The Anguish of Colonialism
DURING THE EARLY YEARS of American rule, mainland corporations had little difficulty in absorbing a large part of Puerto Rico's economy. Absorbing the Puerto Ricans culturally, as Americans, was more difficult and took longer-- especially since thousands of them continued to starve on their feet. With their Spanish agrarian heritage, they differed from us in their language, their cultural orientations, their desires from life, their views on individual dignity and on personal, financial, and political morality. Only recently, and only dimly have we begun to realize that a man can be no less good an American because his language is Spanish, he considers Cervantes a greater writer than Hemingway, and has reservations about Lincoln's having been the only great liberator, since his own slave-owning grandfather had once been one of a group that petitioned Spain to abolish slavery in Puerto Rico, with or without compensation.
One of the most important aspects of Puerto Rico's modern transformation is the growth of the idea that several million people can retain their Spanish language and the basic aspects of their old Spanish culture and still be good Americans. Few Puerto Ricans doubt that Washington now--in contrast to its former attitudes--officially thinks so. Many doubt, how-