Puerto Ricans Relations with Us

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The beginnings of the relations between Puerto Ricans and the United States can be traced back to 1898, when Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. When the United States acquired the island in 1898, American influence was added to culture. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship with the enactment of the Jones Act. Since 1952 the island of Puerto Rico has functioned as a self-governing territory of the United States pursuant to a Commonwealth Constitution authorized by the United States Congress.

Puerto Ricans began moving to the mainland United States in the early 1940's seeking better economic conditions and job opportunities made possible by US manufacturing companies needing workers to satisfy wartime production. In the early 1940’s, the Puerto Rican economy had been devastated by the sugar cartel’s development of a single crop export economy, which prevented broader trade agreements with other Latin American nations. More incentive was needed to attract US private capital, so a special tax was arranged by the US. Operation Bootstrap encouraged the influx of capital into industrial production with the purpose of siphoning off sugar profits for the mainland. Because of the boom caused by this, not enough jobs were available, which resulted in emigration to the US. The emigration benefitted the US though, because it forced Puerto Ricans to accept migrant work.

Due to the stock market crash of 1929, bank failures and American business failures, Puerto Ricans in New York were greatly affected by the Great Depression. Unemployment struck, tariffs were raised, international trade was reduced, and many were even left homeless. The Foraker Act established a civil government and free commerce between the island and the US. The act transformed Puerto Rico’s agricultural economy into a sugar monoculture economy. American sugar companies had an advantage over the local sugar plantation owners and high tariffs were now...
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