d. The Press,
New York, Dec. 28, 1898
AS A BROTHER, NOT A SERVANT
So Puerto Rico Wants to Be
Treated by Uncle Sam.
SENDS A COMMISSION HERE
To Ask the President and Congress
to Form a Territorial Government on the Island.
"Puerto Rico asks to be accepted by the United States as a
brother, not as a servant," said Professor E. M. Hostos,
He is one of a
commission sent by the people of Ponce and of San Juan, Puerto
Rico, to ask for the establishment of a Territorial government
for the Island.
are Dr. M. Zeno Candia, E. Lugo Vina and Dr.
.J.J. Henna. They
sailed from Ponce on Wednesday last and reached here on Monday
evening. They are at the Westminster Hotel, and will remain
there until next week, when they will go to Washington to visit
President McKinley and confer with as many members of Congress
as they can meet.
BE A TERRITORY
They do not
know how long they will remain in Washington, but their desire
is to be assured that Puerto Rico will be allowed to have a form
of government similar to that of our Western Territories.
Professor Hostos continued to a reporter of
The Press, "we expect
to be treated as a younger brother who must go to school and
learn and must respect his elders until he grows up, but we want
to feel that when we have grown and have been educated in self-government
we can hope to become part of the American people and not always
remain their servants. "We ask for home rule and public schools.
We do not expect everything at once, but want to start right,
and only ask that we be made a Territory the same as the
Territories that have grown to be States. We do not want
to be started as a colony which must forever remain outside the
nation. We want to become a part of the American people."
LIKE GENERAL HENRY
"The people of
Puerto Rico do not yet understand much of the Americans laws and
customs nor the feelings of the American people toward them.
They do not know what is to become of them. We have no complaint
to make of the government of General Henry. He is a good man and
we all respect him and esteem him. But his government is the
government of a man, not of the people, as all military
governments must be. He may be taken away any day and a new man
seat to take his place. We cannot know that the new man would be
a good man, as General Henry is. We want to have a government of
the people; that is republican; not a government of a man; that
is monarchical. We have been told that such a government as we
wish would be given to us. But we have heard also that we were
to be made a colony. We do not want to be a colony. We were a
colony of Spain, and the best we could be was second-class
Spaniards. We do not wish
to be second-class
Americans. We want to be first-class Americans.
"Four-fifths of the
Puerto Ricans are white. They are not like the Cubans, the
majority of whom are blacks. But, like the Cubans, we have
suffered terribly from Spanish oppression. Not more than 15 to
20 per cent of our people can read and write. It is not their
fault. The Spaniards gave no schools at all that were worthy of
the name; none that the American people would tolerate. "
GOOD SCHOOLS NEEDED
"Above everything, I
want to see public schools started in my country, such schools
as you have here. I have taken it as my part of the work for my
country to try to have as many schools started as can be.
"The people of Ponce
are anxious to know what you will do with us. We are already
better off than we were under the Spaniards, so we do not
complain. But so far it is only a change from a bad master to a
"But you have
promised us more. You have promised us liberty. We want freedom;
not freedom from America, but freedom with America. The people
of Ponce held meetings and talked over the matter. Then it was
decided to send a commission to see the President and the
Congress and to ask them and the American people to make us not
a colony, but a territory.
"Dr. R. Del Valle
and I were appointed the Commissioners. I did not want to come,
but my people said it was my duty to my country, so I came.
Before we left, the people of San Juan held meetings and asked
us to represent them also. Then Dr. Del Valle fell sick at
Ponce, and I had to come without him.
"The people of the
district of Adjuntas appointed Dr. M. Zeno Gandia and Dr. J. J.
Henna to represent them and they are with me."
LITTLE FAITH IN
the military government is only for a time, but the people do
not understand. The Spaniards have taught them to believe
promises never come true. The Spaniards always promised, but
never did. The people wanted us to come
We want to tell them
they are free; that the people of Ponce shall rule Ponce, and the
people of San Juan shall rule San Juan, as the people of New York
rule New York.
"My country is rich
and fertile. Its people are peaceful and industrious. There is a
great future before them, now that they are free. If we get
started right it will not be long before Americans will be proud
of the new part of their country as they are now proud of the new
part of their country in the far West. But if we are made a colony
we will be nothing.
"You can fought our
battle for us when we were too weak to fight for ourselves. You
freed us from our oppressors. We thank you as a people can thank
another for freedom. All we ask of you is to give us what you
would ask yourselves."
Professor Hostos is
one of the best known and most influential citizens of Ponce. He
was banished from the Island by the Spaniards at the beginning of
the war on account of his American sympathies. He returned to
Ponce after its occupation by American troops.
Dr. Henna is recognize
as one of the leading men of Puerto Rico and is said to have more
influence with the people there than any other one man.
Dr. Gandia is a
physician with a large practice in the Adjuntas district and a
writer of high repute among his countrymen. He is the author and
publisher of several books on medical and social topics.
Entrevista con The Press, de
Nueva York, como miembro de la "Comision de Puerto Rico". 28 de
diciembre de 1898