Misrepresentation of Puerto Ricans' Needs Under American Rule

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Misrepresentation of Puerto Ricans' Needs Under American Rule

In 1898 the future of the island of Puerto Rico, according to American imperialists, differed from the future that Puerto Ricans had been fighting for during the Spanish American War. After the American invasion of Puerto Rico two versions of the history of this colonization have been created. The first reveals the Puerto Rican opposition and resistance to American occupation. This is a history exposing U.S. oppression of Puerto Ricans as well as political and economic domination and exploitation. The second version describes Puerto Ricans as children incapable of self-government and America as the father country helping to get the island politically and economically stable.
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The political and economic stabilization of Puerto Rico was never a goal for America. The U.S. claimed that the island was incapable of self-government so that U.S. rule over Puerto Rico would be justified.

There was debate among political officials over the constitutionality of a U.S. colony. Some officials claimed that it was a power not granted by the constitution. Chief Justice Harlan who dissented in the Downes v. Bidwell case of 1901 believed,

"Congress has no existence and can exercise no authority outside the constitution....This nation is under the land and the only source of the powers which government, or any branch or officer of it, may exert at any time or territories anywhere upon the earth, by conquest or people inhabiting them to enjoy only such rights as the spirit and genius, as well as with the words, of the constitution." (Trías-Monge, 49).

Others supported the colonization of Puerto Rico and believed that there existed, "two types of territories, both subject to the jurisdiction of the United States: those incorporated to the nation and those who were not. The constitution extended to the first group, but not to the second...". (Trías-Monge, 48). Others believed that the "Constitution followed the flag, that new territories could be acquired... but only to be governed subject to the full limitations of the constitution"(Trías-Monge, 44). These "Anti-Imperialists" however were, "against the admission to American union of