g. The Evening
Post, New York, Jan., 1899.
President of the Porto Rican Commission, returned from
Washington to New York, with the other members of the
commission, yesterday, after having been treated with "great
kindness and consideration" by President McKinley, Secretary
Hay, Secretary of the Treasury Gage, and certain others of the
cabinet with whom he had interviews. This commission was named
in mass-meeting by the people of the various districts of Puerto
Rico, and came to this country with the purpose in view,
chiefly, of "arranging the terms of annexation," which is to
say, protesting against the annexation of the island without
first submitting the question to the people. Dr. Hostos and his
associates arrived in New York soon after Christmas, spent a
short time here, and then went on to Washington, where they
remai≠ned two weeks. Apparently, they are all well satisfied
with what they accomplished.
'The President was
practically considerate in his reception of our wishes
concerning the settlement of the Puerto Rican money question,"
Mr. Hostos said today. "He held back the resolution fixing the
value of the currency and settling all exchange matters for
submission to us; and he did not sign it until we gave our
assent. It is a good and just measure -almost the same as that
proposed in our report on the currency in Puerto Rico. We could
not but accept it."
"What other matters
expectation of our people to be consulted when the status quo
post bellum has passed. The President, to whom this part of
our address was read very slowly and very distinctly ≠ being, as
it was, our first interest- signified his agreement by bowing
his head. But the assent of the President is not enough
to have the people
called to a plebiscitum; the right to give them that privilege is
with Congress. We shall appeal to Congress as soon as possible;
and we are confident that our people will not be denied the
privilege of declaring whether or not it is their will to be
governed by strangers. Only in this way can the dignity of the
country be saved.
"The Puerto Ricans
want to be dealt with as a people, and not treated like a herd of
sheep. Herds are driven from sheepfold to sheepfold; but peoples
ought to be consulted before there is a change of dominion over
them. What we ask is in the name of a
right that has never
been ignored by the American people. I think they will no ignore
it now, for today we see a beautiful, hopeful spectacle -the
anti-expansion crusade, which is nothing but a condemnation of
"Do the people of
Puerto Rico want independence?"
"As for myself, I want
nothing less than independence. But I am not here to further a
personal wish -only to preserve the dignity of my country.
Hitherto the people have never been consulted in anything; the
directive classes have done with them what they chose. The
plebiscitum will, therefore, be favorable to annexation, for that
is the wish of the land-owners, merchants, and professional men of
the Island, whom the lower classes will follow. There is no doubt
about the outcome. Nevertheless, I hope history may not say that
Puerto Rico was treated like a dog by America. Such treatment
would be contrary to your history and your institutions."