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Puerto Rican Migration To The United States

1559 words - 6 pages

Puerto Rican Migration to the United States

Unlike Mexicans, Puerto Ricans did not have a vast amount of land. However, the whites in America effected both people. Mexicans would lose their land in the southwest to the Anglos. The Treaty of Guadeloupe would create a harsh environment for the Mexicans where they were not equal citizens. Whites would come into the southwest and take the land that previously belonged to the Mexicans. For Puerto Rico, as in the Mexican struggle, a treaty began a new relationship with the United States. The Treaty of Paris gave the United States the territory of Puerto Rico from Spain. After the Treaty questions would arise about the rights of Puerto Ricans. The Treaty had said that Puerto Rico "belongs to, but it is not part of the United States." Unlike the Southwest Puerto Rico was not vacant. But from 1898 to 1917 Puerto Ricans were citizens of nowhere. Part of the problem was the prejudice by the whites. They saw many Puerto Ricans as being inferior much like blacks. Because of some of the Puerto Ricans dark skin they were seen as ethnically similar to blacks. In 1917 Puerto Ricans were made citizens by an act of Congress. However, this was not a constitutional citizenship. The statutory citizenship created an ambivalent relationship between the U.S. and the island. The Puerto Ricans did not have a true home from a legal constitutional standpoint. As waves of migration from Puerto Rico to the U.S. continued Puerto Ricans would have different political experiences.

Before Puerto Rican migration to the U.S. expanded in the fifties not much was known about Puerto Rican history in the states. The Memoirs of Bernardo Vega would be the first book to offer insight into a missing piece of Puerto Rican history. Vega’s experience as an industrial worker in New York city from 1916 through the end of World War II would give students in the sixties the awareness that there had been a Puerto Rican influence in the U.S. before Operation Bootstrap. Operation Bootstrap sent million of Puerto Ricans to the mainland. Vega also allows the reader an inside look at the working class during industrialization in the U.S. Vega, like many other Puerto Ricans, came from Puerto Rico as a cigar worker or tabaquero. What is interesting is the political awareness of the workers. Because of the economic changes and because there was no Cold War, idea on communism and socialism were spread throughout many of the immigrant communities. According to Vega Puerto Ricans and Cubans brought factory readings to New York. The institution of factory readings made the tabaqueros into the most enlightened sector of the working class"(Vega 22). In Vega’s memoirs one can see the origins of the Puerto Rican struggle in America. One incident in particular illustrates the lack of opportunity provided in America before the rise of the minorities’ voice. Vega was moved to a school far away from where he was living because he made a comment...

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