EUGENIO MARIA DE HOSTOS’S TEXTS WRITTEN in NEW YORK- INTERVIEWS WITH THE AMERICAN PRESS
- The Evening Post, New York, Jan., 1899.
E.M. Hostos, 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 remained 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 were considered?”
“Mainly the 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 forcible annexation.”
“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.”