United States Colonial Rule of Puerto Rico
When the United States invaded the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico (Guanica and Ponce), a majority of Puerto Ricans welcomed the Americans and enabled their invasion. They cooperated and aided the American expulsion of Spaniards. However, it is obvious by the consequences that the end result of U.S. invasion and rule was not what Puerto Ricans had welcomed in July of 1898. Puerto Ricans wished an end to autocratic rule and concentration of wealth, things they did not know would continue under American rule. The Americans were regarded as change and chance for progress, even though they retained the fear of not knowing U.S. intentions.
In the political arena at the beginning of United States rule, native Puerto Ricans were not present. I think this is interesting because it is in sharp contrast to what a country, formerly ruled autocratically by Spain, would hope for when accepting and even enabling the invasion of Americans in 1898. Puerto Ricans were unhappy about problems of leadership, lack of political programs, and desired freedom against a suffocating government in which they could not participate. If I lived in a country under autocratic rule, and then heard news of an American invasion, knowing that they were a democratic country, I too would help the Americans to drive Spain out. When the present is offering no change in status or way of living, the chance of change holds utmost importance. The problem was no one realized that everyone has self-interest, even democracies, and part of the fear Puerto Ricans held was that they did not know what the intentions of Americans were.
Trías-Monge mentions at the start of his article the importance of high self-government for Puerto Rico, just as Rev. Carroll advised President McKinley to employ. However, the Insular Commission did not approve of this idea, not even to have appointed members of legislature. I think this attitude gave a forewarning to a similar autocratic government much like that during Spanish rule. Even the system of legislation reminded me of the Spanish system, with the viceroy of Spain electing governors and other officials in Puerto Rico, when he was completely removed from Puerto Rico and unaware of the situation there. Trías-Monge includes how “in testifying before Congress on the report, Judge H.G. Curtis, a member of the Commission, stated that the President himself should legislate for Puerto Rico, at the recommendation of the Governor to be appointed by him.”(p. 37) This is an immediate instance where actions are not proceeding as Puerto Ricans thought they would. But it was only a first sign.
On April 12, 1900 McKinley signed the Foraker Act. Foraker first presented the bill in January of 1900 which would create a civil government for Puerto Rico. After debates and compromise, the bill was signed in April of that same year. There were four major provisions of the bill. First was a Governor appointed by the...