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Consequences to American rule in Puerto Rico

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                There were serious consequences to American rule in Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba.  America came in, and acquired  Puerto Rico and the Philippines.  Cuba had independence at that time, and the United States insisted that Cuba approve the Platt Amendment to the Cuban constitution.  This amendment authorized the United States to come in and bring its military forces whenever they wanted.  Also, America acquired a permanent lease on what is now Guantanamo Bay.

                The United States wanted these republics not for gaining wealth, but for trade.  They wanted to project their commercial and naval power to the entire hemisphere, and acquiring these republics was the way to do it.

                After the Philippine War, the citizens of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba did not prosper.  Under American rule, Puerto Rico became a low-wage plantation economy controlled by corporations that were absent.  Before this, Puerto Rico was a small island of diversified small farmers.  They were doing fine until America stepped in.  America also introduce racism to this territory.  Puerto Ricans learned that of the black men and white men that were there, the white men were superior.

                The people of these territories did not enjoy the freedom that they thought they were entitled to.  They were citizens of their respective territories, not of America, and were denied statehood.  They only had “fundamental” rights, but the United States could govern as it saw fit for as long as it wanted.

                At first, the people of these republics did accept American rule with open arms.  They believed that if America would come and save their republics, then they would be granted the same rights as  American citizens and have access to American markets.  However, they were mistaken.  Their views of America being a savior changed as they realized that the United States was not giving them citizenship or statehood.  They were still their own people, but America would be controlling them, they would not control themselves.

                The quote, “Thus, two principals central to American freedom since the war of independence – no taxation without representation and government based on the consent of the governed – were abandoned when it came to the nation’s new possession.”, rings true.  The consequences of the United States’ decisions regarding the territories of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba were many.  The United States lost the meaning of the concept of freedom and liberty for all.  They crushed a smaller nation that only wanted what was owed to them by American rule.  They did not want American rule in the end.  They received the short end of the stick, but America insisted.  America’s image of a benevolent force, not to mention everything that America was supposed to stand for, suffered.  America wanted to be a force to be reckoned with, not a benevolent power, and America is supposed to stand for “liberty and justice for all.”

    –  Foner, Eric.  Give Me Liberty!  An American History.  2nd ed.  Vol. 2.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  2005.  661-671.

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