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Unit 4: The Forging of Consensus and the Road to Commonwealth
Transcript of Unit 4: The Forging of Consensus and the Road to Commonwealth
Road to Commonwealth
Life for the majority of Puerto Ricans - Brethren Service Committee in 1945
Land of contrasts - -
Land of the hibiscus (herbs, small trees) or hookworm (parasito – anemia)
1945: 85% - no real property; 75% only barest necessities of life – suffer wants
sick parents, malnutrition, crowded shack – no sanitary facilities.
From 1940 to 1965
Social and Economic Transformation
Collapse of King Sugar
Social and geographic mobility
Highly urbanized society
Bigger middle class
Population of P.R. by 1940
70% rural; 44.7% worked in agriculture;
40% less than 15 years old (young)
poor - - 80% of rural – landless - - - tiempo muerto
net per capita income - - 1930 - $122 - - 1933 - - $85 - - -1940 back to $122
Very small middle class
Top – great landowners, bankers, merchants, high government officials
Small American group of businessmen & bureaucrats
External Problems: world depression, government restrictions with quotas and foreign competition -
Internal problems: insular costs of producing sugar was higher than other places so they depend on U.S. tariffs for protection
Industry survived but the need for agrarian reform was obvious
Rise of the Partido Popular Democrático
Founded: July 22, 1938 Luquillo & Barranquitas
Emblem: Profile of the jibaro with pava
“Pan, Tierra y Libertad” – Agrarian Reform
Roots of the Party:
Pro – Independence wing of the Liberal party
Leaders: fervent social and economic reformers
Experienced legislative leaders; Pro independence intellectuals; farmers – small sugar growers or colonos; men of government experience; able organizers;
Middle or lower middle class – university intelligentsia; small farmers or landowners
Popular Democratic Party
Not Anti – American
Strong sense of regionalism and cultural nationality
Do not believe in americanization
Similar social and economic objectives as the socialists: Land distribution
Unorthodox: walked island – grassroots organizations
Biweekly propaganda organ – El Batey – read to the illiterate
“Verguenza contra dinero” : against absentee owners
Popular Democratic Party
What about the political status?
Will claim status was not an issue in elections.
Believed in Independence but knew the people were afraid
land distribution to break big corporations – and help agregados
Help small farmers with credits and cooperatives
Treat sugar industry as a public utility
Protect coffee and tobacco with a People’s Bank
Social Security, clear slums, educational scholarships
Right to collective bargaining and picketing
Incentives to industries – tax exemption
Elections of 1940
Elections of 1940
Elections of 1940
Universal Suffrage & Closed Polls
Coalition wins 3 districts and Resident Commissioner
Populares won 4 districts – control Senate & tied the House with 18
Unificacion won 3 in the House – balance
Muñoz is able to forge consensus with Socialists and Liberals who share support for their platform
World War II - Caribbean Malta
Importance of P.R. for defense of the Caribbean: National Security
RAINBOW Plan: defenses in Hawaii, Canal Zone, Alaska & Puerto Rico
Defense triangle: Tampa, Panama, PR
Tugwell’s Plan: Commission says drastic reforms were needed – along with defense plans – (A general Caribbean government dominated by US – with welfare agencies was suggested)
Roosevelt’s Plan: Lend – Lease policy: destroyers for bases in British possessions. He rejected buying the islands.
Reactions in Puerto Rico to WWII
American governors : concerned with internal problems and US security. Loyalty was important. Willing to listen to Muñoz & support their objectives.
PPD and Muñoz Marin: wanted social & economic reforms and were willing to postpone status and support the American cause for democracy. Anti Nazis.
PR during World War II
Tenth Naval District Headquarters, San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Antonio Channel is shown at the upper left
Drydock Area, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Administration building (with tower) at right; outfitting and tender piers, upper right.
"The Borinqueneers", was an all-volunteer Puerto Rican Regiment of the United States Army.
65th Infantry Regiment
The Last of the Tutors
Professor of Economics
Part of FDR “Brain Trust” – advisor
Visited island with Eleanor.
Believed in Economic planning but did not like relief programs
Chancellor of the UPR
Became governor of P.R. in 1942
Believes it was responsibility of U.S. the bad conditions
Improves civil service
Established auditing procedures
Helped diversify agriculture and reduce dependence on sugar
Allied with technocrats & did not like partisan politics
Came to help poor & wants PR cooperation in war
Laws passed by PDP Legislature
Land Law - - Land Authority: buy land in excess of 500 acres
Fair farm wages
Gave homestead or subsistence farms to landless peasants
Water, electricity & other facilities for small farms.
Water Resources Authority – 1941
Minimum wage law – 1941
Transportation Authority – 1942
University Reform Law - 1942
Effects of War in the Economy
Fall in shipping tonnage: Problems with food & petroleum
Rise of unemployment - -Economy paralyzed
Dynamic urge for reform - - statutory revolution.
Public Administration System under Tugwell:
Became a Powerful planning agency
Established modern budget organization
Puerto Rico Development Company
Development Bank of Puerto Rico.
Conservative reaction towards Tugwell:
Resentment: Coalicion – felt ignored, could not stop legislation.
Some called him a socialist, communist. More radical than radicals.
Anti – New Deal enemies - - sent congressional committee to investigate
Tugwell’s presentation before the Senate Subcommittee on Territories and Insular Affairs. Feb. 1943
There were Humanitarian & military reason to bring reforms
If reconstruction was not part of his job description - - then Congress was guilty of this because it had created with the Jones Act - - - a colonial system
Tutelage of Congress must end: decide independence or greater autonomy.
U.S. responsible for the success of either. Even if it was statehood
Dissension and Agitation in PR was due to the fact that nobody could guess US intentions with PR
He was the target of accumulated grievances
Until they revise the Jones Act with an elective governor they would have problems. An elected governor would reduce power of political parties
PR was needed in fight against Nazis – Canal defenses
Reforms were necessary: Agricultural improvement, industrialization, end old colonialism – elective governor, policy of assistance, then PR should be permitted to decide.
How was progress achieved during this period? :
Drive for reform & reconstruction
Less problems between governor and legislative branch
What the federal government spent was helping economy
Rum industry growing - due to no European competition
Federal government war activities produced income that helped
There was Capital (money)-
government was setting up infrastructure needed for development .
Who helped? New Generation of Puerto Ricans: - -- Professionals with responsibilities with an unparallelled dedication to Public Service & P R
Jaime Benitez – as chancellor of the UPR – dynamic, great administration
Rafael Picó in planning
Teodoro Moscoso – industrial development
Roberto Sánchez Vilella – administration
These people will work with Tugwell and were committed to the PPD platform
As always nothing happened
Political Parties - Elections of 1944
PPD : “status in not an issue” but . . .
direct consultation at end of war
Republican Union, Liberals, Socialists, - Merge between Liberals & republicans into Progressive Republican Union – coalicion.
Populares won – the 7 senatorial districts, 34 of 35 – Representive districts – every municipality except 4
Elections of 1944
Elections of 1944
Rio Piedras Market 1945 - 47
Mayaguez Market 1948
Ponce Market and street 1940s
Cabo Rojo 1948
San Juan street 1942
Road to Commonwealth
FDR : Made Presidential Commission - Recommendations proposed a bill that was not approved
July 25, 1946: President Truman named Jesús T. Piñero as the first Puerto Rican Governor of the island
August 5, 1947: Congress approved Law 362: Authorizing Puerto Ricans to elect their own governor
Congress also created the post of US Commissioner in PR to supervise the governor and his cabinet
1948: Puerto Rico elects their first governor: Luis Muñoz Marín from the Partido Popular Democrático
Luis Muñoz Marín (Partido Popular Democrático) 392,386 61.2%
Martín Travieso (Partido Estadista Puertorriqueño) 89,441 14.0%
Martín Travieso (Partido Socialista) 64,396 10.1%
Martín Travieso (Partido Reformista Puertorriqueño) 29,140 4.5%
Martín Travieso (Total Combinado) 182,977 28.6%
Francisco M. Susoni (Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño) 65,351 10.2%
Jesús T. Piñero
Born in Carolina – 1897
UPR & U. Penn Engineer
Agriculture: Sugar cane & dairy
1928: Starts political career – municipal gov.
One of the Founders of the PDP
When Tugwell announces he will resign – 1945
Elective governor & referendum or
Appoint a native Puerto Rican.
Piñero was Resident Commisioner. – considered first and best choice.
Truman signing the law making the Governorship elective
Truman visiting PR in 1948
New Tydings Bill – 1943
Less punitive Independence bill: 20 years – 5% yearly increase in trade tariff - Independence advocates enthusiastic . . . not passed
First Pro – Independence Congress was held - - with PDP leaders among them
Gilberto Concepción de Gracia – leader of Pro Independence Congress
New friend of independence in NY – Congressman Vito Marcantonio
Another Tydings bill in 1945 produces discussion of status issue again
Rift between Muñoz and the Pro Independence Congress
Muñoz challenges the Congress in 1946 to go to the polls accusing them of sabotaging his program.
October 27, 1946: Congress dissolves and the PIP is established.
The establishement of the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño
Immediate sovereignty through elections
Joint Resolution demand independence and a commission to negotiate.
Oppose revolutionary action
Criticize colonialism but not violently anti – American
Leaders were : professionals, middle class, some labor activists, intellectual circles
Governor Muñoz Marin and the Resident Commissioner Dr. Antonio Fernós Insern start working to obtain more autonomy for PR
ONU - United Nations created in 1945 - Under their constitution Article 73 - - Nations had agreed that countries that controlled colonies must provide them with the opportunity to develop their self - government. They must report on what they were doing. Puerto Rico was on that list of colonial territories
Embarrassment to the U.S.
Cold War: Soviet Union will criticize US colonial power
Example for Latin America
1950: U.S. Congress approved - Ley 600:
Puerto Ricans must approve in a referendum this law that permitted the Puerto Ricans to write their own constitution.
They would convoke a Constitutional Assembly of elected members - which will write a constitution.
Constitution would be sent to the US President and the US Congress to approve.
Another referendum in PR would approve the constitution
Muñoz Marín Speech
Inauguration of the Estado Libre Asociado - Commonwealth
92 delegates: 70PDP, 15 PEP, 7 PS - - - PIP did not participate in election
After 5 months and serious controversies - consensus was reached
March 3, 1952 Referendum: Puerto Ricans approved the Constitution
82% of electors voted in favor of the Constitution.
President Harry S. Truman - approved it
Congress had problems with Article 2: the Bill of Rights - Section 20: Contained the rights included in the Bill of Rights of the United Nations Organization - considered too revolutionary - - asked PR to amend this. They also asked to clarify the concept of Estado Libre Asociado - and the right to change the constitution - the fact that it was a compact.
Antonio Fernós our Resident Commissioner achieved a Compromise by proposing an amendment that said that any change to the Constitution would have to be consistent with US constitution and the Federal Relation Act & Ley 600 – but still a compact
Established a Democratic republican government with three separate branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial.
Executive: elected Governor every four years - enforce laws, convene special sessions of the legislature, approve laws , name government officials, present an annual budgetary report on the situation of the country. He is the commander of the National Guard
Legislative Branch: Senate and House of Representatives - elected by district and some elected by accumulation.
Judicial Branch: Supreme Court and Minor Courts - named by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. Originally made up of one chief Justice and 6 associate justices.
Federal Court - - only on federal issues
June 4, 1951
76.5% voted in favor.
65% of inscribed voters
PIP & Nacionalistas opposed it
PEP - statehooders were divided about the issue and permitted their members to decide
PS - socialists voted in favor
To what extent did the Law 600 alter the colonial condition of Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico would still be a unincorporated territory of the U.S. under the jurisdiction of the Federal Congress.
It was a bi - lateral covenant - contract between the island and the metropolis, government by consent - - an associated territory.
The President and the Congress had to approve the Puerto Rican constitution.
Did not change the Federal Relations Law - - the power of the U.S. over the island was maintained:
Free access of US product to the insular market.
Cabotage laws (shipping) - we would still have to use US merchant ships to import goods
Federal control over immigration, post office, communications, currency, customs.
Pro statehood and pro independence will claim that Federal Government could intervene in the internal affairs of the island. - - it was not a contract between equals.
It did give the Puerto Ricans the opportunity to express themselves on the relations with the US and to write their own Constitution and to control their local administration.
Since it is a Compact - an agreement is needed if you want to change it, mutual consent.
Limits power of Congress & sets a new form of federal relationship – permanent
Link of citizenship but PR would maintain its personality.
Antonio Fernós Insern was the President of the Convention
María Libertad Gómez was the only woman in the Constitutional Convention - First Vice President - acted as President in many occasions
July 25, 1952
The government of PR and US wants UN to eliminate PR from list of colonies
Idea of Compact that cannot be changed without consent by both sides makes it a voluntary association – so island had obtained a “full measure of self – government.
Dr. Fernós with the US delegation request the UN to consider PR an autonomy.
They invite members of Latin America to see PR - - Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Chile support the measure – 26 to 16 (18 abstentions)
General Assembly - Resolution 748 - Since PR was autonomous it would be taken out – if either party wants to reconsider this they will. PR had freely and voluntarily exercised their right to self-determination
Victory for Muñoz and his government: their interpretation of compact with mutual consent
The Commonwealth and the United Nations
Felt short of the dream of “Dominion” - - (Canadian style)
Some areas were not well defined and will be interpreted differently.
Draft was written by Puerto Ricans in 1949 – knowing that the US Congress was conservative and would not approve other alternatives.
It was describes as : “A new kind of statehood” – a political mutation – “an example for the hemisphere”
“a model for a world federating more and more dissimilar cultures into less and less great fraternal units”
Congress will discuss the bill during 1950 – opposed by those who favor independence or statehood.
Ley de la Mordaza
1948 - 1957
Law 53 of 1948: Gag Law
Passed by legislature presided by Muñoz Marin and
Government had the legal rights to arrest anyone suspected of conspiring against the public safety
It was a crime to print, publish, sell, or exhibit any material intended to paralyze or destroy the insular government; or to organize any society, group or assembly of people with a similar destructive intent. Anyone accused and found guilty of disobeying the law could be sentenced to ten years imprisonment, a fine of $10,000 dollar or both.
Copied from Smith Act in the U.S. during the Cold War as part of the Truman Doctrine
Used against Nationalists and Independence movements in the island. It basically made it illegal to display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic tune, to talk of independence, and to fight for the liberation of the island.
1957 - Declared unconstitutional
Nationalist Revolution of 1950
October 30, 1950
Pedro Albizu Campos was back in PR after 10 years in a US jail.
The “gag law” prohibited the promoting independence, the flag, liberation of the island etc.
Nationalists were building support from Latin America – anti American groups
Nationalists were against the establishment of the “free associated state” and wanted to stop registration for elections. Wanted to attract attention to PR
On October 30, the nationalists staged uprisings in the towns of Ponce, Mayaguez, Naranjito, Arecibo, Utuado, San Juan, and Jayuya
November 1, 1950 militant Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola attempt to kill President Truman while the president resided at Blair House during the renovation of the White House.
Nationalists Revolution 1950
October 30, 1950
Revolutionaries were able to take Jayuya and declared it a Republic (Blanca Canales leader)
Police and PR National Guard was used to get back the towns. (including air attacks)
33 people were killed. Albizu and all the leaders of the Nationalist Party were jailed.
It did not stop the registration of voters.
In Latin America the impression was that this was a popular revolt.
News of this revolt were downplayed in US as simply a local Puerto Ricans vs. Puerto Ricans.
Truman will not use these events against PR, there is no "public spanking" or Tydings bill to punish
Attack to Blair House
1943: Tugwell and Roosevelt asked Congress to: amend Jones Act – with an elective governor