EUGENIO MARIA DE HOSTOS’S TEXTS WRITTEN in NEW YORK- INTERVIEWS WITH THE AMERICAN PRESS
- The New York Commercial Advertiser, New York, July 21, 1898 196
Speaks for Puerto Rico
“We don’t want annexation,” Says Senor Hostos.
- M. Hostos, representative of the Puerto Rican Juntas of Venezuela, Santo Domingo and this country, who has come to this country to seek an audience with President McKinley, concerning the future of Puerto Rico, was seen at the America Hotel this morning. He is about seventy years old, of medium stature and slender figure, and his face bears a striking likeness to that shown by the portraits of Premier Sagasta. When his attention was called to the fact Senor Hostos said with a smile:
“It has never occurred to me, but anyhow Senor Sagasta is an old friend of mine. We were exiles in Paris together in 1867, and although I do not agree with his present views and policy, I still respect him.
Senor Hostos comes here at the request of the Puerto Rican revolutionists residing in Venezuela from Chile, where he has held the position of director in one of the lyceums of Santiago, to which he was called by the government in 1888, to help in the reorganization of the educational system of the country.
- Ellector encontrara inmediatamente despues del texto en ingles la version en espanol de estas entrevistas, segun fueron publicadas en OC-39, excepto las entrevistas que aparecen en la “g”yen la “h”, que fueron traducidas por Christie Capetta Suro y los tres parrafos finales de la entrevista “d”, que hemos agregado ala traduccion de este texto en OC-39.
Speaking of his mission to the United States, he said:
“I shall endeavor to ascertain the intentions of the American government as to the future of Puerto Rico. It seems that my native Island is destined to become American territory against the will of its people. I should like to see the American people in the character of our teachers, friends and advisers, in matters economical, political and social, but not in the role of secondary Spaniards, despots and tyrants-rulers like those the American people are now sacrificing their lives to free Cuba from.
“Should it be the choice of Puerto Rico to be annexed to the Unites States,” he continued, “and should this become apparent through a regular plebiscite, then we, the advocates of independence, would bow to the will of the majority, legally expressed. We are Republicans. The principle of majority rule is what we are fighting for, and should the majority of my compatriots favor annexation to the United States I should submit to their verdict. But neither I nor any other Puerto Rican Republican would like to see the American people violate their mission as a great democratic nation by forcing Puerto Rico to become a dependency of the United States, instead of helping to shake off the yoke of its Spanish oppressors and the leave it to build up its own independent government.
“If my country submits to an American yoke, I shall bid it farewell for good and all. I have made the liberties of Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking countries the cause of my life, and should my fellow countrymen exchange one yoke for another, I shall devote my energies to the same republican cause, but will remain the voluntary exile which I have been during these thirty years.
“I shall go to Washington as soon as I know something concerning the readiness of the President and the other high functionaries of your government to receive me. To prepare the way for my coming and to ascertain the feeling in the White House with regard to my errand, Dr. Henna, President of The Puerto Rican Junta of this city, and myself have sent Secretary Todd of our organization to Washington. I expect an answer in a day or two, and mean time a meeting of all our people in this city
will take place next Friday evening to give me an opportunity to be introduced to my compatriots of New York and to discuss the situation with them. If I had an opportunity to speak with the President,” Senor Hostos continued, “I might, perhaps, indicate a course worthy of the American people. We are all glad of the expedition of General Miles and think it absolutely necessary in order to carry out the joint resolution of the Washington Congress, for Puerto Rico must be placed side by side with Cuba, and the emancipation without the liberation of the other is virtually imposible. Spain must be driven from the Western hemisphere.
If you leave Spain as near to Cuba as Puerto Rico is, Cuba Libre will be a mith.”
Senor Hostos was asked what he thought of the strained relations between the Cubans and the Americans at Santiago but he begged to be excused from expressing an opinion.
“I love them both,” he said, wit a beseeching gesture. “The subject is a very sad one. I hope all misapprehension will be brushed away, I cannot discuss it.”
Senor Hostos is well -known in Spanish America and also among the Republicans of Spain as the author of several books advocating advanced ideas. He is a graduate of a Madrid law school, but does not practice law, preferring to earn his livelihood with his pen and as pedagogist.
Entrevista con The New York Commercial Advertiser, Nueva York,julio 21, 1898.