The Puerto Rican Press
JOSEPH P. FITZPATRICK
It is very difficult to define the limits of the Puerto Rican ethnic press in the United States. The increasingly varied character of Spanish-speaking communities, especially the community in the New York metropolitan area, has led to a situation in which newspapers and magazines are directed to a general Spanish reading market rather than to a specific Hispanic group. The Puerto Ricans in recent years have not had an ethnic press comparable to, for example, the Jewish press or the Polish press, reflecting an ethnic identity and a common set of ethnic interests. 1 As with so many other aspects of their migration, the Puerto Rican experience is unique. The problem of identity that the group has wrestled with; the lack of attention on the part of the larger community to its particular values, contributions, and problems; the absence of leadership at critical moments--all of these can be seen in the role of the press in Puerto Rican life. In this sense the analysis of the role of the press throws added light on the Puerto Rican experience. This may give to non-Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricans alike a clearer insight into their experience and enable them to respond to it creatively. This chapter will seek to describe the role of the press in three phases of its history: (1) in the early years, namely, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; (2) the middle years between World War I and World War II; and (3) the contemporary period since World War II, the era of the great migration and the rapid increase of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States.
The Puerto Rican press played a long and significant role in the early period of Hispanic journalism in the United States. New York was the center for most of the revolutionary movements of the Caribbean colonies against Spain that developed during the latter part of the last century. It was the base for organizations dedicated to freedom and independence, the center where they met, and the place where they spread the gospel of independence through a variety of small but significant newspapers.