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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Herman Badillo: The Godfather of Mainland Puerto Rican Politics

Herman Badillo (seen on the left) was the first Puerto Rican elected to U.S. Congress in 1970 when he won a seat in the House of Representatives from the district that contained parts of the South Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. He was successful in gaining support not only from his Puerto Rican consituents, but from blacks and whites as well due to his position as a reform Democrat, a faction of the Democrats that considered middle-class objectives its priority. (Baver, 46-49) Previously, he had served as the Bronx borough president from 1966-1969 and attempted to run for New York City mayor during the 1960s and 1970s.

One of the key aspects of his policy was his continued involvement with the island of Puerto Rico. Shortly after his election, he flew to San Juan where he pledged "to help Puerto Rico get its full share of federal funds." The support went both ways, since Badillo was greatly aided by support from Puerto Rico's Governor Rafael Hernandez Colon in his 1976 campaign for re-election to the House. (Baver, 49, 51) This showed the key role that the island still played in mainland life for many Puerto Ricans. In a surprise move, he stepped down from his seat in 1978 in order to move into a prominent role on the mayoral staff of New York City Mayor David Koch as Deputy Mayor for Management. Badillo supported fellow Puerto Rican, Robert Garcia, who was in the New York State Senate, to take his seat and Garcia subsequently won the special election. Support from Badillo became a critical thing for young Puerto Ricans hoping to make a name for themselves in the political arena. But after Badillo resigned after a transfer to Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, not everyone was disappointed, because his "dominance among Puerto Rican officials has hindered the development of a larger, broader leadership." (Baver, 53)

Developing a broader leadership had been a problem plaguing the Puerto Rican community even before Badillo became its representative. Machine politics were prevalent in most New York Puerto Rican communities despite the fact that machines as a whole were on the decline. This discrepancy was due to the need for federal aid money and the dependency on local organizations for that money in Puerto Rican communities. This led to these organizations being looked to for assistance instead of the government and, not surprisingly, led to an incredible amount of corruption. They also did little to improve the communities because "machine politics maintain a typically poor, ill-informed electorate." (Baver, 47-48) If people became informed and/or no longer poor, machines would quickly be seen as counterproductive to the needs of the people and thus they were most concerned with maintaining the status quo and keeping their own localized power.

One of the legacies of Herman Badillo's political efforts was his fight against the corruption in local Puerto Rican organizations that controlled money and used it for their own purposes instead of its intended uses within the community. Another legacy was his connection with the Democratic Party leading to a huge majority of future Puerto Rican politicians in the United States aligning themselves with it. This was a significant change because the Democrats originally ignored the Puerto Ricans for decades after they arrived in the United States, and seemingly becoming the party of white immigrants only. Puerto Ricans, were viewed as "a threat to the city's white population" despite the fact they were American citizens. (Baver, 44-45, 53)

Works Cited:

Baver, Sherrie. "Puerto Rican Politics in New York City: The Post-World War II Period." In Puerto Rican Politics in Urban America, ed. James Jennings and Monte Rivera, 43-55. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1984.

"Herman Badillo." Photograph. (n.d.) From Office of the Historian. http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/congress/badillo.html (Accessed December 13, 2009).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009



Jean Wyclef, Carlos Ponce, and Olga Tanon-Nuestro Himino. Retrieved December 11, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4gP_pSOCz4.

The Rise of Two Party Politics in Puerto Rico

Following Luis Munoz Marin’s decision to not seek reelection in office in 1965,Marin’s right hand man and chief legislative assistant, Roberto Sánchez Vilella, was elected into Puerto Rico’s governorship. With Marin’s support, Vilella won a massive victory, capturing sixty percent of the ballots (Thomas 1997). He was governor from 1965 to 1969 during which time he created an “extensive program for the construction of hospitals and regional health centers throughout the island” (Fusté-Lacourt 2005). Vilella also supported agricultural reform and helped to create the Highways Authority. However, what he is most known for is instigating the split of the PDP, the party which he began his role in government with and helped to build up under Luis Munoz Marin.

Encouraged by Marin, Vilella announced that he would not run in the 1969 elections after a then scandalous affair with Jeannette Ramos Buonomo, the legislative assistant whom he eventually divorced his wife in order to marry. However, Vilella surprised the public by changing his mind when his term was over and announcing his intention to run-- this time under a political party of his own creation: the Popular Party. The reasoning behind Vilella's sudden split from the PDP was supposedly the emphasis that he placed on the need for the mobilization of the younger generation and their entrance into politics. Though Vilella was heartily defeated in the 1969 elections and though the Popular Party is no longer in existence today, the creation of the Popular Party marked an important turning point in Puerto Rican politics. The 1969 elections marked the first victory for the New Progressive Party and the first loss that the Popular Democratic Party had ever experienced. What's more, the margin of victory for the PNP was quite small, smaller than the number of votes that the Popular Party received in that year. Ever since then, Puerto Rico has been considered a two party system with the governorship of the country shifting back and forth between the PNP and PDP ever since.

2 Jan 1965 - 2 Jan 1969 Roberto Sánchez Vilella PPD
2 Jan 1969 - 2 Jan 1973 Luis Alberto Ferré Aguayo PNP
2 Jan 1973 - 2 Jan 1977 Rafael Hernández Colón (1st time) PPD
2 Jan 1977 - 2 Jan 1985 Carlos Antonio Romero Barceló PNP
2 Jan 1985 - 2 Jan 1993 Rafael Hernández Colón (2nd time) PPD
2 Jan 1993 - 2 Jan 2001 Pedro Juan Rosselló González PNP
2 Jan 2001 - 2 Jan 2005 Sila María Calderón (f) PPD
2 Jan 2005 - 2 Jan 2009 Aníbal Acevedo Vilá PPD
2 Jan 2009 - Incumbent Luis Guillermo Fortuño Burset PNP
(World Statesmen.org)

Thomas, Robert . 1997. Roberto Sanchez Vilella, 84, Puerto Rican Governor, Dies. New York Times (March 26), http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/26/us/roberto-sanchez-vilella-84-puerto-rican-governor-dies.html (accessed 15 December 2009).

Fusté-Lacourt, Luis. 2005. 14th Legislature of Puerto Rico, 6th Session, 11 April. http://www.oslpr.org/download/en/2004/0019.pdf (accessed 15 December 2009).

Ben Cahoon. Puerto Rico. World Statesmen.org. http://worldstatesmen.org/Puerto_Rico.html (accessed 15 December 2009).

Sánchez Vilella, político puertorriqueño. (image). Hegemonía del Partido Popular (1944-1968) http://ve.kalipedia.com/historia-puertorico/tema/estado-libre-asociado-siglo-xxi/roberto-sanchez-vilella.html?x1=20080805klphishpr_12.Kes&x=20080805klphishpr_14.Kes 16 December 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Puerto Rican Migration to the United States

Puerto Ricans largely began migrating in the United States shortly after World War II; this period was known as the Great Migration. The population on the island was increasing substantially, and the amount of people living below the poverty line greatly increased as well (as a direct result of the growing population and limited resources). Migration was seen as a partial solution to this population problem. Many Puerto Ricans began migrating to the U.S. via jet planes, which provided faster, cheaper transportation that was being utilized for the first time by the public. “Migration has been an important aspect of Puerto Rico’s economic development for the past four decades. Unfortunately, the only source of historical data on the migratory flows is the net flow of passengers at the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the 1950s, there was an annual average outflow of 45,800 passengers. This outflow decreased on an average of 27,300 between 1960 and 1969 and 24,300 between 1970 and 1979” (Borjas, George J. and Richard B. Freeman 1992, pgs. 2-52). As migration continued people were coming for various different reasons,

but one of the most important reasons was because of the economic advantage. Jobs were more abundant in the United States than in Puerto Rico, the average wage was considerably higher, and economic prospects and opportunities for improvement were generally greater. “In addition to reducing the population, policy makers hoped to foster more dispersed settlement in the States and to temper the hostility Puerto Ricans were encountering, especially in New York City. Policy makers then turned to a contract labor program…With the farm labor program, the goals of Puerto Rico’s policy makers intersected with U.S. policy maker’ and employers’ search for cheap seasonal agricultural labor” (Carmen Teresa Whalen 2001, pgs. 55-56). Although the labor companies in the United States usually gave most of their jobs to men, Puerto Rican women also entered the work force upon their arrival in the United States. "Hard-working Puerto Rican women were especially welcomed in the garment district shops. The city [New York City] also provided the sort of low-skilled service industry jobs that non-English speakers needed to make a living on the mainland" (Green 2009). Jobs were abundant, especially for those willing to be put through rigorous work, long hours, and less-than-standard work conditions.

Citations:

Borjas, George J. and Richard B. Freeman. Immigration and the Work Force: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Emigration from Puerto Rico (image). http://lcw.lehman.edu/lehman/depts/latinampuertorican/latinoweb/PuertoRico/1950s.h10 December 2009.


Green, Derek. "Puerto Rican Americans." Advameg Inc. http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Pa-Sp/Puerto-Rican-Americans.html (accessed December 13, 2009)


Puerto Rican Migration Patterns, 1995-2000 (graphic by Angelo Falcón) (image). http://www.answers.com/topic/puerto-ricans-in-the-united-states-1. 10 December 2009.


Whalen, Carmen Teresa. From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia: Puerto Rican Workers and Postwar Economies. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Puerto Rican Political Status: Developments of Recent Years



The above video is a brief but accurate overview of Puerto Rico's political status as of 2007. Since the video had been released in 2007, it is slightly dated in some respects. For one, the act mentioned, H.R. 900, did not develop into anything and it has been re-introduced as H.R. 2499 in May of 2009 by Jose E. Serrano of New York. The contents of this new bill call for an open vote on Puerto Rico's status conducted as follows:

One question asks people to vote whether the status quo should remain or if some change should occur. If the status quo option gains a majority, the vote will take place again after eight more years in order to keep re-evaluating the position of the island voters to ensure their needs for self-determination are met.

The next question goes into detail about what sort of change needs to be done. There are 3 options presented: Statehood, Free Association on Sovereign nations not subject to the Territory Clause of the United States (a clause in which Puerto Rico is subject to currently and which is in large part to blame for why it is considered a colony by some), or independence. The territorial clause gives the United States ultimate sovereignty over Puerto Rico meaning U.S. Congress can legislate for Puerto Rico whenever it deems the circumstances appropriate as well as revoke any privileges including citizenship at its discretion.

These elections, known as plebiscites, would enable anyone capable of voting for regular Puerto Rican elections to be eligible to vote in the plebiscite. Also, all United States citizens who lack the residency requirement would be allowed to partake via an absentee ballot. The inclusion of mainland Puerto Ricans is a new concept for the plebiscite, which previously had "succeeded in the exclusion of Puerto Rico's huge diaspora from any role in the vote." (Flores, 222)

What makes this plebiscite different from ones in the past? For one, it would have United States recognition and that would mean any result from it would be honored. This has not been true in the past and may have contributed to the lackluster voter turnouts in 1993 and 1998 where any winning result was not guaranteed to ultimately matter. Former Puerto Rican President of the Senate Kenneth McClintock noted in the video that regular Puerto Rican elections had 83-85% voter turnout while the plebiscites hovered around only 70% participation. According to him, many interviewed about why they did not vote replied with the rationale that their vote simply would not matter. (Fennell) Also, in those plebiscites there was confusion over some of the options leading to worthless results. In 1998 there were 5 options: Territorial Commonwealth, Free Association, Statehood, Independent, and none of the above. In these plebiscites the results were (numbers supplied by Report from President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status December 2005, page 4):

1993:
Commonwealth 826,326 (48.6%)
Statehood 788,296 (46.3%)
Independence 75,620 (4.4%)
Blank and Void 10,748 (0.7%)

1998:
“Territorial” Commonwealth 993 (0.06%)
Free Association 4536 (0.29%)
Statehood 728157 (46.49%)
Independence 39838 (2.54%)
None of the Above 787900 (50.30%)
Blank and Void Ballots 4846 (0.31%)

The Map on the right (click to make larger) illustrates the result distribution of statehood (blue) and "none of the above" (red) in the 1998 plebiscite. Very few areas were overwhelmingly in favor of one over the other with Sabanas Grande in the Southwest having the largest gap with "none of the above" receiving 60.5% of the vote compared to the just 36.9% in favor of statehood (Kireev).

The Task Force concluded that the prevalence of people voting for "none of the above" was due to the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), which favored continued commonwealth status but was weary of the "territorial" modifier. As a result, "none of the above," an option that does not even address the question, was the winner. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see that statehood and commonwealth were preferred by a large margin over independence.

Juan Flores, a Puerto Rican scholar, offered another perspective on this 1998 plebiscite in his book From Bomba to Hip-Hop. He not only saw the phrasing of the questions as problematic, but also took exception with the entire process. Flores wrote "the devious tactic of framing the country's political alternatives as a multiple-choice question backfired" and that saw the splitting of the commonwealth option into two categories and the addition of "none of the above" as a way of "further marginalizing the independence vote." (Flores, 222) The merits of this claim are debatable because independence did not receive a substantial vote in the more basic 1993 plebiscite. The independence voice was echoed in the video, however, by many people in 1993 saying "I am Puerto Rican, not American," but it was then made clear that these were a minority speaking and their sentiments were not shared by the majority of Puerto Rico. (Fennell)

Nevertheless, "none of the above" generated differing interpretations between the political parties favoring independence, statehood, and commonwealth status as a result of its vagueness. Statehood saw the 1998 plebiscite as a victory for them because "none of the above" was taken to be the equivalent of a null vote; pro-Commonwealth PDP leaders interpreted it to mean an objection to statehood and thus in their favor; and pro-Independence "[noted] the defiance implicit in the favored option [and] took the outcome as demonstration of the generalized public distaste among Puerto Ricans for the corrupt machinations of colonial politics as such." (Flores 223)

Kenneth McClintock argued that statehood is a necessary step for Puerto Rico to emerge from its poor economic conditions where the per capita annual income is under $6000 and it desperately needs the economic model of states within the United States. This model includes tax credits for the working-poor to keep them working and the expansion of the full range of social services, such as social security, to include the island of Puerto Rico. He cited Hawaii and Alaska as examples of the economic benefits that could be had by inclusion into the United States. Puerto Rico would also be able to vote and have a voting member in US Congress if it were included, but they would also now be subject to federal taxation. (Fennell)


Juan Flores noted that these positive feelings about the addition of Puerto Rico as the fifty-first state were not shared by all on the mainland. Don Feder of the Boston Herald referred to Puerto Rico as a "Caribbean Dogpatch" that was "impoverished [and] crime-ridden" and laden with "non-English speakers." (Flores 224) Feder even classified Puerto Ricans within the United States as "unassimiliable" and extrapolated this to mean that Puerto Rico would then be "an unassimilable state." He used the slums where many Puerto Ricans live within the United States as an example of why he deemed the island a "dogpatch" and why it would be nonsensical to add Puerto Rico as a state. (Flores 225)

It is apparent that there is much conflict around what should happen with Puerto Rico's status in Puerto Rico itself. However, this conflict also exists within the United States. A 1998 Gallup Poll conducted in the United States had the following results (Gallup, 40):

Statehood 30%
Independent 28%
Remain US Territory 26%
Other/No Opinion 16%

This poll also found that despite the clear differences in opinion, 60% of respondents would accept an outcome decided by a Puerto Rican plebiscite. (Gallup, 41) But conducting a plebiscite with both U.S. Congressional support as well as support from Puerto Rico has been a struggle, as seen in the above examples in 1993 and, especially, 1998. Issues such as the wording of the choices and who can and who cannot participate need to be resolved before any plebiscite will have a chance at succeeding.

H.R. 2499 addresses most of these issues, but the problem has been getting U.S. Congress to make any semblance of movement on the issue. Most recent attempts, such as H.R. 900 mentioned in the video, have simply stalled and not amounted to any change or even substantial discussion within U.S. Congress. H.R. 2499 does have some support within the House of Representatives, with 60 more cosponsors than H.R. 900, and it did get referred to the House of Representatives for discussion by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. This exhibits that there is a chance for this bill to finally get the discussion necessary for some form of action to be taken concerning Puerto Ricos status.



Sources:

CN8 TV. Art Fennell Reports- Puerto Rico: the 51st State?. Retrieved December 1, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuU5KKYvqpw.

"Demonstrating for Statehood, San Juan, Puerto Rico." Photograph. (n.d.) From The Fact Checker. http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2008/02/will_puerto_rico_decide_everyt.html (Accessed December 13, 2009).

Flores, Juan. From Bomba to Hip-Hop. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. pp. 222-225.

Gallup, George Horace. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion, 1998. Wilmington: The Gallup Organization, 1999. pp. 40-41.

Kireev, Alex. "Puerto Rico Status Plebiscite 1998." Electoral Geography 2.0. http://www.electoralgeography.com/new/en/countries/p/puerto-rico/puerto-rico-status-plebiscite-1998.html (Accessed December 13, 2009).

President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status. Report by the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status, December 2005. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2005.

Kireev, Alex. "Puerto Rico Status Plebiscite 1998." Map. From Electoral Geography 2.0. http://www.electoralgeography.com/new/en/countries/p/puerto-rico/puerto-rico-status-plebiscite-1998.html (Accessed December 13, 2009).

U.S. Congress. House. Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009. 111th Cong., 1st sess., H.R. 2499.

Marín and the Popular Democratic Party


Puerto Rico's first political parties were formed in 1869, prior to American rule. Since then, many political parties have been created in and have disappeared from the island's political landscape. The oldest of the currently active political parties is The Popular Democratic Party. This party was formed in 1938 by Luis Muñoz Marín who, at its head throughout his career, accomplished a great deal in the service of Puerto Rico.

Luis Muñoz Marín formed the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) immediately following his ejection from the Liberal Party in 1937. The reasons for his dismissal being his independent convictions, as a result, one might expect independence for Puerto Rico to be a major platform of the PDP (Encyclopedia Britannica Online). However, though a majority of the party leaders at the time of the party's inception were independentista, Puerto Rican independence was never in any of its formal declarations or acts. In fact, by 1946 Marín declared that for Puerto Rico to be given its independence would be disastrous because of the loss of "economic privileges" that came with association to the United States (Anderson 1965, 59).

Under the leadership of Marín, the PDP made several spectacular achievements. Some of its earliest victories concerned improving the poor conditions of the lower class on the island. Between 1940 and 1944, with permission from the governor, Guy Tugwell, the PDP enacted "such economic reforms as redistributing land, enforcing labor laws (notably those regarding minimum wages and maximum hours), instituting a progressive income tax, and establishing an economic development program" (Encyclopedia Britannica). In November of 1948 Puerto Rico was allowed its first governor election by popular vote, and Muñoz Marín's successful implementation of these many programs helped lead him into Governorship. In January of 1949 Muñoz Marín took office.

Marín served four terms in the Governorship of Puerto Rico, before refusing to run for a fifth term, and returning to his seat in the Senate. During those years Marín and the PDP accomplished three significant political feats. The first victory took place in 1947, with the passage of the Industrial Incentives Act, which put Operation Bootstrap into motion. This act encouraged industrialization through tax breaks and the elimination of income taxes for investors from outside of Puerto Rico who built factories on the island. Its effect was to bring in 27,000 new jobs between 1950 and 1960; however, this was not enough to offset the job loss in the sugarcane and home needle industry that the country experienced during that time (Lehman University, Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies). At the same time, increasing industrialization caused environmental damage through pollution, and the removal of vegetation for highways and factories-- a problem for both the health of the island's people and the health of its important tourism industry.

Despite its aforementioned effects, what Marín feared most were the effects that placing emphasis solely on monetary and industrial rewards would have on the cultural values of Puerto Rico's population. Concerning this he said "The supreme utility is freedom with reasonable comfort. The human being should have a passionate w[i]sh to be free rather than a passionate wish to be a possessor..." (TIME 1958, 8).With this in mind, Governor Marín went about enacting Operation Serenity, a government program aimed at helping the people of Puerto Rico to hold on to their identity and their cultural values.

However, what was perhaps the most important accomplishment of Marín's career as Governor, was the progression of Puerto Rico's status to that of a commonwealth. In 1950, Marín viewed this status as superior to either independence or statehood, and to this day the PDP continues to support commonwealth status as the optimal one for Puerto Rico. However, not all Puerto Ricans viewed the new status of the island in the same light. Attempts were made on both the lives of Governor Marín and President Truman by members of the Nationalist party following President Truman's November 1950 signing of the bill that officially transformed Puerto Rico into a commonwealth.

Anderson, Robert. 1965. Party Politics in Puerto Rico. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

"Luis Muñoz Marín." Encyclopedia Britannica, online edition. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/397620/Luis-Munoz-Marin

1958. PUERTO RICO: The Bard of the Bootstrap. TIME Magazine (June 23), http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,810360-1,00.html (accessed 1 December 2009).

Lehman University, Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Sudies. Operation Bootstrap.
http://lcw.lehman.edu/lehman/depts/latinampuertorican/latinoweb/PuertoRico/Bootst rap.htm

Luis Muñoz Marín at podium. (image). Matt and Kate's Wedding 1 December 2009.

Puerto Rico's Governor Muñoz Marín. (image). PUERTO RICO: the Bard of the Bootstrap 1 December 2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Puerto Ricans and Public Policy



Puerto Ricans, while liminal in status (of citizenship), have influenced many changes of public policy in both the United States and Puerto Rico. A large amount of changes and additions made as a result of Puerto Ricans could be separated into two main categories: migration and community services.


Migration Policies/Organization:

While the Puerto Rican government publicly acknowledged a policy that neither encouraged nor discouraged migration to the United States, it still considered migration an effective means for relieving unemployment and overpopulation on the island. This interest waned in the post World War II period, as agricultural and industrial employment opened up in the United States (Maldonado 1979, 103-121). One of the largest changes regarding migration was the creation of the Migration Division in the Department of Labor in Puerto Rico in 1951. The Migration Division was created as a result of great numbers of Puerto Ricans emigrating to the United States. It assisted and organized these emigrants on the mainland. A major function of this division was to facilitate the transition for Puerto Ricans from life on the island to life on the mainland and encouraging assimilation was their means for accomplishing this. The Migration Division told many Puerto Ricans that they should assimilate into American culture by learning the English language, learning the customs and traditions, and adopting middle-class morals and notions (Mora 2009).

In addition, the Migration Division also acted like an overseer for Puerto Rican workers in the U.S., especially for farm and factory workers. In this way, along with facilitating adjustments in the U.S. for the workers, "the Migration Division sought to reduce the hostilities Puerto Ricans encountered, especially in New York City. It served as a liaison to the city administration and social services and worked with Puerto Rican organizations” (Whalen and Vázquez-Hernández 2005, 205-210).

Community Service Changes:

Once Puerto Ricans established themselves on the mainland as laborers, contributing to the economy and to society, community service policies were needed to ameliorate the social and living conditions for these new communities. Puerto Ricans noted that the conditions on the mainland were dire —labor was exploitive, they lived in what were known as "cold water flats" (already considered substandard housing for a few decades), and the education system was not meeting the needs of Puerto Rican children. There were only 10 bilingual teachers for approximately 14,000 Spanish-speaking students, and Puerto Rican children were put into remedial classes and steered toward a future career in light industry rather than anything academic or professional. A further problem with the educational system was that it contained little-to-no material on their heritage or issues effecting Puerto Ricans. (Fried) These shortcomings within the educational system not only inhibited social mobility for Puerto Ricans, but also negatively impacted the training of future Puerto Rican leaders and advocates. Things needed to change for Puerto Ricans in the U.S., so various groups formed with the sole purpose of working to improve the lives of those in Puerto Rican communities.

Many public policy changes for Puerto Ricans occurred in New York City as a result of the large population of Nuyoricans in that area. One group that had a large branch in New York and was well known for being community and civil policy oriented, was the Young Lords Party.

The Young Lords advocated for the rights of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. They had a 13-point platform that outlined the goals of the party. One of the goals was for Puerto Ricans to have control over their own communities and land in the United States.


We want control of our communities by our people and programs to guarantee that all institutions serve the needs of our people. People's control of police, health services, churches, schools, housing, transportation and welfare are needed. We want an end to attacks on our land by urban removal, highway destruction, universities and corporations” (Young Lord’s Party 13-Point Program and Platform).


They wanted to improve life for all Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Above all, the Young Lords were interested in civil and community involvement. They worked to establish many community service groups, launched breakfast programs for poor children, and they argued that institutions in a community should help the communitythe poor and all who reside there—regardless of race or class.

This group believed in confrontational protests so that they could receive attention from city and government officials. One of such confrontational protests conducted by the Young Lords was the Garbage Offensive in August 1969 in response to the deplorable sanitary conditions of East Harlem. Garbage was only regularly collected from wealthier, white sections of the city while East Harlem was ignored -- mostly due to the ethnic and immigrant status that most of the community had. "White affluent areas were serviced properly with regular garbage pick-ups, while Black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods were left in unhealthy conditions" (The Prolibertad Freedom Campaign Newsletter, August 2009, E2). New York City Officials were asked several times to correct the situation, but this was not working. The Sanitation Department failed to recognize any problems associated with garbage collection in East Harlem, noting that the area "gets maximum service" and that "all possible help [is given] to neighborhood clean-up programs." (Fried)

So with no other options, the Young Lords and "residents of the area around Park Avenue and 110th Street joined in heaping and burning garbage at several intersections." (Fried) An anonymous Young Lord going by the name Yoruba said,

"we don't want violence for violence's sake, and we don't want to dump garbage in the street...but if we have to go through a mountain of red tape, if there's never any action by the city, then we have no choice." (Fried)

This protest was successful in that it effectively increased awareness to the needs of Puerto Ricans in East Harlem, which was illustrated by sanitation becoming a major issue in the coming mayoral election.

The Young Lords also took over the First Spanish Methodist Church in December of 1969, renaming it the People's Church, and they also took over Lincoln Hospital for twelve hours in July of 1970. During the takeover of the church, the Young Lords established free breakfast programs, free clothing programs, health care services that included lead-testing, a day-care, a liberation school, community dinners, and viewings of films, and readings of poetry(Latino Network Education Services). Over 13,000 people in the community benefited from these services. The takeover of the hospital was a plan to show the need for and simultaneously demand "door-to-door preventive health services, maternal and child care, drug addiction care, senior citizens' services, 24-hour a day grievance table, and increased minimum wage for hospital workers" (Latino Education Network Service). The Young Lords, therefore, worked to meet the civil service needs of the people of the community and gain them rights that politicians could not secure for them.

Citations:

American Flag (image). http://www.pigeon-forge-gatlinburg-family-git2know.com/China-1.html. 1 December 2009.

Fried, Joseph P. 1969. "East Harlem Youths Explain Garbage Dumping Demonstration." New York Times, Aug 19, 1969, p. 86.

Garbage on Street (image). http://www.travelblog.org/Africa/Gambia/Western-Division/Serrekunda/blog-131735.html. 1 December 2009.


Maldonado, Edwin. "Contract Labor and the Origins of Puerto Rican Communities in the

United States." International Migration Review 13 (1979) : 103-121.


Mora, Anthony. American Culture 213: Latino Studies. University of Michigan: 2009.


Puerto Rican Flag, San Juan, Puerto Rico (image). http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Puerto-Rican-Flag-San-Juan-Puerto-Rico-Posters_i3651296_.htm. 1 December 2009


The Prolibertad Freedom Newsletter. ¡El Coqui Libre! August 2009: Vol. 2 Latino Education Network Service. 2009. http://palante.org/index.html


The Young Lords (image). http://infinitex.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/young-lords-puerto-rican-movement/. 1 December 2009.


Whalen, Carmen Teresa and Victor Vázquez-Hernández. The Puerto Rican Diaspora: historical perspectives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005.


Young Lords Party (image). http://sites.google.com/site/younglords/ylords_main.jpg/ylords_main-full.jpg. 1 December 2009.


“Young Lords Party 13-Point Program and Platform.”

https://ctools.umich.edu/access/content/group/de0012fd-1d86-48ed-9dfb-4f6b4e9f3abd/Course%20Pack/13%20Point%20Program%20and%20Platform%20of%20the%20Young%20Lords%20Party.pdf