Seminar: United States Territorial Possessions

LAW 6936 (2 credits)
Professor Pedro A. Malavet

Notes Part 4

America's Colony, Chapter 3: Political Culture
America's Colony, Chapter 4: Cultural Identity
pages 49-116

America's Colony, Chapter 3: Political Culture

Two Narratives of Puerto Rico
U.S. Narrative: we are respecting Puerto Rican cultural difference and political choice
What I think is going on: The Puerto Ricans are not acceptable for full citizenship because of their cultural and racial difference and the U.S. is the only one with choice in the relationship
Why not independence?

Cultural Imperialism
Cultural Imperialism is used here to mean the phenomenon of ideological and cultural annexation.
Carla Freccero, Popular Culture: An Introduction 68 (1999).
Conversely, the process of collective and concerted resistance to programmatic cultural imperialism [is] called cultural or mental decolonization. Id.

Puerto Rican Political Thought
Political movements and then parties began in the nineteenth century, during Spanish rule.
By the time of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico had a rich political life and sophisticated political parties that were ready to engage the new “American” rulers.

Fernando VII
1808: Two abdications
1808-1814: Joseph Bonaparte rules Spain
1814: Abrogates Constitution of Cadiz
1823: Allied with the French
1833: Dies, succession battle looms

The Queens
Regent María Cristina, 1833-1840
Infant Queen Isabel II, Regency 1840-1843
Queen Isabel II, 1843, at age 13, declared of legal age.

Spanish Succession: Carlista Wars
13th Century: The Partidas allow females to become queens of Spain
Felipe V (1700-1746): Ley Sálica, only men may inherit the throne.
Fernando VII: Pragmática Sanción, returning to the Partidas rules of succession.
Fernando VII: In his will, annuls the Sanción
Carlos, brother of Fernando, challenges for the throne

MAP: Cuba and Puerto Rico

MAP: Independencia de América
Argentina, 1816
Chile, 1818
Colombia, 1819
México, 1821
Perú, 1821
(Ayacucho), 1824

Spanish Colonial Voting
Conservatives win Puerto Rico in 1876, 1879, 1881, 1884, 1886, 1891, 1893, and 1896 (though most liberals were effectively prevented from participation)
Autonomist Party is created in 1887
On March 27, 1898, 121,573 voters went to the polls
The U.S. Army arrives in July, 1898

Political Theater in the Second Colony
The United States was not, however, prepared to accept the reality of a politically assertive colonial people. Natural political criticism was treated as subversion, and political, cultural, and sometimes physical self-defense were seen as sedition.
The so-called antisubversives campaign of political repression that targeted mostly the pro-independence movement on the island and how that process manipulated political opinion on and off the island.

Political Theater
With the experience of two centuries of voting, Puerto Ricans have developed a sophisticated political culture that is always limited and frustrated by having only the right to petition a mostly unresponsive colonial power.

Politics: Independence
Separatists, nationalists or independentistas (independence supporters), favor sovereignty, that is, separation from the colonial power and complete independence for the Puerto Rican nation.

Politics: Autonomy and Free Association
Liberals, autonomists or estadolibristas (supporters of the estado libre asociado, free associated state), favor varying forms of home rule that include a permanent legal and political relationship with the colonial power.

Politics: Statehood
Conservatives, republicans, integrationists, assimilationists, or estadistas (statehooders), favor becoming a full part of the colonial power’s political organization as part of Spain during the first colony, or entry into the union as a state under U.S. rule

Constitution “Approved”
March 3, 1952. Only 457,572 voters go the polls, compared with the 664,947 who vote in the general elections in November of 1952.
374,649 (81.9%) voting to approve it, to the 82,923 (18.1%) who voted to against approval

The 1967 Plebiscite July 23, 1967
1,067,349 registered voters
707,293 go to the polls.
Participation rate of 66.27%
Abstention rate of 33.73% (360,056).

1967 Plebiscite
The participation rate is one of the lowest of any election in Puerto Rico in the 20th century, and the lowest in any general or status election held since Puerto Ricans were first allowed to vote for governor in 1948.
425,132 (60.41%) are for the ELA, 274,312 (38.98%) for statehood and just 4,248 are for independence (0.6%).

Real Independence Politics
Partido Autonomista-Liberal, late 19th Century
Union Party was the dominant force in Puerto Rico politics from 1904 to 1924, much of that time while openly favoring independence as its preferred status option

Real Independence Politics
Union (later Liberal) Party got the most votes during coalition/alliance era 1928-44
1948, 1952 and 1956, the new Puerto Rico Independence Party shows electoral strength, and even gets more votes than the statehood party in 1952

The Modern Period
Commonwealth and Statehood are the dominant movements
Alternate in winning elections between 1964 and 2000
PIP becomes a minority party

Political Violence
1900: The Turbas Republicanas
1935: The Masacre de Rio Piedras: 5 nationalists killed
1936: Police Chief Francis Riggs assassinated by nationalists
1937: The Masacre de Ponce: 19 dead, 2 police ACLU-- “gross violation of civil rights and incredible police brutality.”

Political Repression: Los Subversivos
La Mordaza: Law 53 of June 10, 1948, known in Puerto Rico as La Ley de la Mordaza (the Gag Law), or as “the Little Smith Act.”
People v. Burgos, 75 DPR 535 (1953) (the Ley de La Mordaza was constitutional under both the Puerto Rico and United States Constitutions and it had not been preempted by the Smith Act.)

Noriega-Rodriguez v. Hernandez-Colón, 122 P.R. Dec. 650 (1988)
Court held that the practice of opening police files to investigate persons because of their political views was unconstitutional.
Noriega-Rodriguez v. Hernandez-Colón, 92 JTS 85 (1992)
The files could not be edited to remove the names of undercover agents or other informants before being returned to their subjects.

U.S. Supreme Court and “Subversives”
Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 351 U.S. 115 (1956)
Smith Act activities against the communist party held not to be unconstitutional
U.S. Supreme Court and “Subversives”
Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497 (1956).
Smith Act, 18 USC § 2385, making it criminal to advocate, abet, advise, or teach overthrowing or destroying the government of the U.S., or any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, preempts state laws.

U.S. Supreme Court and “Subversives”
Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1; 92 S. Ct. 2318; 33 L. Ed. 2d 154 (1972).
Existence of “data gathering system” in which the Pentagon created files on persons it deemed dangerous, did not unduly chill the files’ objects first amendment rights

Nationalist Revolt of 1950 October 30-November 1
28 dead (7 police officers, 1 national guardsman, and 16 nationalists) and 49 wounded (23 police officers, six national guardsmen, nine nationalists and 11 others)
Political and emotional aftermath was even greater

The Nationalists Attacks in Washington, D.C.
November 1, 1950, nationalists “Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman at Blair House in Washington. Torresola is killed and his partner and three police officers are wounded.”
“March 1, 1954[,] four . . . nationalists fire 30 shots from the U.S. House visitors’ gallery, wounding five congressmen.”

PHOTOS: Lolita Lebrón then and now

The Murder of Santiago Mari-Pesquera
Santiago Mari-Pesquera was the young son of Puerto Rican Socialist Party leader Juan Mari-Bras. He was murdered on March 24, 1976, by a person who is known to have been a paid FBI informant

Cerro Maravilla, July 25, 1978
Carlos Soto-Arriví and Rubén Darío Rosado, independentista youths murdered by police officers, while FBI agents waited in the area
It took years for the real story to come out, in dramatic testimony before the Puerto Rican Senate
President Carter and alleged cover-up

Pedro Albizu-Campos, 1891-1965
Harvard degrees in Chemical Engineering, Humanities, Philosophy, Military Sciences and Law (1913-1921)
President of the Nationalist Party in 1930
Courageous, charismatic, competent and conscientious
Hopelessly Quixotic, ill-conceived “revolutionary” acts that were often carried out with amateurish clumsiness

PHOTOS: Albizu at Harvard and while Delivering a Political Speech in the 1930s

Nationalists were NOT the Independence Movement
Partido Autonomista-Liberal, principal party during Spanish colony
Union Party was the dominant force in Puerto Rico politics from 1904 to 1924, much of that time while openly favoring independence as its preferred status option

The Independence Movement
Union, later named the Liberal party usually got the most votes of any individual party— during most of the era of Alliances and Coalitions that preceded the PDP era started in 1948.
1948, 1952 and 1956, new Puerto Rico Independence Party gets more votes than the statehood party in 1952.
Many members of Muñoz’s PDP favored independence as a permanent status option during the party’s first decades of existence

PHOTO: David Sanes-Rodríguez

April 19, 1999, a stray bomb dropped by a Marine aviator hit Navy Observation Post OP-1, near the entrance of the navy’s training center, killing David Sanes-Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican civilian guard who was manning that guardhouse.

America's Colony, Chapter 4: Cultural Identity

Criollos, Puertorriqueños
The distinction between criollas/os (native-born Puerto Ricans) and peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain) was made very early in the colony. Ultimately, the puertorriqueñas/os emerged as an identifiable people during the nineteenth century, before the U.S. invasion.

The Problem of Colonialism
Puerto Rico’s colonial status —particularly its intrinsic legal and social constructs of second-class citizenships for the Puerto Ricans— is incompatible with contemporary law or a sensible theory of justice and morality.

“Colony” means
the status of a polity with a definable territory that lacks sovereignty because legal/political authority is exercised by a peoples distinguishable from the inhabitants of the colonized region.
Ediberto Román, Empire Forgotten: The United States’ Colonization Of Puerto Rico, 42 Vill. L. Rev. 1119, 1137-38 (1997). Dependent territory [is] a territory which is geographically separate and is distinct ethnically and/or culturally from the country administrating it.***

Community and Culture
What does it mean for people to “belong” to a cultural community—to what extent are individuals’ interests tied to, or their very sense of identity dependent upon, the particular culture? And do people have a legitimate interest in ensuring the continuation of their own culture, even if other cultures are available in the political community—is there an interest in cultural membership which requires independent recognition in a theory of justice?
Will Kymlicka, Liberalism Community and Culture 3 (1989).

Cultural Narrative of La Nación Puertorriqueña
Narrative is “the primary form by which human experience is made meaningful. Narrative meaning is a cognitive process that organizes human experiences into temporally meaningful episodes. Because it is a cognitive process, a mental operation, narrative meaning is not an ‘object’ available to direct observation. However, the individual stories and histories that emerge in the creation of human narratives are available for direct observation.”
Donald E. Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences 1 (1988).

Culture? P. 102
culture is a whole way of life (ideas, attitudes, languages, practices, institutions, structures of power) and a whole range of cultural practices: artistic forms, texts, canons, architecture, mass-produced commodities, and so on. Culture means the actual grounded terrain of practices, representations, languages, and customs of any specific historical society. Culture, in other words, means not only “high culture,” what we usually call art and literature, but also the everyday practices, representations, and cultural productions of people and of postindustrial societies.
Carla Freccero, Popular Culture: An Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 13.

Shared Identity, p. 102
By “shared identity” I mean to refer to an identity that bonds together, partially and contingently, minorities and majorities, such that different cultural and ethnic groups are seen, and see themselves, as networks of communication where each group comes to understand its distinctiveness as well as the fact that distinctiveness is to a large degree defined in terms of its relationship with the Other.

As early as the eighteenth century, the word was reported in use in Spain as a bastardization of the word griego (Greek) and was used to refer to anyone speaking a foreign tongue or with a foreign accent.
Spanish dictionaries define it as an adjective
But English dictionaries uniformly define it as a word used “disparagingly” or as a “contemptuous” reference to English speakers generally and U.S. citizens in particular.

Puertorriqueños vs. Peninsulares
Initially we were Spanish
Then we were Criollos
Then we were Puertorriqueños
That appears to mean a Spanish-speaking, largely Catholic, and racially diverse people, who unfortunately, like many other societies, Puerto Rican culture is also heteropatriarchal, sexist, racist, homophobic, and elitist. Pp. 106-107

Language: Spanish
English is also official
U.S. District Court functions in English (Foraker Act)
Local courts and administration function in Spanish
People v. Superior Court, 92 P.R. Reports 580, 582, 585, 589–90 (1965).

People v. Superior Court
In People v. Superior Court, an opinion issued in 1965 by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, the litigant’s request to proceed in English rather than in Spanish in the local court was denied, even though both English and Spanish were official languages. The Puerto Rican high court explained that “the means of expression of our people is Spanish, and that is a reality that cannot be changed by any law.”

Americanization: Cultural Imperialism
Probably nowhere was the U.S. economic development plan for Puerto Rico more consciously promoted than in the public schools. Through a rationalization of the perceived necessary prerequisite of the Americanization of the culture for economic and social development, the grounds were established for the legitimacy of arguments and policies requiring English as the language of instruction and centralized public school administration.
José Solís, Public School Reform in Puerto Rico: Sustaining Colonial Models of Development 47 (1994).

The Initial Assumptions behind Americanization, p. 113
For example, the education commissioner, Martin Braumbaugh, stated in his 1901 report that most Puerto Ricans did not even speak “real Spanish” and only a minority were educated, mostly in Europe. Therefore, as Victor Clark, president of the Insular Council on Education, stated: “The great mass of Porto Ricans is still passive and plastic. . . . Its ideals are in our hands to be created and molded. If we Americanize the schools and inspire the teachers and students with the American spirit . . . the island will become in its sympathies, view and attitudes . . . essentially American.”

Language of Instruction: English
English-language instruction was imposed because, as Aida Negrón-de Montilla, the author of the most through study of this phenomenon, reports, many of the regulations were issued by the commissioners in letters.60 The Foraker Act gave the commissioner a great deal of discretion, including the determination of the language of instruction,61 and section 23 of the first Public Schools Act of 1901 also gave him a great deal of authority

Foraker Act on Education
Foraker Act, sec. 25 (That the Commissioner of Education shall superintend public instruct; throughout Puerto Rico, and all disbursements on account thereof must approved by him; and he shall perform such other duties as may prescribed by law, and make such reports through the Governor as may required by the Commissioner of Education of the United States, which shall annually be transmitted to Congress).

Jorge Washington, 115
“Yo nunca, nunca digo una mentira, pues quiero ser igual a Jorge Washington, quien fue el mas grande los hombres, y nunca, nunca dijo una mentira”
(I never, never tell a lie, because I want to be just like George Washington, who was the greatest of all men, and never, never told a lie”).

Official Language Politics
Officially, English and Spanish coexisted by law, as the Official Language Act of 1902 established English and Spanish as coequal official languages in Puerto Rico. This law was briefly repealed by the Hernández-Colón administration in 1991, in a controversial attempt to make Spanish the sole official language. But official bilingualism was quickly reinstated by the Rosselló administration in 1993.

Consequences of Failure
The failure of americanización was a definitional moment in the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. To the extent that the United States viewed Americanization as a prelude to assimilation, the failure of the former precluded proceeding with the latter.