Puerto Ricans in the Diaspora live statehood every day, it ain’t pretty!
A Narrative of Puerto Rican Diaspora in the USA under statehood
There is so much commotion for the promotion of statehood as the resolution to the colonial status of 122 years under the US flag.
Never has the Puerto Rican diaspora’s opinion been secured to give understanding why Boricuas in the diaspora are against statehood. Ask the Puerto Rican diaspora what our collective experience has been living statehood every day.
Puerto Rico constitutes a separate nation as it meets all the international criteria of nationhood. Our nationhood was politically proclaimed on September 23, 1868 in the establishment of the First Republic of Puerto Rico in El Grito de Lares. But nationhood had long existed before this heroic historical event. The revolutionaries were incarcerated, leaders were exiled like Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances. Part of the revolutionary process of obtaining independence was the abolition of slavery. Abolition of slavery was secured in 1873, although the same feudal system was prevalent. Puerto Rico went from the hand of one foreign Empire to another. In 1898, the US military forces invaded Puerto Rico, occupied it and turned it into a colony for its interest. US treatment of Puerto Ricans in the island was subservient, violent, discriminatory and attempted to erase from our minds our history and culture through a forced assimilation process. The English language was imposed as well as US citizenship (1917) without the consent of the Puerto Rican people. Forced our men to fight in their wars at a high cost to their lives. (Puerto Rican men have died in US wars at a disproportionate rate.) It was the rise of nationalism in the 1930’s under the leadership of Don Pedro Albizu Campos with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party that Puerto Rican pride and love of thou self-became restored. But the US used all its military might to squash that nationalistic movement that was in the process of liberating Puerto Rico from colonial rule. The United States government mass incarcerated the nationalist, altered our economy to satisfy theirs and forced 2/3 of the Puerto Rican people to migrate to the inner cities in the US for cheap labor. That was the first great migration of the 1950’s of our people and set a vacuum in the island nation; the breaking up of our families, disruption of our culture and collective memories of our history of struggle.
Puerto Ricans went from an island-nation to live statehood in US cities as “second class citizens” and as a small ethnic brown people group to be discriminated against. We went from an “external colony” to an “internal colony”. The colonial relationship of the US with Puerto Rico became more acute inside the states. Puerto Ricans state-side responded by organizing their communities to fight for justice and civil rights. Since the 1950s to the present, Puerto Ricans in the USA have been victims of crass discrimination, benign neglect, police brutality and murder, homelessness, gentrification, economic exploitation and mass incarceration just like our brothers and sister of the Black, Native and Mexican populations. So if you are a person of color in the US, the US has a problem with you and will get rid of you.
In the 21st century, after 122 years of US colonial rule, there are 6 million Puerto Ricans dispersed throughout the USA all living in “statehood” still suffering the same discrimination that our foremothers and forefathers suffered. We have not lost our sense of Puertoricaness, our pride in our culture and love for our beloved island nation that we hope to join the free nations of the world. Becoming a state will never happen and would be the extinction of the Puerto Rican nation. So, those Puerto Ricans in the island who are hoping to become a state of the USA, wake up! “Puerto Ricans in the Diaspora live statehood every day, it ain’t pretty!”