerto Rican people for long. By 1820 separatist movements were once again on the rise, and a movement to bring back the Spanish constitution echoed all over Hispanic America. The liberal activists in Spain stationed near Cadiz staged a revolt and the Spanish Crown quickly folded. Puerto Rico was given back its civil rights, its provincial s tatus and its right to court representation. This change in the Spanish monarchy marked the beginning of tangible signs of being able to achieve independence. While these laws were being passed in Spain, Simn Bolvar was achieving great success in the in dependence movement of Venezuela. However, Bolvars dream was not meant only for South America. Bolvar and his followers believed in independence for the Greater Antilles as well and formed movements to mobilize the people in an uprising against Spain.42 42 Scarano, 307. While Bolivar continued his fight in South America, all around Puerto Rico, pirates and followers of Bolvar attacked Spanish ships. The most famous was Roberto Cofres who was said to give to the poor and take from the rich. Actions against the Crown gave the Spanish Caribbean the encouragement, the inspiration and the hope they needed to take actions of
19 their own.43 One of the first dramatic and influential movements was the movement against slavery in Puerto Rico. With all the political activities agai nst Spain internationally the people were finally inspired to take a stand, and the abolition of the slave trade became one of their first inspirations. The movement involved not only slaves and the poor but also the middle class. Slaves often took arms against their oppressors. Other attempts at rebellion included cimmaronaje, similar to the 1500s, where slaves would run away from their masters in search of freedom. The major difference was that now that time had passed and Puerto Rico had developed slave s could now escape by sea, in hopes of reaching Hispaola, where they could be free. Earlier escapes had meant running into the forest. 44 From suc h inspirations rose leadership for the movement. The most prominent of these leaders was Ramn Emetrio Betances, a Puerto Rican doctor educated in France. Betances' work with slaves during the 1850 cholera epidemic led not only to his personal awareness of the plight of slaves in Puerto Rico in the mid 1800s but also to a movement to spread While slaves rebelled in support of abolition, the middle class looked to politics. Those who wanted the abolition of slavery were aware that this could not be achieved without a change in the political regime, and from this mindset separatist and abolitionists joined together. Through independence, it was felt that a more just and equal society could be formed 43 Scarano., 308. 44 Ibid, 334.
20 awareness about abolition throughout Puerto Rico and to cut ties with the Spanish oppressors. He and his comrade Ruiz Belvis Basora formed the first organization of abol itionists and separatists in Mayaguez in 1850. 45 The Spanish immediately took action against the movement. They set up spies in Mayaguez to watch the separatist leaders. Both Betances and Ruiz Belvis, were exiled. Betances moved to the Dominican Republic and Ruiz Belvis went to New York but nothing left the men disheartened. While away, both men found inspiration and ideas to move the fight forward. The most important contact was Belvis contact with Cuba Independistas in New York, where Belvis went durin g his time in exile. His alliances with these men led to a Puerto Rican Cuban alliance for independence which strengthened both movements intensely. 46 By May 1, 1860 a decree was passed to pardon Puerto Rican political prisoners and exiles. This allowed B etances and Ruiz Belvis to return to the island. Four years later the two men watched the Dominican Republic battle with Spain for sovereignty. Betances and Belvis wrote a famous separatist proclamation which discussed Spains persecution of those who spoke up against their rule in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. The now famous Diez Mandamientos del Hombre Libre accused Spain of attempting to turn Puerto Ricans against those living in the Dominican Republic and stated that the colonist were uniting and crying out against the government with a common goal of achieving 45 Scarano, 336. 46 Ibid., 338.
21 liberty and independence.47 Unfortunately, the proclamation led Betances to be exiled a second time after he met with the Spanish to discuss the matter. Ruiz Belvis was also fir ed from his job as a newspaper writer for his pro independence writings. These sanctions did not stop the effects of the proclamation. The colonists took action seeking liberal reform. They created the leyes especiales in a convention that consisted of t wenty two leaders from the Antilles and twenty two Spanish officials. These laws were designed to better immigration policies, better commerce, and improve customs. This gathering of Antilleans and Spaniards brought hope to the Puerto Rican people, which c reated a new wave of support for the government and held off revolutionary activity for a short while. 48 However, holding off revolutionary activity did not mean the complete stop of revolutionary work. Betances and Ruiz Belvis were traveling to New York a nd around the Caribbean in search of ideas and support for their cause. By 1867, they had formed the Revolutionary Committee of Puerto Rico. 49 This was a committee of some of the most influential Puerto Ricans of the time: Ramn Baldority de Castro, Julian Blanco Sosa, Mariano Ruiz, and a choice few others.50 47 See Appendix A, Los Mandamientos del Hombre Libre Shortly after the formation of the group, though, Ruiz Belvis was found dead in his hotel room. To this day the causes are unknown, but assassination is the most 48 Diaz Soler, 437. 49 Scarano, 349. 50 Ibid., 349.
22 likely cause.51 The idea of a free Puerto Rico hit its mark in the town of Lares, where for twenty years the farmers had suffered great economic loss at the hands of the Spanish. Their sugar cane farms were losing money. The revolution persisted despite hardships. Underground meetings and independence propaganda continued to spread all over the island. 52 Vendors from Spain had taken over commerce which left the Puerto Rican people without opportunities for economic growth.53 In 1868 the people of Lares formed a rebellion against the Spanish. The Gr ito de Lares was a gathering of about six hundred men led by Manuel Rojas and Juan de Mata Torreforte. Furthermore, severe punishment for minor infractions was common and kept t he people of Lares the constant victims of injustice. The people grew tired of being robbed of opportunities to prosper and soon the yeoman class farmers became independendistas. 54 51 Ibid., 349. The men, organized by the Revolutionary Committee of Puerto Rico, gathered in the middle of the night. Poorly armed but ready to fight, they took over t he Mayors office and removed all symbols of the Spanish government, replacing them with symbols of Puerto Rico including what would later become the revolutionary flag. They, however, were no match for the Spanish; their 52 Ibid., 352. 53 Ibid., 354. 54 Scarano, 354.
23 leader was captured and tortured w ithin the day.55 As the Grito de Lares shook the political relations between Spain and Puerto Rico, so did the Grito de Yara a similar movement against the Spanish government which occurred in Cuba three weeks after the Grito de Lares on Oc tober 10,1868. While the uprising was small, and defeated within one day, the number of people involved in the uprising came as a surprise to the Spanish. The movement left an important message about how serious the people of Puerto Rico were about gaining their right to independence. 56 This rebellion sent the Spanish government even more into arms than the Grito de Lares Cuba held far more economic worth to Spain than Puerto Rico, because of its lucrative sugar cane production and its busy trade ports. This rebellion began the Ten Year War in Cuba which was only the beginning of a rebellion that would span the next thirty years, gain international recognition, and eventually bring the Spanish colonial government to its demise.57 While for some the Grito de Lares is interpreted as an embarrassment and a failure caused by disorganization and a lack of Puerto Rican leaders, others see it as a success because of the strength shown by the men and the message the movement sent. It is said that Lares truly The Grito de Yara also signified solidarity between Puerto Rico and Cuba. It demonstrated how serious these colonies were about gaining their independence from Spain. 55 Ibid., 355. 56 Ibid., 356. 57 Ibid., 356.
24 showed the unity of the Greater Antilles in their fight against Spain.58 By 1870, two years after the Grito de Lares political debates had led to the formation of the first two political parties in Puerto Rico. Even though the leaders of the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee were not in Puerto Rico, communication was such that they were able to organize a movement and have it come to action. While the loss did in some ways cut down morale, in other ways it inspired the people to keep trying for ge nerations to come. 59 The formation of political parties led to heavy political debates and stress for Spain. In Puerto Rico, more indiv iduals started leaning leftwards hoping to gain more freedoms from Spain, while still not severing ties completely. Spain, on the other hand, hoping to fight against those looking for independence, manipulated the voting system by passing laws in 1880 that would not allow Puerto Ricans the one manone vote law the Spanish enjoyed. Instead, Puerto Rican men were only allowed to vote at the age of The first, created by the left, was the Liberal Reformist party founded by Geronimo Goyco, Jos Celis Aguilera, Julian Blanco Sosa, Jos Julian Acosta, and several more individuals. The party was initially torn between those interested in becoming part of Spain and those looking for independence. Their opposition was the liberal conservative party f ounded by Pablo Ubarri. This group believed in supporting Spain and later changed the name of the party to the Unconditional Spanish Party. 58 Scarano, 356. 59 See Appendix B, Timeline of Political Parties.
25 twenty five, a rule which effectively cut the number of those who had a say in government issues.60 Spanish effor ts to stop political rebellion were in many ways fruitless; laws such as the voting law did not slow down the changing politics of Puerto Rico. The autonomist movement moved on. By 1887, Ramon Baldority de Castro along with a strong following in Ponce and guidance from Cuban leaders of the already well formed Cuban Autonomist party, formed the Puerto Rican Autonomist Party. 61 Spanish forces, unhappy with the new party, viciously attacked the leaders of the movement. In the compontes as the attacks were cal led, Spanish leaders in Puerto Rico would torture autonomist leaders and incarcerate them as well as send a campaign of boycotters to stop autonomist efforts. The effects of this movement were so sudden and severe that the party almost immediately disinteg rated.62 Not only were politics of the island in dire straits, but so were economics and social issues. The Puerto Rican economy, which was weak to begin with, was run primarily on income from sugar cane. However, after the abolition of slavery, which occurred in 1873 as part of the Glorious Revolution 63 60 Scarano, 360. the lack of technology and resources to keep up with sugar 61 Ibid., 368. 62 Ibid., 420. 63 The Glorious Revolution occurred between 1868 and 1873 in Spain. In this period of time King Amadeo I promoted a series of reforms which stopped the reign of Captain Generals, gave the people of Puerto Rico constitutional liberties such as freedom of religion and abolished slaver y on the island. Scarano., 365.
26 cane production in the rest of the world left Puerto Rico nearly penniless. The economy shifted from one run on the profits of sugar cane, to one which was becoming rather famous for coffee production.64 Nevertheless, coffee was not enough to keep the colony afloat. On top of the faltering economy, the people struggled with an unusual number of hurricanes hitting the island and, consequently, extreme destruction of property and crops, as well as an outbreak of epidemics from the destruction, poverty, and lack of sanitation.65 The island was a place of poverty and suffering. There was no freedom, no joy, and no help for the lower classes who made up t he majority of the island. By 1895, strikes broke out all over the island. 66 The people were inspired by the words of Marx, whose ideas were taking the world by storm. They dreamed of socialism and leading their own nation, and were finally ready to take ar ms against Spain in any way possible.67 Tired of Spains injustice and instability, the Puerto Rican Autonomist party reformed itself in 1895. 68 64 Ibid., 376. By 1896 Autonomist leaders formed the Autonomist commission, which was sent to Spain in order to form an allianc e with Spanish political parties interested in autonomy for the Greater Antilles. While in Spain, Autonomist leaders were able to form an alliance with leader of the Liberal Fusionist party of Spain Praxedes 65 Ibid., 376. 66 Ibid.,422. 67 Scarano, 422. 68 Ibid., 423.
27 Sagasta, who promised he would grant Puerto Rico autonomy if and when he came to power.69 As Puerto Ricans fought for sovereignty and political say through diplomacy, their fellow brethren in Cuba were fighting for independence and receiving international recognition for their much more violent strug gle which had continued on since the Grito de Yara. Cuban Independistas were caught in a bloody struggle searching for their sovereignty against Spain. Cuba revolutionaries were being put in containment camps where they were starved and savagely beaten. 70 C uban poet and freedom fighter Jose Marti was receiving international recognition and acclaim for work and writing against Spanish injustice.71 At the same time as Spain and the Cuba were in a tug of war, the United States was quickly gaining status as a world power after their acquisition of the western part of the U.S., which had for mally been a part of Mexico. Now that the United States had stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans they were looking for domination of trade routes. They set a plan in action to build a canal through Panama, which would have given them a connect ion between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean as well as solidified their stance as an international political power. However, in order Meanwhile, Spain, in the midst of it own political instability and having already lost the Dominican Republic, was doing all they could to hold on to its remaining colonies. 69 Ibid., 423. 70 Ibid., 424. 71 Ibid., 425.
28 to bring this plan to fruition, action had to be taken against Spain to win their trading routes in the Greater Antilles. C uba was needed for its proximity to Florida and its position right over Central America, and Puerto Rico was needed, because of its military importance to Spain and its strategic importance within the Caribbean.72 A plan was put in action to take arms agai nst Spain. As Puerto Ricans were marching in the streets for their rights and traveling to Spain in search of support for their autonomy, the United States warned the Spanish government that if brutality against Cuban revolutionaries did not cease there w ould be dire consequences. By January, U.S. ships had docked in Havana harbor, and remained there despite Spanish protest. Then on February 15, 1898 the U.S. ship The Maine exploded in Havana harbor giving the United States the excuse they needed to go to war. Though it was found later that coal combusted because of tropical heat, at the time, the explosion of the Maine was seen as an attack against the United States government by Spain. 73 As the United States plans were solidifying so were Puerto Rico's plans for independence. While Puerto Ricans did not have the vigor that Cuba did because of the lack of support for violent revolution for the purpose achieving sovereignty, their plans were in many ways becoming equally as successful as Cubas. Groups in support of Puerto Rico, such as 72 Offner, John "Why did the U.S. Fight Spain?." OAH Magazine of History 12. (1998): 20. 73 Offner, 21.
29 the Revolutionary Party in New York, were spreading international awareness of the Puerto Rican struggle. Furthermore, Spain, inspired by their fear of U.S. intervention and their own political instabilities, agreed to refor ms for Puerto Rico. By 1897 Spain had agreed to the Carta Autonomica for Puerto Rico which was to provide a Puerto Rican cabinet in the Spanish court as well as an autonomous legislature on the island. It would also provide universal sufferage for men over the age of twentyfive, meaning that it was possible for the autonomists to win the insular vote and control island politics.74 Spains new laws split Puerto Ricos political minds in two directions. Leaders of the new Orthodox Autonomist Party, Jos Celso Barbosa and Manuel Fernandez Juncos, felt Spains offers were not good enough. Meanwhile, Luis Muoz Rivera, leader of the Liberal Fusionist party, felt it was essential to take the laws and support Spain as part of a process towards getting what the nation truly needed. By the beginning 1898, Puerto Rico was preparing for its first elections of a provisional cabinet in the Spanish court. 75 All the while, after the explosion of the Maine, the U.S. immediately went to Congress seeking permission to go to war. Permission was granted April 19, 1898 and by April 22, U.S. troops were beginning a Cuban blockade. By April 29, a blockade had been set up in Puerto Rico as well. Between May and June the United States had already won over Guam and 74 Scarano., 435. 75 Scarano, 435.
30 the Philippines but they still knew Puerto Rico was the key to the war. Though Spain resisted for as much as possible, they were outmatched by American troops. By July 1, 1898 the U.S. had taken over San Juan Hill in Cuba and quickly spread through the rest of the isl and. This essentially meant that the war had ended. By the seventeenth of July, Cuba surrendered, and the next day Spain called an end to the war. On December tenth, the Treaty of Paris was signed and Guam, The Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico all becam e U.S. territories.76 The U.S. takeover was the end of the first independence movement for Puerto Rico. The island went from a Spanish province with a new constitution and a cabinet in the Spanish court to an undefined possession of the United States. The Carta Autonomica had given Puerto Rico its own government and in the first months of 1898 the people of Puerto Rico were preparing themselves for the first elections of their newly autonomous legislature. However, Puerto Rican distrust of the Spanish was strong and the Carta Autonomica would still allow Spain the final word over trade practices and diplomatic matters. Furthermore, the governor of the island would still be a representative of the Spanish Crown. 77 The distrust for Spain and the new Carta Aut onomica inspired many Puerto Ricans to support the United State's entry into the island. Many felt the United States democratic policies were much more conducive 76 Library of Congress "Chronology-Puerto Rico.". http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic (accessed April 19,2010.) 77 Scarano, 435.
31 to achieving independence.78 Nevertheless, though the Puerto Rican people had hoped that being under United States rule would bring democracy and freedom, their dreams were quickly dashed as it became clear spreading democracy was not the United State's intention. It was this realization, however, that replanted the seeds of rebellion in the minds of the Puerto Rican people and drove them towards a resurgence of independence sentiments and the beginning of a new Puerto Rican independence movement. 78 Ibid., 436.
32 Chapter 2 Revolution in Action A study of independence is nothing without an examination of the inner working of the movements which inspired and guided Puerto Rico in its struggle for liberty. This chapter, will delve into the backgrounds and inspirations of Puerto Rico's most influential leaders in the fight for independence, as well as the movements they inspired and participated in and how those have shaped Puerto Rican history up until modern day. The first most influential, though unsuccessful, movement in the history of the Puerto Rican independence struggle was the Grito De Lares a violent rebellion of six hundred men from the countryside of Puerto Rico against the Spanish government. The Grito de Lares showed the Spanish Crown the importance independence held in the minds of the Puerto Rican people and sent a message to Spain that abuses wo uld not be tolerated for much longer. The Grito de Lares was inspired by an abolitionist and revolutionary from Cabo Rojo named Ramon Emetrio Betances. Betances was a doctor, who received his training in medicine in Paris. While attending university in Paris, Betances was greatly inspired by the values of the French revolution.79 79 Scarano, 336.
33 Upon return to Puerto Rico in 1856, Betances began work in Mayaguez where he opened a clinic for the victims of a cholera epidemic. His patients were mainly farm workers and slaves suffering from the disease. The living conditions of the slaves and farm workers Betances worked with daily inspired him into action.80 At the same time that Betances founded his clinic, he became involved in the underground movement against slavery. During his political work he met a young lawyer named Juan Ruiz Belvis. Together the men worked tirelessly in the underground movement against the oppression of the Spanish Crown. Their most well known work was The Ten Commandments of t he Free Man. In this publication the men highlighted the Puerto Rican people's rights to the abolition of slavery, voting on taxes, freedom of religion and speech, freedom of press and trade, freedom of assembly, the right to bear arms, nonviolence, and the right to elect leaders. They suffered poverty, illness, and starvation, while the Spanish took the profits and lived comfortably in the capital. The lack of justice and equality that Puerto Ricans endured daily only highlighted to Betances the need for abolition and independence in Puerto Rico. 81 80 .Diaz Soler, 453. Betances' stance against the Crown and his strong following left the Spanish fearful of revolt. He was called to the capital in 1864 to answer for the underground publications he and Belvis had published together. 81 Ayala, Cesar J., and Rafael Bernabe. "1898 Background and Immediate Consequences." Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898 Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009. 21.
34 However, when interrogated about his sentiments towards the Spanish Crown, Betances did not deny his words nor show shame for his actions.82 His lack of remorse alarmed the Governor and he and Ruiz Belvis were exiled immediately. Betances moved to the Dominican Republic and Ruiz Belvis moved to New York. In their travels the men gained the support of the Cuban and Dominican people, who were also fighting against the Spanish Crown. They also drew inspiration, as well as support from American political leaders. It is durin g their travels that the men began to plan the Grito de Lares and form the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee.83 The Grito de Lares was the product of twelve years of planning. As the independence movement grew stronger and stronger, Betances and his fol lowers spread underground publications about Puerto Rico's need for sovereignty. The men traveled around the Caribbean, the United States and even parts of South America gathering funding and support for the cause of Puerto Rican independence. The men were ready to take action. 84 In September 1867, the people of Lares responded to the revolutionary efforts of Betances and the Puerto Rican revolutionary committee. They had grown tired of the abuses they suffered under the Spanish Crown. They lived in povert y and their people were often incarcerated if they did not pay their taxes to Spain, taxes which took more 82 Diaz Soler, 460. 83 Scarano, 349. 84 Ibid., 451.
35 than half the profits from their subsistence farming. The people's frustration paired with inspiration and correspondence from Betances led to an upr ising of six hundred men lead by Manuel Rojas and Juan Mata Torreforte. The men stormed the town by night. They took over the Mayor's office and took down the Spanish flag, raising instead the new Puerto Rican flag of independence. The flag signified the e conomic and social injustices suffered by the people as well as the purity of their principles and of those who died fighting for the free of their country.85 They proclaimed Liberty or death, long live free Puerto Rico!86 While in control at the Mayor's office, the group created a provisional government as well as a declaration which stated that the movement in Lares was a patriotic stance taken by men willing to die for their nation, that it was the duty of Puerto Ricans to fight for independence, that all foreigners voluntarily taking arms against Spain were patriots, that all slaves who take arms for the cause would be declared free, and that they would be given the right to freedom of press. The men then held Mass and arrested the officials of the tow n, holding them in a provisional prison created in the house of Toms Hernandez. 87 The patriots were farm workers, property owners, slaves, and free 85 The flag of Lares, wh ich would later be known as the revolutionary flag of Puerto Rico, was inspired by the Dominican Flag and thus was separated into four quadrants by a white cross. The top quadrants were blue and the bottom quadrants were red. On the top right hand corner was a five pointed star. It was a symbol of the suffering and solidarity of the people of the Spanish Caribbean. Red stand for blood shed, blue for the sky and the star is a representation of liberty Diaz Soler, 556. 86 Scarano, 354. 87 Diaz Soler, 574.
36 men, men of diverse economic positions. They were not, however, soldiers or even well trained in battle. Furthermore, the Spanish Crown had barred Betances, the leader of the operation and their main sources for weapons, from leaving the Dominican Republic as planned so they lacked official leadership. Poorly armed and organized, they were quickly defeated by the Spanish troops. 88 With very little bloodshed the Spanish troops were able to overwhelm the patriots. They stormed the city and arrested the majority of those involved. The revolutionaries attempted to reorganize and gather weapons but the Spanish wer e too swift and numerous and within hours the fight had ended. Those who escaped, hid in the mountains where they waited for another uprising to occur, but no other action was taken and hope was lost quickly. 89 The Grito de Lares in Puerto Rico was swiftly followed by the Grito de Yara in Cuba on October, 10, 1968. 90 88 Scarano, 355. This similar movement with the same goals marked the beginning of the Ten Years War between Cuba and Spain. This war touched the hearts and minds of the international community. All over the world people listened to Cuban leaders such as Jose Mart who spoke out against Spanish torture of Cuban political prisoners. The plight of the Cuban freedom fighters swept the United States media. The U.S. government called for action against Spain. 89 Diaz Soler, 574. 90 Scarano, 356.
37 Howev er, it was not only the human rights of the Cuban people that inspired and motivated the United States government. Economic interests created strong incentives to take action against Spain and push them out of their last territories. If the United States w as able to take Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, they would have control over the most powerful and lucrative trade routes in the world as well as the ability to watch the French and British and strategize over the creation of the Panama canal which would simplify trade between the Atlantic and Pacific ocean exponentially.91 In Puerto Rico, the Grito de Lares was followed by a more peaceful and diplomatic method of obtaining independence. Two political parties formed to fight for autonomy and i n some cases worked with international political leaders in places such as New York City to achieve sovereignty. By 1897 Spain had agreed to a constitution for the island. In 1898 Puerto Rico was scheduled to hold its first elections for its provisional ca binet in the Spanish court. Little did they know the United States was planning to take over their struggling nation. With the method of diplomacy instead of violent revolution, the U.S. entrance into Puerto Rico was achieved smoothly and with very little resistance. For the United States, Puerto Rico was the key to Spanish defeat. It was Spain's military bastion and had key positioning to keep an eye on all the other European territories surrounding it. Acquisition of Puerto Rico 91 Scarano, 432.
38 was not difficult. First, the U.S. naval technologies were far superior to Spanish technologies, and, second, there was a large group of American supporters on the island. Many Puerto Rican political leaders believed that the United States would bring them democracy and freedom f rom oppression and welcomed their presence on the island. In the country it was believed that the Americans would allow everyone to own their own land. Small Puerto Rican militias worked with the United States towards Spanish defeat. After centuries of Spanish abuse it was difficult to rally significant support for Spain's cause.92 Puerto Rico was taken in 19 days. However, democracy was not what was in store for the Puerto Rican people. Ayala and Bernabe examine discussions had by U.S. presidents Roosevelt and McKinley where the men highlight their intention to keep Puerto Rico for the United States. 93 They quote Roosevelt in his letter to Henry Cabot I earnestly hope that no truce will be granted and that peace will only be made on consideration of Cuba be ing independent, Porto Rico ours, and the Philippines taken away from Spain.94 U.S. strategy was not to create an empire, but rather to collect strategic trade posts around the world to keep themselves on top.95 For Puerto Rico this meant they would lose all the work that they put in over one hundred of years towards their fight for independence. While Puerto Ricans had been so supportive of U.S. entrance into the 92 Ayala, Cesar J., and Rafael Bernabe, 15. 93 Ibid., 14. 94 Ibid., 14 95 Ibid.,15.
39 country because they had believed that the United States would bring them democracy, the Unit ed States had no intention of giving them democracy. To the United States Puerto Rico was nothing more than a strategic trophy. Puerto Rico's independence movement would have to be rebuilt from the ground up once Puerto Ricans realized the reality of the situation. Once the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10,1898, the Americanization of the island began. The United States separated church and state and built more schools and better health care. They also changed the official language of the island to English and shifted economic focus from coffee to sugar cane by taking funding away from coffee production on the island and putting it into the production of more sugar cane.96 Before the U.S. invasion, the Puerto Rican coffee market was growing rapidly and the coffee of Puerto Rico was known as one of the best coffees in the world. Their sugar cane, however, was weak at best compared to the cane coming from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Neve rtheless, the United States changed Puerto Rican economic focus from coffee to sugar cane. Coffee was not yet a regular part of the United States lifestyle and therefore was not of use to Americans. Trade in the commodity was undervalued and ignored, leavi ng coffee farmers without their secure trade markets in Cuba and Spain and competing with Brazilian coffee. This change essentially left the nation in economic ruin. The market quickly fell to pieces and plantations suffered. 96 Ayala Cesar J., Rafael Bernabe,18.
40 Furthermore, similar to Spanish practice, the United States monopolized the sugar cane industry. They created large sugar cane companies that monopolized the best crop lands. American companies profited from Puerto Rican land and then took those profits back with them to the States leaving nothing for the Puerto Rican people just as Spain had done.97 However, the most prominent question on the minds of the U.S. government was what to do with Puerto Rico on the matter of sovereignty? Would the island nation become a state or a territory? What rights would they have? Who would run the nation? The United States had many concerns. Some were preoccupied with the idea of racial mixing. Others were greatly concerned with the idea of a nation which knew nothing of American history potentially being able to have a voice in U.S. political matters. On the other hand, giving Puerto Rico no rights would not line up with the policies of republicanism the United States had previously espoused because of their strong beliefs against imperialism. 98 These questions were answered in the form of the Foraker Act on April 2,1900. The goals of the Act were to regulate political and economic relations between the US and Puerto Rico, as well as to organize a civil government. Puerto Ricans became Puerto Rican citizens under U.S. protection, and the island was added t o U.S. trade routes. The Puerto Rican 97 Ayala Cesar J., Rafael Bernabe., 18. 98 After the America n Revolution the United States took a strong stance against imperialistic policies. They believed that nations should not simply hold newly earned territories as trophies with out giving them a political voice. Ayala, Cesar J., and Rafael Bernabe, 24.
41 Congress was composed of only continental Americans and the executive administration was composed of five Puerto Ricans and six Americans. The political situation in Puerto Rico became worse than it had been during la st stages of Spanish rule. Now Puerto Ricans were not citizens of a sovereign nation and had no control over any facet of their country's government.99 As the United States began to mold the nation of Puerto Rico, two political parties formed to represent the wants and needs of the nation. These parties were the Republicanos and the Federales. The Republicanos were headed by Jose Barbosa and the Federales by Luis Muoz Rivera. The Federales consisted mainly of farmers while the Republicanos consisted mainly of artisans and professionals; however, both parties shared the same goal, to secede from the United States. The parties had evolved from the earlier Autonomist party of pre invasion Puerto Rico, who had fought for Puerto Rican separation from the Span ish government. The parties split ways when the leader of the Federales began making pacts with Praxedes Sagasta, a politician the Spanish opposition to their political leader of the time Antonio Cnovas.100 99 Scarano, 454. The Federales felt that making connections with mo re metropolitan powers would give Puerto Rico the support they would need in their transition to an independent nation. 100 Praxedes Sagasta was the prime minister of Spain in 1898. He begun as a Spanish politician in 1868 and was in constant conflict for the position of Prime Minister of Spain with Antonio Cnovas, who was prime minister during the 1880s and 90s Scarano, 429.
42 The more liberal Republicanos run by Barbosa disagreed with the alliance and formed their own party.101 Under the Foraker Act, the American Charles H Allen, appointed by President McKinley, was inaugurated as the first civil governor of Puerto Rico. He, in turn, appointed four Puerto Ricans as members of council. This was the first step for Puerto Ricans towards political say in their government since the invasion, even though the members were appointed instead of elected. These Puerto Ricans included Jos Barbosa and Matienz Cintrn for the Republicanos and Jos de Diego and Manuel Camuas for the Federales. Although the parties worked together, ther e were many tensions in their opinions on the future of the nation. They believed that reliance on the Spanish, in anyway, would backfire. They felt that the only way to truly achieve their goals was through a self reliance they would be unable to achieve through any negotiations with Spanish politicians. 102 After U.S. invasion the Republicanos felt that the United States occupation of the island would serve as a mentorship which would teach them about the options that democracy held for the people of Puerto Rico. The Federales, on the other hand, felt that U.S. occupation was leaving them with fewer rights than those they had fought to gain from the Spanish, and that the situation was not destined to get better. Therefore, they believed tha t the removal of the United States was the only way to truly 101 Ayala, Cesar J, and Rafael Bernabe, 23. 102 Morales Carrion, 159.
43 achieve independence.103 After witnessing the political process in action in 1900, the Federalista's members of council removed themselves. They believed that the government was guilty of redistri cting in order to get the results they wanted from the elections. The differences between the parties were magnified by the Federalists protests of the governmental practices. Turbas gangs who worked for the Republicanos began taking violent action again st the Federales. Most memorably, the group burnt down the printing press where Muoz Rivera published his federalist periodical El Diario. The Federales responded against the Republicans by sending Muoz Rivera to the United States in 1902 in search of democratic support for Puerto Rico. They also removed themselves from the elections. Their boycott of the election allowed the Republicanos to win completely unopposed; however, the poor economic policies of the Republicanos led activism from the opposition to re emerge. 104 While the two parties warred, a third group of political activists believed that a union of both sides was the only way to truly achieve what was best for Puerto Rico's future. The United States clearly prioritized the economic interes ts of other nations over the interest of Puerto Ricans themselves. Therefore, in order to fully remove the United States and gain the long awaited sovereignty political activists hoped to achieve, the two parties would need to set aside differences and un ify the island by creating 103 Scarano, 504. 104 Ibid., 507.
44 an entirely new political party where all Puerto Ricans stood together with the primary overarching goal of the sovereignty of their nation. The leader of the unionist movement, was Rosendo Matienzo Cintrn, former representati ve of the Republicanos and a lawyer from Luquillo. As the party grew stronger, people from both the Federalistas and Republicanos joined the cause as did members of the workers organization the FLT, a group organized to fight for the rights of Puerto Rican Workers. However, many more Federalistas joined being that the Republicanos currently held spots in government and were actively being heard in government. By 1904, the Federalist party dissolved itself in order to join completely with the Unionistas .105 T he Unionistas' principle stance was that the United States should not be left to govern the people of Puerto Rico without the consent of the governed, and that the United States should allow Puerto Rico self government and autonomy under the protection of the United States. They won their first election in 1904 and continued to win elections until 1928. The time spent in office was used to fight the colonial regime in Puerto Rico that had been created by the Foraker Act. Time and time again the Unionista p arty gathered and protested the lack of Puerto Rican influence in government, but each time their voices were not heard and their ideas were rejected. Officials felt that Puerto Ricans were simply incapable of governing themselves. President Roosevelt even stated There is something 105 Scarano, 508.
45 pathetic and childlike about the people...We are giving them a good government and the island is prospering. I never saw a finer set of young fellows than those engaged in administration. The common sentiment among US officials was that it would be irresponsible to give Puerto Ricans anymore rights than the ones they already had.106 The rejection of the Unionists party's pleas for reform of the Foraker Act resulted in the Unionist party taking a strong stance against Puerto Rican s becoming U.S. citizens. When President Roosevelt first presented this idea to the Puerto Rican people in 1905, Cintrn responded on the topic of citizenship saying es decir al mundo que la cuidadania Americana y la servidumbre son compatibles which tra nslates to, it is telling the world that American citizenship and servitude are compatible. 107 He believed that without significant political influence in their own nation Puerto Ricans were slaves to American rules and a citizenship that did not remedy thi s issue was not a citizenship worth having, The speech ends with Cintrn exclaiming Puerto Rico preprate seriamente para conquistar tu libertad con las armas en la mano! Puerto Rico prepare yourselves seriously to gain your liberty with weapons in your hands!108 The Unionistas strong reaction to the United States consistently turning a deaf ear to their grievances led to the creation of the Olmstead Act of 1910, an addition to the Foraker Act, which restricted voting to only 106 Morales Carrion, 194. 107 Scarano, 509. Translated by author. 108 Ibid., 510. Translated by author.
46 those who were literate and able to pay taxes. These criteria significantly lowered the number of eligible voters on the Unionistas roles. The Olmstead Act also worsened the sugar situation for the people of Puerto Rico by eliminating restrictions which had previously limited the ac reage a landowner had to 500 acres. With fewer restrictions, American companies could take over even more Puerto Rican land for profit. This reaction to the Unionistas protest only further aggravated the party. However, George R Colton, a member of the U.S. Senate who had strong economic interest in Puerto Rico began negotiations with the Unionista party with hopes of mollifying the angry political party. By 1911, the Unionists and U.S. government had begun more diplomatic communication. Henry L Stimson th e Secretary of War at the time, begun communications with the Unionists and the U.S. government about the need for Puerto Ricans to become citizens of the United States. Stimson proposed a Canada like autonomy, where the U.S. would still have military righ ts to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico would remain under U.S. guidance and protect but, for all other purposes Puerto Rico would be its own sovereign nation. Before this idea could come to fruition, though, President Taft left office, taking Stimson with him.109 Woodrow Wilson's presidency did not mean the death of the idea that Puerto Ricans should become citizens of the United States. The U.S. government wrestled with the idea until 1917. The Unionistas continually 109 Morales Carrion, 170.
47 argued that citizenship without self governance was useless. The Unionistas held steadfastly to their beliefs about their rights to sovereignty; however, the U.S. government feared the consequences of allowing Puerto Ricans their wishes.110 In Puerto Rico the Unionista party faced great difficulty as the debate continued on. While Muoz Rivera held fast to the idea of a transitory period of some sort of U.S. protection, others in his party under the leadership of Jose De Diego became more strongly interested in complete independence with no U.S. invol vement.111 The Jones Act, was passed officially in 1917, making Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens. Some argue that the main motivation for passing this bill was that with their new citizenship Puerto Rican men would be forced to enroll in the draft and fight in the war. This divide in beliefs ended in a division of the party. 112 Puerto Rico also be came a non incorporated territory with a Bill of Rights and established elections every four years. However, self governance was not something the Puerto Ricans were going to be allowed. Puerto Ricans were given a larger legislative branch, but the majority of government was still in the hands of the U.S. President. Had it not been for the First World War, which made defense the United State's number one With Puerto Ricans on the front lines fewer American boys would have to be on the front lines taking the brunt of enemy fire. Puerto Ricans were the new canon fodder. 110 Morales Carrion, 192. 111 Ibid., 192. 112 Scarano, 519.
48 priority, it is possible the Jones Act would not have been passed for another few years. The period af ter the passage of the Jones Act was a time of political turbulence for Puerto Rico. The nation mourned the death of Muoz Rivera, who had died on November 16, 1916 just before the passage of the bill. Antonio Barcel took his place as the leader of the Un ionista party. Puerto Rico also suffered through its history's worst governor, Montgomery Reily, a Republican from Kansas who took a strong stance against the independence movement. Furthermore, the economy began to weaken greatly.113 After the death of Muoz Rivera, the Unionistas were not as strong as it had once been, Socialists began to gain power, and the Republicanos regained strength as well. The elections of 1924 were extremely close, even though the Unionistas maintained power. 114 113 Morales Carrion, 205. Nevertheless, Barcel the new party leader, feared the American aversion to Puerto Rican statehood and independence and was uncomfortable the with Socialists' rise to power. In order to solidify the party's strength and reinforce the main goal of independence under a protec torate, Barcel proposed an alliance between Republicanos and Unionistas and joined together with the Republicanos chairman Jos Tous Soto. Not all of the Republicanos approved of the idea of an alliance and in retaliation those against the Alianza formed a group of their own with the Socialists known as The Coalition. 114 Ibid.,.208.
49 In 1928 Puerto Rico was hit by hurricane San Felipe which caused millions in damages to the island and furthered Puerto Rico's steady economic downturn. The hurricane coincided with the onset of the Great Depression in the United States. By 1930 the average yearly salary of Puerto Ricans was around $150. Absentee sugar companies owned by the United States, controlled 59% of the sugar wealth. Profit for the companies was at an all time high while malnourishment and unemployment for the citizens were also at an all time high.115 Pedro Albizu Campos, the more radical of the two, was born i n Ponce in 1893. Through a series of scholarships he received from the Masonic Lodge, Albizu Campos was able to attend university in the United States. He attended the University of Vermont as well as Harvard Law. The people of the island, feeling desperate and hopeless, began to immigrate to the United States in search of a better life. The time had come for political restructu ring on the island. This difficult period of time brought forth two of Puerto Rico's strongest and most influential leaders in the movement for independence, Albizu Campos and Luis Muoz Marn. 116 115 Morales Carrion, 216. As a law student Albizu Campos had a stro ng interest in world liberation movements and international relations. The time spent in the United States had a strong effect of Albizu Campos. He became a well educated, politically conscious individual, as well as someone who was in fervent 116 Scarano, 531.
50 opposition t o United States control of Puerto Rico.117 Upon his return to the island, Albizu became deeply involved with the Alianza and the independence movement. However, he was far more radical than the the leaders of the Alianza. The more he became involved in the political situation on the island, the more he realized how little focus was truly being put into gaining full independence for Puerto Rico. The United States government was completely reluctant to change Puerto Rico's status and those in power in Puerto Rico were not taking action for themselves. He was further aggravated by the racist superiority complex of the United States at the time. Being a man of mixed race he had witnessed and experienced racism in the United States. On his return to the island he was able to see how this racism translated to the political scene in Puerto Rico. The U.S. government viewed the people of Puerto Rico as helpless and hopeless, completely unable to govern themselves, a clearly inferior race. By 1927 he had joined the Partido Nationalista a party that had been created in 1922 during the time of political turbulence after the Jones Act. The party was a sector of the Partido Unionista whose members had become disillusioned with the party's leader and values after the d eath of Muoz Rivera. Albizu Campos then begun a tour of Latin America where he sought out other political leaders against American imperialism. When he returned to Puerto Rico his new ideas and passion helped him to become 117 Morales Carrion, 221.
51 the new leader of the Partido N ationalista by 1930. 118 At the same time as Albizu Campos rose to power, another political name was making itself known, Luis Muoz Marin, the son of Luis Muoz Rivera. Luis was a different kind of leader. He too spent many years in the United States, but he spent that time as a writer and poet. He was a very different man from Albizu, but they were both very tied to the suffering of their people, especially those suffering in the countryside. They also both spoke out against U.S. companies and the abuse of the land and people. In 1929, Muoz Marin argued that The concentration of cigar manufacturing in the hands of the American trust, have combined to make Puerto Rico a land of beggars and millionaires of flattering statistics and distressing realities. 119 As Muoz became politically active, he worked as a journalist writing political piece for the newspaper La Democracia. As his voice became well known, the Alianza w as falling apart. By 1929 Barcel retired and formed a new party, the Partido Liberal whose major stance was the independence of Puerto Rico. Muoz, who had become a very outspoken advocate for the cause of independence, joined the party and became one of its key members. The party was too new at the time of the 1932 elections and did not gain enough support. The Coalition won, leaving Puerto Rico in the hands of a party more in support of statehood than independence for the However, very differently from both Albizu and Luis Muoz Rivera, Marin was a socialist. 118 Morales Carrion,.223. 119 Ibid., 225.
52 first time since 1904.120 In 1932, President Franklin Roosevelt came to power with ideas on how to bring the U.S .back from the depths. He began his series of changes with the New Deal which brought government aid programs to Puerto Rico. The most notable of the many new programs were t he Puerto Rico Emergency Relief Administration (PRERA) and the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA). The New Deal and these programs on the island were the initial boosters for Muoz Marn's political career. 121 122 Muoz Marn used his relationsh ip with the U.S. government to encourage a new economic plan for the island that would focus much less on sugar. He presented President Roosevelt with a plan for agrarian reform that would enforce the 500 acre rule and create a land distribution agency to cut down on the monopolization of farm land. Roosevelt agreed, and Muoz Marn quickly gained a large following of Puerto Ricans who supported his cause. While Muoz Marn worked with the U.S. government, Albizu Campos turned more and more against it. He did not trust the U.S. and felt that the Treaty of Paris was one of the United State's greatest abuses of the Puerto Rican national sovereignty. According to Albizu, the Carta Autonomica of 1897 between Spain and Puerto Rico, for all intents and 120 Morales Carrion, 226. 121 S carano, 551. 122 His connections in Washington that had been made through his father allowed him more leverage to work with the U.S. government and gain their trust.
53 purposes, made Puerto Rico a free independent nation. Therefore, the United States military invasion of the island in 1898 was illegal. They were not invading a territory of Spain but rather, a sovereign nation.123 While Luis Muoz Marin's followers were wealthy an d influential, Albizu's followers were farm workers and working class people. One of his first most notable actions was his participation in the strikes held by sugar cane workers and the Federacion de Libre Trabadores also known as the FLT in 1934. His work with the FLT helped him unify workers with nationalist ideals through the overarching idea of creating a united front against United States imperialism. His campaign was also a much more violent one. He claimed to be building an army. He believed strongly that violent revolution was an effective means for making change happen and being heard. 124 While he had a strong following within the University system, there was also a strong movement against his political sentiments. In 1935 after a rally against the teachings of Albizu at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras (Puerto Rico's preeminent educational institution) five nationalist student who came to the rally were attacked by police; four died. 125 123 Scarano, 560. The controversial nature of the conflict shrouds what actually happened in mystery. Some say the students provoked the police and it was self defense. Others say the students were just driving by and the anti Nationalist police 124 Ibid., 559. 125 Ibid., 560.
54 attacked unprovoked. Regardless, the incident became known by Nationalists as the Rio Piedras Slaughter.126 In 1936, a group of radical Nationalists retaliated. Two men, Elias Beauchamp and Hiram Rosado, killed the police chief in Riggs, a man who had taken action and spoken out strongly against the nationalist movement. The men were captured shortly after. On July 31, Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer, Clemente Soto Vlez and other Nationalists were sentenced to 6 10 years in federal prison for their affiliation with the shooters. 127 However, because the United States co uld not find enough evidence linking the Nationalist leaders to the men who murdered Colonel Riggs, the leaders were actually charged for plotting against the United States government in Puerto Rico.128 For Muoz Marn, this was the turning point in his honeymoon with the United States. The governor of Puerto Rico at the time, Dr. Ernest H. Gruenings, turned to Muoz Marn to get Puerto Rican support in response to the attacks. The Governor asked Muoz Marn to publicly condemn the Nationalis ts for the assassination of Colonel Riggs. Muoz Marn refused The men attempted to fight the charges in court twice. The first time the men went in front of a jury made up of mainly Puerto Ricans and a decision was not reached. The second time around the men were charged in front of a jury of North Americans and were found guilty. 126 Scarano, 560. 127 Ibid., 561. 128 Ibid. 562.
55 unless United States government officials publicly condemned the murders of the Nationalist youths. Marin stated that he must first look out for the welfare of the Puerto Rican people. This dis agreement between the government officials damaged the U.S. governments' trust in Muoz Marn severely. 129 The murders were the beginning of a series of important events in Puerto Rican independence history. Frank Otto Gattel, states that the assassination of Colonel Riggs forced the United States to take into serious consideration the question of Puerto Rico's territorial status. 130 The referendum posed the question Should the people of Puerto Rico be sovereign or independent in March of 1936. With such strong sentiments against the United States, leading to grave action, perhaps the time had come to give Puerto Rico i ts independence. Two months after the murders, a bill was proposed by Millard E. Tydings, a Maryland senator. The idea of a plebiscite was recommended for the purposes of mollifying the people before further violence was taken against members of the Unite d States government. 131 129 Morales Carrion, 234. If the bill was passed Puerto Rico would gradually be given independence over a series of four years; however, that f reedom would come with a great price. Every year in the four year process towards independence would mean a 25% increase in import tariffs for the nation. The article states that Puerto Rican 130 Gattel, Frank Otto. "Independence Rejected: Puerto Rico and the Tydings Bill of 1936." The Hispanic American Historical Review 38 (1958): 29. 131 Ibid, 30.
56 leaders were torn by the bill. On one hand they were being given the independence they so greatly desired.132 My conception [continued Muoz Marin] of a fair and mutually beneficial economic arrangement. is along the following lines: On the other hand, the economic stipulations of the bill would cost Puerto Rico a great price. Luis Muoz Marn, who examined the bill while staying in Washington, rejected it outright. In his opinion the bill could not be passed without changes to the economic agreements. 1. That the U.S. shall have absolute preference in the P uerto Rican market for all products that Puerto Rico cannot produce.... 2. That certain exceptions be made to this to allow Puerto Rico to negotiate treaties with the world favoring its coffee and facilitating emigration. 3. That reasonable quotas for Puerto Rican cash crops in the American market to be determined upon and no tariff at all on that part of the Puerto Rican crop that cannot be harmful to the producers of the U.S. 4. Upon the initiation of Puerto Rican sovereign ty, a loan be arranged to complete the economic reconstruction plan....133 The Puerto Rican people were wracked with indecision, freedom with great economic cost, or a system they knew was not working. The people of Puerto Rico voted the bill down. Inde pendence, especially with the stipulations of the Tydings bill, was much more likely to destroy the nation than to give the people their sovereignty the way they had so long envisioned. Though independence was rejected resentment was not lessened. 132 Gattel, 33. 133 Ibid.,.34.
57 The Ty dings Bill was a representation of the constant almost that plagued Puerto Rico. While under Spain they almost achieved full autonomy until the U.S. invasion. Under the United States they almost had a say in government, but not completely because the Uni ted States officials still had majority rule. Then there was the Tydings bill. Here the nation almost had the opportunity to achieve independence, except for the fact that independence meant economic ruin because of the tariffs the bills would enforce. The Partido Nationalista was fed up and furious. Their leader Albizu Campos was still in federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia; they had lost their chance at independence; and the U.S. government was becoming increasingly distrustful of the Puerto Rican people. The same year the Tydings Bill was rejected, assassination attempts were made against two district court judges. The Partido Nationalista formed paramilitary organizations called Cadetes de la Republica.134 U.S. officials lived in fear of the possible acti on the Nationalistas could take against the U.S. representatives on the island. They worked against the Nationalistas with more fervor than ever before. The most extreme ramifications of anti Nationalista sentiment came to fruition in on March 21, 1937 dur ing a nationalist rally in Ponce. 135 134 Scarano, 560 The Nationalistas planned a march in celebration of the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico. The group received a permit from the town mayor Jos Tormos Diego under the condition that there be no weapons at the rally. How ever, the 135 Scarano, 562.
58 distrustful Governor Winship, who had been shutting down all Nationalista rallies at the time, sent police chief Colonel Orbeta to convince the mayor to revoke the Nationalistas permit. Unfortunately, because the mayor had been out of town all w eekend, the permit was not revoked until the morning of the rally and the majority of nationalists did not know about the cancellation.136 One hundred and fifty policemen armed with a wide array of weapons took to the street blocking the parade route. As the Nationalistas marched down the street the order was given to halt the activists. Though no one participating in the march was armed, the police opened fire killing nineteen people and injuring somewhere around a hundred others. 137 The massacre was followed by anger and confusion. The police claimed they were reacting to the actions of the nationalists. The nationalists claimed complete innocence in the incident. The only thing that was truly clear was that the nationalists had been unarmed. 138 Between the t ensions of the Tydings Bill, the anxiety which had been caused by the massacre, and the general distrust of the American governor, the Puerto Rican political scene experienced great divisions. The Partido Liberal split two ways, half aligning with Muoz Ma rn because of his rejection of the Tydings Bill's unjust economic stipulations. While the debate over the Tydings bill continued, in 1936 Muoz Marn and his allies 136 I bid, 562. 137 Ibid.,562. 138 Ibid.,562.
59 formed the Accion Social Independistas, w ho called themselves a sector of the Partido Libe ral By 1937, after the Coalition won yet another election and tensions were at an all time high from the effects of the massacre, the party divided completely and Muoz Marn formed his own political party, el Partido Popular Democratico (PPD).139 Though t he Partido Popular Democratico was strongly anti colonialist, it was not antiAmerican like Albizu Campos and the Partido Nationalista They presented themselves as a party of the people, their mascot was the jibaro, and their slogan was bread, land, and liberty. 140 Their unconventional tactics brought them unexpected success. They created grassroots organizations in 75 municipalities and 786 rural barrios. They quickly rose to power and were able to participate in the 1940 elections. They campaigned using a bi weekly newspaper called El Batey which spread their ideals through simple concise language and in the countryside was read to those who could not read.141 The PPD's stance was neither for nor against independence, but rather based around the idea of e conomic and social reform for the island, still suffering greatly because of the Great Depression. Their main focus was taking power away from American corporations in Puerto Rico, and improving health care and education. In the 1940 election out of the three parties that ran The Coalition polled 223,423 votes and the PPD polled 139 Morales Carrion, 244. 140 Ibid., 244. 141 Scarano, 575.
60 214,857; however, the PPD won the Senate and tied in the House pushing them over the edge and winning them the election. From this point on the PPD would continue to win until 1969. 142 Between 1940 and 1945 the island attempted to remedy the economic ailments caused by the Great Depression and World War II. While economic reforms created by governor Tugwell and the PPD were beginning to make progress, the island still had a long way to go. As well as difficulties with economics, the nation was also suffering through the on going debate on status. Within the PPD, two sectors formed one with complete faith in Muoz Marn and his judgment on the subject and another who believed that, while it was fine that independence was not an election issue, it would need to become a priority in the near future. In 1943, Tydings re proposed the bill for independence with new economic stipulations which would give Puerto Rico twenty years to regulate its trade with a 5% tariff raise each year. 143 The potential for the bill cause d a big stir in the pro independence community. Members of the PPD and the Nationalistas set up meeting with Tydings. They held a general independence assembly in April calling for economic adjustments to the Atlantic charter to make independence an option and formed the first Pro Independence Congress (CPI) in August of However, because the United States was still at war, the General Assembly rejected the bill citing it was bad timing. Instead they formed the Puerto Rican Commission on Status. 142 Scarano,. 576. 143 Morales Carrion, 251.
61 1943.144 Its purpose was to assert Puerto Rico's right to independence while still affirming their friendship with the United States. In 1944, the CPI sought the support of Muoz Marn to ha ve a constitutional convention, but Muoz Marn rejected the idea saying that there would be one once the war had ended. This difference between Muoz Marn and the proindependence sector of the PPD would eventually evolve into the creation of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. 145 In 1945, the nation appointed its first ever Puerto Rican governor, Jess T Piero, the elected resident commissioner and a close friend of Luis Muoz Marn. This year was also the final year the Tydings Bill would be presented to Congress. Tydings reworked the bill with the help of Piero. However, the Interior Department as well as Muoz Marn felt that a rapid change to either statehood or an independent nation would have grave consequences for the island. 146 This vote caused the final split between the two sections of the PPD. Statehood would m ean Puerto Rico would lose customs collections and earnings from excise and income taxes. Because of Puerto Rico's current economic state at the time Independence would have meant the nation would have continued to be dependent of the U.S. for economic support for years to come as they worked towards economic stability. With this in mind, the Puerto Rican Congress rejected the bill. 144 Morales Carrion, 266. 145 Ibid.,267. 146 Ibid., 268.
62 Muoz Marn felt that the CPI was attempting to conver t people to their cause from the inside instead of asking voters what they wanted for their nation. He felt the status issue needed to be solved democratically and challenged Gilberto Concepcin de Gracias, leader of the CPI, to start his own party. The challenge was accepted and on October 27, 1946 the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) was created with the goal of independence as soon as humanly possible without revolutionary action.147 In 1947 the Elected Governor Law was passed and in 1948 Luis Muoz Marn won the governor elections espousing the creation of a democratic constitution for Puerto Rico. Muoz Marn brought great change to government. He appointed a majority of Puerto Ricans to his cabinet. He elected a Puerto Rican Commissioner of Educat ion and changed Spanish to Puerto Rico's official language with English as a second language 148 On July 3, 1950, Muoz Marn, with the help of President Truman, passed the Public Law 600. 149 147 Morales Carrion, 267. This law gave Puerto Rico Commonwealth status and built the founda tions for the creation of a Puerto Rican constitution. However, some political activists, especially the Nationalistas saw these political negotiations as a threat to the island's potential to gain sovereignty. Albizu Campos had just been freed from prison in Georgia and was back in Puerto Rico inspiring followers to take arms against Muoz 148 Ibid., 270. 149 Scarano, 58 7.
63 Marn. The PIP caused a major threat to his movement by attempting to use electoral means to earn sovereignty and Albizu claimed that the time for revolution was now. Hi s followers took violent action against those involved in the negotiations. Revolutionaries attacked the governor's palace in the style of a drive by shooting. The confrontation left five revolutionaries dead and two police men wounded. The same year, two Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attacked the Blair house, the residence of President Harry S. Truman while the White House was under construction.150 The goal of this act was to create distrust between the U.S. and Puerto Rico and to gain support from the Puerto Rican people. However, Truman and Muoz Marn discussed the issue peacefully and Truman concluded that these men were not a representation of the sentiments of the Puerto Rican people. On the island the attack on the governor's palace lessened support for the nationalists and did not slow negotiations. On July 25, 1952, Puerto Rico officially had its own constitution, with rights to education, adequate standards of living and negotiable terms for the specific relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.151 That day the Puerto Rico flag was raised next to the U.S. flag and the Puerto Rican national anthem was sung.152 The period of time from 1936 through 1952 marked the end of the biggest independence movement Puer to Rico has ever seen. After 1952, the 150 Morales Carrion, 277. 151 See Appendix C for a copy of the constitution. 152 Scarano, 593.
64 Nationalistas' favor and support was damaged beyond repair. Luis Muoz Marn changed his preference from independence to statehood, however, because of the social reforms occurring simultaneously. These included impro ved health care which lowered the cases of hook worm and malnourishment and improvements to education which were significantly lowering the illiteracy rate. Few people protested his change of heart. During this time Albizu Campos was suffering from declining health and was in and out of prison. This left those most vehemently opposed to the colonial status of Puerto Rico without a leader. Albizu Campos died in 1965.153 The only movement made toward independence between 1952 and 1968 was a 1968 plebiscite. This vote failed because of political tensions within the PPD. Within the party there was growing opposition to Muoz Marn and his political practices. Furthermore the PIP had grown distrustful of Puerto Rican politics and refused to participate in the vote .154 The period from 1898 to 1952 was a time of the most powerful political change Puerto Rico ever experienced. This time period also marks the greatest rise and greatest fall of the Puerto Rican independence. Albizu Campos and Luis Muoz Marn are without a doubt the most charismatic and powerful political leaders the island of Puerto Rico has ever known, but they each had fatal flaws that eventually damaged the independence movement severely. Albizu's extremism appealed to some, but struck fear into the h earts of others. The more radical he became, the less powerful and 153 Ibid., 600. 154 Ibid., 643.
65 able to effect change he became. He spent the vital years of the Puerto Rican fight towards independence in prison, missing his opportunity to earn his nation their freedom. Muoz Marn fel l to the opposite end of the spectrum. He became married to the politics of the United States. His beliefs started with independence for his people and slowly transformed as he became more and more tied into the Puerto Rican political scene. His belief in independence changed to a belief in social justice. His belief in social justice changed to a campaign for aid from the United States and as more and more aid and money came, the more the vision of a sovereign Puerto Rico faded away, a distant dream from t he past. After the 1960s, the independence movement lived on in the political groups of the United States still fighting for justice in major cities such as New York and Chicago and in the Puerto Rican Independence Party, which still participates in elec tions to this day. The struggle is not over, but it has become unclear if independence is even what the people want anymore. If sovereignty is what the nation desires it will be a long and arduous path before they achieve this change.
67 Chapter 3 The Modern Movement The biggest independence movement Puerto Rican history had ever seen met its demise in the 1950s, with the rise of the PPD and Luis Muoz Marn's term as governor. Since that period of history we have never again seen leaders with the strength, charisma, and fervor of Albizu Campos, or negotiations with the U.S. government as close to gaining the nation its sovereignty as those seen in the 1930s. The true question is why? Furthermore, what has happened with the indep endence movement for Puerto Rico? What are the modern day actions taken for freedom, if any have been taken at all? This chapter will give a brief summary of the most significant modern events that have affected the independence movement. It will then exa mine the arguments of all three sides--those for Commonwealth, those for independence, and those for statehood. Finally, the chapter will look at Puerto Rico's current leadership and stance on status as well as the future goals and hopes of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. The modern day history of the question of status begins with the creation of the Puerto Rican constitution in 1952. The constitution asserted Puerto Rico's status as a commonwealth of the United States, and contained a Carta de Dere chas similar to a bill of rights but with modern day
68 additions such as the right to free public, education and right the to privacy. Becoming a Commonwealth was explained by Luis Muoz Marn in his 1952 article, Puerto Rico and the U.S., Their Future Toge ther, It originates in a compact. It makes and can change its constitution within the terms of the compact, which includes applicable principles of the Constitution of the United States. It is republican in form, as defined by custom in the United States and by theory at least in most of the countries of the hemisphere. It provides for separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, all arising from the sovereignty of the people; legislative faculty to override executive veto by a two thirds vote, judicial review, periodic elections, a modern Bill of Rights. The constitution can be amended by a twothirds vote of the Legislature and subsequent majority approval by the electorate. Members of the Supreme Court are designated by the Governor and Senat e for life, subject only to impeachment by the Legislature, and the membership of the Court cannot be increased or decreased except by concurrence of the three branches, the Court itself proposing the change and the Legislature approving it by a law which requires the signature of the Executive. There is a Federal Court, with substantially the same jurisdiction as the Federal Courts in the States, and appeals from the Commonwealth courts can be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States essentially as in the States.155 The idea of Commonwealth was constantly explained but never defined. Even the Puerto Rican constitution has this very explanation with no actual definition of what exactly this explanation means. This problem would come up consistently throughout Puerto Rican history. Other than the aforementioned installation of the Carta de Derechas and this vague Commonwealth, little was changed in Puerto Rican politics with the addition of the constitution, and t he question of independence for the nation 155 Muoz Marn, Luis. "Puerto Rico and the U.S., Their Future Together." Foreign Affairs 32 (1954): 547.
69 was pushed to the background after this point in history. Also during this period of time, while Luis Muoz Marn was advocating for Puerto Rico continuing as a Commonwealth, Albizu Campos was in and out of jail. After being incarcerated in 1950 for his ties to violent acts of nationalism against the Puerto Rican governor, Albizu Campos claimed he was being tortured in prison. This created a difficult situation for Muoz Marn; on one hand he refused to support the actions of Albizu Campos, on the ot her hand, so long as Albizu Campos was in prison and claiming to be tortured he would be seen as a martyr for the cause, which would only rile up his supporters against the government. Muoz Marn finally decided to let Albizu Campos go in 1953 after having him declared paranoid by the psychiatrist at the prison. However, his release only encouraged radical nationalists and one year later Lolita Lebrn and a group of others entered the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. and began firing at the Legi slative Chamber. Though there was little action in support of Albizu Campos and Lebrn on the island, the government still imprisoned Albizu once again. In 1956 he suffered a stroke. On November 15,1964 he was released, sadly he died only a few months la ter on April 21, 1965.156 Albizu Campos in many ways was the backbone of the independence movement from the 1920s through the 1950s. He was the voice of the people and an inspiration all over Latin American where he 156 Morales Carrion, 294.
70 gathered support for the cause. When he w as imprisoned time and time again the independence movement was left in the hands of politicians who discredited him and halted the movement's progress. By the time he was freed in 1950 he was painted a radical extremist and when he went back to prison his movement was essentially forced underground. However, it was not only the imprisonment and eventual death of Albizu Campos that moved the movement underground. Any actions that would have been taken against the PPD had been strangulated by the Law 53, a lso known as La Mordaza. This law, which was created in 1948, made it illegal to gather or form organizations with the purpose of overthrowing the government or supporting the actions of Albizu Campos. By 1950 hundreds of people had been thrown in jail for suspicions of anti governmental actions.157 It was not until six years after the ratification of the constitution that Puerto Rico's status was brought to question once again. A movement for statehood began with the formation of the Partido Estadista Republicano (PER). In the 1956 elections, for the first time in Puerto Rican history there was a significant following for statehood. As the middle class began to It is this law that truly silenced the independence movement. By making it illegal to organize for the cause and by incarcerating the main leaders of the nationalist movement, Luis Muoz Marn essentially eliminat ed his competition, which left the question of status almost entirely in his hands. 157 Scarano, 634.
71 grow on the island with economic reforms Muoz Marn ha d put in place as governor, statehood provided options that independence did not. For the middle class, statehood provided for a maintenance of their lifestyle while also allowing Puerto Ricans to become more active in American politics which would possibly earn Puerto Rico more democratic rights and privileges than it currently had. Though the movement for statehood continued to grow, it was not until 1967 that the question of status was once again brought to a vote in Puerto Rico. Since 1952, the PPD ha d been working toward the eventual goal of making the status of Commonwealth permanent for Puerto Rico with a few minor adjustments so that the nation would have more powers of autonomy. However, many were strongly against the idea. This option would perma nently shut down the options of statehood and independence. If Puerto Rico were to remain a Commonwealth permanently they would no longer be allowed to hold plebiscites, and Commonwealth status would become non negotiable. By 1960, Muoz Marn began negoti ations with President John F. Kennedy to adjust Puerto Rico's current status. During negotiations it was Kennedy who suggested that the question of status be put to a vote. In 1964, the Commission of the United States for the Status of Puerto Rico was crea ted. In 1967, Puerto Rico held a plebiscite. 60.5% of Puerto Ricans voted in favor of maintaining the status of Commonwealth, 38.9% voted for statehood, and less than one percent of Puerto Ricans voted
72 for independence.158 Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the question of decolonization was heavily debated but never brought to a vote. During the Regan administration, government think tanks were created to help the U.S. make a decision on what to do with Puerto Rico. However, it was not until 1988 and the inauguration of President George H. W. Bush that the option of a plebiscite was brought to the U.S. Congress and it was not until 1991 that the question of status was once again brought to a vote. At this time, as the following of the PPD began to falter, a new party came to power. This party was known as the Partido Nuevo Progesistas (PNP). The PNP, who have espoused the idea of statehood since their inception, won the 1968 elections. In 1991 the PPD attempted to gain electoral favor with a campaign based o n the platform of cultural awareness. They attempted to pass la Ley Espaol which sought to make Spanish the one and only official language of Puerto Rico. After the law passed, a debate began on the democratic rights of Puerto Rico, this led to a referendum which asked the U.S. Government for more democratic rights for Puerto Ricans. These rights would include the inalienable right of Puerto Ricans to decide their political status, meaning removing all congressional subordination to the United States, and choosing a definitive plebiscite for Puerto Ricans to hold at any time. Much to the shock of Independistas and much to pleasure of the PNP (who felt this referendum would kill their chances of gaining statehood for 158 Scarano, 643.
73 Puerto Rico), the referendum known a the Si/No referendum failed with 53% of the island population voting against the idea. Two years later, in 1993, another plebiscite was held following the election for governor. PNP candidate Dr. Pedro Rosell won the gubernatorial election. Rosell's main goal was social and economic reform, and he planned to achieve this goal through the reformation and restructuring of government and through consulting the electorate on the question of status. He felt that now was the time to once again push for statehood for Puerto Rico. In November of 1993, the question of status was once again put to a vote. The status Free Associated State won earning 48.4% of the votes, statehood came in a close second earning 46.2% of the votes and independence came in last earning m erely 4.4% of the votes. 159 Five years later a plebiscite was held once again. After the plebiscite of 1993, it was decided that the definition of Free Associated State needed to be clarified. The Puerto Rican constitution said that the island was a Comm onwealth, so the question became, what exactly does the status of Commonwealth mean. Furthermore, if Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth then is it not unconstitutional to be voting for the status of Free Associated State? The United States Congress could not co me to an agreement on the definition of Free Associated State, so on March 4th of 1998 U.S. congress passed the Act of Political Status of Puerto Rico calling for yet another plebiscite: this time with a fourth option of none of the above. 159 Scarano, 727.
74 Strangely en ough in this election the option of none of the above won with 50% of the votes. 46.5% of the votes went to statehood and 2.5% went to independence, however, less than one percent of votes went to the Commonwealth status.160 Though the polls historically leaned towards Commonwealth status and statehood, this did not mean the fight for independence was completely dead. The most powerful Puerto Rican parties have not espoused the idea of independence for Puerto Rico since the 1950s, but the idea has never died out. Underground nationalist groups as well as the PIP have continued to fight relentlessly for the cause of their nation's sovereignty. Movements have been seen not only on the island but all over the United States, most notably New York City and Chic ago, which have both had congressional representatives of Puerto Rican decent. While some organizations for the Independence of Puerto Rico have been peaceful, others have followed the teachings of Albizu Campos and believe that violent revolution is the only means by which Puerto Rico will ever truly earn its freedom. One of the first groups to form after the creation of the constitution was the Movimiento Pro Independencia (MPI) founded in 1959. This organization was formed as a more radical sector of the PIP who broke apart from the political party. While they had no true political affiliation, most classified themselves as Anti Colonialists and Marxists. Instead of staying on the outskirts of society, something which they felt led 160 Scarano, 728.
75 to the demise of the previous nationalist movement, they formed cells throughout the community both in Puerto Rico and the United States. Their work caught the attention of the FBI, who at the time was not in favor of procommunist sentiment. Some members were exiled and those who remained were subjected to the FBI's intimidation tactics.161 As time has passed there have been many conflicts between Puerto Rican revolutionaries and the FBI over the independence of Puerto Rico. The most recent and notable victim has been Filiberto Ojedas Rios, leader of the Boriqua Macheteros and one of the founding fathers of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). The 72year old man was shot down in his home in 2005 by the FBI who claimed he shot first. The FBI stated Ojedas Rios was wan ted for his connection to an armed bank robbery in 1983. 162 However, it is much more likely that Ojedas Rios was wanted for his connections to the FALN who were infamous for terrorist acts in the name of Puerto Rican independence. One of their most notable acts was the bombing of the Fraunces tavern restaurant in New York City in 1975. The group was responsible for the murder of four and the injury of 63 people. Their goal was a mobilization of armed forces for the purposes of ensuring the independence of P uerto Rico and freeing Puerto Rican political prisoners. They hoped to build a proletariat army against the government.163 161 Scarano, 639. 162 Goodman, Amy. "FBI Assassinates Puerto Rican Nationalist Leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. http://www.democracynow.org (Accessed April 21, 2010.) 163 FALN Politic al Position http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/puertorico/FALN political position.pdf (Accessed April 21, 2010)
76 In the article The Boricua Macheteros Popular Army Origins, Program, and Struggle Filiberto Ojedas Rios declared that the political groups were not groups fighting against the United States, but rather the colonial policy and the economic interests, which he believed kept Puerto Rico from its independence. He stated that his initial group, the Macheteros, was formed because of the rep ressions Puerto Ricans faced. True to our tradition of struggle, the Boricua Macheteros popular Army was established in 1978 after a profound analysis of our political reality. The two decades that preceded its founding were years of deep political repres sion for all sectors identified with the independence of the nation. They were years in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintained files on about 150,000 Puerto Ricans.164 He believed, as many still do, that the globalization of capitalism would be extremely destructive to the international community. He believed that globalization would not be just until the poor and underdeveloped nations could participate as equally in it as rich capitalist nations. Ojedas Rios felt that the spread of nationalism was an attempt to shroud the Puerto Rican people in ignorance and continue their oppression. He writes He later stated that over three hundred agents and other agencies had been sent to Puerto Rico in an effort to stop the movement. Nevertheless, the crucial issue is that the colonialist enemy has employed a policy of destroying of the possibilities for autonomous economic development, directing its strategy 164 Ojedas Rios, Filiberto and Alicia Del Campo. "The Boricua Macheteros Popular Army: Origins, Program, and Struggle." Latin American Persp ectives 29 (2002): 106.
77 strictly toward the weakening or elimination of all the productive elements that people need to have a sense of security about their survival. This policy has been accompanied by intense propaganda aimed at deepening in people's consciousness a sense of impotence, dependence, and instability.165 Ojedas Rios beliefs are not just the thoughts of him a nd his group, but rather are a reflection of ideas widely held within the modern day proindependence community. His fight continues into the present day with groups and organizations still taking action for the cause. One must examine all sides of the d ebate in order to understand why Puerto Rico seems to be wrapped in indecision whenever the question of status arises. There are those who believe in the continuation of the Commonwealth, those who believe in independence, and those who believe in statehood. This section will examine the ideas of Luis Muoz Marn, the initial primary advocate of the Commonwealth status: Rubn Berros Martnez long standing leader of the PIP: and finally former Puerto Rican governor Carlos Romero Barcel, the latest major ad vocate for statehood. For years the controversy over the contrasting objectives of independence and statehood had throttled economic and social thought and political thinking also for both the older and the newer generations. Both abstractions were inimical to the solution of Puerto Rico's many other problems. So the perennial issue presented to the people was tantamount to asking them the following obscure question: "What is your favorite way of preventing the solution of the vital problems of Puerto Ric o?" With independence the free market would disappear. With statehood the federal tax collector would appear. But the premise was that aside from independence or statehood there was only the indignity of colonialism. Would you choose to eat your bread in s hame 165 Ojedas Rios, Filiberto and Alicia Del Campo, 113.
78 or proclaim your dignity in hunger? The burden that that choice, assumed to be inexorable, put upon the soul of a decent, kind and proud people cannot easily be exaggerated. Luis Muoz Marn Puerto Rico, and the U.S., Their Future Together 166 The wo rds of Muoz Marn, written in 1954, are a clear summation of the struggle Puerto Ricans face as they debate the future status of their nation. The island residents fear the loss of social services provided by the United States that would come hand and hand with their transition to an independent nation. However, statehood provides no better options for the nation. With statehood Puerto Rico would pay more taxes, become the poorest state in the nation, and risk the loss of their culture, which many consider to be too high a price to pay. So what are Puerto Rico's options, what are the pros and cons of each side? Is Commonwealth status really what is best for the nation? For Muoz Marn Commonwealth status was the answer to the struggles Puerto Rico faced. Initially as the leader of the PPD Muoz Marn made a conscious effort not to take a side in the debate of Puerto Rico's status. He felt that the more important issues were bringing social and economic reform to the people, therefore he would neither stand for, nor against independence. However, his view point changed when he became governor of the island. After creating Puerto Rico's constitution in 1952, Muoz Marn finally took a stand. He stood in favor of continuing on as a Commonwealth until Puerto R ico could truly stand on its own two feet after 166 Muoz Marn, Luis. "Puerto Rico and the U.S., Their Future Together." foreign affairs 32 (1954): 545.
79 the damages caused by the Great Depression. For Muoz Marn, the Commonwealth status allowed Puerto Rico the benefits of statehood without the negative costs. Puerto Rico was allowed its own constitution and was given separate legislative, executive and judicial branches in their government. These benefits were enjoyed without the costs of sacrificing culture or giving up completely on the future option of independence. In his article, Muoz Marn points out that while statehood is permanent, the common wealth status is not, meaning that the idea of independence for Puerto Rico can be revisited at any point in the future. It was Muoz Marn's opinion that independence was not an option at the time. The Pue rto Rican governor believed that Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States was too vital to forfeit. From Puerto Rico's viewpoint I have perhaps touched sufficiently on the subject. Free trade with the States has become a basic need for an econo my developed for a half century on that premise. There is also Puerto Rico's traditional non isolationist sense of freedom. And there are the pride and affection that Puerto Ricans feel regarding the citizenship that they have lived with for 37 years, defe nded in war and honored in their practice of democracy in peace.167 Muoz Marin felt that the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico was a mutual one, which, if broken would hurt both sides. He believed that Puerto Rico's economic stability was reliant on U.S. handouts. For others this is exactly the issue. Many believe that it is Puerto 167 Muoz Marn, 550.
80 Rican reliance on the United States for economic and social aid which has kept the nation poor and far from the possibility of independence. Many feel that this rel iance has been an intentional effort to hold the nation down and keep it under U.S. control. One of the most outspoken, prominent individuals in this school of thought is former PIP leader Rubn Berros Martnez. In his 1977 article Independence: The Only Solution for Puerto Rico the author discussed how the policies of Muoz Marn and his relationship with the U.S government held Puerto Rico down as a nation destined for independence. Martnez examined, with suspicion, the correlation between Muoz Mar n's rise to power and his movement away from the independence movement. The author highlighted how as a youth Muoz Marn was active and vocal in the independence movement, however, the more he ascended to power the less involved in independence he became First he made sure independence was not a campaign issue when he created the PPD, then he passed a law making it virtually illegal to take pro independence action as a member of the PPD in 1945. Finally, once elected governor Muoz Marn gave up on independence all together stating that the status of Commonwealth was what was best for the nation. While Muoz Marn would argue that Puerto Rico is basically a state and Puerto Ricans already have the right to form their own government, Berrios Martinez would argue that this means little if they must be under the ever watchful eye of the United States to do so.
81 The author examined how after Muoz Marn became governor, Puerto Rico's entire economy became centered around the United States. After Operation Boot Strap, imports and exports were traded solely with the United States. Entrepreneurs from the U.S. were offered tax holidays and subsidies as the government sold Puerto Rico as an Investor's paradise168 Thus, in a 1955 confidential report to the Governor, the Planning Boa rd suggested that at least 60,000 Puerto Ricans should leave the Island annually in order to maintain unemployment at prevalent levels. In 1948, a Commission made up mostly of government officials had already noted that the migration of women was particula rly important not only to alleviate unemployment but to reduce the birthrate. More recently, in 1974, the government again made clear its intention to encourage migration to the United States The economic project could not function without the U nited States. Berrios Martinez argued that while Puerto Rico did see a large raise in income with the per capita income raising from less than $200 a year in 1950 to $1,200 in 1967, Puerto Rico also lost a great percentage of its population. According to t he article, between 1945 and 1964 one third of the population left the island. While some argue this migration was a mere coincidence, the evidence shows that this may not be the case: 169 How is it that independence is up to the Puerto Rican people if all government planning revolves around the United States, and how does a country build a strong nationalist movement without its people? In his 1997 article The Decolonization of Puerto Rico, written 168 Berros Martinez, Rubn "Independence of Puert o Rico: The Only Solution." Fo reign Affairs 55 (1977): 568. 169 Berros Martinez. The Decolonization of Puerto Rico" F oreign Affairs (1997): 570.
82 directly before the passage of the 1998 plebiscit e, Ruben Berrios Martinez declared that the United States now sees that the status of Commonwealth is not a status that can continue. As the debates continued over using Free Associated State versus Commonwealth on the ballot Berrios Martinez declared that this debate had begun because the U.S. government was now able to clearly see how a status for the nation of Puerto Rico where the people were both reliant on and subordinate to the U.S. was simply not a modern day option Though Berrios Martinez recogniz ed the upward growth in government of those who are pro statehood, he continued to firmly declare that statehood was simply not an option. He stated that while statehood would provide Puerto Ricans with the ability to vote for president and become more act ive in U.S. government, Puerto Ricans would continue to be economically and culturally subordinate to the United States. Puerto Ricans would be asked to learn English and assimilate into U.S. culture, something which Latin Americans are doing at a slower r ate than any other immigrating group in the United States. Furthermore, currently Puerto Rico enjoys many taxes exemptions that would be taken away from them were they to join the Union, which would lead to increased poverty rates and unemployment.170 He s tated that independence, though it is likely to be the most difficult road, will be the most fruitful in the long run. It will allow Puerto 170 Berros Martinez, Rubn. 111.
83 Ricans to become self reliant instead of reliant on other nations. The author believed that only through full sovere ignty can Puerto Rico experience the democratic rights it deserves and stop relying on others to make the nation's decisions and give them economic aid. He thus ended the article asking for the elimination of the option of remaining a Commonwealth on the 1998 ballot. He stated that the Puerto Rican people deserved only options where they would earn their full democratic rights, not an option that would stand for no change and no progress at all. The option of statehood, though often unpopular, is at pres ent perhaps Puerto Rico's most feasible option. In the 1980 article Puerto Rico, U.S.A: A Case for Statehood former Puerto Rican governor Carlos Romero Barcel explained the benefits of statehood for Puerto Rico.171 While the two previous authors have decl ared that statehood is not possible for the people of Puerto Rico because of their refusal to assimilate, Romero Barcel stated that this is simply not the case. Election forms are now bilingual, Puerto Ricans are rising to positions of political power within the United States and even some U.S. presidents espoused Puerto Rico's right to statehood.172 Many believe that the federal income taxes on top of Puerto Rico's income taxes and the other expenses of statehood would surely mean the destruction of the a lready weak Puerto Rican economy. To counter this 171 Romero Barcel, Carlos. The Decolonization of Puerto Rico" foreig n affairs (1997): 59. 172 Romero Barcel, 62.
84 argument, the author proposes a plan in which the United States would slowly phase in federal income taxes over a twenty year period while lowering the Commonwealth income taxes Puerto Rico already pays. Re venues lost would be gained with Puerto Rico's full participation in federal programs. There would also be the option of continuing the tax exemptions Puerto Rico currently enjoys until their due date runs out in order to provide a cushion as the author calls it for the transition.173 Romero Barc el updates his argument in his 2006 article Commonwealth Status is Inherently Un Democratic. Here he argued that by denying Puerto Rico the right to vote the United States is denying them their deserved democratic privileges. He questioned how it is that congress declares that they are working towards spreading democracy throughout the world yet, a territory they have owned for over a hundred year lacks this right. This is especially poignant when Puerto Rican soldiers are sacrificing themselves in the Middle East for the U.S. cause. Carlos Romero Barcel concludes his argument by stating that it is for the aforementioned reasons that he asserts strongly that Congress should pass the H.R. 4867, a Puerto Rican Democracy Bill presented to Congress in 2006 by current Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuo. It called for a plebiscite which would give While Puerto Rico would be asked to shoulder some of the U.S. debt, the U.S. would be obligated to shoulder some of Puerto Rico's debt as well meaning that nation's debt burden would most likely remain the same. 173 Romero Barcel, 79.
85 Puerto Ricans two options either they would continue as a Commonwealth or begin the transition towards statehood.174 Having examined the three main status points of views in Puerto Rico's modern debates on independence, we must examine the current facts about Puerto Rico. Where does the Puerto Rican government stands currently on the question of independence for the nation? What is the PIP doing to fight for independence through the democratic process? Puerto Rico is currently under the leadership of Luis Fortuo a member of the Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) who was elected in 2008. This party is also known as the pro statehood party and believes, much like Rom ero Barcel, that statehood is Puerto Rico's right. Fortuo stated in his platform for governor that Puerto Ricans deserve the benefits and privileges that come with being a state. Furthermore, he feels that statehood would be in the interest of the U.S. b ecause their acceptance of Puerto Rico would improve their relations with the rest of Latin America.175 One of Fortuo's major campaign ideals is self determination. In his platform he espouses the idea of one man. one vote and promised to hold another ple biscite where all Puerto Ricans of voting age will be heard in their opinion on status.176 174 Romero Barcel, Carlos; 'commonwealth' status is inherently undemocractic, 2006 http://www.carlosromerobarcelo.com/ In February of 2010 Fortuo stated that while he fears the division the lack of accordance on the question of status is creating in 175 Partido Nuevo Progresista. Juntos Hacia El Cambio 176 http:// www.fortunogobernador.com/images/PLANDEGOBIERNOPNP2009 2012.pdf (Accessed April 20,2010.) 176 Partido Nuevo Progresista., 177
86 Puerto Rico he will wait patiently for the U.S. to decide whether or not to hold a plebiscite. He declares, however, that Puerto Rico cannot wait forever and is therefore taking actions towards presenting President Obama with a resolution which will ask him to attend to the question of sta tus, claiming that if the President does not take action the Puerto Rican government will.177 With the Puerto Rican people so steeped in indecision, the question becomes what are those still involved in the Puerto Rican independence movement doing in order to work towards the final goal of independence for the island. In order to examine this question we will look to the recent actions of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) and their current fight for independence. In June 24,2009 Rubn Berris Mart nez spoke to the U.S. Congress about Puerto Rico's right to independence.178 In the first stage of the plebiscite proposed in H.R. 2499, voters would be asked to choose between two options: (1) Puerto Rico continuing its present form of political status; or (2 ) a different political status. If a majority of voters chose a different political status in the first plebiscite, H.R. 2499 proposes a second plebiscite in which His goal was to assert the importance of H.R. 2499, also known as the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009. This act proposed a twostage plebiscite. According to Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress by Keith Bea and R Sam Garrett, 177 Ibid., 177. 178 Puerto Rican Independence Party. Ponencia del PIP sobre el HR2499 en el Congreso de EEUU http://www.indepen dencia.net/entrada.html
87 voters would be asked to choose from one of three options in a second plebiscite: (1) in dependence; (2) sovereignty in association with the United States, and (3) statehood. The passage of this bill, was of course crucial to the PIP's main goal of gaining their nations sovereignty. The H.R. 2499 would have stood apart from prior plebiscite s because it would have allowed both Puerto Ricans living on the island and U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico but living in the states to vote. Unfortunately there were several problems with the act. The act did not clarify what measures would be taken to educate the Puerto Rican people on the meaning of all three status options. Furthermore, there was no specifications as to how the status choice would be implemented in the event that Puerto Ricans chose statehood, or independence.179 In his speech to congress, Martnez stated that claiming Puerto Rico's indecision was the cause for its remaining a Commonwealth was a cover up. Furthermore stated that Puerto Rico's right to self determination was in Article One of the Puerto Rican constitution and to i gnore that denied them their inalienable right. He continued by saying that the United States was obligated to provide the legal means by which Puerto Ricans could once again vote for their status. He asked that amendments to the Puerto Rican constitution to clarify the territorial status of Puerto Rico be voted on by the Puerto Rican people. He requested that in that same election Puerto Ricans be able to vote for either a constituent assembly or a plebiscite. His fear was that without a congressionally ap proved plebiscite, the PNP would hold a local plebiscite, which would be manipulated towards the goal of achieving statehood.180 179 Bea, Keith, Sam Garrett. Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress. Pp.1 2009. www.crs.org 180 Partido Independentista Puertorriqueo. "El PIP Rompe Mitos Sobre la Independencia." http://www.independencia.net/noti cias3/comp_rompeMitosIndep_caguas20mar10.html
88 According to the PIP's website the political party continues to campaign for their cause despite the fact that they lost the 200 8 elections and the fact that the H.R. 2499 was not passed. In March of this year PIP leader Irizarry Mora gave a speech in Caguas Puerto Rico entitled What you Should Know About Independence: Dispelling Myths In his speech Mora describes the failures of Puerto Rico's current economic model and shows that while other Latin American countries including a few Caribbean nations have experienced economic growth, Puerto Rico has been experiencing economic decline. (Accessed April 20,2010)
89 Conclusion Just as Sisyphus is destined to an eternal uphill battle with his boulder, Puerto Rico suffers the same fate in their uphill battle for independence. As soon as Puerto Ricans identified themselves as a people separate from Spain they began their fight for autonomy. Since that moment in history hundreds of years ago they have pushed uphill only to be thwarted time and time again as the boulder of independence rolls down the hill every time it nearly reaches the top. During the time of Spanish rule, the Puerto Rican independenc e movement evolved from underground rebellions of slaves and Indians to revolutionary movements with international support and diplomatic negotiations. These eventually brought Puerto Rico the promise of autonomy and a cabinet in the Spanish court at the end of the nineteenth century. However, as always happens with the Sisyphean challenge at the top of the hill, as the final charters were to be signed and sovereignty was to be handed over, the boulder of independence rolled down the hill with the entrance of the United States and the rights of Puerto Ricans were stripped away. Nevertheless, the Puerto Rican people persevered. As the 1920s approached, a new movement was in the makings. Luis Muoz Marn and Albizu Campos pushed the boulder of independence back up the hill in two
90 different ways: one, with a promise of revolution for the people and sovereignty at any cost; the other, through diplomacy and negotiations with the United States. However, by the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s the boulder began to slip again. Luis Muoz Marn's dedication to the independence movement begun to falter and Albizu Campos was in and out of prison, discrediting him as a leader and weakening the core of the movement. Though others tried to take the boulder into their hands through the creation of the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the nationalists who followed Albizu's dream while he remained incarcerated, the weight was too much. Luis Muoz Marn passed laws making the fight for independence illegal a nd a constitution was passed espousing a more permanent Commonwealth status, leaving the boulder to fall down the hill once more. While during that period of history there was a clear push for independence, in modern times it has become a lot less clear w hat the Puerto Rican people want. Plebiscites have consistently voted for Commonwealth status until the most recent one which voted for none of the above, still a back door vote for Commonwealth. Underground organizations take radical action for Puerto R ico's sovereignty yet the plebiscites show only a small number of Puerto Ricans voting for independence. Does this mean that independence is not what the people want. The answer is no. Independence is espoused only when those in power take action for
91 its achievement. The average man does not understand what it would take for Puerto Rico to become a sovereign nation and what changes that would mean for them and their families. People trust leaders. They believe that leaders are the ones with the plans, who will know what it takes for Puerto Rico to become independent and how to achieve this without destroying Puerto Rican lives. Without leadership we have nothing more than the blind leading the blind. You either have to have the most political power or the most social power to move a cause into action. Look at the example of Luis Muoz Marn versus Albizu Campos. Luis Muoz Marn was a diplomat with connections in Washington. He inspired the people with his influence and his charisma and was therefore trust ed and followed. Albizu Campos had the social control. He was intelligent and charismatic, the people believed in him and his cause and the masses followed. He traveled all over Latin America gaining support for the movement. When these men believed in independence so did Puerto Rico. However, when Albizu Campos lost his credibility and Luis Muoz Marn told the people that Commonwealth status was the safest choice, the people followed the power and the cause of independence lost its followers. What will happen to Puerto Rico's status in the future remains unclear. When the Puerto Rican people find a powerful politicians ready to take on the cause of independence or a revolutionary with the charisma of Albizu Campos then we will see the third major Puerto Rican independence
92 movement. Until that time comes, the future status of Puerto Rico will remain undecided until a major movement takes place pushing either the cause of independence, statehood, or Commonwealth forward.
93 BIBLIOG RAPHY
94 Bibliography Journal Articles Berrios Martinez, Ruben. "Independence of Puerto Rico: The Only Solution." Foreign Affairs 55 (1977): 561583 Puerto Rico's Decolonization. Foreign Affairs 76 (1997): 100114 Del Vas Mingo, Mil agros. "Ordenanzas de 1573, sus Antecedentes y Consequencias." Quinto Centenario 8, 8 (1985): 8399 Gattel, Frank Otto."Independence Rejected: Puerto Rico and the Tydings Bill of 1936." The Hispanic American Historical Review 38 (1958): 2544 Gutirrez Del Arroyo, Isabel. El xodo al Per Revista del ICP 1 (1958): 1518 Moscoso, Fransisco. Formas de Resistencia de los Esclavos en Puerto Rico Siglos XVI XVIII. America Negra no.10 (1995): 3146. Muoz Marn, Luis. "Puerto Ric o and the U.S., Their Future Together." Foreign Affairs 32 (1954): 541 551 Offner, John "Why did the U.S. Fight Spain?." OAH Magazine of History 12 (1998): 1923. Ojedas Rios, Filiberto and Alicia Del Campo. "The Boricua Macheteros Popular Army: Origins, Program, and Struggle." Latin American Perspectives 29 (2002): 106. Romero Barcel, Carlos "Puerto Rico, U.S.A.: The Case for Statehood Foreign Affairs 59 (1980): 6081.
95 Books: Ayala, Cesar J, and Rafael Bernabe. Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009 Diaz Soler, Luis M. Puerto Rico Desde Sus Orgenes Hasta El Cese De LA Dominacin Espaola. San Juan: La Editorial Univer sidad De Puerto Rico, 1994. Morales Carrion, Arturo Morales. Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983. Ojeda Reyes, Flix, El Desterrado de Pars: Biografa del Dr. Ramn Emeterio Betances (18271898). San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Puerto 2001 Scarano, Fransisco A. Puerto Rico: Cinco Siglos de Historia New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2008. Websites: Bea, Keith, Sam Garrett. Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress 2009. < www.crs .org> Barcel, Carlos Romero 'Commonwealth' Status is Inherently Undemocractic 2006. < http://www.carlosromerobarcelo.com/> "Chronology--Puerto Rico."Library of Congress Home < http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic > (Accessed April 19,2010) The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
96 Goodman, Amy. "FBI Assassinates Puerto Rican Nationalist Leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios."
98 Appendix A: [Proclama: Texto completo] Proclama de los Diez Mandamientos de los Hombres Libres Ramn Emeterio Betances Noviembre de 1867 Puerto Riqueos El gobierno de Da. Ysabel II lanza sobre nosotros una terrible acusacin Dice que somos malos espaoles El gobierno nos calumnia Nosotros no queremos la separacin; nosotros queremos la paz, la unin co n Espaa; mas es justo que pongamos nosotros tambin condiciones en el contrato. Son muy sencillas. Helas aqu: Abolicin de la esclavitud Derecho a votar todas las imposiciones Libertad de cultos Libertad de la palabra Libertad de imprenta
99 Libertad de com ercio Derecho de reunin Derecho de poseer armas Inviolabilidad del ciudadano Derecho de elegir nuestras autoridades Esos son los diez mandamientos de los hombres libres. Si Espaa se siente capaz de darnos y nos d esos derechos y esas libertades, podr e ntonces mandarnos un Capitn general, un gobernador... de paja, que quemaremos en los das de Carnestolendas, en conmemoracin de todos los Judas que hasta hoy nos han vendido. Y seremos espaoles. Si no No. Si no Puerto Riqueos PACIENCIA! os juro que seris libres. R E. Betances 181 Translation: Puerto Ricans The government of Mme Isabella II th rows upon us a terrible accusation. It states that we are bad Spaniards. The government defames us. We don't want separation, we want peace, the union to Spain; however, it is fair that we also add conditions to the contract. They are rather easy, here they are: The abolition of slavery The right to vote on all impositions Freedom of religion Freedom of speech Freedom of the press F reedom of trade 181 Emeterio Betances, Diez mandamientos del Hombre Libre http://www.ciudadseva.com/textos/otros/10manda.htm (Access April 20, 2010)
100 The right to assembly Right to bear arms Inviolability of the citizen The right to choose our own authorities These are the Ten Commandments of Free Men. If Spain feels capable of granting us, and gives us, those rights and liberties, they may then send us a General Captain, a governor... made of straw, that we will burn in effigy co me Carnival time, as to remember all the Judases that they have sold us until now. That way we will be Spanish, and not otherwise. If not, Puerto Ricans HAVE P ATIENCE!, for I swear that you will be free."182 182 Ojeda Reyes, Flix, El Desterrado de Pars: Biog rafa del Dr. Ramn Emeterio Betances (1827 1898). San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Puerto 2001
101 Appendix B: Timeline of Puerto Rican Political Parties 1870: First two political parties are formed in Puerto Rico Partido Liberal Conservador is founded by Jos R. Fernandez, Pablo Ubarri, F ransico Paula Acua Partido Liberal Reformista is founded by Romn Baldority de Castro, Jos Julin Acosta, Nicols Aguay, Pedro Gernimo Gocio 1898: The first two political parties dissolve 1899: Partido Republicano is founded by, Jos Celso Barbosa Partido Federal Americano is founded by Luis Muoz Rivera 1904: Partido Federal dissolves, Matienzo Cintrn creates el Partido Unionista, Luis Muoz Rivera is made leader of the party. 1920: Partido Socialista is founded by Santiago Iglesias Panti n 1922: Partido Nacionalista is founded. 1924: Partido Republicano dissolves 1929: Partido Liberal is founded be Juan Romero Barcel 1931: The Unionist party dissolves and becomes part of the Partido Liberal 1937: Partido Popular Democratico (PPD) is founded by Luis Muoz Marn 1939: The Partido Socialista dissolves 1940: The Partido Liberal Dissolves 1946: Puerto Rican Independence Party is founded by Gilberto Concepcin de Gracias 1956: Partido Estadista Republicano is founded 1965: Partido Nacionalista dissolves
102 1967: Partido Nuevo Progresista is founded183 183 Morales Carrion, Arturo. Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983.
103 Appendix C: Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico We, the people of Puerto Rico, in order to organize ourselves politically on a fully democratic basis, to promote the general welfare, and to secure for ourselves and our posterity the complete enjoyment of human rights, placing our trust in Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the commonwealth which, in the exercise of our natural rights, we now create wit hin our union with the United States of America. In so doing, we declare: The democratic system is fundamental to the life of the Puerto Rican community; We understand that the democratic system of government is one in which the will of the people is the s ource of public power, the political order is subordinate to the rights of man, and the free participation of the citizen in collective decisions is assured; We consider as determining factors in our life our citizenship of the United States of America and our aspiration continually to enrich our democratic heritage in the individual and collective enjoyment of its rights and privileges; our loyalty to the principles of the Federal Constitution; the co existence in Puerto Rico of the two great cultures of t he American Hemisphere; our fervor for education; our faith in justice; our devotion to the courageous, industrious, and peaceful way of life; our fidelity to individual human values above and beyond social position, racial differences, and economic intere sts; and our hope for a better world based on these principles. ARTICLE I THE COMMONWEALTH Section 1. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby constituted. Its political power emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance with their will, within the terms of the compact agreed upon between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States of America. Section 2. The government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall be republican in form and its legislative, judicial and executive branches as established by this Constitution shall be equally subordinate to the sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico.
104 Section 3. The political authority of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall extend to the Island of Puerto Rico and to the adjacent islands with in its jurisdiction. Section 4. The seat of the government shall be the city of San Juan.184 184 The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pue rto Rico http://www.topuertorico.org/constitu.shtml (Accessed May 14,2010)