The Impact of Spanish Rule on Puerto Ricans Today
What was Puerto Rico like under Spanish rule, and how important is that rule to the formation of the Puerto Rican people today? To answer these questions, we must take a look at the history of the Spanish and their colonization of the island of Puerto Rico.
As we know, Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain "found" by Christopher Columbus on November 19, 1493, and remained a colony of Spain for the next 400 years. But the interesting fact remains that Puerto Rico was not truly settled by the Spaniards until almost fifteen years later! In 1508, Juan Ponce de Leon came to settle the land of Borinken, and founded the town of Caparra. This was the start of a proud people that would eventually become known as Puerto Ricans.
Since there were only the natives on the island known as Tainos (descendents of the Arawaks), the Spaniards only had one people to deal with when they came (Figueroa, Sept. 17). Between the years of 1508 and 1510, things went relatively smoothly, that is until the year 1511. The time period of 1511 to 1513 was a rebellion period. The Tainos now came to realize that the Spanish were not there as gods or anything, but were actually there to take riches such as gold, and use the land in anyway they pleased.
It was actually a Taino native named Urayoan who killed a Spaniard named Diego Salcedo that started the rebellion. He tricked Salcedo into thinking that he was going to help him get more natives for toiling purposes, but instead, Urayoan drowned Salcedo while crossing a river (Figueroa, Sept. 17). This proved to the Tainos that the Spaniards were not invincible, nor gods. They were human beings just like the Tainos, and it was time that the Spaniards stopped mistreating the natives.
Unfortunately for the Tainos, by 1514 the resistance was pretty much squashed, and by 1521 the tribal life that the Tainos lived in was almost completely over and gone. The few surviving Tainos took off to the mountains for survival. The first two important elements of whom and what makes up Puerto Rican people, is here. The Taino Indians are 1/3 of the element. The second element, were the Spaniards.
The Spanish now were the main people of the island, but there was only one problem now. There was no more gold to be found (which was the original reason most of the Spaniards came), and Puerto Rico had to be productive to Spain in some fashion.
Facing the fact that there was no more gold, the Spaniards looked to the rich land and soil for the next way that Puerto Rico could help the Kingdom of Spain. They raised cattle, and they planted staple crops, but sugarcane was the bread and butter so to speak. The only problem was that they could only trade with Spain for a long time and Spain grew their own sugarcane, too. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves here. What was needed was a labor force to work these fields, and the Taino Indians were living in the...