For a Moment… Autonomy and then ‘Subjects’

Originally published on EFRAIN’S CORNER / NOVEMBER 18, 2011

The year 1897 brought about the promise of autonomy for Puerto Rico. Over 400 years had passed since Christopher Columbus had come upon it shores with an illusion of promise to the indigenous when in reality it was in assertion to the Spanish Crown that “the island would belong to them.” During its 400 plus years of Spanish rule, Puerto Rico (Boriquen) suffered through the devastation of its indigenous population, slavery and disease.

From this devastation arose some prominent and revered figures such as Marianna Bracetti Cuevas, Segundo Ruiz Belvis, Ramon Emeterio Betances, Jose de Diego, Luis Munoz Rivera, Jose Celso Barbosa and Eugenio Maria de Hostos. These individuals, along with many more, challenged the Spanish Crown along the lines of slavery and autonomy. Slavery was abolished in 1873 and, in 1897, an Autonomic Charter with the Spanish government was granted to Puerto Rico. An opportunity to form local power, to frame a budget, fix import and export and have several elected representatives in the Spanish Cortes.

A very important clause in the Autonomic Charter to ponder was “it could only be modified by legal means, and at the request of the Puerto Rican legislature.” The Autonomic Charter and that very clause have been a source of argument on whether the United States violated any laws or not when it invaded the island in 1898. The charter was there but never went into full effect due to the Spanish-American War.

This leads us into the quagmire state that Puerto Rico has lived in since its invasion in 1898. It was the U.S. passion for imperialism, the belief in American expansionism, Manifest Destiny which led it on it quest to acquire land. Unfortunately, for Puerto Rico, the idea was dead when it was invaded, hence, it became a U.S. colony, only to be stuck in a state of experimentation with its inhabitants as subjects of U.S. imperialism.

Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states, “..Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States..” This hasn’t changed and it still applies, regardless of the simple fact that in 1950, Law 600, allowed for Puerto Rico to draft it own constitution. While approved by the U.S. Congress, in 1952, the constitution of Puerto Rico is still superseded by that of the U.S. constitution. Again, the U.S. Congress has plenary power over its property.

I have reiterated that part of the U.S. Constitution on several posts due to its importance in understanding the current state of Puerto Rico’s status debacle. To fully understand the nature of the Puerto Rican, to understand the current state of the island and the many years in a state of limbo, one must delve into the many aspects which have brought it to its current state.

From its invasion in 1898, when it served as a perfect strategic ground for U.S. military forces, to the use of the its men as soldiers in wars, to the experimentation of it people, Puerto Rico has served the U.S. as perfect grounds for experimentation and its inhabitants have undoubtedly served well as its subjects. Is it no wonder that today it suffers socioeconomic strife among its own?

In a country that has seen the evil that imperialism is, it is no wonder that embedded in the psyche of the people, is the very fear that imperialistic damage has done in over 115 years. That moment, in 1898, when change for the better seemed so possible and within arms reach, was forever changed. It is but a mere ‘what if’. A mere taste of the autonomic apple that has been left to rot.


Full Circle in Puerto Rico

It has been some time since I’ve written here. Not for lack of caring or neglect but rather for personal reasons.  I have written though,  taken notes along the way and worked on improving my poetry. But, what brings me here now is the heart wrenching news that comes from the beloved homeland of my parents, Puerto Rico. It’s exactly what I continuously wrote about on my blog, Efrain’s Corner. Yes, it was culture in nature but it was also about its colonial bondage and the results of it. I often repeated that its commonwealth status was merely an abstract concept of its true colonial status, a bastion in the Caribbean.

Now, with anger in my heart, I write…, “fuck the naysayers!”

It has come full circle, that is, the colonial bondage that envelopes the island. For its economic and social status coupled along with its seemingly quagmire of a political status brings it more and more to a screaming state. Screaming in disrepair. The US, which has had its hands on Puerto Rico for well over a century, simply snubs it nose at it. Clearly, no different from what it has done with decolonization efforts. Puerto Rico’s own elected officials are always mired by political setbacks that have been in motion far longer than this generation can remember or even care to.

Soon enough, June will be upon us and Puerto Rican flags will be in abundance.  Will it be then that all the Puerto Rican pride will save us. Or can it? What the fuck are we to do? In the end it seems all we are going to have are flags to wave. History will be written about a people who were so grossly colonized,  that they wholeheartedly believed the colonizers way of life was their only option.

So, those who can leave the island, do so en mass. Running from the very things that those who choose to stay, do so for. Their belief in culture, family and the strong  ideals of their Puertoriquen-ess. Puerto Rico is no different from any other place. You have those who can, those who can’t and those who simply choose one way or another.

PR2On the other hand, in the mainland US, those who have disassociated from the culture of the island, will continue with their false banter of pride devoid of its current situation. Indeed, saddening and disheartening as we come full circle in Puerto Rico.

Now, put your mouth where your flag is!

Opinion: The colony thrives at Senate hearings on Puerto Rico

I have repeatedly written about Puerto Rico and the fact that the US Congress continues to ignore it. The US Congress has no obligation to address the peoples right to self determination and the people are oblivious to this.

NBC Latino

I went into yesterday’s Senate hearing about Puerto Rico’s political status with really low expectations. After watching the entire session (twice), my expectations plunged from low to lower that low. Like “how low can you go” limbo low.

The 88-minute Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing was jammed packed with so many issues, so many overarching themes, that instead of trying to tie them all together, I am going to comment on each one. To say I am disappointed is an understatement. This hearing was a colonial bag job.

Only three Senators showed up. Let’s start here. While the Puerto Rican press worked really hard to portray the narrative that Puerto Rico’s political status being discussed in Washington, D.C., was a really big deal, only three Senators showed up. Three Senators, and two of them —Oregon’s Ron Wyden (D) and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowksi (R)— had to be there since…

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