By 1930, all of Puerto Rico's sugar farms belonged to 41 sydicates.
The four largest Central Guanica, South Puerto Rico, Fajardo Sugars
and East Puerto Rico were US owned and covered more than half of
the islands arable land.
With no money, no crops and no land, Puerto Ricanssought work in
the cities. When Puerto Rican legislature enacted a minimum wage
law like the one in America, the US Supreme Court declared it
unconstitutional. This decision was reached despite AFL-CIO
President Samuel Gompers. testimony that "the salaries paid to Puerto
Ricans are now less than 50% what they recieved from the Spanish."
The US did give Puerto Ricans one gift. Over the objection of
(you guessed it) the Puerto Rican legislature, Puerto Rican citizens
were declared US citizens in 1917, just in time for World War I.
Today's the island's unemployment rate is more than 25% and per
capita income less than half that of Missippi (the lowest of the 50
states) US federal agencies control Puerto Rico's foriegn relations,
customs, immigration, postal system,raio, tv, transportation, Social
Security, military, maritime, laws, banks, currency and defense.
That's without the people of Puerto Rico having a vote in the US
The extent of military control over the island is particurlarly striking.
One cant drive 5 miles in any direction without running into an Army
base, nuclear site or tracking station. The Pentagon controls 13%
of Puerto Rico's land and has five atomic bases.
For decades, the Navy has bombed the Puerto Rican islands of
Culebra and Vieques. This target practice, which continues today,
recently killed a civilian in Vieques.
As we debate clemency to the FALN and watch the manueverings of
political candidates, lets turn off the soap opera for a minute. Lets
calmy look at the facts. Do they give us clues into the heart of an
Independista or the FALN's behavior?
They surely do. In the case of Puerto Rico, the fingerprints of history
have left a very clear trail.
Nelson A. Denis is a Democratic assemblyman representing