Early American Rule of Puerto Rico

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Early American Rule of Puerto Rico

Ideally Puerto Rico was to mold itself into the perfect American product. Politically Puerto Rico was to remain inferior by following American rules and regulations that restricted the liberties of the people. Economically it was expected to provide capitol growth for the United States while neglecting the popular masses. Through the process of Americanization, the hope was to create a second America on the island. Here the people would look to the mainland for inspiration and more importantly guidance. The general intentions and plans for the island, however, backfired in that the actual goals and feelings of the people were never taken into account.

Upon the arrival of the Americans, Puerto Ricans, for the most part, rejoiced in hopes of new liberties not found under Spanish colonial rule. Puerto Ricans expected “under American sovereignty that the wrongs of centuries” would “be righted.” (Trias-Monge 36) The United States would surely extend its democratic policies to Puerto Rico, as it should to any of its other parts. The U.S., however, did not consider Puerto Rico as part of the mainland. Joseph Foraker, senate member, captured the American sentiment: “Puerto Rico belongs to the United States, but is not the United States, nor a part of the United States.” (Fernandez 2) The basic assumption that the U.S. would create legislation equal to that of the mainland lasted only a brief period. Puerto Ricans were made clear on the American position. The ultimate authority belonged to the U.S. Government as only they were seen fit to govern the affairs of the island. The American government was openly adamant in declaring the people inferior and incapable of ruling themselves due to their race as the genetic successors of the Spanish. “Puerto Ricans were an inferior offspring of an already middle-level race.” (Fernandez 13) More importantly the inhabitants of Puerto Rico were dismissed on the basis on their skin color. As non-white they were compared to small children. “The Latino was presented as a ‘black child’”. (Fernandez 13), who at that time was at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. With this image in mind the United States continued its fatherly role and created several policies that would have destructive effects on the island.

Through the organic acts mainly the Foraker and Jones acts, the liberties of the Puerto Ricans were curtailed. “Within the legal channels provided by the Foraker act.

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