It’s that time of year again. The Puerto Rican flags, t-shirts, handkerchiefs, trinkets, etc. are on full display. The problem here lies somewhere between pride and false pride. Those who know what they celebrate and those whose only proud reason is another excuse for a party.
Knowledge is power, in knowing our true history we have all the power to better control our destinies. Let us take the steps to get there.
The Puerto Rican flag..similar to that of the Cuban flag, is beautiful, handsome and gracious.
The Puerto Rican flag was adopted by the Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, circa 1895. There are several accounts as to the actual creation of the flag but, nonetheless, it was a beautiful creation. The design of the flag is open for debate; Francisco Gonzalo Marin, Antonio Vélez Alvarado, Manuel Besosa and even Lola Rodríguez de Tió have all been credited with the design depending on the account.
While we see so many flags displayed proudly it is hard to believe that from 1898 until 1952 the same flag could not be displayed and was considered a felony to do so. It was 1952, when the flag was adopted and proclaimed the official flag of Puerto Rico.
Prior to 1952 :
- The red symbolized the blood of the brave warriors, white for the peace and victory that would be attained after gaining independence, blue (sky blue) for the sky and blue coastal waters and the lone star represented Puerto Rico.
- The red became to symbolize the blood that nourishes the three branches of government, the white became to symbolize a republican form of government and the blue triangle, which was changed to a darker shade like that of the U.S. flag, represented the three branches of government.
*Note: The blue was changed to the original sky blue tone in 1995.Additional Notes
- The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, formed on September 22 of 1922, was the first political party to officially use the flag as a symbol of the struggle for independence (just as the Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party did).
- The Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party was formed on December 22 of 1895 , at which time they adopted the flag.
- Any flag that is displayed on a vehicle must be attached to a flagpole. (ex. not on the hood, not allowed to touch the ground)
- The Cuban flag was created in 1849 by Venezuelan general Narciso Lopez. It became official in 1902.
- The flag should be raised with the first notes of the Puerto Rican national anthem and continue to be raised slowly so that it reaches the top of the flagpole with the last notes.
La patria es…
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.
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.
On 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!
Nations often celebrate their independence and rightly so, whether contested or not. But in the case of Puerto Rico, its political status leaves it with a false sense of celebration. This, of course, will either be denied or agreed upon depending on political stance.
My position stems from the invasion of Puerto RIcos by th US in 1898. That, in itself, sets off disagreement on whether it was an invasion or not. Yet, as early as May of 1898, Puerto Rico was the focus of invading US forces. Historically, many at the time welcomed the invasion under the assumption that independence would be gained under US control, especially, after 400 years under Spanish rule. But, unlike the battles fought against the indigenous people of the Americas for American expansion, the invasion of Puerto Rico was not intended to be a part of this expansion nor of independence. The era of manifest destiny had reached a point which would not include it. Instead, Puerto Rico merely went from being ruled by Spain to being ruled by the US with an empty promise of change. The first of which was the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917 which granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship and in return the US gained an even greater pool of military recruits to draft into the army as America readied itself for entry into World War I.
In the early 1950’s, Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” status came into being, Puerto Rico adopted its Constitution and the United Nations removed Puerto Rico from its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (colonies). While many believed this to be positive change, it was all merely smoking mirrors, for Puerto Rico, to this day, remains an unincorporated territory (colony).
Uncle Sam watches as the “Goddess of Liberty” heralds freedom for Cuba,
Puerto Rico and the Philippines
There are many facets to this Puerto Rico-US relationship. The facts are on the table. Puerto Rico’s status of ‘free association’ with the United States is a farce. It ultimately remains under US control, its local self-governing status can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. citizenship of Puerto Rican residents of Puerto Rico can be withdrawn.
It’s obvious that the few aforementioned facts aren’t reasons to celebrate. Puerto Rico remains in political limbo while the US Congress continues to ignore it and it’s even more obvious that Puerto Ricans fail to see it.
The more things change,
the more they remain the same.
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.
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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