We could go further into that history, reflect on it, for whatever political, social, or cultural reasons, and we would go into even more visible, broader, and deeper levels.
Few people assess with a wealth of historical justice the roles of human, zoological, and botanical laboratory that the West Indies portrayed at the beginning of Western colonization. Suffice to read a novel such as Enriquillo by Manuel Jesús Galván to ponder those events. I have no doubt that the West Indies are the most American lands in America.
European conflict in the Caribbean is, without a doubt, very visible in our days with the presence of the French in Martinique, the English in Jamaica, and the Dutch in Curaçao. But it was Spain who took the initiative in achieving the great deeds of the times. Since then, social demonstrations of great importance such as piracy, monoculture, and crossbreeding became established here. Such peculiar realities are reflected in the first West Indian work of America's epic cycle —Espejo de paciencia (Mirror of patience).
The projections of the 18th century French Revolution gave new political physiognomy to the nations that had formed in America. All of that was too visible to go unnoticed. Those spirits came into our home in the 19th century: autonomist or separatist spirit, the event of 1897.
The events of 1898 interrupted Puerto Rico's historical evolution.
In his valuable book titled Idioma y Política, Alfonso L. García Martínez identifies three realities: English is used as an Americanization tool; Puerto Ricans struggle to preserve their language; failure of bilingualismbilingualism: The habitual use of two languages in the same region or by the same person. at the popular level.
On October 26, 1898, we began to use English as the official language. The situation continued with the Foraker Act (1900-1917). There is still a ghost hanging around of a language law approved in 1902. But the truth is that from the people's point of view, bilingualism does not exist among us.
The United States found in Puerto Rico what it did not find in Hawaii or Alaska: mass population in a small territory, cultural homogeneity. Forced emigration due to economic reasons began at the beginning of the century but, in general, Puerto Ricans continue to be Puerto Rican.
I believe that establishing Camp Las Casas in 1917 defined the migratory trend: first from the country to the city or the village, then to the United States. These internal migrations accented crossbreeding. We are yet to see what permanent influence migratory transit between Puerto Rico and the United States will have. And…what kind of cultural penetration Cable TV will have?
During the twelve to fourteen years after 1898, there was a great cultural silence in Puerto Rico. Zeno Gandía himself, who had promised a series of novels after publishing La Charca and Garduña, was also quiet.
I imagine that when Revista de las Antillas appeared in 1913 the silence was broken. Latin American faith guides the steps of the fourteen marvelous issues of Revista de las Antillas. This is where the revision of our cultural assets begins. We were saved because they were unable to dominate us from within.
I am not surprised by the Hispanophilia Pedreira is accused of as intellectual leader of the Generation of the 1930s. Because of the social, cultural, and political realities I mentioned before, we could understand that Hispanic culture was used as a means of stopping the progress of Americanization. The situation is very understandable and it is necessary to see it in the context of the time. It is very likely that if Pedreira, who died at an early age, had lived longer, would have calmed his judgment. Pedro Henríquez Ureña was also quite a Hispanophile, but he was, at the same time, a continental American teacher. The reviewing spirit of the intellectuals of the Generation of the 1930s, who initially had Revista lndice as their voice, is too obvious to be doubted. There was broad incentive to work on research and for artistic creation, including music and visual arts. No one can deny the generation's genuine Puerto Rican interest. I think it was Leopardi who said that people are ridiculous only when they want to seem or be what they are not. We could differ from any or all of Pedreira's ideological positions, but I have no doubt that he did outstanding teaching work.
From the collective cultural point of view, there could be clearly positive and also negative opinions about the surprising socio-economic changes that came after the 1940s. What doubt is there that the children of old farm workers and day laborers won: professional opportunities and jobs that were previously reserved for a handful of families were now spread among them. Public schools could be accused of many mistakes, except for not complying with the postulate of social leveling.
However, from extreme poverty we jumped to senseless consumerism and we still wanted to dump a continent into the narrow grounds of an island. I figure that liberty to ruin consumers should not be a practice of democracy.
Above all, dependency is institutionalized which, in the end, is as depressing as poverty itself. Not even the founding of the Commonwealth in 1952 canceled the detestable ambiguity of our relationship with the powerful industrial country. Since then, the metropolis deliberately closes the possible path to political growth.
The task the Institute of Culture took on since its founding in 1955 was that of making our national expression flow through multiple media outlets. We were fortunate to have the will of creative work of a humanized man of science: Ricardo Alegría. There is emphasis on finding the true origins of our population's composition. Literary expressions —particularly theater— acquire unsuspected emphasis; craftwork, restoration of old architectural monuments, all the arts, investigation publications, museums, among many other acts of education and culture are sponsored. Above all, there was the proliferation of houses of culture. We do not only think of the capital, but of the entire island.
But the ambiguity of our political relationship with the United States does not diminish. The February 8, 1960 edition of Time Magazine recounts that in 1955 —year when the Institute of Culture was founded— Luis Muñoz Marín invited the president of Costa Rica, Mr. José Figueres, to Puerto Rico, where Rómulo Betancourt, a friend of both lived. Mr. Henry Holland, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs, quickly called Luis Muñoz Marín on the telephone (and was insistent) for him to get Betancourt out of Puerto Rico while Figueres was visiting here. The future president of Venezuela had to leave. Naturally, the United States did not want to annoy Dictator Pérez Jiménez, who was then governing Venezuela.
Even if it seems that there is much emphasis on a situation like this, it is an example of the political ambiguity I have referred to before.
By the way, few works of literature in the world are as free and independent as American Literature, whose most distinguished figures —Whitman, Faulkner, Hemingway, O'Neill, Tennessee Williams— have much influenced our arts. It is not surprising that that influence reached writers of ours that have been characterized by their pro-independence convictions.
According to the statistics, in the United States, 10 percent of the population handles for themselves goods that total what the poor receive, 50 percent. The most opulent families —1.2 percent — own almost 32.5 times more goods. That explains, in great part, the decisions made by the federal government to protect sources of raw materials to benefit the large industries.
Version: 09052201 Rev. 1