Letters to Doctor Manuel Guzman Rodriguez



Santo Domingo, June 13, 1900



Doctor Manuel Guzman Rodriguez, Afiasco.



DeDear compatriot:


I will be brief, for I am short on time.

I received and read your last letter with pleasure.

As time and experience are teaching Puerto Ricans and making them understand that the plan for their new life and civilization which was given to them in the “Statutes of the League of Patriots” has no other difficulty than that of demanding personal effort from each Puerto Rican, nor any other inconvenience than that of having wrongly organized the political objectives; may everyone set themselves to work diligently for the League: if it doesn’t serve them to conquer national independence, it will serve them to conscientiously enjoy, like people who know what they have, federal independence.

If I did not think so much about the future of the human race and did not visualize the foundation of an Antillean alliance as a sure means of reaching the balance of civilizing forces between the Northern and Southern continents, then nothing would make me happier than our whole societies invigorating themselves physically, morally, and intellectually in their forced coexistence with the Anglo-Americans. Our bodies are so scarce of blood, our brains of reason, our wills of impulse, and our consciences of clarity, that proceeding toward the transfusion of blood, reason, impulse, and light which we are lacking is of indubitable benefit.

But colonialism has left the people in such a stupor that they don’t even see that the only way to save themselves is by setting themselves, like the League wants, to truly civilizing themselves: these poor peoples of Iberian origin don’t even know they are in a primitive state. They believe very seriously, from Cuba and Puerto Rico to Chile and Argentina, that they are civilized peoples, simply because the commercial interests of industrialized societies and the expansive force of ideas carry some of -the physiological and ideological advancements of humanity to them; but they don’t believe it necessary to give of themselves the energetic diligence and intelligence which are lacking to take possession of those advancements and make the civilization of others their very own or to modify that general civilization with particular characteristics. Mean­





while, they don’t see the natural state of the so-called masses, that is to say, the mass, shape, the general corpus of each of those societies. That natural state, a state of wild beastliness which is hardly weakened either by the fear of authority in some or by the fear of freedom in others; that natural state is incompatible with true civilization, civilization which is no more and no less than the normal organization of activities which are inherent to reason. Therefore (to keep it short, as I have made this long in spite of myself ): if Puerto Rico wants to proceed with dignity and good judgment, then she must be what I have wanted her to be-a nation that is truly aware of its condition and that puts itself to work so as to use the situation, which its own weakness has imposed upon it, for its own good and for the good of the world.

Best regards. Work for what is good, work for our country, work for the present. The future will come per se.



E. M. de Hostos



P. S. Let me know specifically what you need to know about the League’s plan for public education.






Santo Domingo, June 13, 1902



Dr. Manuel Guzman Rodriguez, Afiasco.



Dear compatriot: Today’s mail has brought the desperate letter I am answering to join with the affiictive letter I did not have time to answer.

It reminds me of the letters which poor Betances wrote to me, when from Chile, crazy with anguish from the distance and imagining the events that were not happening and that did not happen, I wrote to him urging him-by telling me what he planned to do-to enable me to make the decision befitting my duty, the dreamer’s duty which has been the downfall of so few yet such good men. “Nothing, nothing, my dear Hostos, nothing, nothing.” With that terrible and invariable dryness, the man whom I trusted so much showed me his complete lack of faith in the people he thus condemned.

And to think that in spite of everyone and everything, I am right, and that if some would imitate your noble obstinacy and Joaquin E. Barriero’s abundant tepacity, the day would come in which Borinquen,





civilized because of her own efforts, could take advantage of the benefit of education and American institutions, and in their name and in the name of the economic and historical interests of the United States, she could recover her sovereignty, and unite with Santo Domingo, Cuba, and the other Antilles, safeguarded by the United States of America, and begin the human work which geography had predestined them for. . . .

Forty years ago minus two, I began in La peregrinaci6n de Bayocin my melancholy work as a solitary prophet, foreseeing the possibility of a union of the Iberian peoples of both worlds, and today, when that union is useless and counterproductive, is when it occurs to those disgraceful people to begin to construct it in the void. In 1898, when, mortally wounded in my ideal, I saw my country fallen in the very cradle with’ which the fatality of events had furnished her, I saved myself from those few days of agony by conceiving the plan for my country’s salvation as a league of patriots who would unite to vanquish the legion of obstacles which Spanish tradition sets in opposition to true civilization. The future we would reach by that road seemed so manifest to me, that today, years after having failed, and after a sacrifice which should not even be mentioned, I still do not understand why the voice of goodness and truth has not been heard. But you shall see: they will come to hear it perhaps forty years from now, when it can be profitable to some great opportunist of human ignorance.

I will end my letter with what you ended yours: you exonerated yourself for having published one of my private letters, or perhaps two, and I authorize you to use my ideas and words, provided that they can be useful to others. If there is anything of use in this letter, it is yours and everyone’s; but that which malice might use to harm or try to harm anyone, never, never, never publish-for if I have to speak badly of men, I do not do it against them, but in favor of truth and for knowledge of what is good, and surely I will not favor the malice, wickedness, and evil which have so iniquitously troubled the public and private life of all unfortunate peoples, nor will I favor envy and its offspring-curses, defamation, and libel.




 E. M. de Hostos









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