The Status Debate as an Example of Nationalist Politics for Puerto Ricans

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The Status Debate as an Example of Nationalist Politics for Puerto Ricans

Puerto Rico and its people have endured a long history filled with colonialism and ambiguous rule. It is a nation whose citizens have endured years of imperial rule, enslavement and forced dependence on other countries for its existence. It is a nation which has changed drastically from the days when Tainoes were the exclusive inhabitants of the island. Unfortunately, Puerto Rico can no longer stand alone as its own country. Years of Spanish colonization have kept many Puerto Ricans at a "blue collar" level. Industrialization of the island, begun when the United States acquired Puerto Rico in the Spanish American War, has gradually forced Puerto Ricans
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With the passage of the Jones-Shaforth Act in 1917, Puerto Ricans were now US Citizens and could travel freely between the island and mainland United States. The US Government made it easy for Puerto Ricans to relocate to New York City by offering very cheap transportation on "Marine whaler" boats. The government also gave tax breaks to companies who would hire the new wave of immigrants mainly located in three areas: "the Brooklyn Navy Yard where cheap labor was in demand; to the Bronx, where an impressive development of small factories sprung from postwar industrialism; or to New York's garment center, where needle trade jobs were being abandoned by the previous generation of immigrants." (Lopez, 1987: 97) Gradually Puerto Ricans spread to other communities in the United States, especially to other areas of New England such as New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. There are also significant Puerto Rican communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Alaska, Hawaii and other western states, formed partly as a result of Puerto Rican soldiers remaining in those areas following their military tours of duty. However the Puerto Rican population in New York City today is larger than the Puerto Rican population of

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