• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Title Page
 Introduction
 Table of Contents
 The lay of the land
 The islander at home
 The Spanish centuries
 Inventory in 1898
 Economic revolution
 Puerto Rico, U. S. A.
 Men against disease
 Quest for knowledge
 Relief and rehabilitation:...
 The problem in summary
 Suggestions for further readin...






Title: Puerto Rico, unsolved problem
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00074129/00001
 Material Information
Title: Puerto Rico, unsolved problem
Physical Description: 110 p. : illus. (incl. maps) diagrs. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Garver, Earl Simeon
Fincher, Ernest B
Publisher: The Elgin press
Place of Publication: Elgin Ill
Publication Date: [1945]
 Subjects
Subject: Puerto Rico   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: "Suggestions for further reading": p. 107-110.
Statement of Responsibility: by Earl S. Garver ... and Ernest B. Fincher. With maps and drawings by John Morgan and William Schuhle.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00074129
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: aleph - 000223382
oclc - 24802685
notis - AAZ0630

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Introduction
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The lay of the land
        Page 7
        The setting
            Page 7
            Page 8
        Columbus, Isabella and a legend
            Page 9
            Page 10
        "Where every prospect pleases"
            Page 11
        Key to empire
            Page 12
    The islander at home
        Page 13
        Views on work and cooperation
            Page 14
            Page 15
        Fun and frolic
            Page 16
        Music and literature
            Page 17
        Religion: Pagan and Christian
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
        Color values
            Page 21
        Haves and have nots
            Page 22
        Daily bread
            Page 23
        Castle, cottage and shack
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
        Impending crisis
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
    The Spanish centuries
        Page 30
        Page 31
        The drowsing years
            Page 32
        Awakening
            Page 33
        Government: Spanish model
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
        End of an era
            Page 37
        Trade balances
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
    Inventory in 1898
        Page 38
    Economic revolution
        Page 42
        The tariff
            Page 42
            Page 43
        New crops for old
            Page 44
            Page 45
        Sugar: Blessing or curse?
            Page 46
            Page 47
        Sugar doldrums
            Page 48
        Rising tide of discontent
            Page 49
            Page 50
        Agrarian reform
            Page 51
        Agriculture in a new age
            Page 52
        The rise of manufacturing
            Page 53
            Page 54
        Bottles and rum
            Page 55
        The future of Puerto Rican industry
            Page 56
        Puerto Rican lifeline
            Page 56
            Page 57
        Exit wholesaler; enter banker
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
    Puerto Rico, U. S. A.
        Page 61
        Democracy by degrees
            Page 62
        Legislation without representation
            Page 63
            Page 64
        The nationalists: Politics and violence
            Page 65
            Page 66
        The coalition party and the demand for statehood
            Page 67
        On the way: The reformers
            Page 68
            Page 69
            Page 70
        Independence, statehood or what?
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
    Men against disease
        Page 75
        The opening campaign
            Page 76
            Page 77
        War without end
            Page 78
        The greatest enemy
            Page 79
        Taking stock
            Page 80
            Page 81
    Quest for knowledge
        Page 82
        Education by experimentation
            Page 83
            Page 84
        The educational pyramid
            Page 85
            Page 86
        Progress - past and future
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
    Relief and rehabilitation: 1933-1945
        Page 90
        Depression and emergency relief: PRERA
            Page 91
        PRRA: Long range rehabilitation
            Page 92
            Page 93
        CPS in Puerto Rico
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
    The problem in summary
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
    Suggestions for further reading
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
Full Text



PUERTO RICO


Vloiwd P"o4em




BY

EARL S. GARVER, PH. D.
Associate Professor of Economics, Manchester College
ERNEST B. FINCHER,' A.M.
Author, Democracy at Work


With Maps and Drawings
by
John Morgan and William Schuhle


PRICE, $1.00 PER COPY





BRETHREN PUBLISHING HOUSE
ELGIN, ILLINOIS









COPYRIGHT, 1945, by
Brethren Service Committee
Elgin, Illinois


First Impression, 1945

Second Impression, 1946


Printed in the United States of America








INTRODUCTION
Puerto Rico, though an island possession of the United
States only five hours by air from Miami, Florida, is still
scarcely known to most American citizens. What knowl-
edge continentals have is largely irrelevant or distorted.
Most of the literature on Puerto Rico has been unconsciously
biased or is frankly propagandistie.
Puerto Rico: Unsolved Problem has been enthusiastically
received by both Puerto Ricans and continentals because it
offers concise, accurate, readable and sympathetic informa-
tion on one of the most interesting and unsettled countries
of Spanish culture in the western hemisphere. It is hoped
that this new printing will further our acquaintance with
our Puerto Rican neighbors, and also our sympathetic co-
operation in their struggles for security and development.
Dr. Eldon Burke, now Director of European Work for
the Brethren Service Committee but who as Director of the
Philadelphia Research Center of the Friends, Mennonites
and Brethren, supervised the research undertaken in this
study by specialists from the ranks of Civilian Public Serv-
ice, wrote in the original introduction to this volume:
"Critics on the literature on Puerto Rico have frequently
alleged that such studies have been written either from the
viewpoint of the hibiscus or that of the hookworm. It would
seem that this work would consequently fall into the latter
classification. To avoid such a ready characterization, the
authors have attempted to go beyond a study which finds
its unity in a nexus solely composed of problems, and have
endeavored to present the difficulties of the Puerto Ricans
and our administration of the island in the broader setting
of environment and culture. It may be admitted that no
casual observer or even student of a people can ever master
all of the intricacies of a society of which he is not a mem-
ber, but to the contrary there is force in the contention
that no member of such a society can ever sufficiently es-
cape its ties in order to view dispassionately the struggles
in which he himself is sharing. The authors, students of






economics and government respectively, within the limits
of time and freedom of action imposed by Civilian Public
Service, have produced a creditable study, and it is hoped
that it will find use not only in providing an introductory
preparation for those who desire to render service in the
island, but for others who do not have time to read critically
the large amount of literature on the subject."
Especial credit is due to William Schuhle for the charts
and to John Morgan for the maps and the cover design. Ap-
preciation is expressed to the librarians at the University of
Pennsylvania and to the various persons in governmental
agencies, especially in the Puerto Rican Reconstruction Ad-
ministration, for their counsel and assistance. Gratitude is
due the Carnegie Foundation for generous assistance in
original publication. To Rufus B. King, Director of the
Castafier Project of the Martin G. Brumbaugh Reconstruc-
tion Unit in Puerto Rico, goes the credit for a careful study
of the book, and for the correction of minor inaccuracies.

W. Harold Row
Assistant Executive Secretary
Brethren Service Committee
22 South State Street
Elgin, Illinois









TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ................................... 3

I. THE LAY OF THE LAND ..................... ....... 7
The Setting .......................................... 7
Columbus, Isabella and a Legend ..................... 9
"Where Every Prospect Pleases" .................... 11
Key to Empire ................ ................... .. 12

II. THE ISLANDER AT HOME ........................ 13
Views on Work and Cooperation ...................... 14
Fun and Frolic ..................................... 16
Music and Literature .............................. 17
Religion: Pagan and Christian ....................... 18
Color Values ..................................... .... 21
Haves and Have Nots ................................ 22
Daily Bread ................................. ........ 23
Castle, Cottage and Shack ............................ 24
Impending Crisis ..................................... 27

III. THE SPANISH CENTURIES ........................ 30
The Drowsing Years .................................. 32
Awakening ......................................... 33
Government: Spanish Model .......................... 34
End of an Era ....................................... 37

IV. INVENTORY IN 1898 ............................... 38
Trade Balances ..................................... 39

V. ECONOMIC REVOLUTION ......................... 42
The Tariff ......................................... 42
New Crops for Old ................................... 44
Sugar: Blessing or Curse? ........................... 46
Sugar Doldrums ......,,............ ,.,,,........... 48






Rising Tide of Discontent ............................ 49
Agrarian Reform .................................... 51
Agriculture in a New Age ............... ......... 52
The Rise of Manufacturing ............................ 53
Bottles and Rum ..................................... 55
The Future of Puerto Rican Industry ................... 56
Puerto Rican Lifeline .............................. 56
Exit Wholesaler; Enter Banker ....................... 58

VI. PUERTO RICO, U. S. A. ............................. 61
Democracy by Degrees ............................... 62
Legislation Without Representation .................... 63
The Nationalists: Politics and Violence ................. 65
The Coalition Party and the Demand for Statehood ..... 67
On the Way: the Reformers .......................... 68
Independence, Statehood or What? .................... 71

VII. MEN AGAINST DISEASE ............................... 75
The Opening Campaign ............................... 76
War Without End ................................... 78
The Greatest Enemy ................................ 79
Taking Stock ........................................ 80

VIII. QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE ........................ 82
Education by Experimentation ......................... 83
The Educational Pyramid .................................. 85
Progress-Past and Future ......................... 87

IX. RELIEF AND REHABILITATION: 1933-1945 .......... 90
Depression and Emergency Relief: PRERA ............ 91
PRRA: Long Range Rehabilitation ..................... 92
CPS in Puerto Rico ................................. 94

X. THE PROBLEM IN SUMMARY ............. ......... 101
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING ..........107

















CHAPTER I

THE LAY OF THE LAND
The Setting
Rising from the ocean floor to heights rivaling the Hi-
malayas, a submerged mountain chain extends from a point
near Key West, Florida, almost to the northern coast of
South America. Only the loftiest peaks reach above the
water, however, and these form the West Indies. Puerto
Rico is the most easterly of the West Indian group known as
the Greater Antilles, of which Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti are
larger units. Puerto Rican territory includes the nearby
islands of Mona, Culebra and Vieques, as well as numerous
islets in the adjacent waters. Most of the latter are of
little importance, but Santiago is the location of the famous
colony of rhesus monkeys used for experimental purposes
by the School of Tropical Medicine.
North of the island is the Atlantic Ocean; south, the
Caribbean; east, the Virgin Islands; and west, Santo Do-
mingo. Puerto Rico is 1,400 air miles southeast of New

Alantic rreoe+a .. _

M'Miles .5 -g IS 20

.... a--- Carlbbcan ear -
ts 3S 35 40 45 so

PROFILE of PUERTO RICO 1 NORTH-SOUTH

















CHAPTER I

THE LAY OF THE LAND
The Setting
Rising from the ocean floor to heights rivaling the Hi-
malayas, a submerged mountain chain extends from a point
near Key West, Florida, almost to the northern coast of
South America. Only the loftiest peaks reach above the
water, however, and these form the West Indies. Puerto
Rico is the most easterly of the West Indian group known as
the Greater Antilles, of which Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti are
larger units. Puerto Rican territory includes the nearby
islands of Mona, Culebra and Vieques, as well as numerous
islets in the adjacent waters. Most of the latter are of
little importance, but Santiago is the location of the famous
colony of rhesus monkeys used for experimental purposes
by the School of Tropical Medicine.
North of the island is the Atlantic Ocean; south, the
Caribbean; east, the Virgin Islands; and west, Santo Do-
mingo. Puerto Rico is 1,400 air miles southeast of New

Alantic rreoe+a .. _

M'Miles .5 -g IS 20

.... a--- Carlbbcan ear -
ts 3S 35 40 45 so

PROFILE of PUERTO RICO 1 NORTH-SOUTH






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


/e


If Puerto Rico Were the United States


~*)


York, a distance equal to that between New York and
Houston, Texas. In relation to New York, Puerto Rico is
farther south than Mexico City and almost as far east as
Hamilton, Bermuda. By direct air route, the island is ap-
proximately 1,000 miles from Miami, Florida, and about
half that distance from the mainland of South America.


If the United States Were Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is almost rectangular in shape, with a length
of 95 miles and a width of 35 miles. Thus it is considerably


--- -- -- -- _





THE LAY OF THE LAND


wider than Long Island, but not as long. In area, the island
(3,435 square miles) is larger than Delaware but smaller
than Connecticut. The estimated population in 1943 was
almost 2,000,000, or more than 570 persons per square mile-
a density more than ten times that of the continental United
States. Although almost exclusively agricultural in econ-
omy, the island has a density of population comparable with
that of Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, each
of which is highly industrialized.
Columbus, Isabella and a Legend
Perhaps the best-known description of the topography
of the island was given by its discoverer, Columbus. Ac-
cording to tradition, when Queen Isabella asked for a de-
scription of the new-found land, Columbus crumpled a piece
of parchment and placed it upon the table. "Your Majesty,"
he explained, "Puerto Rico is a land as rough as this paper."
It is estimated that three-fourths of the land is broken or
irregular. Two mountain chains cross the island from east
to west, with the peak of El Yunque (3,483 feet) dominating
the east, and Los Picachos, toward the center of the island.
The highest peak is La Puntita en Jayuya rising to 4,398
feet. Most of the land is of volcanic or sedimentary ori-
gin, and there are extensive limestone formations which
are honeycombed with caves and subterranean streams.
While mineral deposits exist, they are of limited extent
and of minor importance. The rugged character-of the land
and the heavy rainfall account for the torrential streams,
many of which have been dammed to furnish water for
irrigation and hydroelectric projects.
Framing the island is a coastal plain, at one time largely
devoted to cattle ranches, now occupied by cane planta-
tions. Land on the south coast is irrigated, both because
that region receives less rainfall than the northern part
of the island, and because the evaporation rate is high.
Narrow, rich valleys extend inland, planted to cane and
tobacco. The interior is mountainous, but the peculiar,
clinging red soil resists erosion and permits intensive cul-
tivation of the hillsides, provided the elementary rules of





PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


conservation are observed. Through the centuries, how-
ever, the land has been abused, and today much of it has
been worn away. This is especially apparent in the interior,

P-IY5IOGRAP-IIC MAP of PUERTO RICO










l Alluvial Plains.
i Northern Coastal Plain.
E Lower Peneplane.
S Rugged Foothill Belt.
I Upper Peneplane and Atalaya Mts.
SCordillera Central and Luquillo Mts.

where coffee is grown at high elevations. Large areas of
eroded land, swamps, forests, pastures, and precipitous
slopes account for the fact that less than one-third of
Puerto Rico's 2,000,000 acres are now under cultivation.
The mountains, once covered with a tropical rain forest,
have been denuded until only a small area of virgin growth
remains in the Luquillo section of the Caribbean National
Forest. Most of the cedar, ebony, magnolia, sandalwood
and other valuable native trees have been taken, but nu-
merous species have been introduced from other parts of
the world. Among them is the breadfruit tree, whose im-
portation from Polynesia was so closely associated with the
mutiny on the Bounty. The island vegetation is lush, with
ferns, orchids, palms and a host of flowering trees giving
character to the landscape. Orange, mango, avocado, pa-
paya, cashew and other fruit trees now grow wild. Animal
life, in the main, is limited to domesticated species, as would






THE LAY OF THE LAND


be expected on a densely populated island. While there are
no native species of fish in Puerto Rican streams, the Carib-
bean and the Atlantic abound with many varieties. Cod-
fish, however, is a major import item.
"Where Every Prospect Pleases"
Although the island is within the tropics, its climate
is unusually equable. There is little variation in tempera-
ture, the average winter readings being 75 degrees Fahren-
heit and the summer temperature, 80 degrees. The mean
annual temperature is slightly higher than the correspond-
ing figure for Hawaii, but it is four degrees lower than that
for the Philippine Islands. One authority writes: "Day tem-
peratures on the coast, generally between 800 and 90, are

780 78*

76'

78




788

MEAN ANNUAL TEMPERATURE- PUERTO RICO

conducive to profuse perspiration with physical exertion
.locations protected from the prevailing breezes seem
uncomfortably hot, while those open to the trade winds of
this latitude are cool and pleasant. There are generally
sea breezes by day and land breezes at night the air
drainage from high altitudes to the coasts results in re-
freshing night temperatures, especially during the winter
months."
While there is no clearly defined rainy season, as in
certain tropical regions, rainfall is heaviest in summer
and early fall. Most of the rain comes in the form of






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


quick, light showers. Precipitation averages seventy-one
inches a year, which exceeds the average rainfall in any part
of the United States. In a six-year period, however, the
weather bureau reported only seventeen days without sun-
shine. Like most Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico is subject
to periodic hurricanes which take frightful toll of life and
property. These storms ordinarily strike in the fall, but
they occur infrequently and travel slowly enough to permit
ample warning to be given the populace. Earthquakes have
caused considerable damage on several occasions.
Puerto Rico is covered with a network of good highways,
begun by the Spanish as military roads, and completed dur-
ing the American occupation. The railway system almost
circles the island but carries few passengers because of
the large number of buses and automobiles which operate
throughout the country. Airlines connect Puerto Rico with
the United States, other West Indian islands, and South
America. Numerous steamship lines operate between the
island and all parts of the world.
Key to Empire
Puerto Rico has seven political subdivisions. These in
turn are divided into 77 municipalities which correspond
to the counties found on the mainland, each with a center
of administration. The municipalities themselves are di-
vided into barrios, small units similar to wards or pre-
cincts. Three of the principal cities are found on the coast-
San Juan (north), Ponce (south), and Mayagiiez (west)
-with Caguas as the chief city of the interior. San Juan-
the capital, chief port and leading commercial center-in
1940 had a population of 169,225, approximately that of
Hartford, Connecticut, or Nashville, Tennessee. Because
of its splendid harbor and its strategic location at the eastern
gateway of the Caribbean, San Juan has long been recog-
nized as a key to empire. The Spanish heavily fortified
the city, and in the last decade the United States has made
San Juan one of the greatest air and naval bases in the
world. Ponce (population 65,179), Mayagiiez (50,371), and
Caguas (24,371) are considerably smaller.




















CHAPTER II


THE ISLANDER AT HOME
The average Puerto Rican is much like his brother in the
continental United States. A few inches shorter, perhaps, be-
cause of his meager diet. A little darker, maybe, but with simi-
lar facial characteristics. The country folk speak a dialect of
Spanish in which the words are clipped short and uttered very
rapidly. In the city English is more frequently used.1
To the continental American, the average Puerto Rican
seems youthful. This impression is substantiated by census
reports which show that 76 per cent of the population of
the island is under 35 years of age. Thus the age composi-
tion of the population is much lower than that found in
the United States, indicating both a very high birth rate
and a high mortality.
Spanish influence on the Puerto Rican culture is revealed
in many character traits and certain customs. Like the
Spaniard, the Puerto Rican is inclined to be fatalistic. Since
death is always close at hand, he treats it with the proper
respect but is not unduly oppressed by it. The islander
is sensitive; this manifests itself in the innate refinement
which 'even the most ignorant laborer may display. It also
shows in the Puerto Rican's susceptibility to criticism, and
the ease with which he may be slighted. Any condescen-
sion or feeling of superiority is quickly sensed and re-
1Adapted from Carl M. Lehman, "What's It Like Down There?", Rio
La Plata News Letter. I. No. 2 (Nov. 1943), 1-2.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


sented. On the whole, the islanders possess the tempera-
ment of their Spanish forbears.
Puerto Ricans are famed for their friendliness and hos-
pitality. Countless travelers have told of stopping to ask
directions, and of having the person questioned volunteer
to go along and show the way. One mainlander tells of
pausing at a wayside shack only to find an old woman
watching beside the corpse of her husband. But hospitality
came before grief, and she insisted that the stranger come
in and share her rice.
Family ties are strong in most cases, and marked loy-
alties are evident. But the Latin conception of marital
relations prevails among some Puerto Ricans. For a hus-
band to take a mistress is not considered extraordinary;
in fact, it is .accepted as a matter of course. Neither the
man, his wife, nor his mistress loses caste. For a wife to
take a lover is not so acceptable. Those mainlanders who
are shocked by the practice sometimes are reminded that
it is better to admit that such relationships exist, as the
Puerto Ricans do, than to attempt to conceal their existence,
as North Americans usually do.

Views on Work and Cooperation
Opinions as to the islanders' industry vary. Some writers
have characterized them as lazy, shiftless, and completely
unambitious. The apparent failure of several cooperatives
established by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administra-
tion was attributed by some to the fact that members would
no longer work when they discovered that they were the
actual owners of the enterprise. "Bosses don't work," was
their conviction. On the other hand, many who have dealt
with the islanders for years pay tribute to their industry.
The head of the Puerto Rican Emergency Relief Administra-
tion, for example, described the islanders as an able and
industrious people with a real desire to work and an aver-
sion to charity and relief.
Historically, there is reason for an indifferent, even dis-
dainful, attitude toward manual labor. The Indians never







THE ISLANDER AT HOME


found it necessary to exert themselves, since a plentiful
supply of food was always theirs for the picking. The Span-
ish colonists considered work beneath their dignity and
forced slaves to do all manual labor. Today it is quite evi-
dent that malnutrition and disease often sap the vitality
of the islanders. It is equally apparent that incentive to
work is sometimes destroyed when there are never enough
jobs to go around.
Sociologists and social workers often remark upon the
curious lack of community spirit among Puerto Ricans.
Islanders act as individuals more often than they act as
members of a group. They are not likely to be concerned
with affairs which do not affect them personally. Jos6
Rosario gives several examples of this lack of group re-
sponsibility in his monograph, The Development of the
Puerto Rican Jibaro and His Present Attitude Toward
Society.2 When a man beats his wife, says Professor Rosa-
rio, his brother-in-law may chastise or even murder the
offender, but no social disapproval is brought to bear on
either. When a teacher is flagrant in her neglect of duty,
those living in the community are likely to shrug their
shoulders and say that it is not their responsibility to
correct the situation.
A Senate committee which visited the island in 1943
described the average Puerto Rican as
quite individualistic, and cooperative undertaking is not one of
his characteristics, whether at home or abroad. His cooperative
enterprises usually are limited to the members of his immediate
family and seldom go beyond. There we may find the main cause
of the failure of previous mass movements, though we can easily
see that the agricultural worker is inclined to be more attached
to the land where he was born and brought up than the average
industrial worker who ordinarily comes from the city.3
Because of this lack of group unity and this absence of
social responsibility, islanders find it difficult to work with
one another in launching enterprises which benefit all.
~Jos6 Rosario, Development of the Puerto Rican Jibaro and His Present
Attitude Toward Society (San Juan: Bureau Supplies, Printing, and Trans-
portation, 1935).
SUnited States Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs, Eco-
nomic and Social Conditions in Puerto Rico (Washington: Government Print-
ing Office. 1944), p. 30.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


Cooperative associations, organized under the auspices of
some government agency, have sometimes failed because
of the intense individualism of the members, and some of
the splendid community recreational and social centers es-
tablished by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administra-
tion remain unused because those living in the community
have not recognized themselves as members of it.
Fun and Frolic
Some visitors do not approve the islander's attitude
toward work, nor do they understand why he tolerates
certain practices which are abhorrent to the mainlander.
Beggary, for instance, is taken for granted by many Puerto
Ricans. Mendicants, insistent and numerous, have plied
their trade for so many generations that they are consid-
ered an integral part of society. Some, in fact, regard beg-
gary as a distinct occupation.
Cockfighting is one of the most popular sports in Puerto
Rico, and pits are found in almost every community. Pov-
erty-stricken people stake their last cent on the outcome of
a battle between well-known birds. The passion for gam-
bling also expresses itself in the lottery conducted by the
insular government. The lottery, banned when the United
States occupied the island, was legalized along with cock-
fighting in 1934, and since that time has been an important
source of revenue to the government. Despite the fact that
large sums are raised for charitable purposes, some con-
sider the lottery a detrimental influence. Horse-racing was
popular during the Spanish era, and it has continued to
hold interest to the present time. To many enthusiasts, the
betting is far more important than the race itself.
But gambling is not incidental to all Puerto Rican di-
versions. With the introduction of the American type of
education, emphasis was placed upon "participator" sports,
rather than "spectator" sports. Baseball has become of
major importance, with an increasing number of devotees.
Boxing, swimming, basket ball and other sports have their
followers. Like other people of Spanish stock, the islanders
are fond of fiestas, and saints' days; weddings and holidays






THE ISLANDER AT HOME


find Puerto Rican homes open to friends of the family.
Music, dancing and friendly gossip furnish entertainment,
while the company feasts on roast pig or other delicacies.
Dancing is a passion with many young people. Dancers
gather in some home, furniture is cleared from the living
room, and lanterns are hung from the ceiling. The musi-
cians strike up the tune and the dance is on. Both the
music and the style of dancing combine Indian, Spanish
and Negro elements: to the observer it may appear as a
kind of frenzy, but with a character of its own. "Cutting in"
is allowed, and it is a grave offense for a young man to
refuse to yield his partner to another. Such a rebuff is
tantamount to a challenge. The music comes to an abrupt
stop; the young women and those uninterested hurry out-
side. The others range themselves about the man whose
cause they espouse, and the struggle begins. Sometimes
it is a fist fight, but long, heavy cane knives (machetes)
often are employed, and serious injury or death may result.
Dancing is reserved for younger folk, but older people
gather at wakes or participate in rosarios. The pretext
for such affairs is the celebration of the host's saint's day
or the offering of prayers for a departed relative. Rosarios
may take the form of prayers said in concert, or may
consist of group singing. Sometimes the celebrations are
held in series, with the final one lasting all night. The
host serves coffee, rum, or other refreshments during the
evening.
But the Puerto Rican celebrates rather infrequently.
For the most part, he is a decided individualist and prefers
isolation. Furthermore, the average islander has little vi-
tality because he is undernourished and afflicted with dis-
ease. After spending long hours in the cane fields and
coffee plantations he thinks of nothing but sleep.

Music and Literature
In their leisure hours, Puerto Ricans have not concerned
themselves with amusement alone. Music has long been a
dominant interest with the islanders. During the Spanish






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


era, native music had a distinctive style which showed its
Afro-Indian-Hispanic background. Orchestras, with instru-
ments improvised from gourds, seed pods and other ob-
jects, toured the countryside, sometimes accompanied by
singers. Folk dances developed, among them the danza.
One of these, La Borinquefia, with appropriate words, be-
came the national anthem of Puerto Rico. In the days of
Spanish rule, bands and orchestras were subsidized by
the government, and concerts were given regularly in the
plazas of most towns and villages. Composers developed
a characteristic style which has continued until today. A
number of musical organizations now exist in Puerto
Rico, and concerts are given in the larger cities. In the
villages, small native orchestras may be heard occasionally,
although the radio and motion picture have tended to dis-
place local musicians and to introduce a foreign note into
the Puerto Rican music itself.
Almost universal illiteracy and the strict censorship im-
posed by the Spanish government in the nineteenth cen-
tury discouraged literary endeavor. Even newspapers were
short-lived because of government restrictions and prohi-
bitions. Nevertheless, historians, poets and dramatists con-
tinued to write, and frequently their works were published
in Spain, the island, or South America. With the American
occupation came a new freedom, but Puerto Rican writers
still find their audiences restricted because the majority of
people cannot afford books. Perhaps poetry has been the
most popular form of expression, but islanders have written
novels, histories and scientific works, which have received
acclaim both in Europe and in Latin America.
Religion: Pagan and Christian
For more than 400 years Puerto Rico has been a Catho-
lic country. During the Spanish regime there was no sepa-
ration of church and state, and the inhabitant came to look
upon the crown and the church as one. What schools ex-
isted were controlled by the church, and its influence
reached into every sphere of activity, including the eco-
nomic.






tE ISLANDER At IOME


Puerto Rico is now and for generations to come will
doubtless remain Catholic. The churches and cathedrals
which dominate every community seem to symbolize this
permanence. Catholicism not only has the advantage of a
powerful, far-flung organization, as well as a long history
of religious monopoly, but it has also additional support from
outside revenue. In this respect it differs little from the
Protestant churches, which are supported, for the most
part, by mission boards on the mainland.
Yet Catholicism has only a superficial hold on countless
people. At heart, many islanders are pagans, and while
they may not worship idols, their belief in spiritism is
strong. In rural areas the medium is sometimes a more
powerful figure than the priest or minister. Through the
centuries, the primitive religious concepts of the Indians
and the dark superstitions of the early Spanish colonists
have persisted.
At the time of American occupation there was only one
non-Roman church building on the whole island, and this,
restricted to English-speaking persons, was not permitted to
announce its services. As soon as the change of government
was effective, the missionary agencies of the North Amer-
ican churches began their activities. With a remarkable de-
gree of comity they associated themselves in their new en-
terprises. They zoned the island to prevent overlapping of
effort. Today with the exception of the Seventh-Day Ad-
ventists and the Pentecostal churches one seldom finds more
than one evangelical group working in a given area. The
Baptists-the first to arrive-occupy a broad diagonal strip
extending across the island from Ponce to San Juan. The
Methodists are located to the north near Arecibo and to the
southeast of the Baptists. The whole western end of the is-
land was given to the Presbyterians, while the eastern end
was assigned to the Congregational missionaries. The Dis-
ciples are located in the north center between San Juan and
Arecibo, and on the south coast, similarly situated, are the
United Brethren. The Episcopal Church is located in the






PtUiRTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


large cities and the outlying districts. By agreement, the
larger cities were open to all.
Another example of interdenominational co-operation
has been the Union Theological Seminary at Rio Piedras.
Six denominations, Baptist, Congregational, Disciples of
Christ, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Brethren, have
joined in an enterprise for the preparation of ministers for
the whole Caribbean area. As a result, there is not a com-
munity of a thousand or more which does not have a church
or organized group for study and worship. In a somewhat
similar manner the cause of Christian education has been
furthered by the Polytechnic Institute, a liberal arts college
at San German which was founded by the Presbyterians in
1912. Since that time it has become nondenominational but
has remained thoroughly evangelical in character and, as
indicated elsewhere, has become a fully recognized institu-
tion on a par with colleges on the mainland as well as those
on the island.
As a result of the various co-operative enterprises and
agreements, a union of evangelical churches came into being
which later was organized into a federation. A union evan-
gelical paper, the official organ of seven communions in the
island, was published. Recently there has been indication
that in the future there will be even closer co-operation, es-
pecially by those who have not previously shared in these
common enterprises.
All of the major denominations are engaged in some form
of health, social or economic rehabilitation. Space does not
permit a detailed account of their activities, but elsewhere in
a discussion of such activities will be found some account of
them. With regard to the success of Protestantism it has
been estimated that perhaps thirty per cent of the people can
be considered to have some evangelical affiliation although
not over fifty thousand are listed as members of the church-
es. By far the more rapid gains at present are being made
by the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Pentecostals. On the
other hand, among the co-operating denominations the ten-
dency to urge the local churches to assume their own re-





THE ISLANDER AT HOME


sponsibility is evident, while their leaders in North America
view with increasing favor the "grass roots" approach as
demonstrated by the Civilian Public Service camps.

Color Values
The Puerto Rican bloodstream has three major ele-
ments: Indian, Negro and European, with the latter pre-
dominant. Many of the early Spanish colonists were im-
poverished gentlemen seeking fortunes in the New World;
some were prisoners or stowaways; a few were titled of-
ficials. Since almost none of the first colonists were women,
intermarriage with the Indians proceeded apace and soon
a distinct mestizo, or mixed race, appeared. The aborigines
were quickly exterminated, however, and the Puerto Rican
of today shows little evidence of Indian ancestry. In this
respect the island differs from Mexico and certain Central
and South American nations where Indian blood predomi-
nates. But even though Puerto Ricans have few of the
physical characteristics of the Indians, the native influence
persists in the island folkways.
The decimation of the Indians by disease and slavery
led to the importation of Negroes from Africa, thus intro-
ducing the third distinct element into the population. The
Spanish Crown, fearful of slave insurrections, encouraged
the importation of female, rather than male slaves, a policy
which inevitably fostered miscegenation. The number of
slaves imported into Puerto Rico was small, however, and
as late as 1800 not more than five per cent of the popula-
tion consisted of native Africans. This was in contrast to
many other Caribbean islands where imported slaves
formed a large part of the population.
In a country where color lines are not sharply drawn it
is difficult to determine the number of Negroes, but it is
estimated that approximately 30 per cent of the population
is colored. Many "white" Puerto Ricans have Negro blood.
Thus racial discrimination becomes virtually impossible
since a majority of the people are of mixed Indian, white
and Negro blood.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


Haves and Have Nots
Dividing Puerto Ricans into socio-economic classes is
perhaps simpler than separating them according to race,
for in no section outside the Orient are contrasts between
wealth and poverty more evident. The aristocracy is made
up of the few great landowners who actually reside on
the island, along with the bankers, merchants and higher
government officials. La Casa Espaf~a (Spanish House)
in San Juan is headquarters for those of pure Spanish de-
scent, while other Puerto Ricans and mainlanders gather at
the fashionable clubs and hotels in San Juan, Ponce and
Mayagiiez. Their standard of living is that of similar priv-
ileged groups in other parts of the world. They share con-
trol of the island with the great sugar corporations.
Minor government officials, the owners and managers
of small concerns, artists and those in the professions con-
stitute the middle class. From this group comes most of
the political and intellectual leadership of the island, for
its members are well educated, and many of them are
graduates of the University of Puerto Rico or of some uni-
versity of the continental United States. It is almost ex-
clusively urban, its strongholds being the suburbs of the
three largest cities. Yet the middle class constitutes a bare
fraction of the total population. The absence of a large,
aggressive middle class presents many problems. For one
thing, it impedes the development of the type of democracy
known on the mainland, and favors instead the formation
of a highly centralized, paternalistic government. In the
continental United States, schools, churches, the press and
the arts receive their chief support from the middle class,
but in Puerto Rico the middle class is not large enough to
provide adequate basis for such institutions.
The overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans belong
to the so-called lower class. More than 85 per cent of the
people are without real property, and 75 per cent of them
have never had more than the barest necessities of life. The
average Puerto Rican lives a life of want from the cradle
to the grave; he is born of parents who are afflicted with






THE ISLANDER AT HOME


hookworm or malaria, suffers from malnutrition in child-
hood, and spends his entire life in a crowded shack with
no sanitary facilities whatsoever.
The depressed class includes all types of Puerto Ricans,
but most conspicuous are the Negroes, who are concen-
trated in the coastal region, and the jibaros, who are a
mountain folk. The latter group, sometimes referred to as
the Puerto Rican peasantry, may be compared with the
mountaineers of the southern Appalachians. Many are of
Spanish stock, but through the centuries, disease, malnu-
trition and inbreeding have caused physical deterioration.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans become indebted to store-
keepers or employers. At best, this lifelong indebtedness
makes Puerto Ricans easy prey of usurers; at worst, it
leads to virtual peonage. Since the islander is hard pressed
to keep body and soul together, there is little opportunity
for the accumulation of property of any kind. One compre-
hensive survey shows that the value of property per fam-
ily averages less than one hundred dollars.
Daily Bread
The Monthly Labor Review for February, 1943, reports
that prior to World War II the average family income of
wage earners was less than $350 annually. Such income
dictates a low standard of living. This fact is underlined
by the studies conducted by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction
Administration.4 One of these deals with a typical sugar
plantation; a second is a study of conditions in the tobacco,
coffee and fruit regions. These surveys reveal that the
average Puerto Rican family spends four-fifths of its weekly
income on food. Yet, even so, only an extremely low level
of subsistence is obtained. The typical breakfast consists
of coffee; vegetables and dried codfish constitute lunch;
while supper is limited to beans and rice. Less than half
of the families use milk, and those who do, have less than
one-half pint per person per day.
SP. Morales Otero, and others, "Health and Socio-Economic Conditions
on a Sugar Cane Plantation," Puerto Rico Journal Public Health and Trop-
ical Medicine (June, 1937), 405-490; also P. Morales Otero, and others,
"Health and Socio-Economic Conditions in the Tobacco, Coffee and Fruit
Regions," Puerto Rico Journal Public Health and Tropical Medicine (Marc
1939). 201-285.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


In comparison, Negroes in the Southern United States
have in their diet at least twice as much meat, fish and
green vegetables as the average Puerto Rican. Efforts have
been made to encourage the use of the tropical fruits and












Out- southern Ne9-o ernjols mor Lonae~ oe
4ie{ +ttgAu 4oes l+k FPuerfo R'can4- pe4ktA+.

vegetables with which Puerto Rico abounds. In some in-
stances, plantation owners forbid the use of their lands
for vegetable plots; in other cases, the apathy of the workers
themselves prevents the expansion of subsistence garden-
ing. In recent years, however, the Puerto Rico Reconstruc-
tion Administration and other agencies have set aside land
for family gardens and have shown islanders how home-
grown fruits and vegetables improve the diet.

Castle, Cottage and Shack
Wealthy Puerto Ricans have mansions, and those in the
white collar class live in concrete houses built around
patios or constructed in "American" style, but the average
islanders live in shacks or bohios. These are crude board
affairs with sagging floors and roofs of thatch, galvanized
iron or flattened tins. Often they stand over lagoons on
rickety stilts or cling precariously to mountainsides. Most
houses have two or three small rooms. The kitchen is
usually a lean-to with the simplest equipment: a crude
stove fashioned from a five-gallon tin can in which charcoal
or sticks are burned, without a chimney; a few pots and ket-






THE ISLANDER AT HOME


ties and other cheap utensils imported from the mainland.
In the living room may be found a table, a bench or two,
and oil cans used for carrying water from the nearby stream
or pool. The bedroom furnishings consist of a hammock
and a sleeping platform; at night entire families sleep in
one small room with the window closed to keep out the
night air and the mosquitoes. About half of these bohios
have no sanitary facilities of any kind.
The studies made by Morales and his associates indicate
that only half of the rural homes were the property of
the families living in them. In many cases, however, the
family did not own the land on which the house was built.
The United States Housing Authority designed a project
peculiarly suitable for those families owning shacks. Land
was subdivided into lots, and at the intersection of four of
them a small utility unit with four private bathrooms was
erected. Owners moved their shacks to the individual
lots, and fencing and paint were provided by the authority.
For the use of the land and utility unit the tenant paid a
very small sum each month. The Puerto Rico Reconstruc-
tion Administration attacked the housing problem by build-
ing small concrete dwellings on its numerous resettlement
farms. The 1941-42 legislature also established the Puerto
Rican Land Authority, which has already resettled over ten
thousand families. But, despite government projects, hous-
ing conditions throughout Puerto Rico remain unspeakably
bad.
Puerto Ricans of the upper and middle classes dress ac-
cording to mainland standards, but ordinary folk have
simpler attire. Men ordinarily wear a shirt and trousers
made of cotton. Many islanders wear shoes only on spe-
cial occasions. It is not uncommon for jibaros to walk bare-
footed to the outskirts of town and then put on their shoes.
Women wear skirts and blouses or dresses. Older children
dress like their parents, but many children up to three or
four years of age go naked.
A study sponsored by the Insular Department of Labor
and conducted by the Works Progress Administration






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


showed that before wartime restrictions came into force
Puerto Rican male wage earners
averaged a little over 2 pairs of trousers a year, at slightly more
than $1.00 per pair and about as many shirts at about 75 cents per
shirt. Suits were rare. The men bought a little more than
1 pair of shoes a year, on the average, paying less than $2.00
for them.
The women and girls purchased an average of little more than
2 cotton dresses a year at less than $1.00 each, about 1 rayon
dress at a little over $1.50, and about 1 pair of shoes a year priced
under $2.00. They averaged about 2 pairs of stockings a year.
S. Underwear was principally cotton, and even major garments,
such as cotton slips, averaged less than 40 cents in price.5
The overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans live a
hand-to-mouth existence. On those days when there is
no work, neither they nor their dependents eat. Thus even
short periods of unemployment produce acute distress.
According to testimony given before a Senate Committee
the problem of unemployment
seems to increase year after year. Each catastrophe seems to add
permanently to the lines of jobless people; cyclones, panics, wars
and other calamities leave their mark; depressions have con-
tributed their share; and, as a fitting climax even periods of na-
tional labor prosperity, such as occur in wartime, are not shared by
Puerto Rico, because the island has no war industries.6
Before the United States entered World War II, approxi-
mately 10 per cent of all employables were without work,
and the number increased sharply as the shipping crisis
paralyzed industry. By August, 1942, there were 632,000
employables in Puerto Rico, of whom one-third were with-
out jobs. As the Senate Committee report puts it:
One is apt to interject: "Why don't they do something about
it?" The answer is that nature is doing what "white man" is not
doing for his brethren in Puerto Rico; it is benevolent and gives
them good climate, which does away with the dire necessities
of clothing and shelter as we know them in the northern climate;
its invigorating sun seems to pour upon and through their skins
some vitality which the food (in absentia) is supposed to give
them.7
Alice C. Hanson, "Incomes and Expenditures of Wage Earners in Puerto
Rico, 1940-41," Monthly Labor Review (February, 1943), p. 9.
*United States Senate Committee, op. cit., p. 23.
tbid., p. 26.






THE ISLANDER AT HOME


Impending Crisis
The incidence of illegitimacy is high in Puerto Rico, and
it is estimated that one out of every three children is born
out of wedlock. Overcrowding, undesirable living condi-
tions, and ignorance of birth control measures partly ac-
count for the situation, but consensual marriage is tradi-
tional with certain elements of the population. The study
by Morales and his associates in the sugar region shows
that almost five out of ten marriages are consensual, while
three are church and two are civil marriages. In the area
studied, the incidence of illegitimacy among children under
one year of age was almost 60 per cent. A similar survey
of the tobacco, coffee, and fruit sections, however, showed
that only 13.3 per cent of the adult population was married
consensually, and the incidence of illegitimacy was shown
as approximately 20 per cent.
Consensual marriage has become socially acceptable
among many people for several reasons. For gener-
ations many Catholic priests charged marriage fees which
most of the poor people could not pay, and it became the
custom for certain classes of Puerto Ricans to be married
without being "parsoned", as an early traveler put it.
Moreover, the entire population of some villages was re-
lated, and those wishing to marry found it difficult and
expensive to secure a papal dispensation which permitted
marriage between cousins or other close relatives.
Illegitimacy is a problem which causes grave concern,
but far more alarming is the question of overpopulation.
For Puerto Ricans may be undernourished, ill-housed and
poorly clothed, but they are a fertile people. The Puerto
Rico Reconstruction Administration survey of the tobacco,
coffee and fruit region showed that the ratio of children
under five years of age per thousand women between fifteen
and forty-four years of age was almost 135 per cent above
the ratio in the continental United States. In 1941, the
birth rate in Puerto Rico was 39.8 per thousand, and the
death rate 18.6, leaving a net population gain of 21.2 per
thousand, as compared with a net gain of 8.4 in the conti.


27







PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


nental United States. In other words, the island popula-
tion is increasing almost three times as rapidly as that
of the mainland.
The director of the Puerto Rico Emergency Relief Ad-
ministration reported that Puerto Rico, under existing
conditions, could not support more than 1,000,000 people
through agricultural efforts. Yet the population is now



W19oo
\ -





1899
\ \ss, a

'I.'




Declining Death Rate Increasing Population

estimated as being in excess of 2,000,000 and is increasing at
the rate of 40,000 a year, but still the island has almost no
industry but agriculture to absorb the ever-increasing num-
bers. The press of population on land is expressed graph-
ically by the WPA guidebook which points out that if the
continental United States were as densely populated as
Puerto Rico it would have more than 1,300,000,000 inhabi-
tants-or more than 60 per cent of the estimated population
of the entire earth.
So alarmed at the population crisis have island leaders
become that in 1937 a birth control measure was enacted
by the insular legislature, despite the fact that Puerto Rico
is 95 per cent Roman Catholic and despite the opposition of






THE ISLANDER AT HOME


the hierarchy. Some leaders believe, however, that birth
control cannot be practiced widely until an educational
program has been conducted and the standard of living
raised. That the income must be very substantially in-
creased before the standard of living is improved and
the birth rate is lowered is indicated in the study by Jose
Rosario of the University of Puerto Rico.8 The survey,
which involved more than 2,000 families, revealed that a
small increase in the income brought about a definite in-
crease in the size of the family. In other words, the num-
ber of children born to poor parents depends only upon the
supply of food available, other factors being equal.
It would appear that the Puerto Rican population prob-
lem involves more than the extension of relief or a slight
upward revision of wages. Complete reorganization of the
economic structure, mass emigration to thinly settled areas
in North and South America, the development of new crafts
and industries, and effective birth control may be necessary
before the problem of overpopulation is solved.
SRosario, op. cit., p 85.









CHAPTER If


THE SPANISH CENTURIES
Columbus landed on Puerto Rico November 19, 1493,
and thus through discovery gave to the Spanish the first
claim to the island. Spain, however, made no immediate
use of her rights, and
colonization was not
begun until 1508 when
Juan Ponce under au-
thority from the gov-
ernor of Santo Domin-
-' go organized an expe-
dition to search for
gold.
Writers have frequently declared that the island was
well populated at the time of the coming of the white man.
Thus the contemporary Father Bartolome de las Casas de-
scribed it as being "as full of people as a beehive is full of
bees." But recent historians are less ready to accept such
statements and suggest a total population of not over 100,000
at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is believed
that. the Indians who inhabited the island were the descend-
ants of an Arawakan tribe which migrated from the north-
ern coast of South America.
Theirs was a leisurely existence, for the tropical forests
provided fruit in abundance, and the cultivation of root
crops required little time and effort. Early Spanish
writers remarked on the apparent frivolity of the Indians,
since they spent most of their time dancing and playing
games. The natives did find it necessary, however, to
do some weaving and boat-building, in addition to fashion-
ing bows and arrows with which to defend themselves from
the more warlike Caribs who inhabited several of the near-
by islands.
The natives received the Spanish in a friendly fashion,
but the newcomers soon brought an end to the Arcadian






THE SPANISH CENTURIES


existence of the aborigines. Ponce de Leon, first governor
of the island, introduced the repartimiento system by en-
slaving the Indians and distributing them among his fol-
lowers as an act of patronage. Abuse and unaccustomed
labor drove the natives to revolt, but the rebellion was
quickly and harshly suppressed. The repartimiento sys-
tem soon led to the extinction of the Indians, and in 1582
a descendant of Ponce de Leon reported to the Spanish
authorities that the original inhabitants of Puerto Rico had
entirely disappeared. To meet the demand for labor, slaves
from Africa were introduced as early as 1513.
In the meantime, the Spanish had exhausted the scanty
gold deposits and had turned their attention to the agri-
cultural resources of the island. The cultivation of cotton,
ginger, cacao, sugar cane and indigo soon permitted the'
small-scale exportation of these commodities. Cattle were
brought from Africa, and within a short time the pro-
duction of beef and hides occupied a position of relative
economic importance.
Puerto Rico was by-passed in the onward rush of Spanish
imperialism. The tiny island, with its rugged terrain, small
population and absence of gold, had little attraction for
ambitious, wealth-hungry adventurers. While Spaniards
swarmed into Mexico and Peru, the population of Puerto
Rico remained static. In fact, if Spanish authorities had
not forbidden settlers to leave the island, it might well have
become depopulated. Puerto Rico was also at a disad-
vantage in relation to the neighboring islands of Cuba
and Santo Domingo, for colonists, commerce and the inter-
est of the Spanish crown tended to gravitate in the direction
of the larger units of empire.
But in one respect the half-forgotten possession was of
major importance: the fortifications at San Juan were
among the strongest in the New World. Thus, while Puerto
Rico was unimportant from an economic standpoint, it
was of immense strategic importance. For European war-
fare brought immediate repercussions in the Caribbean,
usually in the form of increased activity on the part of






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


English, French and Dutch buccaneers. Drake and Hawkins
attacked San Juan in 1595, but the latter was mortally
wounded, and Drake withdrew his battered fleet. Three
years later, the Duke of Cumberland succeeded in capturing
the city, but was forced to abandon the conquest when a
plague broke out. The Dutch, under Bowdoin Kendrick,
were driven from San Juan in 1625, after they had burned
the city. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-
1713) both British and Dutch fleets bombarded the island,
but were repulsed. Repeated attacks on the Puerto Rican
outpost of defense necessitated the strengthening of forti-
fications, and between 1533 and 1771 a number of fortresses,
including La Fortaleza, now the Governor's Palace, and San
Felipe el Morro, the most famous of the island forts, were
erected. The defenses of the capital were further improved
when a great wall, in some places rising to a height of sixty
feet, was built around the city.

The Drowsing Years
Economic and social life stagnated during the seven-
teenth and eighteenth centuries as a result of Spain's coloni-
al policy. Commerce with foreign countries was prohibited,
and none but Spanish nationals were allowed to settle on
the island. For some time trade between Puerto Rico and
the mother country was limited to two ports, San Juan
and Seville, but later other ports were approved. These
drastic restrictions strangled the trade which would nor-
mally have developed. In 1572 a Puerto Rican complained
that no ships had arrived from Spain during the year, and
a century later another writer claimed that a decade had
passed without the arrival of a European vessel. While
such accounts may be questioned, in view of the fact that
news passed slowly or not at all from one part of the
island to another, the statements do indicate that Puerto
Rico was outside the main stream of world events.
Another explanation for the sad state of affairs was
offered by Field Marshal Alexander O'Reilly, one-time gov-
ernor of Louisiana, whom the king of Spain sent to Puerto







THE SPANISH CENTURIES


Rico to report on the condition of the island in 1765. The
king's representative wrote:
The small progress made by the island of Puerto Rico can
be traced to the fact that it never had a code of laws conducive
to prosperity, and that the development of the resources of the
land had been in the hands of soldiers accustomed only to arms
and warfare, and among these were numbers of seamen, sailors,
and stowaways who had deserted from every vessel which had
touched the island. These people, lazy as a class, unrestrained
by the Government, extended over the mountains and valleys of
Puerto Rico, built themselves miserable hovels ...
In order to better understand how the inhabitants have lived
and still live, it should be observed that in the whole island there
are only two schools for children, and outside of .. the capital,
and village of San German, very few can read. The whites
find no repugnance to intermarriage with the mulattoes. In all
towns, except the capital, the only permanent resident is the priest,
the others living always in the country the residents of the
island are today the very poorest people in America.1
Awakening
With the end of the Napoleonic wars, relations between
Spain and her Caribbean colony took on a somewhat dif-
ferent character. After his restoration to the throne, Ferdi-
nand VII issued a decree designed to bring about an im-
provement in the social and economic conditions of the
island. Foreigners not only were permitted to settle in
Puerto Rico, but they actually were encouraged by an offer
of free land and tax exemption. Commerce with foreign
countries was legalized, and agricultural tools and certain
other articles were exempted from import duties.
The effect of the royal order was soon evident. The
production of sugar cane and rice expanded rapidly, and
there was a marked increase in population. Nevertheless,
the instability of the Spanish government had a pronounced
effect upon the fortunes of Puerto Rico. In most instances,
little sympathy was shown for the interests of the islanders,
and administrative extravagance necessitated the levying
of burdensome excise duties and other taxes. Restrictions
on the coasting trade, differential duties on Spanish and
SGeorge W. Davis. Report of the Military Governor of Puerto Rico on
Civil Afairs (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902). pp. 88-89.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


island produce, and the granting of repressive monopolies
each discouraged the development of trade and the accumu-
lation of capital.
Thus while the nineteenth century brought substantial
gains to Puerto Rico, the condition of the island was far
from satisfactory. At peace, agriculture flourished, and the
population increased from about 200,000 to more than 900,-
000; but, on the other hand, malaria and yellow fever were
endemic, outbreaks of smallpox frequent, while dysentery
and hookworm disease accounted for thousands of deaths
annually. At the end of the century the public indebted-
ness was only one dollar per capital, whereas in the United
States the figure was thirty-three dollars. But educational
standards were low in Puerto Rico. In 1880, for example,
the school age population was about 144,000, yet only 15,000
pupils were actually enrolled, and the average daily at-
tendance was a fraction of that small number. According to
the view of the first American military governor of Puerto
Rico, Spanish slave-holding laws were models of clemency,
moderation and gentleness compared to the English, French
and Dutch codes, but the condition of the average islander
was little better than that of a serf.
Nevertheless, after the American occupation, many
Puerto Ricans referred to the last century of the Spanish
era as the golden age of Puerto Rico, and regarded that
period with nostalgia. Some of the Spanish governors may
have been corrupt, the islanders reflected, but they were
easy-going; and while the laws may not have been enforced
properly, certainly they were designed for a Latin people.
Industries may have been mismanaged during the Spanish
regime, some Puerto Ricans declared, but at least they were
not controlled by an alien race.
Government: Spanish Model
The government of Puerto Rico was essentially mili-
tary in character until the eve of the American occupation.
The governor-general, appointed by the king, had both civil
and military administration. He appointed lieutenants for
each center of population and these officers formed the actu-







THE SPANISH CENTURIES


al government of most of the island communities. Munic-
ipalities theoretically enjoyed some measure of inde-
pendence, but the governor-general was free to intervene
in local affairs at will. The council of administration, whose
members were appointed by the Spanish Crown, had only
advisory functions. Even the colonial assembly had no
legislative powers, for its duties were purely administra-
tive and included the direction of public works, charity and
education. The judicial system began with the mayor's
court and ascended through courts of appeal to the Supreme
Court in Madrid and to the king himself.
The authority of the governor-general was backed by a
garrison of 4,000 Spanish soldiers and two insular police
forces, the Civil Guard and the Vigilantes, both composed
of former soldiers. All important civil and military offices
were filled by natives of Spain. This practice fostered the
creation of a ruling caste.
The tide of revolt which swept Central and South Ameri-
ca between 1800 and 1830 had its influence on Puerto Rico,
but its effect was counter-balanced by the influx of several
thousand Spanish loyalists who fled to the island from the
newly established republics. While Puerto Rico did not
join the nearby islands of Santo Domingo and Cuba in their
wars of independence, local uprisings against the Spanish
government were numerous. In 1835 and again in 1838
revolutionists attempted to seize San Juan, but in each in-
stance plans miscarried, and the leaders were exiled, im-
prisoned or executed. Another abortive revolution occurred
in 1867, and in the following year came the Lares revolt,
the most widespread to that date. Spanish authorities
seized several hundred prisoners, many of whom died in
jail of yellow fever. The captured leaders were condemned
to death. Nevertheless, a secret patriotic society continued
to exist, despite the repressive measures of the civil guard.
Palacios, the governor-general,' became the symbol of
tyrrany.
Continued dissatisfaction led the Madrid government
in 1869 to permit the Puerto Ricans to elect sixteen deputies






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


and four senators to the Spanish parliament. The voting,
however, was so manipulated that none but conservatives
could be chosen. This concession did not satisfy the Auton-
omists, who believed that self-rule could be set up within
the framework of the Spanish government. Autonomists,
therefore, sought an arrangement with the Spanish Liberal
party which would guarantee some measure of home rule.
When the Liberal leader, Sagasta, became prime minister,
a Puerto Rico autonomy act was passed in November, 1897.
According to the terms of the measure, the island was
to be governed by two chambers, but the governor-general,
as representative of the mother country, was to be the
supreme authority. Legislative powers were vested in the
legislature conjointly with the governor-general. The
Council of Administration, or upper house of the legislature,
was made up of fifteen members, eight elected by the people
and seven appointed by the governor-general. Only those
of wealth or position were eligible for membership, and
those appointed by the governor-general were to hold of-
fice for life. Members of the chamber of representatives or
lower branch of the legislature were chosen on the basis of
one for each 25,000 inhabitants. The governor-general was
appointed by the king and exercised quasi-dictatorial power.
With all its imperfections, the new government was con-
sidered an advance over the old. The electorate was ex-
tended to include all male subjects over twenty-five years
of age, and islanders were given at least partial control
over taxation, the tariff and general legislation. The gov-
ernment, however, was hardly established (February, 1898)
when the Spanish-American war gave Puerto Rico yet
another form of administration. To some islanders, the
outcome of the conflict was a grave disappointment. Not
only had a new master with an alien form of law and
government assumed control, but all hope of achieving
home rule in the immediate future disappeared. From 1898
until 'the present, some Puerto Ricans have insisted that
the American occupation thwarted rather than encouraged
the trend toward independence, which began in the last
decades of Spanish rule.






THE SPANISH CENTURIES


End of an Era
Puerto Rico had small part in the actual hostilities of
the Spanish-American War. Shortly after the declaration
of war on April 25, 1898, Admiral Sampson bombarded San
Juan in the belief that the Spanish fleet was anchored in
the harbor. Damage was slight, for when it became evident
that the enemy fleet had not sought refuge in the San
Juan harbor, the Americans departed, leaving a cruiser to
blockade the port. General Nelson A. Miles landed on the
south coast of Guanica bay, near Ponce, on July 25 with
some 10,000 men and prepared to meet the Spanish forces,
estimated at 12,000 in number. The proclamation which
General Miles issued upon landing has become an important
document, for it expressed the lofty purposes of the United
States government. On occasion, island leaders have quoted
the proclamation to underline the contrast between Ameri-
can promises and American practices.
We have not come to make war upon the people of a country
that for centuries has been oppressed, but, on the contrary, to
bring you protection, not only to yourselves, but to your property,
to promote your prosperity and to bestow upon you the immuni-
ties and blessing of our liberal government.
This is not a war of devastation, but one to give to all within
control of its military and naval forces the advantages and bless-
ings of enlightened civilization.2
By the irony of fate, the Puerto Rican who read the
proclamation publicly during the ceremony was the father
of the nationalist leader who forty years later was im-
prisoned for opposing by force the authority of the United
States.
Before a major battle was fought on Puerto Rican soil,
an armistice was declared. The war ended with a peace
treaty in August, and by October 18 the Spanish had evacu-
ated the island.
SIbid., p. 20.






INVENTORY IN 1898


at that time a population problem loomed. There were
almost 1,300 persons per square mile of cultivated land,
yet only 40 per cent of the cultivated area was devoted to
the production of food crops. Much of the uncultivated
land was in pasturage, however, and cattle raising was an
important industry. The island not only supplied its own
demands for beef, but it also exported several thousand
live cattle each year.
The agricultural methods and implements used in
Puerto Rico at the time of the American occupation were
primitive when compared with those employed on the main-
land. Ploughing, for instance, usually consisted of scratch-
ing the earth with a crooked stick pulled by oxen or mules.
The soil was rarely fertilized; land was usually abandoned
as soon as its fertility disappeared.
Trade Balances
Throughout the nineteenth century, Puerto Rican trade
increased steadily. Meanwhile, the excess of imports over
exports decreased.1 Six nations shared the great bulk of
Puerto Rican foreign trade in the period 1890-1899. Spain
accounted for approximately 30 per cent of the total; the
United States, 20 per cent; Cuba, 13 per cent; Germany,
Britain and France took most of the remainder.
Puerto Rican coffee was exported to Spain, France, and
other European countries where "high flavor" varieties were
preferred, but the United States was the chief purchaser
of sugar and molasses. Cuba and Spain were the best cus-
tomers for Puerto Rican tobacco. As might be expected,
the greatest percentage of Puerto Rican imports came from
Spain. Olive oil, wine, rice, cotton goods and clothing were
imported from the mother country. Importations from the
United States were second in value, the chief items being
flour, coal, petroleum, iron and steel products, pork, lard
and lumber. Manufactured goods were also supplied by
Britain, while Canada was the chief source of codfish.
Puerto Rican trade statistics for the year 1899 picture a
SFrank H. Hitchcock, Trade of Porto Rico Bulletin 13, Division of Foreign
Markets, U. S. Department of Agriculture (Washington, 1898), p. 8.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


country producing a limited number of agricultural products
in quantities nearly sufficient to pay for the importation of
a much greater variety of articles, most of them necessi-
ties. The items included in external trade to a very large
extent comprised the commodities which entered into the
domestic commerce of the island. The almost complete
lack of fabricating industries and the unusual specializa-
tion in the production of a few agricultural products made
Puerto Rico dependent upon the outside world for both
consumer's and producer's goods.
Poor transportation hampered trade. With the excep-
tion of the military highway, roads were narrow, steep and
frequently impassable because of rain or lack of repair.
The railroad system consisted of 154 miles of narrow-gauge
track of three different widths. Such conditions made for
exorbitant freight and passenger rates, and commercial
shipping was almost impossible in many parts of the island.
The system of distributing imported goods was highly
lucrative for the middleman and correspondingly adverse
to the interest of the consumer. Importers and large mer-
chants were, for the most part, Spanish citizens. They pur-
chased goods from foreign commission houses which ex-
tended credit; in turn, the importers offered credit to the
wholesalers who bought from them; and wholesalers sold
goods on credit to retailers. The high rates of interest in-
cidental to each transaction necessitated the sale of goods
to consumers at fantastic prices. Furthermore, long-time
credits and high interest rates often led to the bankruptcy
of small retailers when crop failures or hurricanes disrupted
normal trade.
The absence of adequate banking facilities on the island
was partly responsible for the prevalence of exceptionally
high interest rates. In 1898 there were only four banks in
Puerto Rico, and two of these were small savings institu-
tions. The Spanish Bank was the only bank of issue; its
paper currency, which seldom exceeded $3,000,000, had lit-
tle circulation outside of San Juan. An agricultural bank
was established in 1894, but its capital structure and loan






INVENTORY IN 1898


portfolio were small at the time the Americans occupied the
island.
Apparently no thorough studies were made of employ-
ment and living conditions among Puerto Rican workmen
at the time the island passed from Spanish to American
hands. Many observers, however, referred to the low
wages, the seasonal nature of employment, and the con-
sistently undernourished and poverty-stricken condition of
the natives at that time. Probably the most serious attempt
to discover and appraise the actual employment of the
Puerto Ricans was made by Dr. Henry K. Carroll, Special
Commissioner of the United States to Puerto Rico, 1898-1899.
In his report, Dr. Carroll had this to say regarding the con-
dition of the laboring classes:
Those who depend upon daily wages for support constitute
the great majority of the people. The sources of employment are
not numerous. The raising, harvesting, and grinding of cane re-
quire many more hands than the care and cure of coffee or to-
bacco; but even on sugar estates the work is not continuous.
Some are kept the year round; others only during the busiest
season. The daily wages of the common field laborer range gen-
erally from 35 to 50 cents, native money. A few of the more
skilled get from 60 to 75 cents a day in the mills. Young boys
and the few women employed receive about 25 or 30 cents a day.2
2Henry K. Carroll, Report on the Island of Porto Rico (Washington, Gov-
ernment Printing Office, 1902), p. 48.








CHAPTER IV


INVENTORY IN 1898
In 1898 the American government, as a by-product of
its interest in Cuba, assumed control of the Puerto Ricans,
a people foreign in language, culture, religion and tradi-
tion. Military authori-
ties immediately sur-
veyed the new posses-
sion in an effort to dis-
S- cover its possibilities
Sand its needs.
The census taken
the following year in-
dicated that the Puer-
to Rican economy was almost exclusively agricultural.
For example, six out of ten persons engaged in gainful oc-
cupations were classified as agricultural laborers, while only
one laborer in ten was employed in manufacturing. Further-
more, agricultural products accounted for more than 90
per cent of the total exports of the island. The absence
of urban centers likewise indicated the paramount impor-
tance of agriculture. Although the Puerto Ricans numbered
almost 1,000,000 the largest city had a population of less
than 35,000, and there were only eighteen other towns
having a population in excess of 2,500.
At the time of the American occupation, coffee was the
most important agricultural product, with 41 per cent of
the total arable land devoted to that crop. Sugar cane,
which now dominates the Puerto Rican economy, in 1899
required only 15 per cent of the total acreage. Land planted
to bananas comprised 14 per cent of the total, and various
tropical fruits and vegetables occupied most of the remain-
ing acreage. Only one per cent of the land was planted to
tobacco.
The 1899 census also revealed that only 21 per cent of
the total area of Puerto Rico was under cultivation. Even









CHAPTER V


ECONOMIC REVOLUTION
The Tariff
The economic readjustment which took place when
Puerto Rico passed into American hands was no less pro-
found than the political reorganization. Perhaps the most
important of these economic
shifts was the change in the
tariff system. Under Spain, the
tariff granted the mother coun-
Stry preferential treatment, and
c for that reason many foreign-
made products were shipped to
Spain and thence to the island.
-- -- Transshipment costs were
added to the price Puerto
Ricans paid for their imports. Basically, however, the insular
tariff was levied for revenue, and it bore heavily on the
necessities of life, which constituted the great bulk of
imports.
Under the terms of the Foraker Act of 1900, by which
the United States assumed civil control of Puerto Rico, all
duties on island products were abolished. In this manner
Puerto Rico became an integral part of the United States,
as far as the tariff was concerned. A radical shift in
Puerto Rican trade was the natural consequence. Puerto
Ricans found it to their advantage to sell in the American
market, which was protected from world competition by
high tariff walls; but, on the other hand, the tariff forced
the islanders to buy in that same highly protected market.
Under the stimulation of the tariff, the United States quickly
supplanted Spain as the best customer for Puerto Rican
products, and also became the chief source of island im-
ports. Within a decade, the United States had a virtual
monopoly of Puerto Rican trade.
Is inclusion within the American tariff system beneficial









CHAPTER V


ECONOMIC REVOLUTION
The Tariff
The economic readjustment which took place when
Puerto Rico passed into American hands was no less pro-
found than the political reorganization. Perhaps the most
important of these economic
shifts was the change in the
tariff system. Under Spain, the
tariff granted the mother coun-
Stry preferential treatment, and
c for that reason many foreign-
made products were shipped to
Spain and thence to the island.
-- -- Transshipment costs were
added to the price Puerto
Ricans paid for their imports. Basically, however, the insular
tariff was levied for revenue, and it bore heavily on the
necessities of life, which constituted the great bulk of
imports.
Under the terms of the Foraker Act of 1900, by which
the United States assumed civil control of Puerto Rico, all
duties on island products were abolished. In this manner
Puerto Rico became an integral part of the United States,
as far as the tariff was concerned. A radical shift in
Puerto Rican trade was the natural consequence. Puerto
Ricans found it to their advantage to sell in the American
market, which was protected from world competition by
high tariff walls; but, on the other hand, the tariff forced
the islanders to buy in that same highly protected market.
Under the stimulation of the tariff, the United States quickly
supplanted Spain as the best customer for Puerto Rican
products, and also became the chief source of island im-
ports. Within a decade, the United States had a virtual
monopoly of Puerto Rican trade.
Is inclusion within the American tariff system beneficial






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


or detrimental to Puerto Rico? This is a question which
long has been debated by the islanders. The task of mak-
ing such an evaluation was undertaken by the Puerto Rico
Emergency Reconstruction Administration in 1934. Its
Tariff Survey Bureau collected factual information to de-
termine whether participation in the United States custom
union was beneficial or harmful to the economic welfare
of the island. In its conclusions, the bureau stated that the
direct financial benefit of the tariff was a "formidable bal-
ance favorable to Puerto Rico."
Soon after Puerto Rico was brought within the American
tariff wall, certain indirect results became apparent. The
tariff encouraged the investment of foreign capital, which
in turn increased and diversified the opportunities for labor,
raised the property values, and augmented tax revenues. On
the other hand, monopoly of trade by the United States
prevented the growth of commerce with other countries;
and the investment of American capital, although in many
ways beneficial, resulted in absentee ownership which has
caused so much dissatisfaction among Puerto Ricans. The
investment of outside capital also has tended to encourage
what many people consider an over-specialization in cash
crops, chiefly sugar, in contrast to food crops which would
supply local nutritional needs. A final major charge brought
against the tariff arrangement is that manufacturers of the
continental United States are protected against foreign com-
petition in Puerto Rican markets to such an extent that
they have sometimes unfairly prevented the development
of small native industries. Most American manufacturers
prefer to make their articles on the mainland and ship them
to Puerto Rico rather than to establish branch factories to
supply the relatively small needs of the island. Further-
more, when other concerns have threatened to construct
factories on the island, certain continental manufacturers
have reduced prices in order to discourage their would-be
competitors.
Few persons favor removing Puerto Rico from the Amer-
ican tariff system, Such a drastic change would bankrupt the






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


island, dependent as it is upon sugar production. Few in-
dividuals would suggest that Puerto Ricans be permitted to
sell in the protected market of the United States while buy-
ing in the free world market. It has been argued, however,
that tariff schedules on some basic necessities be lowered
or abolished. For example, the present duty of two-and-
one-half cents per pound on rice adds approximately $5,-
000,000 per year to the cost of this mainstay of the Puerto
Rican diet. The ad valorem duty on shoes ranges from 10
to 35 per cent, thus materially increasing the cost of an
article essential to the prevention and control of hookworm.
Similarly, the tariff on wheat, vegetables and meat products
adds substantially to the cost of these items, and reductions
might be made without effecting any widespread or serious
damage to the interest of American farmers. Other sug-
gested changes are the provision for a degree of tariff au-
tonomy, and tariff modification which would favor the de-
velopment of native industries.

New Crops for Old
The transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United
States also brought about a revolution in Puerto Rican
agriculture. The United States tariff was designed to pro-
tect products grown or manufactured on the mainland. It
so happened that both tobacco and sugar cane were pro-
duced in the continental United States and also were pro-
duced on the island. Puerto Rican tobacco and sugar cane
growers therefore profited from the American tariff system.
Coffee growers, on the contrary, did not benefit from the
tariff, for coffee was not produced on the mainland and
therefore did not receive protection. As would be expected,
the production of sugar and tobacco spiraled upward while
the acreage planted to coffee steadily decreased. In 1898,
coffee was the major cash crop in Puerto Rico; in 1944, the
Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs made
this report:
In view of the fact that coffee lost its markets and that the
reduced production thereof since 1928 has been almost totally






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


consumed locally, coffee has passed from the category of cash crop
to take its place among the other locally consumed commodities.'
Yet the slow decline of the coffee industry cannot be
attributed solely to the American tariff. In 1899, in 1928
and again in 1932, hurricanes destroyed most of the coffee
plantations. Puerto Rican coffee has never been popular
in the United States, and island exporters have been de-
pendent upon the European market. The Spanish Revolu-
tion and World War II therefore proved disastrous to ex-
porters and planters. Despite the gloomy outlook for the
industry, a large acreage is still planted to coffee. Several
explanations may be given. Coffee raising traditionally
has been in the hands of small, independent farmers; coffee
trees grow on hilly land unsuited to tobacco or sugar cane;
and plantation owners are confident that with the resump-
tion of normal trade relations in Europe a demand for
"high flavor" Puerto Rican coffee again will develop.
The protection afforded by the United States tariff en-
couraged the development of the tobacco industry in Puerto
Rico. Unlike the sugar corporations, however, American
tobacco concerns did not acquire vast plantations. In-
stead they invested in warehouses, cigar-wrapping factories
and marketing facilities. The period 1900-20 marked the
rise of the tobacco industry, but since the latter date a de-
cline has set in. Puerto Rican tobacco has a high-quality
leaf which is best adapted to cigar-making. The wane of
cigar smoking in the United States has had its effect in
Puerto Rico, and by 1939 the acreage devoted to tobacco
had dropped to a fraction of the boom-time figure.
In actuality, the United States tariff grants a subsidy
to Puerto Rican sugar producers, for in as much as the tariff
on sugar ordinarily amounts to about two cents a pound,
Puerto Rican exporters have been able to sell their product
in the United States at approximately double the world
market price. American investors have made full use of
the opportunity thus presented. Between 1900 and 1930
corporations acquired vast plantations and constructed cen-
1U. S. Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs, Economic and
Social Conditions in Puerto Rico (Washington: Government Printing Office,
1944), p. 50.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


trals or mills where they ground cane produced by inde-
pendent operators, as well as that grown on their own
plantations and leased acreages.

Sugar: Blessing or Curse?
Sugar production mounted dizzily as the result of tariff
protection, heavy investment and the application of sci-
entific principles. The Association of Sugar Producers of
Puerto Rico, a trade organiza-
Stion, established an experi-
( ment station for the technical
and scientific study of the in-
dustry. Later, the station was
given to the government of
jPuerto Rico on condition that
300 tons of selected sugar cane
seed be distributed to planters
each year. The federal gov-
ernment also set up an agri-
cultural experiment station
for the study of sugar cane
and other tropical plants.
Cane varieties planted at the
-I beginning of the American
era soon were replaced with
-- new disease-resistant types
-E aBuJpWEN OV SjiAR. which returned a higher
yield.
The great sugar corporations not only planted superior
varieties of cane, but they also fertilized their lands, con-
structed irrigation systems to permit the utilization of
fertile but semi-arid areas, built miles of narrow-gauge
railroads for shipping cane from hitherto inaccessible val-
leys, erected warehouses, docks, and other facilities, and
developed a more efficient system for processing cane. Small
wonder that sugar production increased from about 60,000
tons in 1898 to approximately 1,104,000 tons in 1934.2
2Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, Puerto Rico: A Guide to the
Island of Borinqucn (New York: University Society, 1940), p. 79.






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


Since the turn of the century, the entire structure of
Puerto Rican society has been built upon sugar. Accord-
ing to some authorities, the sugar industry directly or in-
directly supports 75 per cent of the population. In 1939-40
the acreage planted to cane composed almost 40 per cent
of the total arable land area, accounted for the bulk of
exports, and formed the chief basis for the insular banking
and transportation systems. Upon the exportation of sugar
depends the importation of foodstuffs. In short, Puerto
Rico is the classic example of a country with a one-crop
economy. Likewise, it is a country with a multitude of
grave social and political problems, many of them created
by the almost fantastic dependence upon the exportation of
sugar.
The acreage planted to cane has encroached upon land
devoted to coffee farms, tobacco plantations and cattle
ranches. Far more serious, however, has been the encroach-
ment on lands used for the production of fruits and vege-
tables. The Senate committee which visited the island in
1944 reported:
The acreage formerly cultivated for locally consumed food-
stuffs has been changed to cash crops for export, thus making
Puerto Rico gradually and increasingly dependent upon importa-
tion of continental agricultural commodities Sugar acreage
increased seven fold (1899-1939) while food acreage increased
only 2 1/6 times in that same period of time.3
The expansion of the sugar industry is opposed by nu-
merous leaders, both insular and continental, in the belief
that a one-crop economy is basically unsound and that it
adds to the insecurity of thousands of Puerto Ricans, who
at best live at the subsistence level. Such persons con-
tend that even a slight decline in the price of sugar spells
disaster for thousands of landless workers. They also in-
sist that the production of fresh fruits and vegetables is
imperative if the recognized inadequacies of the Puerto
Rican diet are to be remedied.
On the contrary, the sugar interests point out that an
acre of land planted to cane produces enough cash income
'Senate Committee, op. cit., p. 50.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


to enable its owner to buy the produce from four to twelve
acres of land devoted entirely to food crops. It is efficient,
their spokesmen argue, for Puerto Rico to continue to plant
cane to the exclusion of other crops. They seldom mention,
however, that much of this income is not available to the
great mass of Puerto Ricans.
When the United States entered World War II, the
problem of food production was brought into bold relief.
For months, Puerto Rico was subjected to a highly success-
ful submarine blockade. In September, 1942, for example,
the island received only 3,000 tons of cargo, compared with
a normal 100,000 tons per month. The German blockade
caused a panic, and food riots occurred. Stocks of food-
stuffs were depleted almost to the vanishing point when
the insular and federal governments intervened. Among
other measures, the subsidization of food production was
undertaken, and portions of cane plantations were planted
to cereals and vegetables. In all parts of the island, home
gardening was encouraged, and families were urged to
raise chickens and rabbits to supplement the pitifully
small meat supply.
Sugar Doldrums
Sugar corporations have also had reverses. During
the depression which began in 1929, sugar became a drug
on the world market, and Puerto Rican producers demanded
a program which would raise and stabilize prices. After
the failure of the international sugar control plan, the
United States Department of Agriculture in 1935 initiated
a somewhat similar project. The department sought to
limit sugar production by applying a quota to each of the
areas which supplied sugar to the United States. The allot-
ment set for Puerto Rico was 845,000 tons per year, or
about 200,000 tons less than the island was producing at
the time. The sugar industry claimed that the benefit pay-
ments under the quota system were small, and that the
price of sugar was depressed by government controls, while
the prices of items entering into its production were in some
instances allowed to rise to more than double their former






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


level. The quota established for Puerto Rico was considered
unfair by many producers, and demands for a higher allot-
ment were frequently made.
The sugar industry not only was beset by world depres-
sion and government restrictions, but it also faced the
competition of other sugar-producing countries. Puerto
Rican sugar could not compete in the world market with
the product of Java, the Dominican Republic, and certain
other countries having more climatic advantages, better
soil, and greater stretches of level land. Even within the
American market Puerto Rico was at a disadvantage when
compared with Cuba and the Philippines. During the
three-year period 1930-32 sugar was produced in Cuba at
an average rate of 1.33 cents per pound, in the Philippines
for 1.97, while in Puerto Rico the cost was 2.54 cents per
pound.4 Since insular sugar costs are high when compared
with those of several competitors, the protection by the
United States tariff is of vital importance. For that reason,
many Puerto Ricans are unalterably opposed to any change
in the political status of the island which would place it
outside the tariff wall.

Rising Tide of Discontent
A far greater threat to the sugar corporations was the
enforcement of a provision of the Foraker Act (1900) which
forbade corporate ownership of land in excess of 500 acres.
The provision had remained a dead letter for several dec-
ades. The four largest sugar corporations acquired planta-
tions averaging 30,000 acres each, and in some cases leased
almost equivalent acreages. Competition for desirable land
brought a sharp increase in land values. Farmers willingly
sold their holdings to corporations, and, after spending the
proceeds, joined the ever-increasing ranks of the landless
workers. Employment became highly seasonal, and de-
pendence upon imported food increased. During the Span-
ish regime great landowners were paternalistic in their
dealings with employees, and, while wages and working con-
SUnited States Tariff Commissioner, Report No. 73 (Washington: Govern-
ment Printing Office, 1934), pp. 70, 130.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


editions were often deplorable, the employees had a measure
of security. The American era, on the contrary, brought
absentee ownership and corporate control, along with a
completely impersonal relationship between employer and
employee.
Sugar production became increasingly concentrated in
the hands of a few concerns. Between 1932 and 1938, for
instance, the four largest corporations accounted for almost
half of the total sugar production of the island. Concentra-
tion of ownership and absentee control by "foreign" in-
terests eventually aroused the opposition of the island
leaders. But factors other than ownership and con-
trol also entered into the hostility displayed by many
Puerto Ricans. American managers, engineers and other
officials in charge of sugar production and exportation re-
ceived salaries which were inordinately high in the opinion
of many islanders. Furthermore, some Puerto Ricans felt
that American operators were an alien people, since they
tended to live apart in exclusive residential areas, associated
only with members of their own group, and displayed little
interest in the problems which confronted the island. There
was a general belief that sugar corporations paid fabulous
dividends and that Puerto Rican wealth was being drained
to the mainland.
Various estimates have been made of the general returns
from Puerto Rican sugar investments. Bailey and Justine
Diffie claim that dividends paid by the "Big Four" sugar
corporations have ranged from 4 to 115 per cent annually
in the period of American ownership and imply that profits
have been extremely high.5 On the other hand, the Puerto
Rico Department of Agriculture has estimated that the
average dividend from 1921 to 1938 was only 5.5 per cent
of net worth. Since there are many ways of calculating
rates of profit, "real" investment returns are difficult to de-
termine. The fact remains, however, that a large segment of
the Puerto Rican population feels that the island is being ex-
ploited by foreigners.
SBailey and Justine Diffie, Porto Rico: A Broken Pledge (New York:
Vanguard Press, 1931), pp. 62-65.






ECONOMIC REVOLtUTION


Those concerned with the future of the island became
alarmed at the tremendous power exercised by the great
sugar corporations. The absentee owners of plantations
and mills, with headquarters on the mainland, influence
every phase of Puerto Rican life. Boards of directors, the
members of which seldom set foot on Puerto Rican soil,
decide upon the wages to be paid thousands of island work-
ers, and indirectly determine what they and their families
shall eat and wear, the type of house which they occupy,
and the educational opportunities they have. Moreover, the
courts, the legislature, the governor, and the resident com-
missioner, as well as the church, the school, and the press,
are supremely conscious of the wishes of the sugar oper-
ators. Some islanders complain bitterly that Puerto Rico
is little more than a feudal domain, and insist that the vir-
tual serfdom be brought to an end. "Puerto Rico for the
Puerto Ricans" has become their motto.

Agrarian Reform
Reform leaders had a potent weapon at their disposal
in the almost forgotten limitation on corporate ownership
imposed by the Foraker Act. By demanding that the hold-
ings of the great corporations be reduced to comply with the
law, Puerto Rican progressives hoped to restore balance
to the social and economic structure of the island. Needless
to say, the Association of Sugar Producers of Puerto Rico
waged an active campaign against the enforcement of the
500-acre law. They claimed that the redistribution of sugar
lands would cause a decline in production because small
owners would not have adequate capital, proper equipment,
or sufficient knowledge to operate efficiently. They de-
clared that the value of the land would decrease because of
inefficient management and that tax returns would there-
fore decline. Small operators would of necessity pay
lower wages than large corporations. Finally, the associa-
tion pointed out that the law was discriminatory in that it
applied to corporations but did not restrict the holdings of
private individuals or partnerships, many of whom operated
immense plantations.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


Supporters of the program argued that redistribution
need not impair efficiency of production; that centralization
of control, not ownership, determined efficiency; and that
such centralization could be attained through cooperative
organizations or by agreements between individual farmers
and sugar mills. They declared that even if efficiency should
be somewhat impaired, the remaining profits would be
more equitably distributed and the self respect of the
Puerto Rican farmer would be restored through the owner-
ship of the land. It was also pointed out that the corpora-
tions would be paid a fair price for their land. Moreover,
they would continue to grind cane and make sugar. Since
corporation income would come primarily from cane grind-
ing, colonos or independent farmers would have to bear all
the risks of an uncertain market and of bad seasons.
The controversy between corporate landowners and re-
formers finally resulted in court action. With the support
of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes and various other
federal officials Puerto Rican leaders carried a test case to
the Supreme Court of the United States. The law of
limitations was upheld (1940), and the insular government
immediately enacted legislation aimed at the redistribu-
tion of some of the sugar lands. The Puerto Rican Land
Authority was established to serve as a purchasing and re-
selling agent in instances where private individuals were
financially unable to buy land directly from the corpora-
tions. The Land Law of 1941 also empowered the authori-
ty to supervise the operation of plantations and to lease
land to cooperative organizations. Presumably to prevent
sugar centrals from refusing to grind cane for those who had
acquired land as a result of the redistribution program, the
Puerto Rican government in 1942 designated all sugar mills
as public utilities. In this manner, possible retaliation was
prevented, and at the same time the insular government
assumed the right to regulate corporate profits.
Agriculture in a New Age
Problems arising from soil depletion, hurricanes, world
depression, war, and land reform affect all phases of Puerto






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


Rican agriculture. In the period 1920-30, grapefruit grow-
ers had hopes of developing a profitable export trade. With
the expansion of Texas grapefruit production, however,
Puerto Rican growers encountered competition which they
could not meet. Likewise, pineapple growers found them-
selves beset with Cuban and Hawaiian competition almost
equally impossible to combat. Bananas grow well in Puerto
Rico but can not be marketed in the United States because
of Central American competitors. In short, Puerto Rico
is in the unenviable position of being able to grow only such
crops as can be produced more efficiently in other areas
having more easily accessible markets, more fertile soil,
cheaper labor, or other advantages. From 1933 to the pres-
ent an organized attempt has been made by the Puerto
Rican Emergency Relief Administration and its successor
to improve these conditions. A discussion of their work
will be given later.
The Rise of Manufacturing
Puerto Rican economy was almost exclusively agricul-
tural at the time of the American occupation. Although

rX PORT5 I M PORCTS W ANFV ACTVRIES

9P 9 v

-0






,000 0 1,O. ,00 $t,.000,o00


agriculture continues to dominate the scene, there has been
an increase in manufacturing since 1898. This is reflected







PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


in labor statistics which show that 25 per cent of those
gainfully employed in 1935 were engaged in industry, in
contrast to the 9 per cent so employed in 1899. This rise
in industrial employment was largely the result of an ex-
pansion of corporate enterprise. Thus, while the number of
industries owned by individuals or partnerships has de-
creased during the American era, the number of workers
employed by corporations has soared.
The grinding and refining of sugar cane has been the
most important manufacturing industry since 1900. In
1939 sugar processing accounted for well over half the
total value of manufactured products. Needlework came
second in the list of manufactures. This industry, which
centers in and about Mayagiiez in the western end of the
island, developed rapidly after 1900. Puerto Rican women
have long been noted for their skill in all types of needle-
work. Nevertheless, their products were almost unknown
in international trade until New York linen and silk whole-
salers discovered that they could profit by sending their
fabrics to Puerto Rico for embroidering by the women of
the island. A few small needlework factories were estab-
lished, but the bulk of the handwork was done by the
sweatshop method in the homes of the workers. In recent
years, several modern factories have been built in which
women work under healthful conditions. The wages paid
for needlework have been extremely low, often amounting
to less than twenty-five cents per day. In 1940, the federal
minimum wage law was applied to Puerto Rico. A mini-
mum of twelve and one-half cents per hour was eventually
set for the needlework trade, but even this low figure prom-
ises to cripple the industry. At the time of writing, actual
figures of employment in the needle trades are not available
for the years 1940-44, but general reports indicate that the
minimum wage law has seriously reduced the output of
the Puerto Rican industry.6
Operators claimed that the wages paid Puerto Rican
needlewomen were low because of the competing sources
6 "Storm Over Island," Business Week (December 12, 1942), p. 88 Also,
Commercial Intelligence Journal (April 19. 1941), pp. 476-8.






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


of labor supply. The embroidery required meticulous ap-
plication, but it did not require a high degree of originality
or artistry. Patterns ordinarily were made in New York,
and stamped fabrics were shipped to the island. But the
same materials also were sent to China, Czechoslovakia,
and other countries permitting sweatshop labor. Because
of competition, Puerto Rican employers argued that they
could not raise wages in line with requirements of the
minimum wage law of 1940. After the outbreak of World
War II, the competitive position of Puerto Rican needle-
workers was greatly improved, but a scarcity of raw ma-
terials soon developed, and the shipment of luxury goods
became impossible because of wartime restrictions.
Bottles and Rum
In the last decade the rum industry has shown rapid
development in Puerto Rico. The emergence of this in-
dustry was a direct result of the repeal of the Volstead Act.
The abundance of cane molasses and other by-products of
the sugar industry gave the island a natural advantage in the
distillation of rum. The Senate Committee reported:
The awakening [of the rum industry] was sudden and vigorous,
to such an extent that long established firms of the Cuban rum
industry built plants in Puerto Rico so that they would not have
to pay the import duties under the United States customs.
It suddenly became the most important source-of revenue for
the insular government because the Federal tax of $6 per gallon
was made returnable to the island treasury.7
The Puerto Rican Department of Finance in 1943 re-
ported that revenue received from taxes on rum jumped
from approximately $7,000,000 in 1940-41 to an estimated
$30,000,000 in 1943-44.
The flourishing industry was threatened with extinction,
however, when the United States became involved in the
Second World War. Food was placed first on the list of
import priorities, and bottles were placed at the bottom of
the list. Without bottles there was no exportation of rum,
and without the sale of rum there was no revenue for the
insular treasury. Since the island was vitally interested in
SSenate Committee, op. cit.,' p 20.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


keeping the industry alive, it established, through the
Puerto Rico Development Company, a plant for the manu-
facture of bottles. Priorities on manufacturing were grant-
ed, and thus the future of rum distilling was assured.

The Future of Puerto Rican Industry
Puerto Rican leaders are convinced that the island has
great industrial potentialities, and they believe that the
solution of many socio-economic problems lies in the de-
velopment of new industries. They cite proximity to both
North America and South America, plentiful labor supply,
and abundance of various raw materials as factors in favor
of the island. Of the industries adaptable to Puerto Rican
conditions, the most commonly mentioned are the fabri-
cation of tile, brick, cement, and other building materials;
the manufacturing of fiber board and other products from
cane pulp; and the production of glassware, coconut oil
soap, leather goods, canned fruits and cotton textiles.
Since the imposition of higher income taxes and the
enforcement of the 500-acre law, American investors have
shown an unwillingness to develop Puerto Rican industries.
But insular leaders believe that the funds to establish "pio-
neer" industries may be secured from Puerto Rican capital-
ists or from the insular and federal governments. Through
the creation of small, cooperatively-owned industries,
backed by government funds, certain Puerto Ricans fore-
see a steady expansion of manufacturing. Furthermore,
they visualize the island as the mecca for countless tourists.
With the improvement of steamship service, the expansion
of air traffic, and the construction of hotels and recreation
centers, islanders believe that tourism will become a thriv-
ing industry. To that end, various commercial and gov-
ernment organizations have conducted publicity campaigns
designed to display the unique charms of the island.

Puerto Rican Lifeline
As has been previously mentioned, when the United
States assumed control of Puerto Rico there were few good
roads, and travel into the interior was extremely difficult.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


keeping the industry alive, it established, through the
Puerto Rico Development Company, a plant for the manu-
facture of bottles. Priorities on manufacturing were grant-
ed, and thus the future of rum distilling was assured.

The Future of Puerto Rican Industry
Puerto Rican leaders are convinced that the island has
great industrial potentialities, and they believe that the
solution of many socio-economic problems lies in the de-
velopment of new industries. They cite proximity to both
North America and South America, plentiful labor supply,
and abundance of various raw materials as factors in favor
of the island. Of the industries adaptable to Puerto Rican
conditions, the most commonly mentioned are the fabri-
cation of tile, brick, cement, and other building materials;
the manufacturing of fiber board and other products from
cane pulp; and the production of glassware, coconut oil
soap, leather goods, canned fruits and cotton textiles.
Since the imposition of higher income taxes and the
enforcement of the 500-acre law, American investors have
shown an unwillingness to develop Puerto Rican industries.
But insular leaders believe that the funds to establish "pio-
neer" industries may be secured from Puerto Rican capital-
ists or from the insular and federal governments. Through
the creation of small, cooperatively-owned industries,
backed by government funds, certain Puerto Ricans fore-
see a steady expansion of manufacturing. Furthermore,
they visualize the island as the mecca for countless tourists.
With the improvement of steamship service, the expansion
of air traffic, and the construction of hotels and recreation
centers, islanders believe that tourism will become a thriv-
ing industry. To that end, various commercial and gov-
ernment organizations have conducted publicity campaigns
designed to display the unique charms of the island.

Puerto Rican Lifeline
As has been previously mentioned, when the United
States assumed control of Puerto Rico there were few good
roads, and travel into the interior was extremely difficult.






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


Rail transportation was undeveloped, although a few of the
larger sugar centrals operated short, narrow-gauge lines
for hauling cane. Under American supervision, the high-
way system was soon greatly improved. For military pur-
poses it was desirable to have better roads. Today the
island is covered with a network which makes all but cer-
tain mountainous areas of the interior easily accessible by
automobile.
With limited opportunities for lucrative freight and pas-
senger hauls, it is not surprising that extensive investments
in railroads have not been made in Puerto Rico. However,
several of the large sugar corporations have developed sys-
tems, mainly for the transportation of their products, but
in several instances their services have been extended to
provide passenger and freight transportation to the public.
Marine shipping has been called the lifeline of Puerto
Rico and the main cogwheel in the commercial machinery of
the island. For Puerto Rico cannot survive without the
exportation of cash crops, nor can the islanders exist with-
out the importation of half their food and practically all
of their industrial and agricultural supplies. Puerto Rican
shipping, however, is controlled by the United States Mer-
chant Marine Act, a law considered detrimental by most
islanders. The measure restricts all coastwise shipping of
the United States to vessels built in American shipyards
and owned by citizens. The act does not interfere with
commerce between Puerto Rico and foreign ports, for such
shipping may be carried in vessels of any registry. How-
ever, if a British sea captain wishes to load sugar in Puerto
Rico for discharge in New York City, after having unloaded
a cargo of English textiles in San Juan, he is prevented from
doing so by the Merchant Marine Act. Because of this law,
foreign shippers who have cargo for Puerto Rico, but who
wish to return with goods from the United States, are forced
to unload their original cargo in the United States and
pay a tariff before transshipment.
Restrictions on coastwise shipping also affect the tourist
industry. Since foreign passenger liners cannot call at Puer-






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


to Rican ports with tourists from American cities, many
would-be visitors are prevented from setting foot on Puerto
Rican soil. Islanders consider this particularly unfortunate,
in view of the fact that the few American-owned liners which
call at Puerto Rican ports seldom stop long enough for pas-
sengers to see the island properly or to spend much money
there.
The fact that foreign vessels are prohibited from carry-
ing goods between the mainland and the island encourages
price-fixing and intercompany agreements. As a result,
freight rates paid on goods shipped to and from Puerto
Rico in American bottoms have been extremely high in
comparison to similar schedules on cargoes carried between
American and foreign ports.
A number of exporters, both on the mainland and on
the island, believe that Puerto Rico may become an im-
portant distribution center for the Caribbean trade area.
They point out that the island is situated near the center
of the West Indies and that it lies near the half-way mark
between North America and South America. Those inter-
ested in making Puerto Rico an important Pan-American
shipping center are encouraged by the rapid expansion of
trade between the two continents. They believe that if
shipping restrictions were relaxed, San Juan, Ponce and
other island centers would become important ports of call.
Exit Wholesaler; Enter Banker
As a natural consequence of the change from Spanish to
American sovereignty, the Puerto Rican mercantile system
underwent major changes. American goods displaced
Spanish products. Long terms of credit, which had been
extended by foreign commission houses, were gradually
shortened as a result of improved banking facilities and
more modern methods of distribution. There was an in-
creasing tendency for mainland exporters to ship articles
directly to Puerto Rican retailers, thus eliminating whole-
salers. Purchases from mail order houses increased no-
ticeably. Local banks replaced foreign commission houses
as sources of credit to island importers.






ECONOMIC REVOLUTION


With the improvement of roads, small inland villages
lost much of their importance as trading centers, and many
farmers brought their produce to coastal cities for direct
sale to consumers. Nevertheless, the small wayside store
remains an important institution in Puerto Rican life be-
cause it fills a peculiar need. The jibaro has no means of
storing perishable food, and he seldom has money enough
to buy more than a few items at a time. As a result, most
of his purchases are made in very small units-just enough
to provide one scanty meal for his family. The need is
met by the small roadside grocery store which carries a
minimum stock of necessities which it parcels out to its
small customers. Prices per unit are high when compared
with those of larger stores.
As the external trade connections of Puerto Rico shifted
increasingly toward the United States, North American
commercial banks found it profitable to establish branch
offices on the island. The National City Bank of New York,
the Chase National Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, and
the Bank of Nova Scotia soon dominated the insular bank-
ing system. In addition to the four foreign banks, there
are at present ten locally-owned and controlled banks, none
of which closely approaches the former in volume of busi-
ness, capitalization or assets.
Perhaps unfortunately for the long-term interests of
Puerto Rico, the insular banking system is engaged pri-
marily in financing the sugar crop. Two-thirds of the loan
commitments made by the foreign banks are for sugar pro-
duction, and more than one-half of the loans of the insular
banks are for the same purpose. As might be expected,
foreign banks are uninterested in long-term loans designed
to facilitate the economic development of the country, and
the insular banks are not strong enough to underwrite a
comprehensive program of economic rehabilitation. The
presence of foreign banks adds greatly to the security of
the Puerto Rican banking system, but it places the insular
banks in a disadvantageous competitive position and makes
it more difficult for them to attain the financial resources






60 PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM

and stability essential for an adequate local banking system.
With foreign banks uninterested in supplying long-term
credit to islanders, and with the insular banks unable to
supply the need, there is strong pressure for federal agencies
to fill the gap. The needs of farmers for long-term mort-
gage loans has been met at least partially by the Federal
Land Bank of Baltimore. The Federal Intermediate Credit
Bank of Baltimore has filled an important credit need by
discounting agricultural paper, while the Reconstruction
Finance Corporation, the Farm Security Administration
and other federal agencies have supplied credit in varying
amounts.









CHAPTER VI


PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.
Four hundred years of continuous Spanish rule came
to an end in 1898. Yet when sovereignty passed to the
United States few realized that the insular political struc-
ture was Spanish to the core,
and that the imposition of
Ang 1 o-S ax on institutions
w o would have tragic conse-
\ \\\ quences in some instances.
t \ \ With characteristic impatience
\the new masters reorganized
..... / the insular government to
conform to the American pat-
tern. The Anglo-Saxon legal system soon replaced the exist-
ing civil law, and quasi-democratic legislative and admin-
istrative bodies supplanted the autocratic institutions of the
Spanish regime. An educational system radically differ-
ent from the type familiar to Puerto Ricans was established
and the public health system was remodeled in accordance
with the best American practice.
Such changes necessitated a complete reorganization of
Puerto Rican political parties and a reconsideration of their
goals. Furthermore, insular leaders were forced to adjust
to a new situation within a disturbingly brief period. While
many islanders were in complete accord with the lofty aims
of the Americans, they sometimes questioned the methods
employed. For Puerto Ricans were accustomed to approach
matters indirectly and without haste, whereas Americans
were given to frontal attacks. The newcomers' lack of
finesse sometimes alienated those leaders who sincerely be-
lieved that active cooperation between islander and main-
lander was essential to Puerto Rican progress.
Congress extended civil government to the island with
the enactment of the Foraker Act in 1900. The form of gov-
ernment set up was recognized as temporary and it was un-






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


derstood that the islanders would be given more con-
trol of their affairs after a period of tutelage. The measure
provided that the President of the United States should
appoint the governor and the heads of the six administrative
departments. While members of the upper house of the
legislature were appointed by the President, members of
the lower house were elected. The islanders were allowed
to elect a resident commissioner who represented Puerto
Rico in Congress, but who did not have the privilege of
voting.
Democracy by Degrees
In response to the insistent demand for greater self-gov-
ernment, Congress enacted the Jones Bill or Organic Act
in 1917, and this measure formed the basis of the insular
government for the next quarter of a century. The Presi-
dent, under the terms of the act, appointed the governor for
an indefinite term, and also named the attorney-general and
the commissioner of education. The governor, in turn, ap-
pointed the heads of the five remaining administrative di-
visions. While the governor was empowered to veto legis-
lation, he might be overruled by a two-thirds vote of both
houses. If the governor so chose, however, he could sub-
mit such measures to the President for final decision. The
governor was required to make an annual report to the
Secretary of War until jurisdiction over the island passed
to the Department of the Interior in 1934.
The Jones Act set up a bicameral legislature consisting
of a Senate and a House of Representatives, the members of
both chambers being elected by popular vote. The Presi-
dent appointed an auditor and the justices of the insular
supreme court. The judicial system resembled that of
the various states; appeals could be carried to the supreme
court of the island and thence to the federal circuit court at
Boston and if necessary to the Supreme Court of the United
States. Cases might also be taken from the federal district
court on the island to appellate courts on the mainland.
Puerto Ricans continued to elect a resident commissioner
to represent the island in Washington, but he was not grant-






PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


ed the right to vote in Congress. The Organic Act conferred
United States citizenship with manhood suffrage upon all
islanders, except when they chose to remain "citizens of
Puerto Rico." The act, however, did not extend all pro-
visions of the constitution to the island; only those applied
which specifically were enacted by Congress.
Not only was the United States Congress delegated to
serve as the "constitution" for Puerto Rico; it was also
given authority to annul undesirable legislation enacted by
the Puerto Rican legislature. In view of the powerful in-
fluence thus held, the little attention which Congress gives
to the island is worthy of note. In fact, the ultimate rulers of
Puerto Rico are the House Committee of Insular Affairs
(twenty-three members) and the Senate Committee on
Territories and Insular Affairs (sixteen members). More-
over, of these members only a few take any real interest in
the island's administration, and all too often this concern
stems from a desire to discredit the party in power by
attacking its administrative policy.
Legislation Without Representation
Shortly after the American occupation, two political
parties were formed: the Republicans, who were tradi-
tionally pro-American and who favored statehood, and the
Federalists, who were considered anti-American and who
favored territorial status for the island. Both parties, how-
ever, demanded a greater measure of self-government. Be-
tween 1910 and 1917 political parties were reorganized and
the Unionists emerged as the most powerful faction.
In the period between the first and second world wars,
political leaders came to differ as to the degree of self-
government to be attained, with some favoring statehood
and others demanding complete independence. But island
leaders were united in a belief that the grave economic ills
could not be cured so long as Puerto Rico was a colony.
Until islanders elected their governor, named the admini-
strative officers, chose judges and controlled finances, they
could not break the viselike grip American industrialists
had fastened upon Puerto Rico.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


Advocates of statehood believed that Puerto Rico would
not receive proper consideration until representation in
Congress was secured. They reminded those on the main-
land that the island received less than its share of federal
appropriations, and that statehood would correct this in-
equality. More important, they contended that Puerto
Ricans could not deal with the problem of absentee owner-
ship so long as the federal government controlled the ex-
ecutive and judicial branches of the government. Those
favoring independence pointed out that Puerto Rico had
undergone a long period of tutelage and that freeing the
island would be in keeping with American tradition. They
regarded ties with the United States as artificial, and argued
that from the standpoint of culture and economy Puerto
Rico was linked with Europe and South America. They
believed that so long as the American flag waved over
Puerto Rico the island would be exploited by Yankee cap-
italists and injured by federal shipping regulations, tariff
rates and sugar quotas.
For almost a quarter-century those favoring independ-
ence tended to dominate island politics. Then a reaction
set in, partly due to the plebiscite bill which Senator Tyd-
ings brought before Congress in 1936. The Maryland Sen-
ator proposed to allow the Puerto Ricans to decide for
themselves the political status of the island. Lines between
those favoring independence and those advocating statehood
were more sharply defined when Senator King of Utah
visited the island, reminding Puerto Ricans that the United
States was far more essential to Puerto Rico than the island
was to the United States. He told his listeners that the
American people did not want to get rid of Puerto Rico,
but that they did want the islanders to make up their minds
as to their desires.
The plebiscite was postponed indefinitely while the
federal administration studied the situation, but debate con-
tinued. In the election that fall the advocates of independ-
ence were on the defensive, and the Coalition party, which
advocated statehood, triumphed. To some observers it






PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


appeared that Puerto Rico had come to the brink of inde-
pendence and had decided that the final leap would bring
economic suicide.
The Nationalists: Politics and Violence
The depression and the growing dissatisfaction of the
islanders with the federal government led to the rise of an
extremist faction-the Nationalists. Their leader was Pedro
Albizu Campos, graduate of Harvard and a veteran of the
first World War. He argued that, because Spain had
granted autonomy to Puerto Rico in 1897, the transfer of
sovereignty to the United States was illegal. He there-
fore demanded that the independence of the island be
recognized immediately, and that the American government
pay reparations for the occupation of the island. His violent
denunciation of American imperialism alarmed many Puer-
to Ricans, but soon he had a large following, chiefly re-
cruited from the ranks of the underprivileged. Young
Nationalists dressed in black shirts and white trousers
marched and staged demonstrations. Critics of the move-
ment likened the youths to Nazi Storm Troopers, but Campos
compared his followers with a Boy Scout troop engaged in
a program of lofty patriotism. Officially, the "Army of
Liberation", as the organization was sometimes called, was
unarmed, yet the leader apparently advised individual
members to carry weapons. The Nationalist leader's in-
flammatory speeches stirred some of his followers to dem-
onstrate at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
(1935). The Insular Police, a body of carefully chosen,
highly disciplined officers, intervened, and a shooting fray
occurred. Several Nationalists were slain.
Campos spoke at the funeral service, and 8,000 islanders
were reported as having taken an oath to revenge the vic-
tims. Shortly afterwards, Colonel Riggs, chief of the police,
was murdered. The two assassins were seized and while in
custody were killed. Sixteen members of the police force
were indicted for the crime.
In July, 1936, Campos and seven other Nationalist
leaders were tried in federal district court on charges of






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


conspiring to overthrow the government of the United
States. In court, Campos denied that the Nationalists had
committed overt acts and claimed that skirmishes with
the police had resulted from an attempt to crush the free-
dom of the islanders. Opposing witnesses claimed that he
had threatened high officials with assassination if the In-
sular Police were ordered to kill Nationalists. The federal
judge observed that the question of Puerto Rican inde-
pendence was not an issue, nor was the Nationalist party
on trial. The prosecution attempted to prove that many
lawless acts had been committed as a result of Campos'
speeches. The court ruled the Nationalist leader and seven
of his lieutenants guilty, and sentences varying from two
to six years were imposed.
The trial aroused the island, and attracted attention in
other parts of the world. Congressman Vito Marcantonio
assisted in appealing the case to a higher federal court,
leaders of the chief insular political parties and several
city councils asked the President to have the charges dis-
missed in the interest of domestic tranquility, and govern-
ing bodies in Cuba and Chile expressed sympathy with
the Nationalist leader. Ten thousand Puerto Ricans dem-
onstrated in behalf of Campos in New York City, and the
Pope's intervention was requested, in view of the National-
ist leader's devotion to Catholicism. The American Civil
Liberties Union announced that sixty-six prominent Ameri-
cans had signed a petition urging the President to release
the imprisoned men on the grounds that they were being
punished for views and activities-not acts of violence-
and that the conduct of the trial was highly prejudicial.
Since the Boston federal court of appeals upheld the
decision of the district court, and the Supreme Court re-
fused to review the case, the convicted Nationalists were
sent to the Atlanta penitentiary in 1937.
Meanwhile another bloody outbreak had occurred in
the city of Ponce on Palm Sunday, 1937. The mayor had
granted a permit for Nationalists to parade, but the chief
of the Insular Police forbade the demonstration. The






PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


Nationalists marched in spite of the police ruling, and in
the riot that ensued a score of people were killed and more
than 100 were injured. At the celebration marking the
fortieth anniversary of the American occupation of Ponce
(July, 1938) an attempt was made upon the life of Governor
Winship. Two persons were slain and thirty were wound-
ed; again the Nationalists were involved. Drastic measures
were used in dealing with the members of the party and
feeling ran high. Although the majority of the islanders
were indifferent or hostile to the Nationalists, in the eyes
of thousands of poverty-stricken, frustrated Puerto Ricans,
Albizu Campos was a hero-an underdog who fought back.
Members of his party continued to elect him president of
the organization, despite the fact that he was in prison,
and they looked forward to the day when he would return
as their leader. Released, Campos is now in a New York hos-
pital, trying to regain his health, the loss of which resulted
from his incarceration in a federal prison.
The Coalition Party and the Demand for Statehood
In March, 1939, Rafael Martinez Nadal, president of the
insular senate and leader of the Coalition party, character-
ized American rule as fascist, asserting that the federal
government prevented the enactment of insular legisla-
tion by holding forth the bogey of unconstitutionality, while
at the same time forcing the Puerto Rican legislature to
pass certain measures under threat of reducing federal ap-
propriations. He charged that governors had surrounded
themselves with Americans hostile to the island and con-
tended that discriminatory trade legislation had drained the
island of five times as much revenue as was returned in
federal grants. The senator explained that the speech ex-
pressed his bitterness, disgust and disillusionment with
America's harsh rule of Puerto Rico. Two days later the
lower house of the legislature by unanimous resolution or-
dered the speech included in its minutes. Leading news-
papers commended Senator Nadal's speech.
Efforts to obtain Congressional legislation granting
statehood were redoubled, and a special session of the






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


legislature passed a resolution requesting that Puerto Rico
be admitted to the Union (1939). The Coalition party was
twice successful at the polls with a statehood preference
plank. Resident Commissioner Inglesias reminded main-
landers that under Spanish rule, often derided by Ameri-
cans, Puerto Rico had three senators and sixteen deputies
in the Cortes, while under American rule there was no
representation in Congress.
While awaiting Congressional action, island leaders re-
quested several immediate reforms, including the election
of the governor and of two resident commissioners, one to
sit in the Senate and the other in the House, with the
privilege of voting and introducing legislation. They also
urged that the governor be deprived of his power of ab-
solute veto, and that members of the insular supreme court
be appointed by the governor, rather than by the President
of the United States.
Announcement that Puerto Rico was to become the cen-
ter of a vast Caribbean fortification system was interpreted
by some Puerto Ricans as an indication that the island was
to be given statehood, and further encouragement was
given by Governor Winship in June, 1939, when he pro-
posed a toast to Puerto Rico as the forty-ninth state. In
April, 1940, Resident Commissioner Bolivar Pagan intro-
duced congressional bills embodying the requests of the
Puerto Rican legislature. The rising tide of World War II
and the drastic changes brought about by the Puerto Rican
land and water laws for the time being diverted attention
from the question of statehood.

On the Way: the Reformers
As already indicated, the absentee ownership of ex-
tensive tracts of land by a few great sugar companies had
been a vexatious problem from the beginning of the Ameri-
can occupation. In 1941 Governor Swope signed the Land
Law, which was designed to do away with the land monopoly
and to prevent its recurrence in the future. At the same
session, a Water Law was passed, establishing an authority







PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


to develop the water resources of the island for the pro-
duction and distribution of electricity and for irrigation of
land. The Water Authority was also given the right to
purchase or condemn two of the largest public utility com-
panies on the island.
Dominating the political scene and leading the reform
movement was Luis Mufioz-Marin, son of a famous island
patriot of the Spanish era.' In 1940 his party won the elec-
tion and he became president of the insular senate. But
his control of the legislature was not complete, for the Coali-
tion party dominated the lower house. Nevertheless, an
income tax measure, a minimum wage law, and land and
water acts were passed as the Popular Democrats had prom-
ised. The Coalition party, however, elected the resident
commissioner to Washington since its members controlled
most of the newspapers and radio stations on the island.
An able spokesman for the opposition was Bolivar Pagan,
the resident commissioner in Washington.2 He denounced
the reform program as confiscatory, economically unsound
and politically unwise. His slashing attacks on Governor
Tugwell aroused the ire of that official and his superiors,
especially when the commissioner attempted to have the
governor removed. Some members of the Popular Demo-
cratic party retaliated by charging that Pagan was the
agent of the great corporations, as well as an overam-
SMufioz-Marin grew up in New York city, studied at Georgetown Uni-
versity, contributed to the Baltimore Sun, the Nation and other publications.
and returned to Puerto Rico in 1931. Expelled from the Liberal Party be-
cause of personal and political differences, he organized a new party, the
Popular Democrats, commonly known as the Populares. "Bread, Land and
Liberty" was his motto. In conducting his campaigns, he used highly un-
orthodox methods, admitting that Puerto Ricans might sell their votes if
they chose, but warning them that they could not have both justice and
two dollars-the accepted price for a vote. Before the election, the Popu-
lares drafted a number of reform bills which they promised to enact if placed
in power. These were publicized by radio.
The elections in the fall of 1944 resulted in an overwhelming victory for
the Popular Party, which lost in only three out of seventy-seven municipal-
ities and in consequence has all seats in the House save one and all but two
in the Senate. Mufioz-Marin is now the dominant political figure on the island.
2Pagan, an orphan, was reared by Santiago Inglesias, noted island states-
man. He graduated from the law school of the University of Puerto Rico,
married the daughter of his patron and held a number of important offices.
Pagan was elected president of the Socialists, one of the components of
the Coalition party, and became head of the Puerto Rican Federation of
Labor. He was appointed commissioner in 1940 on the death of his father-
in-law, and after completing the unexpired term was elected commissioner
for a. four-year period. Jesfis Piflerp is the new resident commissioner lp
Wasington,






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


bitious politician. The feud between the distinguished gov-
ernor3 and the brilliant commissioner gave the reform
movement a personal bias which many islanders deplored.
The 1941-42 session of the Puerto Rican legislature con-
tinued the trend to nationalization. A Transportation Au-
thority was established and authorized to acquire and oper-
ate all types of transportation, while similar legislation pro-
vided for a Communications Authority. A Development
Company was organized to exploit the resources of the
island, and it was authorized to take over any enterprise, in-
cluding sugar concerns, which suspended operations. A
Development Bank was set up in conjunction with the
company, and an insular Planning Board was established.
Another act of the legislature sought to bring an end to
the exploitation of jibaros by company stores. The measure
forbade any business or agricultural enterprise of any kind
employing more than ten persons to sell merchandise or
to make cash advances to their employees.
Opponents of the socio-economic legislation continue to
characterize it as confiscatory, socialistic and ill-advised.
They point out the financial losses sustained by various of
the government agencies. Some of the governor's more
violent opponents denounced him as the tool of the Popular
Democratic party and called him communistic in philos-
ophy and autocratic in manner. The more dispassionate
critics recognized his popularity with the people, and
praised the governor's foresight and grasp of facts, but be-
lieved that in his determination to'execute the rehabilitation
program he had sometimes shown complete disregard of
opposition. They did not understand why the governor
signed certain tax bills which had retroactive clauses, yet
they were impressed with his sensitivity to human suffering
and by his social philosophy. For example, in his message
8President Roosevelt appointed Rexford Guy Tugwell governor of Puerto
Rico in September, 1941. The governor was born in upstate New York in
1891; gained his doctorate at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce,
University of Pennsylvania; taught there, at the University of Washington,
and at Columbia University; became an original member of the Brain Trust;
served as Assistant Secretary, then Under-Secretary of the Department of
Agriculture in 1934; and acted as chairman of the New York City Plan-
ning Commission in 1938. Since Tugwell had assisted in drawing up a
plan for the redistribution of sugar lands in 1934, he had a number of ene-
mies in Puerto Rico before he became governor.







PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


to the legislature in February, 1942, Tugwell outlined his
policy in these words:
The condition of our people reflects years of injustice and
neglect. Whether we have war or peace we must attempt to set
going movements which in time will lift people out of slums and
will exorcise hunger. They are entitled to shelter, to food--and
to more than that. But the margin above misery they will create
for themselves, if we establish the chance.4
And he summed up his social philosophy in a speech dedi-
cating a great hydroelectric project:
The sun and the waters of heaven are here made to operate for
the people. This is pure gain. Here the energies of men are
multiplied; here invisible, untiring servants work for everyone
to whom the transmission lines can reach. We begin something
here which is a miracle and which may miraculously go on into
the far future. It was built with public funds, granted with fore-
sight and wisdom; it will be managed by a public authority. It
will produce continuous values. Alongside them its costs will
recede until they are hardly visible. No man will profit from
it; but all Puerto Ricans will share its services. I dedicate to
the use of our people this source of benefits. It was built by
them and no one shall ever take it away.5
Independence, Statehood or What?
Study of the political relationship between the island
and the mainland was relegated to the background when
the United States entered World War II. In February,
1943, however, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee
on Territories and Insular Affairs conducted a study of the
social and economic conditions of Puerto Rico. Senator
Dennis Chavez of New Mexico headed the group, which
had hearings and which studied data prepared by various
officials, including Governor Tugwell. The Puerto Ricans
were pleasantly surprised to find that this Senate subcom-
mittee (which presumably was bent upon investigating
charges of local political malcontents and discrediting the
Administration) went about its mission in an open-minded
way, and, when the facts it uncovered showed that many
SJohn Lear (ed.) Changing the Colonial Climate (San Juan: Bureau of
Supplies, Printing and Transportation, 1942), p. 265.
5R. G. Tugwell, Statement to the Sub-Committee of the Senate Committee
on Territories and Insular Afairs, To Study the Social and Economic Con-
ditions of Puerto Rico in February, 1943 (San Juan: Printing Division, In-
sular Procurement Office, 1943), p. 4.







72 PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM

of the charges made by Resident Commissioner Pagan
and his associates were unfounded, it had the courage to
support a number of the reforms of the Populares.
President Roosevelt followed up the investigation of the
Chavez subcommittee by appointing a committee of out-
standing island and continental experts on Puerto Rico to
consider revision of the Organic Act. It was generally
understood that the President favored a greater measure of
autonomy for the island.
When the committee met in July, 1943, Secretary of the
Interior Ickes, perhaps with a prescience born of experi-
ence in political and legislative circles, cautioned against
over-optimism and pointed out that the final status of the
island would not be determined by the committee, of which
he was a member. He also warned that improvements in
the political structure were important, but that they would
not solve the dire economic problem. That, he said, was
the result of an imbalance between population and eco-
nomic opportunity.
After a summer of work in the heat of Washington, the
committee produced a new home rule bill which was sub-
mitted to Congress for passage.6 For reasons which must
SAlong with many other items, the President's committee had made
provision for a governor of the island to be elected by Puerto Ricans, and
to have power to appoint heads of executive agencies and members of
the island's supreme court. The Senate committee did not deny the island-
ers' right to elect their own governor, but it hedged him around with
various officials and restrictions which made his position one of questionable
effectiveness. The Senate committee made provision for an elected attorney
general, not removable by the governor, and for heads of other executive
apartments whose terms of office are to be fixed by the Puerto Rican
legislature and who are presumably responsible only to the legislature; in
addition, provision was made by the Senate committee for an auditor ap-
pointed by the governor for a term of nine years (the governor's term
is for only four years) and who is removable by neither the governor nor
the legislature. Also, the committee refused to allow for changes in the
departmental organization of the island government; it provided that the
President, rather than the governor, appomt judges to the island's supreme
court; it insisted that Congress should have the power to veto any or all
island legislation, and it restricted sessions of the Puerto Rican legislature
to one period of ninety days every two years-this in spite of the fact
that island experience had demonstrated the need for longer and more
frequent legislative sessions. In an effort to meet the island's economic
and ever-changing political problems in a constructive way, the President's
committee had recommended that an advisory council, composed of island-
ers and mainlanders under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the In-
terior, be set up for the purpose of submitting biennial proposals to Con-
gress on desirable changes in relationships between the United States and
Puerto Rico, and to outline a comprehensive, long-range program of eco-
nomic rehabilitation for the island. The Senate committee annulled this
suggestion, declaring that matters with which the proposed advisory coun-
cil would have dealt were of such great importance that only Congress
should handle them. Presumably, it is the committee's intention to re-
tain Puerto Rico as a political football.







PUERTO RICO, U. S. A.


be very hard for the Puerto Ricans to understand, the Sen-
ate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs in Febru-
ary of 1944 over-rode all protests and proceeded to mangle
the proposed home rule bill beyond recognition:
In the meantime, however, Senator Millard Tydings of
Maryland had introduced a Puerto Rican independence bill
patterned after the act which defined the terms of Philip-
pine independence.7 The Tydings bill was opposed by many
islanders, who believed that American withdrawal from
Puerto Rico would entail disaster; while the measure en-
countered opposition from the Administration and from
certain military strategists who believed that an independ-
ent Puerto Rico would weaken the Caribbean fortification
system.
Since the Tydings bill was not passed, the political fu-
ture of Puerto Rico continued to remain obscure. In Sep-
tember, 1943, the Department of the Interior released the
report8 which Governor Tugwell made to the Chavez com-

SNot to be confused with the measure introduced by him in 1936.
SAfter reminding the committee of the promise made by General Miles
at the time of the American occupation, he remarked that it was a matter
of doubt whether Puerto Ricans faced a future more secure than was the
case at the time of the American occupation. In reviewing the difficulties
inherent in an overpopulated island with a one-crop economy, Governor
Tugwell commented:
If there were no humanitarian reasons for taking the economic situ-
ation seriously and doing something at once, there are strictly military ones.
It would cost as much to keep peace with an idle and starving population
which comes of a spirited stock as to furnish the means for reconstruction.
The matter must be put thus bluntly. American policy in Puerto Rico has
the choice of economic assistance with a rather hopeful prospect or of
suppressing an angry people who would feel very deeply that somehow
they had been wronged."
The governor stated that Puerto Rico had not been allowed to progress
toward autonomy as ought to have been made possible, and that the fed-
eral government still retained almost complete authority. He expressed
himself, however, as being opposed to immediate independence, on the
grounds that a million or more islanders would starve if federal financial
support were withdrawn. The granting of statehood, he inferred, also should
be postponed, since "the United States has not prepared the way for the
honest settlement of this issue." Instead, he called for a clear statement
of the intentions of the United States toward Puerto Rico, and requested
that the islanders be allowed to name their own governor, judges, and ad-
ministrative officers as a first step toward complete autonomy.
In order to prepare the island for self-government, Governor Tugwell
warned that economic stability must be attained. He pointed out that if
a large and increasing population were not to slip backward, the efficiency
of agricultural operations should be increased and that industrialization
should be undertaken. The only alternatives, he said, were imposed birth
control or wholesale migration, both of which were inadvisable. Cheap
hydro-electric power, the governor continued, should encourage the de-
velopment of industries, but it would be necessary to put to work the vast
funds lying idle in Puerto Rican banks.
Finally, the governor observed that United States policy in regard to
Puerto Rico had a definite effect upon the Good Neighbor policy. He re-
marked that the great empires, especially those of the British and the Dutch,
watched with great interest the intentions of their partner in the United
Nations towards its largest possession.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


mittee in February of that year. The governor's report
surveyed in some detail the history of Puerto Rico in the
period 1941-43. It also contained a frank discussion of
American colonial policy as it affected the island.
The governor's report elicited sharp criticism from many
political leaders, some of whom had regarded Tugwell with
complete disfavor from the day he became a Brain Truster.
Newspapers took up the attack. The New York Times,9
for example, questioned the statement that the island was
no better off in 1943 than in 1898 by citing statistics. In
1940, the editorial indicated, Puerto Rican exports were
valued at ten times the 1901 figure, and in that same period
imports increased twelve-fold. The Times also pointed out
that in two decades (1920-1940) illiteracy had dropped from
55 per cent to 31 per cent. After commenting on Tugwell's
proposal for industrialization, the Times stated that if the
funds were to come from private sources no one would op-
pose the project, but any expenditure of federal funds for
that purpose was to be condemned vigorously.
A few days after the release of the Tugwell report, Presi-
dent Roosevelt urged Congress to grant Puerto Ricans full
self-government, including the right to elect their own
governor. The President's recommendations adhered rath-
er closely to those made by the governor. It was believed
by some commentators that President Roosevelt's action
was an answer to the independence proposal put forward
by Senator Tydings.
*New York Times, September 28, 1943.


















CHAPTER VII


MEN AGAINST DISEASE
Medical officers of the American army of occupation dis-
covered that the Spanish authorities had never codified or
published the sanitary laws of Puerto Rico. Apparently suc-
cessive governors had issued what health decrees they
thought proper when an outbreak of disease occurred. Such
regulations fell into disuse when the danger passed. The
American military governor reported that whatever excel-
lence the rules may have had was neutralized by the lack of
enforcement. He stated that conditions in every town on the
island at the time of the American occupation indicated an
entire disregard for the simplest laws of hygiene. And Dr.
Azel Ames, surgeon of the army of occupation, added that
diseases originating in filth were omnipresent-that even
though Puerto Ricans lived an almost completely outdoor
life, the island was the filthiest area known.
A survey of the island showed an alarming incidence of
venereal disease, tuberculosis, smallpox, malaria, and dys-
entery. Thousands were found to be suffering from
"anemia", later discovered to be hookworm; yellow fever
apparently was endemic. Reasons for this state of affairs
were not hard to find. In three out of four Puerto Rican
homes there was no provision for the disposal of human ex-
creta; only one house in seventeen was served by an aque-
duct; and throughout the island people were undernour-
ished, ill-clad and poorly housed.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


A superior board of health was organized by American
authorities in June, 1899, and this non-political agency func-
tioned until 1917, when the Organic Act established the pres-
ent Department of Health. Because of the poverty of the
people, it was early recognized that health was a community
rather than an individual problem. The connection between
deplorable health conditions and deplorable economic con-
ditions was evident from the beginning. Insular and main-
land health authorities were equally aware of the correla-
tion between poor educational facilities and low hygienic
standards. Since 1899, therefore, a concerted effort has been
made to raise the standard of living, and to use the schools
as a medium for health instruction.

The Opening Campaign
But while attacking the problem at its source, health offi-
cers have also attempted to wipe out the diseases which each
year take such toll of life-this because disease is both a
cause and a result of economic distress.
Smallpox was endemic in Puerto Rico at the time of the
American occupation, and army medical officers determined
to vaccinate the entire population, in an effort to put an end
to the scourge. The results were dramatic; in the nine-year
period ending in 1898 the annual death toll from smallpox
averaged 621, but only one death occurred in the ten months
after the completion of the general vaccination. Yellow
fever, a mosquito-borne disease, was also endemic, and in the
nine-year period referred to, the average number of deaths
annually reached 117. Sanitary laws were put into effect;
crews and passengers on all vessels arriving from other coun-
tries were examined, vessels arriving from ports suspected
of yellow fever were fumigated, and a rigid quarantine
against infected countries was enforced. As a result, yellow
fever was wiped out.
The campaign against other diseases is a continuous one.
Venereal diseases, for example, have been as difficult to
bring under control in Puerto Rico as in other parts of the
world. Military authorities reported that American troops,






MEN AGAINST DISEASE


when stationed on the mainland in 1897, were admitted to
sick report for this cause at the annual rate of 84.59 per thou-
sand. In Puerto Rico, in 1898, the rate was 467.8 per thou-
sand. Since the latter date, the insular department of health
has waged a campaign of information, prevention, and treat-
ment. By 1942 there were numerous venereal disease clinics
on the island, but the social diseases were still prevalent. In
fact, it was unofficially reported that the incidence in San
Juan was as high as in any city in the world, Poverty, over-
crowding, ignorance, and chronic unemployment made the
conquest of venereal disease almost impossible.
Campaigns against hookworm, malaria, and tuberculosis
have been waged more successfully. While treating victims
of the hurricane of 1899 Dr. Bailey K. Ashford, an army
medical officer, discovered that hookworm infestation was
responsible for the anemia which sapped the vitality of
thousands of people and accounted for countless deaths each
year.1 Hookworm is concentrated in the coffee country-the
interior mountainous section. While its virulence has been
diminished as a result of systematic effort, the number of
persons affected apparently has not declined materially.
There are several reasons why hookworm eradication is dif-
ficult. In the first place, it is estimated that no more than
half of the homes on the island have any provision for the
disposal of human waste. Only forty-five of the seventy-
seven municipalities have sewerage systems. Dense popula-
tion and lack of sewage disposal means that the very ground
is polluted. Few of the jibaros who live in the hookworm
area can afford shoes; as a consequence, the majority of them
become infected.
The Department of Health has attempted to educate the
people in the cause and prevention of hookworm infestation
and has offered treatments which expel the parasites. The
governor reported in 1939, for instance, that almost 800,000
iHe found the hookworm to be a parasite about three-quarters of an inch
long, with a diameter approximately that of a pin. The head of the hook-
worm s fitted for penetrating the intestines, and the poison it releases tends
to destroy the blood and thus weaken the victim. The embryonic hookworm
is excreted, and remains upon the damp, shady ground until a barefooted per-
son walks that way. The tiny parasite fastens itself to the skin, Dunctures
it, and makes its way through the lymph or the bloodstream to the intestines.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


treatments had been given in the previous five years. The
department now provides for the construction of thousands
of latrines each year and distributes them to the neediest
families.

War Without End
Tuberculosis is most prevalent in coastal cities; in fact,
the incidence in such areas is ordinarily several times that
of the highland region. The unspeakable housing conditions
in city slums, combined with malnutrition, produce a start-
ling number of tuberculars. S. Burton Heath, writing in
1943, gave the Puerto Rican incidence at six times that of
New York, and a decade earlier the Brookings Institution re-
ported the average death rate from tuberculosis as higher
than in any other civilized country from which there were
accurate records. Slum clearance and clinics were used to
fight the disease. As a result of an anti-tuberculosis cam-
paign launched in 1934, the death rate dropped considerably,
but the disease still accounts for more deaths than any other
but enteritis (diarrhea, dysentery and related ills).
Malaria is another disease most prevalent in the coastal
area. It is estimated that one-fourth of those living in the
lowlands suffer from the disease, and the incidence is much
higher in certain plantation districts. There are several
types of malaria, but all of them are caused by protozoa car-
ried by some sixty kinds of mosquitoes. Malaria is fought
by destroying mosquitoes and their breeding places, or by in-
terrupting the life cycle of the protozoa at some stage. The
latter is accomplished by administering quinine or totaquine,
both made from cinchona, or one of the synthetic drugs, of
which atabrine and plasmochin are the most important. A
siege of malaria does not make the victim immune to an-
other attack. The protozoa are difficult to destroy, and the
few which are not killed by the administration of drugs may
plague a "cured" patient months after his treatment is com-
pleted.
In Puerto Rico, health authorities rely upon the drug
treatment of infected persons to check the spread of malaria.






MEN AGAINST DISEASE


Thousands of islanders undergo treatment each year, but
other thousands cannot be accommodated. Over a period of
years health officials have drained or filled in several thou-
sand acres of swampland and have treated other mosquito-
breeding areas with larvicide. It has not been possible to
carry out permanent mosquito-control measures, however,
because of limited funds.
For some time it has been recognized that screening
houses brings about a drastic reduction in the malaria infec-
ti6n rate, but the poverty of most Puerto Ricans precludes
the purchase of window screens. Again the vicious cycle
operates: Puerto Ricans suffer from an enervating disease
largely because they cannot afford preventative measures;
but often they cannot buy drugs and window screens be-
cause they are not well enough to work.
The Greatest Enemy
Diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever and other intestinal
ailments-generally grouped under the heading of "enter-
itis"-account for more deaths than any other type of dis-
ease. Enteritis is produced by micro-organisms carried in
food and water. That it is prevalent in Puerto Rico is not
surprising when one considers the lack of sanitary facilities
on the island. Most Puerto Ricans secure their water from
streams and cisterns which are almost invariably polluted
with human excreta. Even the water supplied by municipal
pumping plants is not always pure.
Tainted food and water transmit enteritis, but the people
are highly susceptible to that disease because of malnutri-
tion. This accounts for the fact that the infant mortality rate
on the island is more than twice as high as on the continent.
In countless homes children under two years of age are given
the same inadequate, poorly balanced food their parents eat.
When infants are fed beans, dried codfish, rice, and coffee
they fall ready prey to intestinal disorders.
Because of the ignorance and the low economic status of
many Puerto Rican parents, the Department of Health has
established child-care clinics where mothers are trained in






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


the preparation of formulas, and are taught the funda-
mentals of hygiene. Eighty-four milk stations distribute
milk formulas free of charge, but limited funds restrict such
aid to a few of the neediest cases. Steady progress has.been
made in the improvement of existing municipal water sys-
tems, and the construction of additional facilities has been
undertaken by various government agencies. Through the
medium of the school, thousands of Puerto Ricans have
learned about the influence of diet on health, and ways in
which disease may be controlled.
Taking Stock
Puerto Rico compares favorably with the other West In-
dian islands as far as health goes, but when compared with
the continental United States, the insular health record is far

1-E E ATI-N ----_----





CO -



Rco
L433 %e( __o T4-

581-

from impressive. A study made by the Puerto Rico Recon-
struction Administration shows that the average life ex-
pectation of people on the island is forty-three years, as com-
pared with fifty-eight years in the continental United States.
Luis Mufioz-Marin, leading political figure, comments bitter-
ly that the average Puerto Rican does not starve in the
streets, but that he languishes from malnutrition for forty-
three years and then dies.
Yet a glance at mortality rates indicates that definite







MEN AGAINST DISEASE


progress has been made in improving the Puerto Rican
health record. In 1901 the death rate was 36.7 per thousand;
in 1921 it had dropped to 22.3; and in 1941 to 18.6-little more
than half of the 1901 figure. Even the mortality rate for
malaria and tuberculosis, two of the most difficult diseases to
eradicate, has sharply declined in recent years. Little by lit-
tle the Department of Health, assisted by the schools, Puerto
Rico Reconstruction Administration and other government
agencies, has made gains. The island has fewer than 500 doc-
tors for almost 2,000,000 people, yet of this number approxi-
mately half are employed by the Department of Health,
either on a full or a part-time basis. In addition, hundreds of
nurses, social workers and technicians are employed to staff
the four district hospitals2, the numerous dispensaries, nutri-
tion units and child-care centers. After years of endeavor,
health services have been brought to every municipality in
the island.
Yet the health problem in Puerto Rico remains economic
at the base, for as long as almost 2,000,000 people live in what
has been termed an economic vacuum, overcrowding, insuf-
ficient food and an unbalanced diet will continue to foster
disease.
SIn the cities the Presbyterian hospital in San Juan deserves to be named
as well as St. Luke's Hoital in Ponce (Episcopal) and the American Board
Hospital in Humacao. There are also several very good Catholic hospitals
and the four modern three hundred bed Insular Department of Health Dis-
trict hospitals referred to above.

















CHAPTER VIII


QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE
American troops had scarcely completed the occupation
of Puerto Rico when educators from the mainland were
called in to reorganize the school system. The obstacles they
faced seemed insuperable: there was not one structure on
the island which had been built for a school; only one Puerto
Rican in six could read and write; only eight per cent of the
children of school age were actually enrolled; and most of
the teachers were political appointees, grossly unsuited for
their positions. The commission which surveyed the educa-
tional system in 1899 reported that the schools visited were
simply pretenses of education and in the United States
would not be regarded as being worthy of the name. The
books most generally found in these schools were primers,
catechisms, and mental philosophies. The system of educa-
tion consisted almost entirely of memorizing.
A bureau of education was established by the military
governor, and school laws were promulgated. These pro-
vided for some measure of local autonomy, and stipulated
that free education was to be provided for all children be-
tween the ages of six and eighteen. Many teachers, most of
them women, came from the mainland to serve in the Puerto
Rican schools. Few if any of them knew Spanish.
The difficulties encountered from the very first resulted
from the presentation of an educational system of American
derivation to a people of Spanish tradition. The attempt to
make the Puerto Ricans an English-speaking people was hin-
dered not only by the fact that teachers from the mainland






QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE


and pupils from the island could not understand one another,
but also by a complete absence of teaching materials. Amer-
ican textbooks were translated quickly, but as often as not
they were not adapted for use among an alien people. More-
over, funds at the disposal of the educators were limited be-
cause of the extreme poverty of the island.
Dr. Martin G. Brumbaugh, then professor at the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania and later governor of that state, be-
came the first commissioner of education under the civil
government (1900). The program as visualized by Dr. Brum-
baugh has been greatly modified through the years, but the
first commissioner's influence is still apparent. Rural and
urban elementary schools were established, and high schools
were opened in the larger communities. The newly estab-
lished normal school became the center for an intensive
training program, designed to supply the insular schools
with teachers as quickly as possible.
Education by Experimentation
Educators have experimented freely with the public
schools of Puerto Rico, often to advantage, sometimes to dis-
advantage. At first, all instruction was given in English in
the primary grades, and Spanish was taught as a subject. It
was generally agreed that the results were most unsatis-
factory. There followed a period in which all instruction in
the first four grades was given in Spanish, with the exception
of the class in English. Both Spanish and English were then
used for instruction in the next three grades, while in high
school all teaching was done in English. This system was
again changed in 1934 when the commissioner of education
ruled that Spanish would be the language of instruction
throughout the elementary schools.
When President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Dr. Jose
Gallardo commissioner of education in 1937, another shift
of emphasis occurred. The President expressed his wishes
in the matter in a letter to his appointee which read:
I desire at this time to make clear the attitude of my admin-
istration on the extremely important matter of teaching English in
Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico came under the American flag thirty-







PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


eight years ago. Nearly twenty years ago Congress extended
American citizenship to Puerto Ricans. It is regrettable that today
hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have little and often virtu-
ally no knowledge of the English language. Moreover, even among
those who have had the opportunity to study English in the public
schools, mastery of the language is far from satisfactory. It is
an indispensable part of American policy that the coming gen-
eration of American citizens in Puerto Rico grow up with com-
plete facility in the English tongue. It is the language of our
nation. Only through the acquisition of the language will Puerto
Rican Americans secure a better understanding of American ideals
and principles. Moreover, it is only through familiarity with our
language that Puerto Ricans will be able to take full advantage
of the economic opportunities which became available when they
were made American citizens.1
In an attempt to comply with the President's wishes, the
curriculum was revised. Spanish is now the language of
instruction in the first two grades, and English is taught as a
subject. Gradually English is introduced as the language of
instruction, and when students reach the seventh grade, two-
thirds of the teaching is done in English. In secondary
schools and in colleges, all instruction is given in English.
Bi-lingualism has been the subject of much criticism.
Some have complained that so much time is consumed in
mastering languages that little emphasis is placed on learn-
ing vocational skills or acquiring health habits. A well-
known leader remarked that diffusion of effort has made
many Puerto Ricans illiterate in two languages. And some
educators have pointed out that the whole question of bi-
lingualism is tied up with the political future of the island.
They contend that if Puerto Rico is to be admitted as a state,
the acquisition of English should be stressed, even if at the
expense of Spanish. But if Puerto Rico is to be granted in-
dependence, stress should be placed upon the mastery of
those skills which will enable the islanders to earn a living
and to assume leadership among their Spanish-speaking
neighbors.
'Blanton Winship, Thirty-Seventh Annual Report of the Governor of
Puerto Rico (San Juan: Bureau of Supplies, Printing, and Transportation,
1937), p. 10.







QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE


The Educational Pyramid
The recent shift in emphasis reminds Puerto Ricans that
their control over the insular educational system is only in-
direct, and that as long as the commissioner is appointed by
the President the influence of the mainland will be para-
mount. The requested changes also underlined the fact that
Puerto Rico has a highly centralized educational system.
Within the limits of the budget, the commissioner of educa-
tion is practically supreme. According to a bulletin issued
by the Puerto Rican department of education:
The Commissioner through his line and staff officers, di-
rects all school matters in Puerto Rico. The Insular Department
of Education does not correspond, as regards functions, to the
state departments of education in the United States. The powers
and jurisdiction of the Commissioner are comparable to the
powers of a city superintendent in the United States. The
Puerto Rican Commissioner ... is still more independent in his
functions, since he is not accountable to any board of education.2
Another indication of centralization is the fact that teach-
ing standards are established by insular, rather than local,
authorities, and that teachers' salaries are paid by the insular
treasury, rather than by local boards of education.
The school system itself is patterned after that found on
the mainland. The 6-3-3 plan (six years, elementary; three
years, junior high school; three years, senior high school)
became effective in August, 1942. The urban elementary
school curriculum is similar to that encountered in conti-
nental schools, but in some instances there is greater stress
on health and languages. In rural schools an attempt is
made to prepare pupils for vocations. The "second unit
school", which may be labeled vocational junior high school,
has been peculiarly successful. Its students devote a portion
of the school day to academic subjects and the remainder to
vocational studies. Second unit schools, with their shops,
gardens, and herds, not only train young Puerto Ricans, but
they also serve as community centers where men and women
learn how to operate their homes and farms more success-
2 Puerto Rican Department of Education, Schools ini Puerto Rico (1933-
34), (San Juan, Department of Education, 1935), p. 3.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


fully. In 1941-42, there were 15,757 students enrolled in sec-
ond unit schools, as compared with 16,418 enrolled in the
high schools of the island.
One of the most interesting phases of the educational pro-
gram is the School of the Air which has as its objectives the
dissemination of culture, collaboration with teacher and stu-
dent, and rural socialization. Elementary and high school
programs are broadcast during the day in both English and
Spanish; cultural programs are presented at night, since they
are designed for adults. The Manual of the School of the Air
indicates that the rural socialization program will seek to
overcome the isolation and maladjustment of the rural popu-
lation by bringing families together for recreation and by
suggesting solutions to their daily problems. Since few
Puerto Rican families have radios, however, the effective-
ness of such a program is limited. Another notable adjunct
of the public school program is the distribution of lunches,
either free of charge or at cost. The lunch hour is used as a
period when informal instruction in proper diet and hygiene
may be given.
At the apex of the educational pyramid is the University
of Puerto Rico. The institution has two main divisions, the
university proper at Rio Piedras, a suburb of San Juan, and
the College of Agriculture and Mechanics at Mayagiiez. The
Rio Piedras branch includes the colleges of Arts and Sci-
ences, Public Administration, Education, Law and Phar-
macy, as well as the School of Tropical Medicine. The lat-
ter institution is also affiliated with Columbia University.
In 1941-42 approximately 5,500 students were enrolled in
the various divisions of the university. In that same year,
the legislature made the institution almost autonomous and
took further steps to remove it from political influence. The
legislative act invested the governing body with the authori-
ty to prescribe the orientation of the public educational sys-
tem and to coordinate its- program with that of the uni-
versity. Puerto Rican leaders visualize the university as a






QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE


center of Pan-Americanism, an institution which will attract
the youth of both North and South America for a study of
two great cultures.

Progress-Past and Future
That Puerto Rican education has made notable progress
since 1899 is strikingly evident. The governor reported re-
cently to the Senate that the
Illiteracy rate had declined
from 79.6 in 1899 to 35.1 in
1935, and that approximately
44 per cent of school-age
children were enrolled in
school in 1937, as compared
with 9 per cent in 1899. The
New York Times in a recent
ul ho l 4ra1pe4 r m editorial insists that by 1940
-o 4a, l t j fIi ( l os 940. illiteracy had dropped to as
low as 31 per cent. The In-
ternational Institute of Teachers College, Columbia Uni-
versity, made a comprehensive survey of insular education
in 1925 at the request of the Puerto Rican legislature. It re-
ported that the history of the United States showed no
achievement which could parallel the monumental educa-
tional establishment which Puerto Rico had built from the
ground up, despite the fact that its per capital wealth was
only one-sixth that of the United States.
Yet, in attempting to achieve in a generation what main-
land educators accomplished only after two centuries, Puer-
to Ricans fell far short of their objectives. Governor Tug-
well in 1942 described the problems yet unsolved when he
said that the chronic inadequacy of the public educational
plant remained one of the anxieties of insular society, de-
spite the impressive progress made in the extension of edu-
cational opportunities. The governor stated that the mag-
nitude of the task ahead left scant room for the satisfaction
derived from past achievement. To emphasize the crying
need for the expansion of the island's educational facilities,






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


he pointed out that of an estimated population of over 700,000
children of school age, only 293,263 were enrolled in public
day schools during the year. In other words, fewer than 42
per cent of Puerto Rican school-age children were actually
enrolled in public schools in 1941-42. Florida, one of the less-
advanced states from an educational standpoint, had a com-
parable child population, yet its enrollment was almost 55
per cent. Islanders were disturbed because the educational
opportunities of Puerto Rican children were restricted. They
were also concerned by the large percentage of those en-
rolled in school who did not attend because the family in-
come would not permit. This fact was recognized even be-
fore the Brookings Institution found a close correlation be-
tween income of the parents and the school attendance of the
children. The Brookings report (1930) pointed out that un-
dernourished, anemic, poorly-clothed children cannot make
use of whatever educational opportunities they may have,
and Governor Theodore Roosevelt made the same observa-
tion after his return from an island-wide tour.
As early as 1900 the military governor, General George
W. Davis, raised a question which remained unanswered
more than forty years later. He questioned the value of
universal, compulsory education in Puerto Rico. For six or
more hours a day, he said, children would be under the up-
lifting influence of their teachers, but they would return to
homes of squalor and to parents unable to provide the proper
food or to offer any incentive to their offspring. The gov-
ernor felt that what children learned at school would make
them unhappy, for they would develop wants which could
not be supplied. Their miserable surroundings would then
have added horrors.
Again and again observers have described the plight of
the Puerto Rican youth who finishes school only to find that
there is absolutely no demand for his services. Although
fired with new ambition and filled with new wants, he is
forced by economic circumstances to return to his former
mode of living. The Brookings Institution report, already
cited, pointed out another incongruity: the virtual futility






QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE


of constructing substantial schoolhouses and providing com-
pulsory education-yet leaving intact an economic structure
in which 80 per cent of the rural people are without any
stake in the land itself.
But despite the opposition of some members of the Puerto
Rican privileged class-those who fear that an educated
"peasantry" will seize control of the government or refuse tc
toil without murmur-the insular educational system has
continued to expand. The truth is that the average islander
places an almost blind faith in universal education. Puerto
Ricans actually sacrifice for education, as is proved by the
fact that between a third and a half of the insular budget
ordinarily goes for educational expenses. Yet the per capital
expenditure per pupil enrolled in 1937-38 was only $25.77, as
compared with $88.99 for the United States as a whole, and
$159.67 for New York state. Until Puerto Ricans have more
money to spend on their schools, they cannot fulfill their de-
sire to give a free education to every Puerto Rican.
Particularly serious, however, has been the condition of
schools in rural areas, where the great majority of Puerto
Ricans live. This is reflected in the rate of illiteracy, which
in 1943 was 36 per cent in rural sections and 21 per cent in
urban communities. Teaching in isolated rural communities
has not been popular, and often instruction has been ham-
pered by lack of equipment. In order to induce teachers to
take positions in rural schools, the insular legislature (1943)
provided that rural teachers would have the use of a new,
government-owned house and a piece of land, in addition te
their regular salaries, which averaged $65 a month. The
houses have not been built, but recently additional funds
have raised the salary level. The legislature in this way
hoped to attract superior teachers who would wage a cam-
paign against illiteracy and make the school an agency .of
community uplift.


















CHAPTER IX


RELIEF AND REHABILITATION: 1933-1945
As it has been pointed out, the first World War brought
a measure of prosperity to the island. At the end of the con-
flict, however, the price of sugar collapsed and Puerto Rico
was again faced with a major crisis. Both the federal and
the insular government extended relief, but only a small
segment of the distressed population was reached. World-
wide business recovery occurred in the 1920-30 decade but its
effects on Puerto Rico were counterbalanced by an unusual-
ly destructive hurricane in 1928. Thanks to the efficient sys-
tem of storm warnings few lives were lost, but the property
damage exceeded $85,000,000. Practically all coffee and fruit
plantations were destroyed and none but the most substan-
tial buildings were left standing.
When Governor Theodore Roosevelt made a tour of the
island in 1929 he found famished, sickly people who not only
lacked jobs but who also lacked food. Such folk, the gov-
ernor observed, migrated to the coast in search of jobs, only
to find that chronic unemployment also plagued the cities.
Squalid living quarters, widespread disease, and hunger
were visible everywhere. But it was the condition of the
children which distressed the governor most of all. His six-
week tour took him to numerous schools where he saw
anemic, underfed children trying to forget their hunger in
order to study. He found that many of these children had
only one scant meal a day, and that meal consisted of a few






RELIEF AND REHABILITATION: 1933-1945


beans and a little rice. Others also came and observed but
little was done.

Depression and Emergency Relief: PRERA
The depression which developed in the United States in
the late twenties has its counterpart in Puerto Rico, since the
island economy was closely linked with that of the mainland.
The operations of many of the relief agencies established for
the United States were extended to the island. In addition,
a special agency known as the Puerto Rican Emergency Re-
lief Administration (PRERA) was created. PRERA began
its operations in August, 1933, at a time when unemployment
was most widespread. In the course of its operations during
the two years following it was approached for relief by 339,-
125 persons, most of them heads of families, which number
when compared with the total of employables-396,513-
shows how desperate the situation had become.
The primary function of PRERA was to dispense relief,
but from the outset the administration also concerned itself
with remedies which would have a greater permanent value
than that which immediate relief could render. Accord-
ingly, a plan was adopted which had a broader applicability
than would have been otherwise undertaken. Work relief
began even before work projects as such were available.
This was followed by construction projects, and these in turn
were gradually expanded to include a wide range of activi-
ties, beginning first with public works and extending finally
to agricultural promotion and rehabilitation.
In a period of fifteen months, the public works program in-
cluded the construction and repair of roads, streets and
bridges; the repair and erection of school houses, hospitals
and other public buildings; the building and repair of water
works and sewerage systems; the construction of electrifica-
tion projects; and the construction of waterways, piers, and
bulkheads. Another phase of the program was aimed at the
rehabilitation of agriculture, in order to correct several of the
problems chronic in the island's social economy: (a) over-
population concentrated in either urban or rural areas, (b)






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


lack of balance between industrial and agricultural produc-
tion, (c) the chronic unemployment in the low-wage level
which existed below decent living standards, (d) absentee
landlordism. To overcome these evils, subsistence garden-
ing was encouraged, the intensive cultivation of cotton, cof-
fee, corn, onions, rice, vanilla and other crops was facilitated,
the bud-rot of cocoanuts was eliminated, and canning centers
were projected.
Closely akin to these services were the efforts made for
the establishment of cooperatives, of which forty-three were
established by 1935. Their sphere of activities included
much of that mentioned above in the agricultural program.
One cooperative was developed for the encouragement of
handicrafts. Minor activities of PRERA included the as-
sistance given to the fishing and similar industries. It was
estimated that approximately three-fourths of a million peo-
ple were directly benefited by all PRERA enterprises.
Another feature of the PRERA program was housing,
slum clearance and resettlement of both urban and rural
people. Closely connected with these projects were the pub-
lic welfare activities which placed emphasis, not only on the
study of health conditions, but also on the development of
health services. New schools were built and the facilities of
existing institutions were extended. This provided employ-
inent for 1,362 unemployed teachers, and unemployment in
that profession was eliminated. The arts also were encour-
aged and recreational facilities were improved throughout
the island. And, finally, a number of surveys and research
projects were inaugurated, one of which led directly to the
establishment of a new organization, the Puerto Rico Recon-
struction Administration (PRRA), which in 1935 assumed
control of relief activities in the island.

PRRA: Long Range Rehabilitation
PRRA was an attempt to integrate all of the rehabilita-
tion projects which had been begun or were contemplated.
It constituted an ambitious and well-planned effort for the
complete rehabilitation of Puerto Rico. Its funds at the out-






RELIEF AND REHABILITATION: 1933-1945


set were drawn from appropriations made for the Puerto
Rican Emergency Relief Administration. Later it was given
large sums to be used for the continuation of the program in
the island. The activities of PRRA have been along basic eco-
nomic lines with the major objective of providing to the peo-
ple of Puerto Rico a satisfactory standard of living. To ap-
preciate the significance of what has been done one must re-
member that all activities are coordinated with the total pro-
gram and are not isolated efforts.
Because of the predominantly agricultural economy, the
chief economic and social problems of Puerto Rico are rural.
PRRA, therefore, placed its major emphasis on rural reha-
bilitation. Its program was twofold in character: (1) the
acquisition and redistribution of land; (2) the development
of new crops and the introduction of better agricultural prac-
tices. And supplementary to these were such services de-
signed to improve health and sanitation, educational facili-
ties, recreation and community life. Forty thousand acres
of land were purchased and distributed among farmers and
resettlers. New communities were created on some of the
larger holdings, three of which-La Plata, Castafier and Zal-
duondo-will be discussed later. The settlers were granted
land with a very small acreage-two to ten acres-except in
the Lafayette District where 5,000 acres were divided among
twelve land cooperatives. About 1,250 urban family units
and 6,300 rural houses were built; 500 more rural homes are
now under construction.
Education, health and recreation were encouraged in the
new communities as well as throughout the island. Special
effort was made to develop sugar, coffee and tobacco produc-
tion. Cooperatives were organized, canneries were estab-
lished, soil conservation and reforestation practices were in-
troduced. Finally rural electrification was developed in
many areas hitherto without such service.
The city dweller likewise was benefited by PRRA. Munic-
ipalities were encouraged by grants for the building of rec-
reational facilities, the construction of office buildings,
streets and various other projects of a similar kind. The re-






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


settlement of many urban dwellers on land took place. In-
dustries were encouraged. Finally it must be mentioned that
the public works program greatly benefited the property of
both the insular and federal governments. Many new build-
ing were constructed and many old ones repaired; one of the
more important of these projects was the erection of the new
administration building at the University of Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration touched
every phase of island life. It was bitterly attacked by critics
in Congress and in the insular legislature as a super-govern-
ment, while its supporters insisted that the establishment of
PRRA had prevented complete economic collapse. Critics
argued that the administration operated its ventures, includ-
ing the great Lafayette sugar central, at a loss, while PRRA
supporters pointed out the important social gains resulting
from each project. Nevertheless, the drastic reduction of
federal funds on American entry into war forced PRRA to
curtail its activities, while some of its functions were trans-
ferred to other agencies. Perhaps in the post-war period it
may be resumed.
CPS in Puerto Rico
The outbreak of World War II did not ameliorate condi-
tions on the island. In fact, the contrast between the well-
to-do and the poverty-stricken, the healthy and the ill
seemed to be even more sharply etched by the strains and
stresses arising from the conflict. The reduced appropria-
tions for PRRA enabled them to maintain only a skeleton
organization. To offset this loss a public works program
was developed in connection with the military establish-
ments in the island which reached a peak employment of
45,668 persons in 1943.
As early as January, 1941, the National Service Board for
Religious Objectors under the direction of Paul Comly
French had begun the study of conditions on the island with
the thought that there might possibly be found here work
of "national importance" which would meet the approval
of Selective Service in connection with Civilian Public Serv-






RELIEF AND =EHABILITATION: i933-1948


ice sponsored by the historic peace churches (Friends,
Brethren and Mennonites). In May, 1942, General Lewis B.
Hershey issued an order granting to the National Service
Board the authority to undertake work in Puerto Rico.
"The work to be undertaken by the men assigned to the
said Puerto Rico project will consist of emergency medical
aid, ambulance service to hospitals, health education and
child care." Thus the Martin G. Brumbaugh Reconstruction
Unit', representing the united effort of the service commit-
tees of the Friends, Brethren and Mennonites in medical and
social rehabilitation, was instituted, and the agreement
was effected between the various agencies involved, includ-
ing PRRA and the Insular Department of Health.
To date, units have been established under each of the
three cooperating church agencies. The first of these began
activities in August, 1942, at Castafier Central Farm near
Adjuntas under Brethren auspices.
It was the purpose of PRRA to develop its projects in the
neediest areas or where the density of population was great-
est. Accordingly one of its most significant rural rehabilita-
tion centers was located in the coffee region where a large
part of the island's population lives. Here two adjoining
plantations, the Castafier and Llinas farms in the municipali-
ties of Adjuntas and Lares, were acquired. The total of
1,645 acres, formerly devoted exclusively to coffee growing,
has been parceled into two hundred small farms for the culti-
vation of diversified crops. Thus instead of a cash crop, de-
pendent on foreign markets, a broader base has been laid for
the economy of the farmers with some degree of independ-
ence for them from outside food control.
But more important than this demonstration of a new
type of agriculture has been the socio-economic setup which
has resulted. For paralleling its land reform program,
PRRA introduced an emphasis on community rehabilitation
hitherto unknown in the area. A community center for
health, educational and recreational purposes was built. A
I Named in honor of Martin G. Brumbaugh, first Commissioner of Edu-
cation for Puerto Rico and a member of the Church of the Brethren.






PUERTO RICO: UNSOLVED PROBLEM


community program for these purposes was instituted. The
people were encouraged to help themselves toward a bright-
er future economically, socially and culturally.
All of this was threatened with the curtailment of federal
funds in 1941. Personnel had to be dismissed, and many of
the services lapsed in consequence. It was to supply these
needs which thus arose that the C.P.S. unit was created. Dr.
Daryl M. Parker, a young medical missionary, became the
leader. Under his guidance the work received a strong em-
phasis on health and social rehabilitation. The.staff of the
Castafier unit is composed of both Puerto Rican and con-
tinental personnel and at present includes sixty persons.
The medical service is centered around a thirty-three bed
general hospital with the various features commonly found
in such institutions on the mainland. It has wards for men
and women, respectively, a delivery room, an operating
room, X-ray and fluoroscopic facilities, an outpatient depart-
ment which can handle first-aid cases and minor illnesses,
and an ambulance service. The scope of its work can best
be judged from the statistics for the year 1944. In a period
of twelve months, 1,247 patients were admitted to the hos-
pital, a total of 1,452 major and minor operations were per-
formed and over 200 deliveries were made.
The public health program includes several phases of
work, the best developed of which is the clinical. Thirteen
weekly clinics cared for a total of 13,663 patients during the
past year. Eight of these were held in Castafier and five in
the outlying rural areas. These clinics were for maternal and
infant care, tuberculosis, venereal disease, intestinal para-
sites and other diseases. Other phases of the general health
program include the examination of school children, their in-
oculation against diphtheria, smallpox and typhoid, co-opera-
tion in the organization and maintenance of two milk sta-
tions for children, the development of an anti-hookworm
project based on sanitary privies, worm treatments, wearing
of shoes, education in cleanliness and a program of general
education in health, nutrition and sanitation.
The community service program hinges around the Cas-






RELIEF AND REHABILITATION: 1933-1945


tafier center, which serves as a focal point for community in-
terests, educational meetings and leisure-time activities.
Table games and a small library are available. Basketball,
shuffleboard, horseshoe, croquet, softball and volleyball as
well as track are some of the athletic activities open to the
people. Boys' and girls' clubs with a membership of over two
hundred meet weekly. Classes in physical education, music
and drama are being conducted in conjunction with the pub-
lic school.
In the spring of 1943 the Mennonite Central Committee
and the American Friends Service Committee joined the
Brethren in the work of the Brumbaugh unit. A central of-
fice was established at Rio Piedras and two new centers were
opened by the participating agencies.
With its usual thoroughness the Mennonite Central Com-
mittee has proceeded in the establishment of a health and
community center in the area assigned to it under the
Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration. The central
location for this enterprise is in the valley of the La Plata,
on land which was purchased by PRRA in 1936 from an
American tobacco trust. Here PRRA had begun a huge
economic and social reconstruction program which had to
be curtailed later because of the lack of funds. The major
features of the program involved the resettlement of the
people on farms of four to ten acres, with a rehousing proj-
ect in which small concrete houses replaced the miserable
shacks of former days. Schools, medical centers, commu-
nity centers, water works, roads and other facilities were
also provided.
In July, 1943, the Mennonite Central Committee as-
sumed responsibility for the center of La Plata, one of the
five community centers in the area. The emphasis in the
unit has been on medical service, community rebuilding and
relief. The new hospital was officially opened on August
13, 1944. With 24 beds it is to serve the entire valley, and
with a constantly enlarging staff, including a physician,
a dentist, laboratory technicians and several nurses, after
only a few months of operation, its program is already




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