To all Puerto Ricans

X. TO ALL PUERTO RICANS

 

 

Compatriots: The League of Patriots, in whose name I speak to you today, has been founded with two goals: an immediate one, which is to put our Mother Island in her rightful condition; and a subsequent one, which is to put into action the means needed to educate the people in the practice of the liberties which will serve their lives-public and private, industrial and collective, economic and political, moral and material.

It seems difficult to put Puerto Rico in her rightful condition when apparently what has happened is nothing more than a change from the de facto government exercised by Spain to the de facto government exercised by the United States. It is not difficult: the United States Constitution, the traditions, customs, and the solid cement of justice, equality, and liberty which serves as the basis for this mighty American Federation all give us the general right to advocate justice and right on our soil, and provide us with many concrete laws that serve as effective resources in the life of this society.

To put Puerto Rico in the conditions to educate herself on her own to act out a sound and dignified life is a task for the future, because the future will tell if through our will we have been able to carry out our end, as through our understanding we have been able to conceive that end.

The way to get out of this existing situation and enter into a rightful situation is obvious-we, the country’s sons, will necessarily follow this way, because it is also the only one: the way is Right constituted in law.

There is also only one way to leave behind the Iberian past and enter into the American future: there is only one path to follow in order to restore health, and that is by getting well; in order to be dignified, there is no other path than complete Right.

The resources that written laws give us for the purpose of getting out of a military government and entering into a civil government, and for asking the United States Congress either to recognize our ability to be a state of the Union or to make us capable of gloriously serving the future of the Americas, without the need to be servilely subjected to the brutal consequences of a war which we have not caused nor which was waged against us, are resources which are as powerful as the initiative of each man for his own welfare, and that of everyone for the general welfare, are powerful in the plan of the Federation.

 

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The means which this power of initiative puts within the reach of societies represented by a judicial State are all-embracing; they bring about the organization of labor, government, common education, private beliefs, and public power, and they have already been placed in our hands by the new order which we should learn to utilize.

Exercising our natural human rights (since we cannot be treated as things), exercising our rights as accidental United States citizens, who cannot be compelled against their will to be or not to be what they want or do not want to be, we will go to the plebiscite. In the United States there is no authority, force, power, or will that is capable of imposing upon a people the shame of an annexation carried out by armed violence, or which plots the ignominy of using conquest for the purpose of dominating souls against the most complete civilization which presently exists among men.

Exercising the activities which constitute civilization in general, because they are the sum of the activities of human life, Puerto Rican society will make itself capable of proving the efficiency of liberty in the education of the peoples.

To seek out a plebiscite so that we may become or not become American citizens and either continue or cease to be citizens of our geographical and historical country; to seek out and follow the example of the American people, so that we may cease to be representatives of the past and become people of our time and a society of the future-these are the duties in o}r history at this moment. The League has been founded to fulfill these duties; I will return to my country to try to carry them out.

 

New York, September 10, 1898

 

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