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  • - The First of its Kind

    "...What is is an online magazine where melones, autonomists, realista independence supporters, leftist Popular Party members, and practical writers can express themselves. The site wishes to be open, dynamic, and maintain a radical but practical perspective on Puerto Rico's issues. is a meeting ground for thinkers, intellectuals, pragmatics, and analysts. A "melon think tank," you might say. is also the first and only melón publication in the history of contemporary Puerto Rico...."

  • #2
    Bashing Melones!

    Originally posted by Ecuajey
    [i]"...What is is an online magazine where melones, autonomists, realista independence supporters, leftist Popular Party members, and practical writers can express themselves.

    Good Luck! But keep your eyes open because the Statehooders
    are busy coming up with a new model. They want to join the
    US "progressive" forces and go for a Caribbean State with San Juan, Puerto Rico as the capital!

    I kid you not, check it out:

    Three Futures, One Unending Past

    A Presentation by L. Craig Schoonmaker, Chairman
    Expansionist Party of the United States
    October 2000

    Without intending to, Puerto Ricans may be provoking a rupture with the past that will force them to choose a future. And it's about time — no: it's long past time for Puerto Rico to choose a future.


    The Unending Past: "Commonwealth"

    The Three Futures:

    Capital of an American Caribbean

    Edited by Yautia (because it was so looong. But go to the web and find the page. Great photographs!).


    Puerto Rico is the world's oldest colony, never having been independent since its military occupation by Spain in 1508. For 33 years, I have promoted Statehood for Puerto Rico to end the disgrace of colonialism in the last years of the 20th Century. I co-founded the Expansionist Party ("XP") in part to bring Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands into the Nation as a combined State. The "PR" subdirectory on my computer contains dozens of letters to Presidents and Vice Presidents, Senators and Representatives, newspapers and opinion leaders on the mainland and island. ("PR" is the U.S. Postal Service's zip-code abbreviation for "Puerto Rico", a convenient and fully respectful abbreviation.)

    But divided loyalties on the island, and hidden forces of racism, linguistic jingoism and fear, and religious bigotry on the mainland have worked to keep Puerto Rico at bay. Now, strident anti-Navy activism by Puerto Ricans on the eastern island of Vieques threaten to poison relations with the U.S., which might finally bring things to a head.

    This presentation sets forth reasons the United States should end Puerto Rico's neo-colonial condition and create it into a State or, if its people refuse to step up to statehood, an independent country. Either way, the U.S. will cleanse itself of the taint of colonialism in the Caribbean.

    We at XP wish to welcome our Puerto Rican fellow citizens into the Union and join their votes to ours in fighting the good fight for enlightened policy toward social and economic justice at home and abroad. But if they won't help, they can at least stop hurting. Accusations — and worse, the reality — of U.S. colonialism with regard to Puerto Rico injure the United States in its relations with the world, and confuse its policy regarding equal rights for all citizens.

    As I write, we are just three weeks before the 2000 U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections, elections Puerto Rico cannot participate in because PR is not a state. A bizarre ruling by a Puerto Rican judge that U.S. citizens whose sole residence is in Puerto Rico can vote for President was overturned, as it had to be, by an appellate court last week. The only vote for President that counts is the vote of the Electoral College. Representation in the Electoral College is determined by the number of representatives a given state has in the two houses of Congress. In that Puerto Rico has no representatives in Congress, it consequently has no vote in the Electoral College, so cannot vote for President. The Constitution is clear, and the judge on the island who wasted everyone's time and a lot of public money with a preposterous ruling should be booted off the bench. Courts cannot bestow on their own nonexistent authority rights that do not exist in the Constitution.

    So the over 2 million votes Puerto Rico could cast if it were a state, the two Senators and six Representatives it could add to the progressive forces battling for primacy in Congress, will not be cast this election because Puerto Rico refuses to step up to statehood.

    (Postscript, December 11, 2000: Might this election have turned out differently if Puerto Rico had voted? The Presidential contest might not have, since Florida turned out to be pivotal, and Florida has three times the electoral vote Puerto Rico would have. But I suspect the 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate would instead have been 52-50, advantage Democrats, and most or all of the House votes would as well have gone Democratic. But we'll never know, because Puerto Rico in fact did not vote in the national election.)

    We want Puerto Rico to serve as core of a wide Caribbean union of what are now poor and often backward microstates. We think that that is a future filled with purpose and promise, in which Puerto Rico can serve as bridge between the First and Third Worlds, North and South, the English-speaking world and La Hispanidad. We believe Puerto Ricans can handle such responsibilities well. But if they won't be even so minimally responsible as to take their place in Congress as an island state to themselves, then they must be forced out of the U.S. realm into the dignity of their own nationhood.


    For several months a petulant Puerto Rico has indignantly demanded that the U.S. Navy abandon its Vieques shooting range, a facility it has used for over 50 years to train Americans for the Nation's huge military responsibilities all around the world. Some 9,300 people on the island pretend to "suffer" from that use, and one civilian security guard was killed last year when a bomb exploded outside its intended target. ONE person was killed, and he was a Navy employee.

    Even the supposedly pro-statehood Governor of Puerto Rico in 1999, Pedro Rosselló, has made common cause with this infantile petulance, giving no heed to the fact that should Puerto Rican ingratitude become widely understood in the U.S., demands will likely rise that Puerto Rico be cut off from all U.S. benefits, including citizenship, and forced into independence. Acts bear consequences.

    For over three decades I have supported statehood for Puerto Rico. As a kid of 22 in 1967, I traveled to the island during its first status referendum campaign to hand out flyers for the estadistas. Now, I'm not so sure.

    Let me say aloud what almost all Americans feel, so Puerto Ricans might appreciate how dangerous their behavior regarding Vieques may prove:

    "Has there ever been so ungrateful a bunch as the people of Puerto Rico? Given 11 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars each year, year in and year out, Puerto Ricans refuse to do anything to earn such handouts. Asked one thing only, to permit the Navy to conduct maneuvers on the worthless island of Vieques, Puerto Ricans adamantly shout 'No!'
    No? How dare you?!

    If Puerto Rico, not the U.S., is your "country" and you refuse to live up to any responsibility of U.S. citizenship whatsoever — refuse to take statehood and thus your place in the House and Senate to fight, with votes, for the good and necessary things in society; refuse to pay taxes to the national treasury; refuse to speak English; refuse to allow maneuvers on Vieques — then it's time for us to refuse to permit you to take from our treasury any longer.

    Get into the Union, or get out. Assume the responsibilities of either U.S. citizenship or Puerto Rican nationhood, but stop demanding that Uncle Sam support you but demand nothing of you.

    And the next time a hurricane hits, pay for the damage yourselves."

    It is not enough, nor even appropriate, for Americans to look upon Puerto Rico's psychological dependency and say, guiltily, "We did that to them, in keeping them in colonial dependency." The U.S. has been ready for decades for Puerto Rico to step up to statehood or independence any time the people of the island should so decide. Almost every major politician on both sides of the aisle has said so again and again. No, it is Puerto Ricans who cherish their colonialist chains and will not shed them.

    Shaking Puerto Rico Awake. Congress should unilaterally terminate "Commonwealth" and force Puerto Rico to choose between statehood and independence ONLY — fish or cut bait! If the voters opt for independence, then Congress should provide that any Puerto Rican who votes in any election of an independent Puerto Rico or who assumes any position in its government, by that act forfeits U.S. citizenship forever. Indeed, if some legal scholars are correct that the 1917 grant of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans born on the island is revocable, Congress should, immediately after Puerto Rico independence, revoke U.S. citizenship for any Puerto Rican not born on U.S. territory.

    We are not helpless to strike back at people who insult our nationality, refuse our language, and live irresponsible lives at our expense.

    The present relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico is destructive to both parties. It enables Puerto Ricans to lounge around on welfare — the whole island is effectively on welfare, for it receives $11 billion from a Treasury it does not contribute to — while nonetheless feeling aggrieved and "entitled" to special treatment. This dependency robs Puerto Ricans of initiative, self-reliance, and self-respect. The very-unequal relationship between a tiny island and the world's one superpower has confused Puerto Ricans' identity and muddled their culture.

    Instead of becoming a bridge between two worlds, the English-speaking nations of the First World in the North and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Third World to the South, Puerto Rico has become an outcast from both. The U.S. and La Hispanidad speak to each other thru Miami, not San Juan. ):

    Puerto Rico is ideally located geographically and culturally
    to serve as bridge between Anglo and Latin America, but refuses that role.

    For its part, the U.S. has had to accommodate at home a foreign language, Spanish, because of a special relationship with Puerto Rico that most Americans don't understand and don't want.

    Because millions of people "born under the U.S. flag" have Spanish as their native language, the argument goes, Spanish must be accorded special recognition. Absent the Puerto Rican connection, however, current requirements of special treatment for Spanish — and, by illogical extension, for all other languages on the planet — are profoundly weakened.

    Americans who resent demands by foreigners that the Nation accommodate them have good reason to terminate the present destructive tie to Puerto Rico and send a powerful message to all minority language communities: no, it is not for us to adjust around you, but for you to adjust around us.

    What does the United States get from Puerto Rico that is worth even remotely $11 billion a year?

    Puerto Rico is a perpetual embarrassment to the United States, first because it is a depressed area economically, in which drug addiction and crime are rampant, and second because it is a colony, which has caused the United Nations and many foreign countries to rebuke the U.S. — rightly — for maintaining colonies at the end of the 20th Century.

    Mississippi, poorest State of the Union, is TWICE as 'RICH' as Puerto Rico. Twice! Contrary to Puerto Rico's official government propaganda, the island is not a "shining star in the Caribbean" but a backward, perpetually depressed reproach to U.S. colonialism. Its people lack motivation, because they are taken care of by an indulgent Uncle. Too many lack a work ethic, because they have spent decades on welfare. Many are alienated from their own culture and from the wider Nation's culture, and have no morality. They commit crimes casually, as tho crime has no moral onus. Scores or hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans are hooked on hard drugs, and some participate enthusiastically in the international drug trade that has ravaged the mainland.

    On the plus side, we have only two things: (1) Puerto Rico is not a second Cuba in the Caribbean; and (2) the Navy has, in Vieques, a splendid firing range for war games. Now, however, Puerto Rico's leadership wants to end the Navy's use of Vieques, which would leave only one thing — in the world — to argue for a continued U.S. tie to Puerto Rico: to prevent that island from going Communist and becoming a thorn in the lion's paw. Is that reason enough to preserve a mutually destructive relationship? We don't think so.

    Cuba, Jr.?
    Is the danger of Puerto Rico going Communist (a) serious or (b) dangerous to U.S. interests?

    The Puerto Rican independence movement is, quite true, shot-thru with Communists. Its leader, Rubén Berríos Martínez, is openly Communist (tho he may call himself something else, like "Socialist"). Thirty years of his writings and utterances show him to be an admirer of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Communist movements all over the world. He distrusts capitalism and hates the United States, even tho the U.S. bestowed its citizenship upon him and grants him every right of citizenship, even the right to make unfair and preposterous accusations against the United States.

    Consider this paragraph from an article in the September 23, 1995 issue of the New York City Communist publication Peoples Weekly World by José Cruz, who is described at the end of the article as "a member of the Puerto Rican Equality Commission of the Communist Party USA."

    "Besides the independence movement led by business elements, there also has been since early 20th century a working class tradition in the independence movement. This culminated in the founding of the Puerto Rican Communist Party (PCP) on the anniversary of El Grito de Lares: September 23, 1934. The PCP was the first organization that fought both for socialism and independence. Puerto Rican Marxists have always held that gaining independence is an indispensable precondition to winning a socialist society."
    That article is one of 11 items on the independence index page of the too-inclusive website Puerto Rico 51, which purports to be pro-statehood but allows its site to be used for anti-statehood propaganda, out of misguided notions of fairness to the other options. The opponents of statehood can perfectly well state their own case on their own websites. The Puerto Rico 51 website is a perfect example of the divided-mind syndrome that keeps Puerto Rico chained to the past.

    Another of the items on that page is a link to the 1996 "Lares Declaration to the World" condemning "Commonwealth" as a plot by the U.S. to keep the UN's Special Committee on Decolonization from compelling the U.S. to account for its behavior in Puerto Rico. That item is from the "Patria Grande" website, on which appears this picture, alongside a full paragraph quote glorifying their hero of the Puerto Rico independence movement. Now, who might their hero be? Not sure?

    To the right is a picture of him with a friend. I'll give you a hint: They are not Puerto Ricans. The one on the left is Cuban. The one on the right, Patria Grande's poster child, was born in Argentina. They both smoked Cuban cigars.

    If you still haven't "got it", here's a stylized reworking of a photo that shows him in his most famous form.

    Got it? It's Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Communist revolutionary "hero". Born in Argentina, he killed "fascists" in Cuba and Bolivia, and was killed by "counterrevolutionaries" in Bolivia.

    For most Puerto Ricans, Cuba is not an inspiration but a cautionary tale. They seek not so much to emulate Cuba as to avoid the wrong turns which that benighted society has made.

    So even if Puerto Rico should opt for independence or be thrown out of the U.S. realm by Congress, it is unlikely that Borinquen would become a second Cuba.

    Moreover, Puerto Rico is very small, so even if it did go Communist, it couldn't cause much trouble. First, its neighbors are too wary of Communism for Puerto Rico to accomplish much in the way of subversion. Second, the establishment of a second Cuba would more likely drive Caribbean countries closer to the U.S. than farther away. Third, the U.S. could easily throw up a blockade or embargo around Puerto Rico just as effective as that around Cuba. And fourth, no one can dismiss the possibility of an enraged U.S. making military war upon a Communist Puerto Rico and killing every turncoat on the island by carpet bombing, napalm, smart bombs, etc. We could, in short, turn the whole of Puerto Rico into a bombing range were Puerto Rico to become a menace to its neighbors and to the U.S.

    Preventing Puerto Rico from going Communist is surely not worth $11 billion a year, year after year, stolen from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers and turned over to Puerto Ricans who don't appreciate the assistance but harbor infantile resentments against their benefactors.

    Certainly not all Puerto Ricans are on welfare, food stamps. or other Federal benefits. And yes, most Puerto Ricans are hard-working, self-supporting individuals. But there is nonetheless a mental laziness about those Puerto Ricans who refuse to break from the past. Luis Muñoz Marín wasn't mentally lazy. He saw problems that neither the status quo nor Communist-tainted 'revolution' would solve, and devised "Commonwealth" as the cure.

    In its day, "Commonwealth" was a huge step forward. But "Commonwealth" has run out of steam and no longer works.

    Where is the new Luis Muñoz Marín to move Puerto Rico forward?

    We don't need a new status to be created. Statehood is an old status, but it would solve all of Puerto Rico's economic and political problems. It would not, however, solve Puerto Rico's fundamental cultural unease: can an island be both a State of the United States and an integral part of Latin America? No one knows, because no State of the Union is, yet, basically Spanish-speaking.

    The U.S. does not force Hispanics to speak English. But will Latinos in a State of Puerto Rico voluntarily give up Spanish to be more American? That's a risk many Puerto Ricans are unwilling to take, because they fear in their hearts that Spanish is inferior to English and, in a fair fight, English will beat Spanish every time.

    Bilingualism is, to such people, unacceptable. They know that speaking two languages is hard for most people, so many will lose the less useful language in order to focus on the more useful. Their betting is that English will be the more useful language, Spanish the less useful, and over time the bulk of bilinguals will become unilingual in English.

    Two questions thus arise: (1) is it true that English will necessarily be more useful in Puerto Rico? and (2) will people in general choose to be unilingual, even tho it plainly is easier, as against being bilingual?

    Most people who do not HAVE to speak more than one language, and do not USE more than one language regularly, are happiest to speak only one. Puerto Rican nationalists want the one language that Puerto Ricans speak to be Spanish.

    But if economics, cultural considerations, family pressure, and simple day-to-day usefulness mandate fluency in more than one language, most people who are able to master more than one language will retain both / all their languages, at least for their own lifetime.

    Language is not hereditary. It has to be learned by each generation. Any member of any generation can break the chain, and here, "chain" must mean both "continuity" and "prison". A parent who speaks Spanish can teach a child Spanish. A parent who no longer speaks Spanish, or doesn't want his or her child to speak Spanish, will NOT teach the child Spanish.

    There's a problem here for Puerto Rican nationalists, however: Is SPANISH the authentic language of Puerto Rico?

    Many Puerto Ricans call the island "Borinquen", which is a slight variation from a Taíno (Arawakan) Indian word, "Boriquen". The Spanish exterminated the Taínos (with some help from the fierce Carib Indians). Moreover, many Puerto Ricans trace their ancestry to Africa, where many languages were spoken. So why would Puerto Ricans hold Spanish, which eradicated the Taíno / Arawakan Indian languages and all the African languages of their ancestors, hold Spanish in beloved esteem?

    English is at least as authentic a Puerto Rican language as Spanish. It has been spoken in Puerto Rico for over 100 years, albeit by a minority. Much of the Puerto Rican political and intellectual elite speaks at least some English, and many speak perfect, unaccented American English. Do Puerto Ricans accept that English is a Puerto Rican language? No. That does not make it any the less true. They identify it with the United States, even tho it was the language of Britain long before it was the language of the United States and a language of Germany long before it was a language of Britain. The United States took up the language of its colonial parent, England, just as Puerto Rico took up the language of its colonial parent, Spain. Neither language originated in Puerto Rico, but both have become integral parts of Puerto Rican culture, economics, and politics. English is not just an authentic Puerto Rican language, but is indeed the first and sometimes only language spoken by the bulk of Puerto Ricans born on the mainland.

    Still, Puerto Ricans on the island resist English, even tho it could prove enormously useful to their economic and cultural future. They thus subvert their future. Have we any reason to encourage them to subvert their future? No.

    There can be no reason for the United States to preserve the current, mutually destructive relationship with Puerto Rico. That colonial arrangement is a thing of the past. It's time for us to end it, unilaterally if need be.

    Ending the Unending Past.
    Puerto Ricans live in the past. It's time for them to face the future.

    The Expansionist Party would offer Puerto Ricans three futures, and force islanders to choose among them. Time is running out on Puerto Ricans' endless past as dependent colonials who live in perpetual political infancy.

    "These lava arches are on the North coast just East of Arecibo at the 'Cueva del Indio', an interesting archeological site comprising a cave with Taíno Petroglyphs on the wall. There's a small concession called 'El Coayuco' which is all you see from the road. They sell snacks etc. and will let you camp for a small fee. Be careful camping here, stay only if they provide some safety measures." ( The last sentence of this description is but one of many warnings about crime in Puerto Rico that is so bad that it blights the island's magnificent attractions and costs the tourist industry dearly.


    Borinquen; P.R.; "La Isla Encantada"; The "Commonwealth" of Puerto Rico; "el Estado Libre Asociado" — whatever you may call it, Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world, 507 years old to date, and seems intent on remaining so. It's the Cats of colonies: world's longest-running show, but with no sign of closing. Even Cats eventually closed, in September 2000. Had we closed Puerto Rico's colonial era around the same time, Puerto Ricans could have voted for President and Congress in the year 2000.

    At some point, the United States has to pull the plug on colonialism, out of our own principles. The United States arose from anti-colonialism. It is grotesque that the country that started the modern anti-imperialist drive should itself have colonies.

    Temporary Status, Permanent Infantilism.
    Puerto Ricans must move to the political maturity of either statehood, sharing the Nation's sovereignty with other citizens, or nationhood, assuming their own sovereignty and their own citizenship. If they will not willingly turn their back on colonialism, they must be stripped of colonial status by Congress and forced to grow up.

    Puerto Rico is a 27-year-old single man who lives with his parents and refuses even to pay rent. He won't look for his own place, do his own laundry, help with chores, or accept criticism. "Tough Love" tells us what to do with such an aging, spoiled brat: throw him out! It's not good for anyone for such a "child" to remain perpetually infantile and irresponsible. He doesn't want to grow up? Tough. Force him to.


    Christopher Columbus discovered the island that was to become known as "Puerto Rico" on his second voyage to the New World, on November 19, 1493 — 507 years ago. Spanish colonists arrived in 1508 on the island they called "San Juan Bautista" ("Saint John the Baptist" — not to be confused with the island of Saint John in the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands). So San Juan was the first Spanish name of the island, not the capital. "Puerto Rico" ("Rich Port") was the name these early arrivals gave to their first successful major settlement, a port town on a slender islet that protected a capacious harbor in which multitudinous galleons could anchor, uncrowded. In the course of time, for reasons clear to no one, these names flipflopped: the island became known as a port and the city became known by the saint's name.

    The old Taíno Indian name for the island, "Borikén" or "Boriquen", mutated to "Borinquen" and became a fond nickname in the heart of every "Borinqueño" / "Borinqueña" (for Spanish is gender-specific: -O for male, -A for female).

    For the next 390 years, Spain built up its Borinquen colony under various major and minor figures, including the famed searcher in Florida for the Fountain of Youth, Juan Ponce de León, conqueror (1508) and first governor of Puerto Rico, after whom the island's third-largest city (Ponce) is named. But Spain also devastated the natives, who were driven to extinction in pure form due to harsh slavery ("forced labor") and reprisals against military resistance to Spanish rule, but who remain visible to this day in the rich racial mix that stamps most Puerto Ricans. Around the same time the Spanish were taking over Borinquen, fierce Carib Indians were also attacking the Taíno Indians, and between the two aggressors, the Taínos were pretty much exterminated. After one Taíno assault upon the Spanish, Ponce de León issued an order that 6,000 were to be killed (out of a total pre-Columbian population of perhaps 30,000 to 60,000).

    Ponce de León, who fought Indians safely
    in Puerto Rico... died of injuries inflicted by them in Florida.

    Having decimated native sources of physical labor, Spain brought black Africans to work the mines and tend the fields. (Indeed, one source says that in 1514 one Hernando de Peralta received permission to obtain 2 white slaves, possibly Arab or Arab descent. In the same year, the Spanish Crown granted Spaniards permission to marry Taíno Indians. You see, Spain's early settlers were all men. If a permanent colony was to be created, local women would have to bear Spanicized children.

    In 1517 the Crown authorized the importation of 4,000 black slaves to the Caribbean. The new arrivals interbred, first with each other, from different African communities, then with the Indians and whites around them. Most classes in Puerto Rico show that mix in a wide variety of skin tones, hair textures, and facial features. The ruling class, however, remained, during the Spanish era and even into the present, almost wholly white. So much for Puerto Rico's vaunted racial blindness. The face of the government and business elites of La Isla Encantada ("The Enchanted Isle"), so proud of its racial mix, is almost purely white. Some members of the elites are, in fact, blond! Moreover, Spain did not abolish slavery in Puerto Rico until 1873 — ten years after the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States — and abolition wasn't effective until 1876.

    Reform or Revolt.
    Late in the Nineteenth Century, some Puerto Ricans began to chafe under rule from Madrid. Local government had limited powers, and everyone answered to Madrid. The Spanish Empire was not a democracy and not a federal union. It was a monarchy and centralized state. All decisions originated in and were issued from Madrid. The 'right' of the colonials was to obey Madrid's orders.

    That might have been all well and good when the locals identified as Spaniards, for having been born in Spain, still having family there, etc. But over time Puerto Rico's leadership elite became creole: born on the island, disconnected from the metropolis. The creoles did not see themselves as being in any way intrinsically inferior to their cousins in Iberia, so resented being dictated to from afar. They began to demand (1) local autonomy and (2) representation in Spain's parliament, the Cortes.

    "Grito de Lares" flag

    Early in the 19th Century, Spain arrogantly refused such power-sharing to its other American colonies — and lost almost all of them to armed revolt. On September 23, 1868, long after all of mainland Spanish America had achieved independence, several hundred Puerto Ricans staged a brief revolt in the town of Lares, demanding independence for their island. This "Grito de Lares" ("Cry of Lares") is cherished in Puerto Rican historical memory, but it achieved little except to alert the authorities in Madrid that there was active discontent on the island.

    At the end of the century in which it lost so many colonies and so much power, wealth, and pride, Spain dreaded losing the last of its colonies, so was more amenable to compromise.

    Autonomous Puerto Rico's peso,
    issued for a few years at the end of the 19th Century

    Spain agreed to Puerto Rico's demands. But something was wrong. Even tho Puerto Rico had substantial local autonomy by 1897, Puerto Ricans were not content in the Empire. Puerto Ricans joined the Cuban independence movement as a Puerto Rican Section, based their flag on the Cuban nationalist flag, with colors reversed, and, when the U.S. declared war on Spain because of the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, quickly offered intelligence and other assistance to the enemies of their Empire.

    Spain's Time Runs Out.
    At the end of the 19th Century, Spain — once the world's mightiest empire, spanning the entire Iberian Peninsula, then jumping to the Canary Islands in the Atlantic to the Antilles to Mexico to Peru to Argentina in the Americas to the Philippines in Asia and small colonies in West Africa — was reduced in the Western Hemisphere to just Cuba and Puerto Rico.

    Cuba Libre! (No, not the drink (rum and coke). That was the slogan of Cuba's war for independence at the end of the 19th Century.) The modern history of Puerto Rico is intimately connected with the history of Cuba; and it is because of Cuba that Puerto Rico entered the U.S. realm.

    Cuba, largest island of the Caribbean, had been known as the "Ever-Faithful Isle", for remaining true to the great Spanish Empire when colonials everywhere else were in revolt. But, endlessly refused equality as Spaniards and denied representation in the Cortes, Cubans did eventually revolt militarily, whereupon they fell victim to Spain's 'last stand' mentality. Spain sent its best and bloodiest general, Valeriano Weyler, to suppress the rebellion. He herded Cubans in war zones into "concentration camps", which then meant only places in which a widely scattered peasant population would be concentrated in a small and easily defended place. But, due to appalling neglect and maladministration, "concentration camps" became prisons, then death camps. Hundreds, then thousands of men, women, and children died from neglect, exposure, starvation and disease..

    U.S. public opinion reacted with extreme hostility to Spain itself for the acts of Spain's minions in Cuba. "Yellow journalists" and editorialists, most importantly William Randolph Hearst in his New York Journal, plumped for war for the poor, downtrodden Cuban people, who should be saved from Spanish oppression and brought into the Union.

    The annexation of Cuba by the United States had long been regarded as nearly inevitable, given that island's closeness to the U.S. and dependence upon the U.S. market.

    The U.S. Government sent a second-class battleship, the Maine, to Havana harbor to defend the interests of U.S. citizens resident there and provide escape to the mainland if that should be necessary. The Maine mysteriously exploded at anchor on the night of February 15, 1898, killing over 260 American sailors, from causes no one to this day knows for sure.

    The Nation, shocked, mourned. The crew, for the most part, would have been asleep. Those not killed outright by the blast would have wakened to find themselves below decks in a sinking ship. Before they fully appreciated what was happening, they would have been up to their necks in water, their heads hitting the ceiling. Hoping against hope for a rescue that could not come, they would instinctively have held their breath against the end, and died in agony. American mothers and fathers, imagining that end, grieved spasmodically, but the Nation did not rush to judgment.

    Maine steaming into Havana Harbor.

    Most Americans today think the U.S. flew, in a rage, into war against Spain on the basis of a 'half-baked theory' that Spain had blown up the Maine. The reality is that the Nation waited, if impatiently, for an official Court of Inquiry to investigate and report. The Kansas City Star editorially insisted that "A great nation can afford to take time to be perfectly just."

    Most modern thinking — by "revisionist" (anti-American) historians — seems to hold with the exploding-boiler theory: an accident that was wrongly blamed upon terrorism initiated by either Spain or by rebels intent on blaming Spain. The Court of Inquiry, however, concluded, March 28, 1898, that the ship had indeed been blown up by an underwater mine. It seems to me more than a little arrogant for modern historians to pretend they know better, a century later, than did a commission of inquiry at the time. (Why, exactly, would a ship resting stock-still in a harbor, in the middle of the night, in the tropics, have a boiler running so hot as to explode?)

    Commenting upon the controversy, Stanford University's Thomas A. Bailey in his landmark college text A Diplomatic History of the American People says:

    "The report made no attempt to fix responsibility. Granting that there had been a mine, it might have been touched off accidentally [oh? why was there a mine in Havana Harbor, a busy port?]; it might have been exploded by the Cubans to bring America to their aid; it might have been employed by irresponsible Spanish subalterns or loyalists. The least rational explanation of all is that the Madrid government, which was desperately trying to avert war, had deliberately destroyed the vessel. Nor can one rule out entirely the possibility of an internal explosion: accidents of this kind have occurred on warships with distressing frequency.
    Mast of the sunken battleship Maine poking above the waves.

    "But the lid was now off. To the unthinking American masses an external explosion meant only one thing: Spain had treacherously blown up the ship in an act, cried Senator Allen, of 'wholesale murder.' Restraint and suspended judgment were thrown to the winds. The slogan of the hour became:

    Remember the Maine!
    To hell with Spain!"

    No matter the cause of the sinking of the Maine, U.S. opinion was now so incensed that war was inevitable. Spain may have hoped to retain its dignity as the oldest of Europe's great colonial empires, however much reduced in geographic fact it may have been by revolt after revolt in its New World colonies, but it was up against the greatest power of the Western Hemisphere, at a time when it wasn't even one of the great powers of the Eastern Hemisphere. The U.S. trounced Spain in a trice — war was declared effective April 21, 1898, and Spain sued for peace on July 17: less than 3 months later. The world's political map was redrawn, and an upstart New World federation became a world power by destroying the oldest and grandest of Europe's empires.

    Alas, the U.S. was not to annex Cuba, even tho Spain very much wanted us to (in order to assume Cuba's national debt). As part of its (effective) declaration of war, Congress had passed the most astoundingly stupid piece of legislation ever approved by any government in the history of the world: the infamous "self-denying Teller Amendment", which proclaimed that no matter what, the U.S. would not annex Cuba.

    Heraldic shield of Spanish Cuba.

    The New York Sun of March 25, 1898 spoke for the true believers in this astounding idiocy:

    "No annexation talk, so far as Cuba is concerned! If the United States government undertakes this high enterprise [war], there must be no taint of ulterior self-interest in its motives.
    "For human lives and the liberty of human beings, for Cuba Libre; not for an extension of United States territory!"

    So, out of idiotic naivete and a desire to show up Europeans for the imperialist scum they were (Europe's more vigorous empires were carving up the bulk of the planet around then) and show ourselves to be nobly unselfish by contrast, the U.S., which had long wanted Cuba to enter the Union, forswore even an attempt to persuade Cubans to join our federation voluntarily. We settled instead for the notorious "Platt Amendment", which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs to preserve (our version) of democracy.

    The result of our pure-minded devotion to the people of Cuba was to grant them a "freedom" they could not possibly secure. It was to be eroded by petty tyrants before the U.S. gave up even the Platt Amendment in 1934 — which paved the way for the rise of Fulgencio Batista, a major tyrant whose excesses gave a devious lawyer from Oriente province a chance to pose as champion of the oppressed masses and win a guerrilla war to "free" Cuba. Alas, that lawyer, Fidel Castro Ruz, was later to admit, "I have been a Marxist-Leninist all along, and will remain one until I die." Challenged by reporters to explain why he hadn't let his Communist leanings be known from the outset, Fidel proclaimed (approximate quote),

    "If I had told them where I was leading them, they wouldn't have gone."

    Fortunately, the U.S. issued no "self-denying" proclamation about any other area, and so, at the end of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. took from Spain the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and finally concluded a deal to annex the independent country Hawaii, which had offered itself to the U.S. (on condition of immediate statehood) in 1854.

    Bitter Fruits of the Spanish-American War.
    The U.S. withdrew from Cuba in 1901, but left a Platt Amendment right to intervene to protect democracy until 1934. By 1959, Cuban democracy had been extinguished.

    The U.S. occupied the Philippines by force in 1898, fought a horrendous, nightmarish guerrilla war to secure the archipelago to the Nation, taught the islanders some English and some democratic values, then declared in the self-same 1934 that saw the U.S. abandon the Platt Amendment that it would give the Philippines independence in 1946.

    Despite the Japanese occupation (1941-45) and the enormous damage done by Japan's invasion, the valiantly Filipino-led and U.S.-supported guerrilla war against Japan, and the fight to expel Japanese forces from the island after appalling atrocities that ravaged hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, the U.S. kept to its promise and gave the islands their independence on July 4, 1946. July 4th. That would have been fitting had it not left the people of the Philippines open to dictatorship and the loss of their freedom by 1972.

    Cuba was "freed" from the Platt Amendment at the instance of the notorious anti-Expansionist Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who also gave the Philippines its "freedom". Philippine democracy was nearly lost to the Marcos dictatorship, but has been revived, because that dictatorship was authoritarian, not totalitarian; Rightist, not Communist; based on personal greed and cronyism, not part of a worldwide "revolution" run by mutually reinforcing zealots. It is because FDR caused so much harm to so many people and to democracy thru his mindless anti-Expansionism that we have placed him in the Anti-Expansionist Hall of Shame (

    Puerto Rico, post-1898.
    Cuba and the Philippines have had very dramatic histories in this century, 'thanks' to insane U.S. policy regarding independence. No way in the world should the U.S. have approved the "self-denying Teller Amendment", but annexed Cuba. No way should the U.S. have written off the Philippines as unworthy of statehood because Filipinos are 'yellow' or 'brown' rather than white. Who cares about that?

    The U.S. gave both Cuba and the Philippines independence, which it facilely but false equated with freedom. It never occurred to the people cheering the grant of independence that what they were actually bestowing might be lifelong hardship, even slavery.

    The Philippines restored its democracy after 21 years of Marcos misrule. Cuba is still suffering horrendous misrule by Fidel Castro, 40 years after he first tricked the people into winning his revolution for him.

    Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico ignores the wretched history of its imperial siblings and turns an ungrateful eye upon its benefactor, uniting in infantile indignation at the U.S. Navy's use of one offshore island for military exercises. If Cubans could have all the benefits Puerto Ricans enjoy at the sole cost of permitting comparable U.S. Navy exercises at Guantanamo, most would leap to embrace that 'oppression' as against the genuine political oppression and material hardship they endure every day.

    Hellhole of the Caribbean.
    Puerto Rico likes to think of itself as the most prosperous Spanish-speaking island of the Caribbean. It used to brag about being the richest nation of the West Indies, of any language group, but cannot any longer, because at least the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago have become substantially richer per capita. Puerto Rico has stagnated while others have moved ahead.

    But even such prosperity as Puerto Rico currently enjoys is relatively recent. There was a time when Puerto Rico was very, very poor, and viewed by its neighbors as pitiful and contemptible.

    Under Spain, Puerto Rico did not thrive.

    "The majority of Puerto Ricans lived in extreme poverty. Agriculture, the main source of income, was limited by lack of roads, rudimentary tools and equipment, and natural disasters, such as hurricanes and periods of drought. . . . illiteracy was 83.7 percent." — Magaly Rivera (entry under the year 1867, in an extraordinary timeline of Puerto Rico's entire five-century history).

    After U.S. takeover, purchases of many small plots of land by major agribusiness plantations reduced many thousands of jibaros (small farmers) to landless dependence upon seasonal fieldwork. They felt they had to sell, because their plots were just too small to be made competitive with major plantations, and they were hurting even before they sold.

    "What I found appalled me," John Gunther wrote, in Inside Latin America (1941), about his visit to Puerto Rico. "I saw native villages steaming with filth — villages dirtier than any I ever saw in the most squalid parts of China . . . . I saw children bitten by disease and on the verge of starvation, in slum dwellings — if you can call them dwellings — that make the hovels of Calcutta look healthy by comparison." Gunther reported that more than half of Puerto Rican children of school age didn't go to school, that the island had the highest infant-mortality rate in the world, and that it was the second most densely populated place on earth, after Java.
    From "The Other Underclass" by Nicholas Lemann, The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1991, issue. Volume 268, Number 6 (pages 96-110)

    "Slash and burn" agricultural practices and the need for wood for cooking led over time to stark deforestation. Almost nothing of Puerto Rico's original virgin forest cover survives. The photo to the left shows rural people using oxen to haul away timber from new agricultural plots they were creating by clearcutting the tropical forest. The photo below shows how thoroughly they did their work. The hillsides are so bare that a tobacco barn on the nearest slope towers above everything else, when in nature it would have been obscured by the forest canopy.

    Economic and Political Reform. Conditions gradually deteriorated until the Great Depression, when New Deal activists brought reforms to the island. San Juan-born but U.S.-educated journalist and politician Luis Muñoz Marín campaigned not just for economic reforms but also for structural change in the political relationship between the U.S. and islanders. He launched "Operation Bootstrap" in 1948. Puerto Ricans would "lift themselves up by their own bootstraps", with the help of U.S. investment. Operation Bootstrap provided tax incentives to lure U.S. business to the low-wage area of Puerto Rico, from which they could sell right back to the U.S. without import duties, because Puerto Rico is inside the U.S. tariff wall. Over time, such investments brought major changes to Puerto Rico's economy, shifting much labor from agriculture to manufacturing and tourism.

    Winging to the Mainland.

    Hard times nonetheless drove many Puerto Ricans to migrate to the U.S. mainland in search of work, and their U.S. citizenship allowed them to take jobs barred to foreigners. This outlet for Puerto Rican labor has served as a major factor in reducing unsustainable population pressure and unemployment. It has produced a mainland Puerto Rican population of about 2.8 million, most of whom have assimilated to the English-language culture but some of whom do not see themselves as permanent residents of the mainland, so refuse to assimilate. Hundreds of thousands move back and forth between island and mainland, depending upon economic and emotional conditions. This mass movement started in the 1940s, the period when Muñoz Marín was waking Puerto Ricans to their possibilities.

    The move to the mainland had many consequences, not least the loss of a substantial portion of the population. Today, 3.8 million Puerto Ricans live on the island and 2.8 million on the mainland. Many mainland "Puerto Ricans" or "Nuyoricans" (New York ' Ricans) of the second and third generations can't speak Spanish. Their parents or grandparents, on arriving, couldn't speak English, and experienced serious hardships because of that.

    Culture clash and competition with older arrivals for low-paid jobs led to physical clashes among individuals and then gangs. 1961's Best Movie Oscar winner, West Side Story, dramatized this urban warfare. Two years earlier, when West Side Story was running as a Broadway musical, one notorious interethnic homicide occurred mere blocks from the theater in a park just two doors from XP's former New York HQ. A flamboyant Puerto Rican youth, Salvador Agrón (dubbed the "Capeman" by the press for a cape he wore during the murder), killed two Anglo teens in an unprovoked gang attack. That hideous incident (in which two teenagers who belonged to no gang at all were set upon by strangers and beaten and stabbed to death for no reason) served as inspiration to internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Paul Simon to produce a musical in the 1990s (Capeman) that explored urban themes and the forms of Puerto Rican music. (The musical did not do well. But, then, neither did Agrón. Tho condemned to die for his cold-blooded viciousness, he received unwarranted mercy from New York's liberal Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Agrón played the 'model prisoner', "proved" that even double murderers could be "rehabilitated", and was released on parole after only 20 years in prison for brutally murdering two teenage boys. Fate was not as forgiving as New York State. Agrón died of natural causes at age 43!)

    In 1961's dazzling film West Side Story, an actress born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Rita Moreno, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She went on to become the first person ever to win all four biggest awards in show business: Oscar (movies), Tony (Broadway theater), Emmy (TV), and Grammy (recording)! As "Anita", Moreno sings the pro-American words in the rousing but biting song "America", while bitter gang members remind everyone of daily problems in the 'promised land'.

    (Anita) Puerto Rico, My heart's devotion, let it sink back in the ocean
    Always the hurricanes blowing, always the population growing
    And the money owing, and the sunlight streaming and the natives steaming
    I like the island of Manhattan, smoke on your pipe and put that in!
    (Girls) I like to be in America, OK by me in America, Everything free in America
    (Bernardo) For a small fee in America
    (Anita) Buying on credit is so nice
    (Bernardo) One look at us and they charge twice
    (Rosalia) I'll have my own washing machine.
    (Indio) What will you have, though, to keep clean?
    (Anita) Skyscrapers bloom in America
    (Rosalia) Cadillacs zoom in America
    (Girl) Industry boom in America
    (Boys) Twelve in a room in America.
    (Anita) Lots of new housing with more space
    (Bernardo) Lots of doors slamming in our face
    (Anita) I'll get the terrace apartment
    (Bernardo) Better get rid of your accent
    (Anita) Life can be bright in America
    (Boys) If you can fight in America
    (Girls) Life is all right in America
    (Boys) If you're all white in America
    (Girls) Here you are free and you have pride
    (Boys) Long as you stay on your own side
    (Girls) Free to be anything you choose
    (Boys) Free to wait tables and shine shoes
    (Bernardo) Everywhere grime in America, organized crime in America, terrible time in America
    (Anita) You forget I'm in America
    (Bernardo) I think I'll go back to San Juan
    (Anita) I know what boat you can get on
    (Bernardo) Everyone there will give big cheers
    (Anita) Everyone there will have moved here.
    New York has become the greatest of Puerto Rican cities. Two Puerto Ricans represent a sixth of the Nation's greatest city as members of the House of Representatives. But by many measures of economics and education, Puerto Ricans are still low on the totem pole — because they can't commit to the United States; to mastering English and every other aspect of living in this country.

    they aren't fully committed to making it on the mainland, so they don't put down deep neighborhood and associational roots, as other immigrants do, and they are constantly moving back and forth from Puerto Rico. Glazer and Moynihan wrote,

    "In 1958-1959, 10,600 children were transferred from Puerto Rican schools, and 6,500 were released to go to school in Puerto Rico . . . .Something new perhaps has been added to the New York scene — an ethnic group that will not assimilate to the same degree as others do . . ."
    This is known as the va y ven [go and come] syndrome * * *
    "If a Puerto Rican makes fifty or sixty thousand [dollars] a year here [NY], he wants to move back [to PR]," says Ramon Velez. "He wants to buy land, build a house." Black middle-class emigrants from ghettos tend to remain in the same metropolitan area. Middle-class Puerto Ricans who move back to Puerto Rico can hardly function as role models, political leaders, counselors, or enlargers of the economic pie for the people in the South Bronx. "Look around in Puerto Rico," Velez says. "The legislature, all the influential people — they're all from New York. Two of my former employees are in the state senate. Those who are able to achieve something here and make money, they go back."

    From "The Other Underclass" by Nicholas Lemann, The Atlantic Monthly (as above)

    Success comes easiest and most reliably when a person is single-minded and clear about what he wants. Puerto Ricans are not clear on what they want. Until they decide one way or the other, they will continue to fail at extraordinary rates.

    Even Luis Muñoz Marín, the most distinguished Puerto Rican politician of all time — the San Juan international airport is named for him — was profoundly conflicted. Born in Puerto Rico to a distinguished island family, he went to the mainland for his college education. He was fluently bilingual, but ended his life undecided about what Puerto Rico's ultimate destiny would be: statehood or independence. He put forward the bastardized half-in, half-out, confused and confusing "Commonwealth" status that keeps Puerto Rico in political turmoil, endlessly debating status. No one believes "Commonwealth" is permanent, but Puerto Ricans just can't bring themselves to renounce independence for good by declaring for statehood, so the island, and everyone on it, lives in limbo.

    Originally an independentista, Muñoz felt that the best interests of Puerto Ricans depended upon a continuing relationship with the U.S. He was unhappy, however, with various aspects of that relationship, so proposed changes to Congress. The Congress and President Truman agreed, so in 1952 they created the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico". (That's the English term; the Spanish, "Estado Libre Asociado" means "Free Associated State".) The "Commonwealth" was still, in truth, a colony, but it looked semi-independent on paper.

    "Commonwealth" Described. The U.S. no longer appointed the governor. Puerto Ricans got to vote their own governor in. Puerto Rico established its own constitution, which, however, may not contradict the U.S. Constitution. The government is modeled on that of the U.S., with a 27-member Senate and 51-member House of Representatives. The legislative and executive branches of government are separate, on the U.S. model, not joined on a parliamentary model; and terms of office are fixed, not subject to termination by vote of no-confidence.

    The courts are independent, and decisions of Puerto Rico's highest court can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to local courts, there is a U.S. District Court and a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The United States Postal Service delivers the mail. Duties on imports from countries outside the U.S. tariff wall are collected at Puerto Rico's borders but sent to the Puerto Rico Treasury, not the U.S. Treasury.

    Puerto Ricans are eligible to serve in the U.S. military and rise as high as their abilities take them. Puerto Ricans are eligible for some types of welfare benefits, such as food stamps. Federal transfer payments contribute to some Puerto Rico projects (such as roads, airports, etc.), but Puerto Rico does not qualify for all programs the states qualify for.

    Political Parties. The Popular Democratic Party (PDP: the "Populares") are the party of Luis Muñoz Marín, and both the chief defenders of the present "Commonwealth" relationship and main advocates of so-called "improved" or "perfected" Commonwealth, which would give Puerto Rico essentially all the economic rights of states without any of the obligations.

    The New Progressive Party (NPP) was formed in 1967 by Luis Ferré Aguayo, who had run for governor three times as the candidate of the Statehood Republican Party (SRP). The NPP achieved what the SRP could not: it elected Ferré as a pro-statehood governor in 1968. He served one term.

    In 1976, the NPP elected a second pro-statehood governor, Carlos Romero Barceló, who governed for two terms and then served as Puerto Rico's "Resident Commissioner" in Washington when a new NPP governor was elected. (The Resident Commissioner is a pseudo-member of the House of Representatives who can vote only in committee.).Neither Ferré nor Romero Barceló "moved the question" of statehood during their terms but pretended that working on the practical day-to-day problems of Puerto Rico had to be the priority. I suggested by letter to Governor Romero Barceló that that was not good enough, because all the major problems of Puerto Rico are affected by, if they do not even derive from, the island's unsettled status.

    The NPP continues to promote statehood. It elected a third governor, Pedro J. Rosselló, who won two terms but lost two referendums on status to the advocates of unending colonialism, the PDP. I advised Governor Rosselló by letter before the first referendum that he was likely to lose as long as "Commonwealth" remained an option on the ballot, so he should urge Congress to end "Commonwealth" and offer Puerto Rico only statehood or independence. He refused that suggestion, on the ground that the people have the right to vote for a continuation of the present status (colonialism!) if the vote is to be seen as fair. With that stance, he lost two referendums! With my stance, he would have won, and Puerto Rico would be a State today.

    The consequence of the NPP's inconsistent and self-confuting behavior was a total ROUT in the 2000 elections. They lost the governorship, both houses of the legislature, a majority of the municipal governments, and even the Resident Commissioner! All are now firmly in the hands of the anti-statehood "Commonwealth" forces, the PDP. The only 'good' news is that the independentistas were, as usual, trounced. They had hoped to get 6-8% of the vote, thanks to their prominence in leading the Vieques protest. That measly number would still have been more than they ever before achieved. They didn't get even that, but only 5.2%.

    Puerto Rico is, to borrow from Lincoln, "a house divided against itself". Statehooders controlled both houses of the island legislature, most of the municipal governments, the Governor's mansion ("La Fortaleza", a historic building in Old San Juan), and the Resident Commissioner's office from 1997-2000 — only to lose them all in the November 2000 election.

    They have controlled at least the governorship for 14 of the past 22 years, but they can't move the island to statehood because, I suspect, the leaders are fully as psychologically "conflicted" as the people they seek to lead into the Union.

    This has been demonstrated forcefully by the bizarre and inappropriate behavior of former Governor Rosselló regarding the Navy's occupation of much of Vieques. A supposedly pro-statehood Governor took a stance practically calculated to drive Congress to expel Puerto Rico from the American family.

    Puerto Ricans don't know what they are. They are U.S. citizens, but don't call themselves "Americans" / "Americanos", only "Puertorriqueños" or "Borinqueños". To a Puerto Rican, "my country" means "Puerto Rico", not the United States.

    Puerto Rico has its own Olympic team and competes in the Miss Universe pageant as tho an independent nation.

    But Puerto Ricans use the U.S. dollar as their currency, get their mail thru the U.S. Postal Service, carry U.S. passports, and volunteer for the U.S. military.

    Spanish is the first of two co-official languages on the island — and, for two years under the last PDP government, the sole official language of the island — but English is taught in all schools every day as the island's second language. Few Puerto Ricans on the island, however, speak English fluently, whereas almost all Puerto Ricans born and raised on the mainland do speak English fluently. For most, it is their first language — and for some, their only language.

    Fear of losing Spanish is the main reason half of Puerto Ricans are unwilling to step up to statehood. They see what has happened to the "Hispanos" of New Mexico after that area was transferred to the U.S. following the Mexican War: bit by bit, over time, the Mexicans of New Mexico became Americans, and lost Spanish. They see what has happened to Puerto Rican children born on the mainland: within a generation, or two at most, they have to be taught Spanish as a foreign language.

    Americans who fear the U.S. is being overwhelmed by Spanish might be shocked to hear that most Hispanics know with certitude that it is Spanish, not English, that is endangered in the United States. José Serrano, Puerto Rican Congressman from New York, stated on television that when Latinos talk about the future, they worry that their children or grandchildren won't know Spanish. An alarmist cover of a mainland English-language magazine for Hispanics (yes, you heard right) worried that Telemundo, one of the Nation's two Spanish-language TV networks, might be anglicized (that is, change over to English-language programming).

    On the island, Puerto Ricans so fear becoming anglicized that they reluctantly forgo two Senators and six Representatives in Congress and the right to vote for President and become eligible for all the benefits of states, some of which are denied to the "Commonwealth" of Puerto Rico. They are right to see Spanish as endangered in statehood. They are wrong to worry.

    Spanish, as any other ancestral language, will be retained as long as it is useful and accessible. A Hispanic in North Dakota will have both little occasion to use Spanish and little opportunity to hear it spoken. But Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico? Given the island's geographic location and cultural ties, Spanish will be both useful and accessible for a very long time.

    Still, language is hard. Truly mastering even one language is difficult; mastering two is extremely difficult. Most "bilinguals" have full mastery over only one of their two languages, and just get by in the other. Few are qualified to be interpreters between languages, and even fewer can produce eloquent original works in both languages.

    Today, English is neither particularly useful nor accessible in Puerto Rico. With statehood, that would change, but slowly. It would start with permanent migration of a few hundred thousand mainlanders, primarily retirees, to the major cities and retirement communities on the island. A website says to elderly potential in-migrants,

    "retired US Citizens get Medicare, can own property and pay local income tax instead of the IRS. But PR income tax is roughly equivalent. There is presently no sales tax and property taxes are considerably lower. Certainly there's no heating bill nor is airconditioning nessessary [sic], unless one lives in San Juan or the coastal plains. Ponce and the southwest coast are very hot."

    Young Hispanic and non-Hispanic businessmen might then arrive in significant numbers, intent on taking advantage of Puerto Rico's language talents and ties to its neighbors. To serve this expanded demographic base, English-language cable channels would become more widely available. More Puerto Ricans would pay more attention to their English lessons once English becomes more readily available on TV, and TV would enable them to listen to lots of natural English spoken by native speakers.

    The Internet would become widely available in schools, libraries, and private homes, and the main language — tho certainly not the only language — of the Internet is English.

    Incrementally, English would become more commonplace around Puerto Rican youth, and they would use it more and more. Over decades, English would displace Spanish as the first language of more and more Puerto Ricans in the marketplace of ideas, in school, at work, and in the choice of entertainments, and Spanish relegated to the home and conversation with friends.

    But this is going to happen anyway, no matter what Puerto Rico's status is.

    English programming on cable TV and access to English on the Internet are already available in Puerto Rico, albeit not yet widely. Commerce, science, the Internet, and popular culture are increasingly conducted in English, and everyone everywhere knows that.

    Puerto Ricans can ride the crest of that wave, becoming fully fluent by making best use of their relationship with the United States, or they can be drowned by wave upon wave of incoming English.

    Puerto Rico's coat of arms.

    An insular culture that cannot compete with and therefore does not even try to interact with the mainstream is destined to atrophy and perish by abandonment for reasons of boredom.

    That need not happen with Puerto Rico's culture. But what exactly is Puerto Rican "culture"?

    A culture is the aggregation of things, activities, and attitudes that arises from a given group's collective consciousness. It comprises things like the basic language and particularized slang; music; art; clothing; cuisine; religion; lifestyle. In all these areas, Puerto Rico of necessity is part of wider trends.

    Language. Puerto Rico speaks Spanish, an international language, and watches TV programs from various Spanish-speaking countries. Puerto Rico does not speak its own language, like the Japanese, so does not control the development of that language. Quite the contrary, Spanish is the second largest language on Earth as regards number of people who speak it as their first language, after only Mandarin Chinese and ahead of English. Puerto Rico accounts for less than 4 million of the 400 million who speak Spanish, so can hardly control developments in that huge language.

    In slang, Puerto Rico may have some say, but as regards the main language, Borinqueños are powerless. That aspect of their culture is transnational, not "national".

    Indeed, many speakers of Spanish regard Puerto Rico's dialect as ugly, ignorant, and lower-class. It is held in disdain by the bulk of speakers of Spanish, in part because it drops many S's (for instance, the phrase "Buenas noches" comes out sounding like "Bwaenah noecheh"). It is thus more than a little bizarre for Puerto Ricans to have such pride in a language that has so little pride in them.

    La India, Marc Anthony:

    Music. The popular music of Puerto Rico is part of a larger music, the Afro-Latin music of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Puerto Rico's salsa is indistinguishable, to most outsiders, from Santo Domingo's merengue and its Cuban equivalent. Most non-Latins regard it as loud, cacophonous, and tedious. The same instruments and rhythmic patterns are found repeated in endless variations. Blaring trumpets, pounding drums, wood blocks, and a driving rhythm may appeal to some, but most non-Latins find it unpleasant save in very small doses.

    Today's hottest Latino star, Ricky Martin, who made "La Vida Loca"
    a phrase millions of Anglos understand. There are tens of millions more Mexicans and Chicanos
    in the U.S. than Puerto Ricans, but Puerto Rican music is much more popular.

    The 'charm', if any, of salsa depends upon one's being able to understand the words. Sudden popularity for some forms of salsa-like music in the United States occurred when artists like Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony started recording in English.

    Jennifer Lopez, Neoyorquina music star, on the cover of
    ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY magazine's "Diva" edition.

    While fusion has empowered salsa to find a mainstream U.S. audience, it will also likely "taint" salsa in Puerto Rico as its second effect, and purists may regret the invasion of rock that that fusion produces.

    The late Tito Puente (left), Latin-jazz forerunner of today's fusionist pop stars, and possibly the most famous of all Latino musicians among Anglos in the United States. On the lower right, we present an old picture of José Feliciano, the fluently bilingual (blind) musician whose single "Feliz Navidad" became a happy, cheerful, integral part of U.S. culture despite its Spanish roots.

    Puerto Rico's popular music seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, either in its pure form or in evolved forms blended with outside influences.

    Salsa and its peers are of course not the only music played in Puerto Rico. There are symphonic orchestras and the like that play "classical" — largely foreign — music, mainly from Europe. The famous classical cellist from Spain, Pablo Casals, conducted master classes in Puerto Rico for many years. José Feliciano, a singer born in Lares, the town famous for its 1868 "cry" (grito) for freedom, plays many types of music. And the late Tito Puente is as well regarded for his jazz work as for his salsa.

    A change in status won't change Puerto Rico's music.

    Art. Puerto Rico is not famous for any distinctive artistic form or style, tho the island has had some distinguished artists, which may surprise both mainlanders and some Puerto Ricans. There is a major museum of Puerto Rican art in Ponce, and at least two major artists arose on the island: José Campeche in the 18th Century and Francisco Oller in the 19th. No major school originated on the island, however, which is hardly surprising in that there are less than 4 million people in all of Puerto Rico.

    On the mainland, we have seen some Puerto Rican murals, often of a "Soviet-realist" type, conveying messages of political protest. The most that outsiders can say about modern Puerto Rican art is that it seems vivid, more given to intense colors and representational rendering than to subdued colors and abstraction.

    Puerto Rico is so small that it can be forgiven a small place in art history. Whether it be part of the United States or independent, it will not likely become a major center of world art. But Puerto Rican artists have a greater likelihood of finding international influence within the seething art world of the United States than as outsiders.

    Clothing. Puerto Ricans do not, for the most part, dress in peasant costume, mantillas, or other distinctive clothing, but wear much the same clothes as people elsewhere in the Caribbean and other warm parts of the Western world. Perhaps the most distinctive item of clothing in Puerto Rico is the jibaro's "pava" (straw hat), and that is no more likely to vanish from the island than is the cowboy hat from Texas, whether PR remains a U.S. Postal Service abbreviation or a national designation.

    Food. Puerto Rico's cuisine is similar to that of nearby islands, heavy on rice and beans, light on meat. Hamburgers and french fries may in time compete for the affection of younger islanders, but food is one of the most enduring aspects of culture in the American "melting pot". Italian and Chinese food plainly did not originate in the U.S., but are enormously popular here. While cooking Chinese food is not yet popular, in requiring more steps in preparation than many people pressed for time can muster, Italian cooking has long been popular. One can expect that Puerto Rican cooking would assume some popularity on the mainland were Puerto Rico to become a state, and it will likely remain popular on the island for generations, no matter what the island's political status may be.

    It will surprise some Catholics to know that the crucifix, a representation of Christ 'fixed' (pinned) to the cross, is basically a Catholic image. Protestants generally employ an empty cross. Many Protestants regard the crucifix as too graphically representational of the pain of crucifixion, as overstresses the human part of Jesus's nature. Most Catholics, and especially in Latin America, regard representation of the human Jesus's human suffering as essential to an appreciation of his sacrifice. The crucifix shown here is by the early Renaissance Italian artist Cimabue, from Image Gallery Fine Arts (

    Religion is also one of the enduring aspects of culture in our melting pot. Generations after becoming established, almost all Italians and Irish whose ancestors were Roman Catholic are still Roman Catholic. Indeed, this is almost certainly the real reason so many Anglo politicians are hostile to Puerto Rico statehood: they are Protestant, and bigoted toward Catholics. (Remember that we have had only one Catholic President, out of 42, and soon to be 43!) They know that Puerto Rican Catholics are extremely unlikely to convert to Protestantism; immigration from Latin America is increasing the proportion of the Nation's population that is Catholic; and Protestants do not keep pace thru either immigration or reproduction. The time is drawing near, so the U.S. Protestant ruling class believes, when even without Puerto Rico's entering the Union, Catholics will replace Protestants as the majority communion. The very idea of "popery" becoming the majority religion of the United States horrifies the WASP ruling class.

    They dare not say that aloud, for fear of being caught in their bigotry. So they pretend that they fear linguistic fragmentation. Not so.

    In this debate, "Spanish" or "language" is code for "Catholic".

    Lifestyle. Puerto Ricans live a more "laid-back", family-oriented, communal lifestyle than most Americans. They spend more time with their extended family, and talking with friends and neighbors in public areas. They are more gregarious and more inclined to spontaneous get-togethers, impromptu musical performances, and blaring their choice of music to the neighborhood. Such behavior, ordinary and unremarkable at home, gets them into trouble with their neighbors on the mainland, because mainlanders are more private than public, and don't care to hear other people's music in public places — especially if that music enters their own home against their will.

    The maxim, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" should control, so Puerto Ricans who migrate to the mainland will be expected to abide by community standards. Conversely, however, mainlanders who visit or move to the island must expect Puerto Rican communal entertainments to abound around them, and accept them until and unless Puerto Ricans also take to a more private lifestyle of their own volition. Puerto Rico will be Puerto Rico whether it becomes a state or assumes its own nationhood.

    Cultures evolve and change, or perish from stagnation. Puerto Rico is an island, but cannot be insular, because the modern world does not allow small communities to cut themselves off from the world's cultural developments without also cutting themselves off from the benefits of trade.

    Puerto Rico is part of the world, and the particular part of the world of which Puerto Ricans are geographically part will insure them against total assimilation by Anglo culture anytime soon.

    Anglo culture is, in any case, itself changing, absorbing influences from many other cultures, including Latin cultures from many countries of the Americas. We are all moving in each other's direction, and that interplay will continue without end, no matter what status Puerto Rico may have.

    The Origins of the Island's Paralysis.
    Puerto Rico suffers a paralysis of will because it is confused and divided. The bulk of its heart says "Puerto Rico, my country!", and longs for the dignity of nationhood. A small part of its heart says "We are Americans, and proud of that!" The head says independence is too costly and risky. Puerto Rico needs the money, tariff-free access, and military protection of the United States. Latin America is too dangerous a neighborhood to go it alone in, and Latin culture is too inclined to authoritarianism to guarantee political democracy and secure civil liberties.

    Puerto Ricans look around and see poverty and despotism in their neighbors. They think, "That could be us after independence." But statehood is forever, and commits the people emotionally to become fully American and see Puerto Rico as only a state, Puerto Ricanness as only one part of their being. Statehood sets the people on the path to assimilation, to anglicization, to the loss of their separate identity. Is the tradeoff, of having an integrated identity — Puerto Rican AND American — a good enough replacement?

    New Yorkers are New Yorkers AND Americans. Californians are Californians AND Americans. Texans are Texans AND Americans. They see no conflict between fierce local pride and intense national pride. Why should Puerto Ricans?

    Confronted by this choice, with so many unknowables as to the future, half of Puerto Ricans refuse to choose, but pretend that "Commonwealth" can be permanent: that they, their children, Congress, and the American people will let Puerto Rico continue to refuse the ultimate choice forever. That is a fool's bet.

    "Commonwealth" hasn't produced wealth at all, but widespread poverty. It might therefore better be called "Commonpoverty". Puerto Rico's endless indecision stymies incentive and dissuades business from investing long-term. If you were an international manufacturer and had to choose where to put a $450 million factory, would you put it in a politically stable country where all the rules are well established, or on an island whose status is utterly unsettled and which may suddenly opt for radical change? That is the quandary of businessmen contemplating investment in Puerto Rico.

    Today's rules may be advantageous. But will the same rules be in place tomorrow? Or might Puerto Ricans fly into some nationalist rage at some perceived slight — such as a single person's being killed in an accident on Vieques — and declare independence, elect an ultranationalist and Marxist-oriented government that moves to nationalize all private business over a certain size — including your business? You see the problem.

    Status thus is not a side-issue in Puerto Rico's future. It is central to the future. If businessmen cannot know what to expect in the future, they will not invest. If they do not invest, Puerto Rico will not develop, Puerto Ricans will not have jobs, and the island economy will stagnate. That has happened.

    Tax "incentives" (governmental bribes) expire, and businesses close up shop, to look elsewhere for new "incentives", in another municipality in Puerto Rico or somewhere else altogether. Mexico is in NAFTA. Mexicans demand a lot less in wages, benefits, and working conditions. Mexican laws are long established and the government is stable. The rules are not about to change drastically overnite. Why not invest in Mexico in preference to Puerto Rico?

    Where will today's young Puerto Ricans live? On the island, or on the mainland? Where will their hearts keep them, or lead them? Do Puerto Ricans enjoy the best of both worlds, Anglo and Latino? Or less than the best of either? "La Isla de Ni/Ni" — the Island of Neither/Nor — is in limbo, and most people find uncertainty disconcerting. Make a decision! Then get on with it!

    Into the Future.
    "Commonwealth" is colonialism, if not pure and simple, then impure and complicated. But it is colonialism nonetheless. Colonialism is dated, immodern, and anti-modern, and will be ended sooner or later. If Puerto Rico must eventually deal with the end of colonialism, why not now? All that delaying accomplishes is to make Puerto Ricans more confused and conflicted. Trivia like the Vieques tempest in a teapot are blown way out of proportion as different people heap tons of emotional crap upon them: "national" pride, injured self-esteem from years of knowing one has been dependent, defensiveness about decades of dependency, resentments over being denied representation in Congress — while knowing that Puerto Ricans' own leaders have kept the island out of the Union, so all the problems Puerto Rico's current status have caused are Puerto Rico's own fault!

    Insecurities about language and the survivability of a culture they fear will not survive because it's not good enough also cloud Puerto Ricans' minds and contribute to the Vieques overreaction. Puerto Ricans' emotional lives do not get simpler over time; their loyalties do not become clearer. And a person who can't make up his mind comes to be angry with himself for being so endlessly indecisive. "Why can't I make up my mind? What's wrong with me?"

    The trouble is not in Puerto Ricans but in their status. Colonialism has kept them politically and psychologically immature. The only way they can resolve their indecision is by deciding, once and for all, what future they want.

    "Enhanced" or "Perfected" "Commonwealth":
    A Non-starter
    The Populares want to reform "Commonwealth" so it approximates statehood without the responsibilities of statehood. They want Puerto Ricans to have almost all the rights of citizens of states but not to be subject to Federal legislation unless they choose to. They want to be eligible for all forms of government assistance that states can get while not contributing a cent to the national treasury. They want total local self-government and the right to enter into international agreements as tho independent, but without any of the risks of independence. They're not going to get it.

    Northern California Congressman John T. Doolittle, a conservative Republican, introduced legislation June 26, 2000 to grant the PDP's program, so that Congress could hold hearings to see if this is something the U.S. would ever want to do:

    Most Americans seem to tolerate Puerto Rico's present relationship with the United States because they do not realize the direct harm it causes, including to Puerto Rico itself.

    Mr. Speaker, the truth is that Puerto Rico's commonwealth status is a drain on the American taxpaying public. Its status is an affront to our constitutional system of government. And, though it is hard to imagine, the leading proposal to continue and to enhance the current commonwealth status is even more offensive. * * *

    . . . I believe it does the American people and the residents of Puerto Rico a great disservice to perpetuate the fiction that Puerto Rico's federally subsidized commonwealth status can continue indefinitely.

    I have little doubt that, if fully armed with the facts, the American people would overwhelmingly oppose continued commonwealth status for Puerto Rico. But like a doctor who treats a bad reaction with a double dosage of the same bad medicine, the leaders of the pro-commonwealth party in Puerto Rico are now proposing an "enhanced" commonwealth status that gives Puerto Ricans more rights and even fewer responsibilities. (From Congressman Doolittle's website, at

    The House of Representatives' Resources Committee held hearings on the PDP's proposal in autumn 2000. Congressman Doolittle on October 4 summed up the findings thus:

    "I think we've closed this hearing with a very solid record that this status formula embodied in HR-4751 cannot be implemented as proposed by the PDP. First, there is no political will in congress to give a territory its status based on permanent disenfranchisement of U.S. citizens. I think there is a bipartisan agreement on that much. I also do not think we want the U.S. to govern another nation within our nation, or to give a territory special constitutional rights that are unfair to U.S. citizens within the states. Even if we did wish to do all that, under the U.S. constitution the congress does not have the power to implement this status formula by statute or by treaty. We can talk about valid status definitions and the overall status resolution process another day, but today I think we established that the core elements of this formula in its entirety and in the combination proposed by the PDP are unconstitutional." (From the Puerto Rico Herald)
    So (a) "enhanced Commonwealth" is not really a choice available to Puerto Ricans and (b) even the present form of "Commonwealth" is TEMPORARY. Sooner or later Congress's patience will run out and "Commonwealth" will end. Let us therefore talk about what Puerto Rico can actually choose as a permanent status.

    Future One: Statehood.
    Puerto Rico is small geographically, but its population approximates that of the typical state. It could easily fit in as the 51st State of the Union, with two Senators and six members of the House of Representatives. Accession of Puerto Rico to the Union would give the Senate its first Hispanic members, and add 13% to the total Latin population of the Nation. Six Representatives would participate in all the debates and votes on crucial issues, and could be expected to strengthen the progressive forces in Congress against ultraconservatism.

    As the poorest state in the Union, Puerto Rico would likely work to promote economic development for all depressed communities.

    As a racially varied state, Puerto Rico would be sensitive to the needs of minorities, and work to promote social justice.

    In tight contests, two votes in the Senate and six in the House could prove the winning margin; and in a close Presidential contest, Puerto Rico's popular and electoral vote could decide who wins. That being true, politicians who now can ignore Puerto Rico would have to educate themselves about the island and its issues, and court Puerto Rican voters by addressing their needs.

    Islanders would become eligible for all federal programs, bar none: housing, highways, education, health — you name it. Whatever other states can apply for, Puerto Rico could apply for. And Borinqueños would have voting representatives in Congress to press their point of view.

    Tho islanders would have to pay federal taxes, income tax rates are determined by size of income, and many Puerto Ricans would fall so low on the scale in the first several years that they would pay little or no tax and even receive "negative tax" "refunds": that is, they would actually get a check from the federal Treasury refunding not just what they may have contributed but even money they did not pay in to begin with.

    A State of Puerto Rico would retain substantial autonomy in the subject-matter areas reserved to states: criminal law, local taxation, educational curriculum, etc., etc. Being jealous of local prerogatives, Puerto Rico would likely strengthen our federal system by resisting centralizing tendencies, to keep power back home.

    Puerto Rico would cease to field its own Olympic team and Miss Universe candidates, but would be eligible for inclusion in the powerhouse teams the U.S. fields.

    Puerto Ricans resident on the island would be eligible to run for President of the United States, or to offer themselves as Vice Presidential candidates to established mainland politicians who need Hispanic votes.

    At the local level, almost nothing would change. The "Commonwealth" constitution would become the state constitution. The governor would remain governor; the "Commonwealth" legislature would become the state legislature, in the same form, with the same number of members; the "Commonwealth" courts would become state courts; the "Commonwealth" flag would become the state flag; etc. Indeed, Puerto Rico could still call itself "Commonwealth", just as Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia officially call themselves "Commonwealth" (tho they are "states" under the Federal Constitution).

    Spanish and English would remain co-official languages. Schools would continue to teach in Spanish and everyone would still be taught English as a second language. Radio and TV stations would still broadcast in Spanish to their Spanish listeners, and English to their English listeners. Papers in Federal courts would be presented in English, but testimony at trials could be given in Spanish; transcripts would probably be created in both languages. The island's music, art, food, clothing, and lifestyle would remain the same.

    All that would change is that Puerto Ricans would stop arguing endlessly about status, because status would be settled. "My country" would mean "the United States"; "Puerto Rico" would become "my state"; and Puerto Ricans would be as proud of being Puerto Ricans AND Americans as New Yorkers are proud of being New Yorkers AND Americans. Where today Puerto Rican and American identities are opposed, in statehood they would be united.

    Future Two: Independence.
    Depending upon how and when it is granted / forced, independence could be comfortable or catastrophic. If the U.S. and Puerto Rico agree to an amicable parting of the ways, Puerto Rico would be given free access to the U.S. market on terms at least as favorable as accorded to Canada and Mexico in NAFTA. Puerto Rico could continue to use the U.S. dollar as its currency until and unless it decided to create its own ("peso"?).

    What Independence Would Look Like. If the split-up were hostile, the U.S. could end tariff-free access to the U.S. market and deny even "most favored nation" status to Puerto Rican imports. Bacardi rum, for instance, might be subject to a 100% tariff, doubling its price in the U.S. without giving Bacardi or the Puerto Rican Government a cent of that price increase (all of which would go to the Federal Treasury).

    If the breakup were amicable, Puerto Ricans on the mainland would continue to hold U.S. citizenship in perpetuity, while Puerto Ricans on the island would retain U.S. citizenship only until they vote in an election of independent Puerto Rico or assume a position with the Government of Puerto Rico, whereupon they would become citizens of Puerto Rico and forfeit U.S. citizenship.

    If the breakup were nasty, Congress might repeal the law that granted people born in Puerto Rico automatic U.S. citizenship, and move to deport Puerto Ricans as enemy aliens. No one knows if such a move would pass constitutional challenge in the courts. Perhaps it wouldn't, and the Supreme Court would rule that U.S. citizenship, once granted in good faith, cannot be taken away. But the Constitution says of citizenship only "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside" (Fourteenth Amendment). The Court might thus rule (1) that if a person is not born in the United States proper, does not reside in a state, and is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, he/she is not a citizen unless naturalized, (2) so it is wholly within the power of Congress to take citizenship away from people who do not qualify for citizenship under the plain language of the Constitution, any time Congress may choose to do so, because (3) only individuals are naturalized, not groups.

    An independent Puerto Rico might find that many of its potential citizens refuse to vote or otherwise make themselves full citizens, in order to prevent losing U.S. citizenship. Puerto Rico could become, in effect, a country without a citizenry, only independentista zealots taking Puerto Rico citizenship and gladly throwing over U.S. citizenship.

    Puerto Rico would issue its own passports. People carrying Puerto Rican passports could travel to the U.S. only with permission from the U.S. Government — and possibly from the Puerto Rican Government if it imposes exit restrictions. The U.S. would be under no legal nor moral obligation to permit Puerto Ricans to enter the U.S.; could impose visa or other requirements upon Puerto Rican nationals; and could even systematically bar most Puerto Ricans on suspicion that they might not return to their own country but become illegal aliens in the United States.

    An independent Puerto Rico would create its own postal service, probably by transfer to the Government of Puerto Rico of all properties in Puerto Rico now held by the U.S. Postal Service.

    Puerto Rico would likely become officially unilingual in Spanish. English might no longer be taught in school except as a foreign language to kids whose parents expressly ask for English courses.

    Puerto Rico's courts would be the last word on the law. No U.S. Supreme Court ruling could affect Puerto Rico in any regard, and the Puerto Rican constitution could be amended any way the people wanted, no matter how much such amendments might conflict with provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The government could establish Catholicism as the official religion; ban the private ownership of guns; abolish the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as to compel defendants to testify at their own trials; abolish jury trial and substitute trial by a panel of judges; put restrictions on English and on any form of disapproved speech; and do anything else that Puerto Ricans felt their own circumstances warrant.

    Puerto Rico could change the fundamental structure of government. It might, for instance, adopt a parliamentary system, with terms of office subject to abrupt termination by vote of no-confidence; and with a union of executive and legislative branches into one (the Prime Minister and cabinet being members of parliament).

    Puerto Rico could change the term of office of its president or other chief executive (chancellor, governor — king or queen, for that matter). It might emulate much of Latin America and opt for a single term of five or six years; or it might create a term of five or six years without any limit on the number of terms one could serve.

    The U.S. military would remain only if and where the Government of Puerto Rico desired. Puerto Ricans would no longer serve in the U.S. military, but might be eligible for a draft into the new Puerto Rican Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and/or National Guard (by any name). Perhaps the Government would create a single unified military, like the Canadian Forces. Maybe Puerto Rico would opt to have only a limited National Guard for domestic emergencies and negotiate a treaty of alliance with the U.S. for protection against foreign invasion. There could be no guarantee the U.S. would sign such a treaty, however. Cuba, after all, is not presently an ally of the United States, even tho after the Spanish-American War the two countries had a special relationship for decades.

    Absent an alliance with the U.S., Puerto Rico would be wholly responsible for its own defense.

    Older Puerto Ricans who had not yet started to receive Social Security would stop paying into the system and would not receive Social Security in their old age, unless the U.S. permitted benefits theretofore earned to be paid out despite Puerto Rican independence. Younger Puerto Ricans would presumably pay into Puerto Rico's own social-security system and rely upon it for their retirement.

    U.S. food stamps and surplus food would of course no longer be distributed in Puerto Rico. Nor would any other federal aid program operate on the island. Federal highway funds, educational grants and scholarships, etc., would be entirely unavailable. Puerto Rico's own government would fund only such programs as it felt necessary and wise — and which it could afford to fund..

    The U.S. might continue to provide limited funds in the form of foreign aid, food aid, and other giving, but it would be bestowed as charity, not distributed as of right. Congress could of course end all aid to Puerto Rico any time it chose, be it for reasons of cost-cutting or out of indignation at some act of Puerto Rico's Government, or even of individual Puerto Ricans whose anti-U.S. actions were not satisfactorily repudiated by the island's Government.

    All U.S. Government property on the island would be transferred to the Government of Puerto Rico or removed to the mainland. If the parting of ways were amicable, the U.S. Government might simply give to the island's Government all federal property that had been intended for use in Puerto Rico. If the parting were unpleasant, the federal Government could demand payment for anything it transferred and, if payment were not forthcoming, simply remove or destroy unpaid-for property. Real estate would of course be transferred; but buildings upon it might be razed.

    Conflicts between Puerto Rico and the United States could not be resolved in the courts of either country but would have to be fought out in the World Court or by unilateral economic and/or military action. The Organization of American States might offer its good offices to mediate or arbitrate disputes, but neither the U.S. nor Puerto Rico would be legally obliged to heed any suggestions from the OAS.

    The relationship of an independent Puerto Rico and the U.S. could be as civilized and relatively harmonious as that of the U.S. and Canada. Or it could be like that of the U.S. and Cuba.

    Future Three: Puerto Rico as Capital of an American Caribbean.
    A former governor of Puerto Rico, Rafael Hernández-Colón, suggested, tentatively, that various islands of the Caribbean might move toward union, with San Juan serving as capital. Hernández-Colón is a member of the anti-statehood party, and apparently aspired to create a little Puerto Rican empire of which he would be emperor. Whether he visualized the U.S. funding his little empire as an enlarged "Commonwealth" or intended his new Caribbean union to go its own way is unclear.

    A wide Caribbean union is a good idea, but not as an independent country. San Juan is well situated to serve as capital of a great Caribbean State of the Union, embracing all the islands of the region (except, for now, Cuba).

    The first consolidation to pursue would be merger of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands into a single bilingual State, presumably called "Puerto Rico" but possibly called something like "Caribe" or "Caribbeana".

    Once the mechanics of operating a bilingual legislature had been worked out, other island nations and island groups could be invited to join. The British Virgin Islands, now still a colony of the United Kingdom, might opt for merger early on, since many of its people have migrated to the U.S. Virgin Islands anyway.

    The Dominican Republic concluded a treaty of annexation to the United States in 1869. The Senate rejected annexation, probably for racial reasons (Santo Domingo is preponderantly black / mulatto), despite fierce lobbying by President Grant. The vote to ratify the treaty was a tie, whereas the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to approve. So Santo Domingo was denied admission to the Union, and went on to suffer a century of instability and repeated U.S. interventions to restore stability.

    Jamaica has had 38 years of miserable independence, and might be interested in participating in a wider Caribbean entity. It was, after all, a prime mover in creating the short-lived West Indies Federation.

    The island of Nevis (in the tiny nation of St. Kitts-Nevis) is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Its people are unhappy with the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. In 1998, 62% voted to secede, only 5% short of the secession threshold. It would be apt indeed to offer Alexander Hamilton's birthplace a spot in a Caribbean state, with or without St. Kitts.

    If once a larger Caribbean state opened its doors to new members, it might gradually consolidate all the Caribbean's islands into a single State of the Union, headquartered in San Juan, and adding even those two English-speaking cultural islands on the mainland, Belize and Guyana (see the homepage of a statehood organization in the latter country, Guyana USA). Such a state would confer all the economic and psychological benefits of being part of the greatest and most generous power on Earth, and produce a vast outpouring of aid to develop this neglected region and provide both material comfort and political stability to people who need both.

    This is a future worthy of Puerto Rico, to be the unifier of the Caribbean, catalyst for development and secure democracy across the West Indies. It is a grander vision than statehood for Puerto Rico alone, and far grander than creation of yet another microstate in the Antilles.

    People need more than good roads and schools. They need to feel themselves part of something larger. To nacionalistas, the meaningful larger entity is Puerto Rico. But that is very small. Great Puerto Ricans aspire to great things: to promoting material advancement and cultural protection; ecologically sensitive development; social and economic democracy, not just formalistic political democracy — and not just for themselves. A wide Caribbean state, with its capital in San Juan, is an aspiration worthy of ambitious Puerto Ricans.

    Y por si acaso tienen dudas de quienes estan con esta gente,
    aqui estan los links que ellos tienen en su sitio en la red.


    For the views of Puerto Rican statehooders, see and its links (English and Spanish), Puerto Rico USA, website of the Puerto Rico-USA Citizenship Foundation, (English and Spanish), (homepage of the New Progressive Party, in Spanish), and (in Spanish). USI: United States International has a Puerto Rico statehood page as well. The PuertoRico51 site also, alas, contains extensive anti-statehood argumentation, for "Commonwealth" and independence. Lastly, is the English-language homepage of the Puerto Rico Information Service of the Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico.

    Que Dios nos salve de "nuestros amigos" en los EEUU.

    Buena suerte con los Melones!



    • #3
      So, Yautia...

      DOES your branch of the NAACP pay drug addicts with CRACK in order to create more fraudulent voter registrations for democrats too? Or is it just in Ohio? Just curious.


      • #4
        Bashing the NAACP, shame on you!

        [QUOTE]Originally posted by oppressed_oppressor
        [B]So, Yautia...

        DOES your branch of the NAACP pay drug addicts with CRACK in order to create more fraudulent voter registrations for democrats too? Or is it just in Ohio? Just curious.

        I do not know which drug addicts you've been hanging out with
        and/or dealing with CRACK but this is what the NAACP is all about, you got a problem with it?

        It's about making a Difference!

        Today we face a renewed effort as the forces of racism and retrogression in America are again on the rise. Too bad, you are part of that retro movement, my friend. Many of the hard-earned civil rights gains of the past three decades are under assault.

        NAACP Roots

        For more than ninety five years, the NAACP built and grew on the collective courage of thousands of people. People of all races, nationalities and faiths united on one premise --that all men and women are created equal.

        The nation’s oldest civil rights organization has changed America’s history. Despite violence, intimidation and hostile government policies, the NAACP and its grass-roots membership persevered.

        Here are just a few of the NAACP’s courageous moments. They have involved everyone from school children to laborers to professionals to presidents to just ordinary men and women, those who decided to champion what’s right and just...

        NAACP Timeline

        On February 12th The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded by a multiracial group of activists, who answered "The Call." They initially called themselves the National Negro Committee.

        FOUNDERS: Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villiard, William English Walling and led the "Call" to renew the struggle for civil and political liberty.

        In the face of intense adversity, the NAACP begins its legacy of fighting legal battles addressing social injustice with the Pink Franklin case, which involved a Black farmhand, who unbeknowingly killed a policeman in self-defense when the officer broke into his home at 3 a.m. to arrest him on a civil charge. After losing at the Supreme Court, the following year the renowned NAACP official Joel Spingarn and his brother Arthur start a concerted effort to fight such cases.

        President Woodrow Wilson officially introduces segregation into the Federal Government. Horrified that President would sanction such a policy, the NAACP launched a public protest.

        The NAACP organizes a nationwide protest D.W. Griffiths racially-inflammatory and bigoted silent film, "Birth of a Nation."

        In Buchanan vs. Warley, the Supreme Court has to concede that states can not restrict and officially segregate African Americans into residential districts. Also, the NAACP fights and wins the battle to enable African Americans to be commissioned as officers in World War I. Six hundred officers are commissioned, and 700,000 register for the draft..

        After persistent pressure by the NAACP, President Woodrow Wilson finally makes a public statement against lynching.

        1920 - 1922
        To ensure that everyone, especially the Klan, knew that the NAACP would not be intimidated, the annual conference was held in Atlanta, considered one of the most active Klan areas.

        In an unprecedented move, the NAACP places large ads in major newspapers to present the facts about lynching.

        1930 - 1939
        The first of successful protests by the NAACP against Supreme Court justice nominees is launched against John Parker, who officially favored laws that discriminated against African Americans.

        NAACP lawyers Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall win the legal battle to admit a black student to the University of Maryland.

        After the Daughters of the Revolution barred acclaimed soprano Marian Anderson from performing at their Constitution Hall, the NAACP moved her concert to the Lincoln Memorial, where over 75,000 people attended.

        1940 - 1948
        During World War II, the NAACP leads the effort to ensure that President Franklin Roosevelt orders a non-discrimination policy in war-related industries and federal employment.

        NAACP starts a national outcry when Congress refuses to fund their own Federal Fair Roosevelt Employment Practices Commission.

        The NAACP wins the Morgan vs. Virginia case, where the Supreme Court bans states from having laws that sanction segregated facilities in interstate travel by train and bus.

        The NAACP was able to pressure President Harry Truman to sign an Executive Order banning discrimination by the Federal government.

        1950 - 1955
        After years of fighting segregation in public schools, under the leadership of Special Counsel Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP wins one of its greatest legal victories in Brown vs. the Board of Education.

        NAACP member Rosa Parks is arrested and fined for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Noted as the catalyst for the largest grassroots civil rights movement, that would be spearheaded through the collective efforts of the NAACP, SCLC and other Black organizations.

        1960 - 1979
        In Greensboro, North Carolina, members of the NAACP Youth Council launch a series of non-violent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. These protests eventually lead to more than 60 stores officially desegregating their counters.

        After one of his many successful mass rallies for civil rights, NAACP's first Field Director, Medgar Evers is assassinated in front of his house in Jackson, Mississippi. Five months later, President John Kennedy was also assassinated.

        NAACP pushes for the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

        U.S. Supreme Court ends the eight year effort of Alabama officials to ban NAACP activities. And 55 years after the NAACP's founding, Congress finally passes the Civil Rights Act.

        The Voting Rights Act is passed. Amidst threats of violence and efforts of state and local governments, the NAACP still manages to register more than 80,000 voters in the Old South.

        The NAACP initiates the first bill ever signed by a governor that allows voter registration in high schools. Soon after, 24 states follow suit.

        1980 - 1989
        The NAACP leads the effort to extend The Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. To cultivate economic empowerment, the NAACP establishes the Fair Share Program with major corporations across the country.

        NAACP registers more than 850,000 voters, and through its protests and the support of the Supreme Court, prevents President Reagan from giving a tax-break to the racially segregated Bob Jones University.

        The NAACP leads a massive anti-apartheid rally in New York.

        NAACP launches campaign to defeat the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. As a result, he garners the highest negative vote ever recorded for a 1989 Silent March of over 100,000 to protest U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

        Silent March of over 100,000 to protest U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have reversed many of the gains made against discrimination.

        1990 - 1999
        When avowed racist and former Klan leader David Duke runs for US Senate in Louisiana, the NAACP launches a voter registration campaign that yields a 76 percent turn-out of Black voters to defeat Duke.

        The number of Fair Share Program corporate partners has risen to 70 and now represents billions of dollars in business.

        Over thirty years after the assassination of NAACP civil rights activist, Medgar Evers - his widow Myrlie, is elected Chairman of the NAACP's Board of Directors. The following year, the Kweisi Mfume leaves Congress to become the NAACPs President and CEO.

        In response to the pervasive anti-affirmative action legislation occurring around the country, the NAACP launches the Economic Reciprocity Program... And in response to increased violence among our youth, the NAACP starts the "Stop The Violence, Start the Love' campaign.

        Supreme Court Demonstration and arrests

        TV Diversity Agreements. Retirement of the Debt and first six years of a budget surplus. Largest Black Voter Turnout in 20 years

        Great March. January 17, in Columbia, South Carolina attended by over 50,000 to protest the flying of the Confederate Battle Flag. This is the largest civil rights demonstration ever held in the South to date.

        Cincinnati Riots. Development of 5 year Strategic Plan.
        Under the leadership of Chairman Bond and President Mfume, the NAACP continues to thrive, and with the help of everyone - regardless of race - will continue to do so into the next millennium...


        OK, Opresor, what is your problem, is it the dems and Kerry?



        • #5

          "I do not know which drug addicts you've been hanging out with
          and/or dealing with CRACK but this is what the NAACP is all about, you got a problem with it?"--YautiaPR

          What's the PR stand for? Phenomenally Retarded?

          I didn't ask you for a history of the NAACP. I know what it USED TO BE. The NAACP of today is nothing but a front for the DNC. An organization of Uncle Toms who keep the Black vote in line for the White Democrat Massah.
          "Yalls make sho yous votes fo' Massah Kerry now, ya hear?"

          But that's another 300 lines of mindless text for you to bang out later on.

          I was just asking about:

          Remember years ago when National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was a civil rights organization, before it devolved into one of the more hate-mongering branches of the Democrat establishment? Now NAACP has a hit a revolting new low, according to one of its accomplices.

          Chad Staton of Defiance, Ohio, charged with filing 124 false voter registration forms, said he committed the felonies in exchange for crack cocaine from Georgianne Pitts of Toledo, who was working for NAACP National Voter Fund.

          "Toledo police searched Ms. Pitts' home and discovered drug paraphernalia along with more voter registration forms. Police said that Ms. Pitts admitted to paying Mr. Staton in crack cocaine, in lieu of cash," the Toledo Blade reported.

          Pitts turned in the fake forms to NAACP's fund, which foolishly submitted them to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland instead of Defiance County’s elections board.

          Among the names on the forms that the crackhead turned in: Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy, Janet Jackson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Michael Jordan and George Foreman, the Associated Press and the Blade reported today.

          Pitts told police that Thaddeus J. Jackson II of Cleveland had recruited her. Jackson admitted to the Blade that Pitts was working for NAACP, according to him, as a volunteer. He denied any knowledge of the election fraud.

          Despite her admission that she bribed Staton with illegal drugs, Pitts for some reason has not been charged, the Washington Times reported today. She has an extensive criminal record over two decades, according to the Blade.

          NAACP, naturally, was one of the left-wing groups that successfully agitated for bogus provisional balloting, which will allow massive vote fraud in the crucial battleground state.

          Ohio Republican Party spokesman Jason Mauk pointed out that there is "an effort to steal Ohio's election" that is "being driven exclusively by interest groups working to register Democratic voters."