Puerto Rico And The United States

2012 words - 8 pages

Puerto Rico and the United States

Since Puerto Rico was first discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 19, 1493, and Spanish colonization ensued in 1508, Puerto Rico has experienced all of these pressures of identity and culture.

When Columbus first arrived he found the island populated by thousands of Taino Indians who made the mistake of showing Columbus gold nuggets in the river. This was all Spain needed to finance its crown. Differences between the Spaniards and the Taints began around two years later when Diego Salcedo was killed by the Indians. The Taino Indians revolt against the Spaniards was met with no success and many left the island or fled into the mountains where they began new lives.

Though living in the secluded mountains, the Tainos were still colonists of Spain, but at heart were Borinquens. Even though they were a part of the "State" of Spain, i.e. a legal and political organization, with the power to require obedience and loyalty from its citizens. (Morris, p.12) the Tainos were a Nation or "a self defined community of people who share a sense of solidarity based on a belief in a common heritage and who claim political rights that may include self determination, history, language, culture and territory". (Morris, p. 12) This was the beginning of the Foundation of the four storeyed building.

In Jose Luis Gonzalez's article Puerto Rico, The Four Storeyed Country and Other Essays he too uses the metaphor of floors, stairs or foundation. Gonzalez saw that Puerto Rico's foundation though has grown more and more obscure over time, either by Puerto Ricans or other people who have transferred or erased the first and second floors. (Prof. Figueroa, lecture notes of 9/15/98)

In Rosario Ferre's book there is a passage that reminded me of what the Spaniards and the United States did to the people of Puerto Rico in laying its foundations, as follows: "One day the caretaker of the spring was found dead, lying by the rim of the fountain, from a mysterious blow to the head. A small item appeared in the morning papers, but nobody paid much attention, and the event was soon forgotten. [S]oon after that, Buenaventura moved to the caretaker's house and nobody seemed to mind. He cleared the spring of undergrowth and put it back in use." (Ferre, p. 11)

Examples of the obscurity over time or erasures over time that Gonzalez mentioned are for instance in 1498 when you built the foundation or first floor, at that point in time you did not want the Spanish language as your official language you wanted to keep your Taino Indian language, you did not want the language that was being forced upon you by the oppressors. This obviously did not happen because today, in 1998, you want to keep your native Spanish language and do not want to adopt the English language.

Race has also conveniently been erased from Puerto Rican history. Black is the core of the Puerto Rican population according to Gonzalez. ("What I...

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