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The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party  

Margaret Power

From the early 1920s through the mid-1950s the Partido Nacionalista Puertorriqueño (PNPR; Puerto Rican Nationalist Party) led the fight for an independent Puerto Rico. The PNPR began in 1922, when a group of middle-class men broke with the Partido Unión (Union Party) after it removed independence from its platform. During the 1920s the PNPR sought to defend Puerto Rican culture, advance its goal of achieving national sovereignty, and, simultaneously, maintain friendly relations with the United States. The PNPR promoted Puerto Rico’s reinsertion into Latin America. Puerto Rico shared a history, language, faith (Catholicism), and culture with the former Spanish colonies throughout the Americas. By emphasizing these similarities, the Nationalists hoped to encourage Puerto Ricans’ embrace of their Hispanic heritage and rejection of US rule. The Nationalists also understood that Puerto Rico needed the support of its “sister republics” across the Americas. To generate solidarity with their goals, the PNPR sent the party’s vice president, Pedro Albizu Campos, on a tour of Latin America from 1927 to 1930. In 1930 the PNPR elected Albizu Campos as its president. Under his leadership, the party adopted a more confrontational stance toward Washington. It also worked to broaden its base by forming various organizations for young men and women. The PNPR succeeded in attracting members from multiple classes, genders, and races. The party also established branches in New York City, the site of the largest diasporic Puerto Rican community in the United States. Public support of the Nationalist Party was highest during the 1930s, when soaring unemployment, low pay, and increased poverty caused by the Depression heightened many Puerto Ricans’ disappointment with US rule. Growing dissatisfaction with US colonialism and approval of the Nationalists convinced the US government to increase repressive measures against the pro-independence party. In 1937, Puerto Rican police, acting under the orders of the US-appointed governor, fired on peaceful Nationalist Party marchers, killing nineteen and wounding close to two hundred. The US government also imprisoned Nationalist Party leaders in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary between 1937 and 1943. During the 1940s and 1950s, support for the Nationalists declined. Luis Muñoz Marín, leader of the Popular Democratic Party, worked with the US government to ostensibly end US colonial rule in Puerto Rico through the archipelago’s transition to the status of Free Associated State. To alert the world that Puerto Rico remained a US colony, the PNPR launched an unsuccessful insurrection in Puerto Rico in 1950 and attempted to assassinate President Truman in Washington, DC. In 1954, four Nationalists attacked the US Congress to denounce US colonialism in Puerto Rico once again. Although the party still exists today, its adherents and influence are a shadow of what they were.

Article

Current Perspectives in the Precolonial Archaeology of Puerto Rico  

Reniel Rodríguez Ramos

During the past two decades, many of the traditional conceptions about the configuration of the cultural landscape of precolonial Puerto Rico have been critically addressed from both political and disciplinary perspectives. Colonialist undercurrents embedded in the traditional models used to structure the indigenous history of the island have come into question and some of the fundamental ideas about the social and cultural makeup of the human collectivities that inhabited Puerto Rico have been drastically altered. The timing of the initial occupation of the island has been pushed back to more than five thousand years ago and the potential origin of some of these societies has also been reconsidered, including the possibility that some of groups moved across the Caribbean Sea from the Isthmo-Colombian region from where they brought phytocultural traditions that included the cultivation of a wide array of important economic plants. The cultural landscape of the island later expanded with the arrival of migrants from the surrounding continents who participated in long-distance interaction networks, as demonstrated by the trade of exotic goods mainly used for making personal adornments. The cultural plurality that existed on the island led to the development of distinct traditions that were not only forged by the diverse interactions that took place within Puerto Rico, but also by engagements that continued to take place with the inhabitants of other islands of the Antilles and surrounding continental regions. This all led to the articulation of a mosaic of cultural traditions that were diffusely united through the intersocietal negotiation of a set of codes that allowed the different collectivities to engage with one another while retaining their differences.

Article

Canary Island Immigration to the Hispanic Caribbean  

Manuel Hernández González

The configuration of Canarian migration during the Conquest and colonization of the Spanish Caribbean was significantly influenced by its historic continuity, familial nature (with an elevated presence of women and children), dedication to agriculture, and contribution to the settlement of towns. This migration gave rise to quintessentially rural prototypes, such as the Cuban guajiro, linked to self-sustaining agriculture and tobacco; the Puerto Rican jíbaro, a coffee grower; and the Dominican montero or farmer from Cibao. All of these contributed a great many aspects of their speech, idiosyncrasies, and culture. The migratory dynamic has evolved since the Conquest and includes such processes as Cuban tobacco colonization, the foundation of townships in Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico (in order to further analyze their adaptation to the economic boom of sugar plantations in Cuba and Puerto Rico), and the uprising of slaves in French Santo Domingo, as well as the cession of the Spanish portion of the island to this country in 1795. This event merits special focus, due to its great transcendence in terms of the signs of identity that emerged during the rebellion of the Canarian vegueros against the monopoly within the Havana context, and the defense of their configuration as a distinct people in San Carlos de Tenerife: processes that explain their response to 19th-century innovations in Cuba and Puerto Rico and to Dominican political avatars, as well as their attitudes toward criollismo and emancipation. Their singularities are reflected in the mass Cuban emigration that took place during the early decades of the 20th century.

Article

Woodrow Wilson in the Caribbean  

Ellen D. Tillman

Woodrow Wilson entered the presidency in 1913, when the United States was already deeply involved in Caribbean interests and European nations were moving almost irrevocably toward war. Wilson’s 1912 election shifted domestic and international policy, though not always in the ways that people expected. Mired in his own ideas about constitutionalism and the progressive course of history toward some ultimate end goal, Wilson inherited an empire that complicated US strategic goals. Caribbean countries and territories, meanwhile, were undergoing massive changes in internal markets and shifts toward the global economy. As industrialization and rapid improvements in communications technology picked up pace, foreign investment reoriented Caribbean economies; the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal deepened US strategic interest in the region. During the years of World War I, from August 1914, Wilson’s administration proclaimed neutrality but increasingly became more interventionist in the Caribbean to protect the canal and to allow the United States to dominate trade in the absence of European powers. From the Mexican Revolution to World War I and the postwar peace process, Wilson’s presidency was largely dominated by the exigencies of foreign affairs—exactly what he had feared at his election. When Wilson became president, he and his secretary of state decried the willingness of the previous presidential administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and William H. Taft to use military force in policing the Western Hemisphere, and yet within a short time Wilson’s administration became the most likely to use force and even military occupation. He decried unequal financial relationships and tax burdens as detrimental to hemispheric solidarity and national sovereignty but expected Latin American nations to follow a particular “Anglo-Saxon” path under US tutelage. When the realities of Caribbean nations did not match his expectations, or when he and his appointees found certain populations unready for democratic government, he was willing in an unprecedented way to use military force to impose the US standard as he saw it. The Wilson presidency (1913–1920) tightened US control over the Caribbean, with the administration intervening intrusively and placing heavy foreign burdens upon Caribbean countries. The occupations in countries such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic worsened US–Latin America relations. Occupations failed in their stated goals as popular opposition forced withdrawals, although they left US-friendly militaries that guaranteed long-term support for US interests, often under militarily backed dictatorships.

Article

Digital Resources: En el Ojo del Huracán, Private Letters from the Caribbean to Spain  

Werner Stangl

The early 19th century was a period of intense turmoil and chaos in the Spanish-speaking world: The Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of the Peninsula in the 1800s, independence movements in the Americas, the liberal constitution of Cádiz, Napoleon’s defeat, and the reinstallation of the Bourbons in the 1810s, and finally, the second constitutional period, the iron fist of restoration, and the eventual loss of most American possessions between 1821 and 1825. The least affected areas in the midst of this turmoil were the loyalist islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, metaphorically the “eye of the hurricane.” It is within this context that a corpus of some dozen letters, preserved in the Spanish National Archive, were written. They were produced in the circum-Caribbean region—most in Puerto Rico—and addressed mainly to relatives and business partners on the other side of the Atlantic. The letters in question were archived without accompanying documentation, probably seized by authorities loyal to the restoration of the Ancien Régime. As a central element, this digital resource—“En el Ojo del Huracán”—displays these primary sources in an online presentation. Beyond the historiographic value of the sources, the project explores the differences between traditional and digital edition standards (TEI) for digital letter editions with the aim of showcasing the benefits of implementing the digital paradigm and for different visualizations, functionalities, analysis and incorporation in larger infrastructures.