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Latino Politics in the U.S.

Latino Politics in the U.S.
Kendall-Hunt, 2012 (2005)

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reflections: March 2 1917: U.S. Citizenship Imposed on Puerto Rican

“Those who forget their history, are condemned to repeat it” Harvard Philosopher, George Santayana (Spain)

March 2, 1917 U.S. imposed U.S. citizenship on Puerto Ricans

A shameful display of ignorance by Puerto Rico's leadership in the Puerto Rican legislature. Asked by Nuevo Dia reporter “What does the U.S. citizenship means to you?” Most rambled and ended making some inane comments, some could not remember which Law made Puerto Rico citizens of the U.S. and some did not even remember the date when that took place. Of those who remembered that it was the Jones Act (Jones-Shafroth), most could not recall who Jones was (Chairman of the Insular Affairs Committee). Colonialism like racism can't only survive with historically knowledgeable people. I am sure no one is taught that on April 15, 1914, a memorial was passed by the only elected legislative body in PR ( (including words expressed earlier by Luis Muñoz Rivera), The House of Delegates, and introduced in the Congressional Record that same year and signed by the speaker Jose de Diego saying: "opposition to being declared, in defiance of our express wish or without our express consent, citizens of any country other than our beloved soil." “We are citizens of Puerto Rico and as such entitled to the protection of the United States...” (Jose A Cabranes, Citizenship and the American Empire, 1979, p. 77) Jose Alberto Cabranes is the first Puerto Rican named as a federal judge, he serves in U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit.

When the act was enacted, Puerto Ricans had no choice, if they did not accept U.S. citizenship they would become foreigners in their own land without being able to participate in the political life of their country. Amilcar Cabral, anti colonial African freedom fighter understood well what the role of cultural and historical amnesia and how empires use it to maintain and perpetuate their control. Just like Franz Fannon said, “...the most powerful weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

"History teaches us that certain circumstances make it very easy for foreign people to impose their dominion. But history also teaches us that no matter what the material aspects of that domination, it can only be preserved by a permanent and organized control of the dominated people's cultural life; otherwise it cannot be definitively implanted without killing a significant part of the population.“

(Amilcar Cabral, 1970)
-----Founder of the liberation organization (PAIGC) in Guinea and Cabo Verde, Africa. Portugal was the colonizing country.

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