The United States, citing concerns that overpopulation of the island would lead to disastrous social and economic conditions, instituted public policies aimed at controlling the rapid growth of the population. Thanks for listening and leave us a five star review if you liked it. This vision was of a pre-American agrarian utopia, where strong patriarchs provided for healthy families. About 236,000 Puerto Ricans registered for the draft for World War I, and close to 20,000 served. As a further tool of oppression against the growing revolution, the US passed La Ley de la Mordaza (Law of the Muzzle) in 1948. The constitution did not necessarily follow the flag and to this day, despite tectonic shifts in human rights conceptions the foundation of this law still exists in Puerto Rico and other US territories, greatly limiting their civil and human rights. So, it begs the question as to why such a high amount of women of childbearing age were sterilized in Puerto Rico and along the East Coast diaspora in New York and Boston, if only 97 people were sterilized involuntarily by the Puerto Rican Eugenic Board? The governor was replaced with a US general and a former U.S. Army Colonel named Elisha Francis Riggs was made Chief of Police. Between roughly 1920 and 1937 there was a lot of upheaval regarding these laws and the Indiana law, which was the first in the nation, was repealed in 1921. Industrial employers started favoring sterilized women for employment. . Fearing a loss of control, the US militarized the island, with officers undergoing Tommy gun training and being outfitted with submachine guns, tear gas, riot gear and high-powered rifles. The history of surgical sterilization and U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico is complex and nuanced. Essentially, if a woman dared to have sex before marriage, there must be something wrong with her – she “must” be feeble minded to do something so sinful. Maggie, your generosity is keeping this podcast going. These policemen and the FBI started following Albizu Campos all over the island. From 1899 to 1929 unemployment climbed from 17 percent to 36 percent and one-fourth to one-third of the rest of the population was unemployed most of the year. This was made more evident when, during the early 20th century, unemployment and poverty rates increased while the economy grew and birth rates fell. Naturally, the conditions heretofore described ensured Puerto Rico’s rich history of resistance lived on. All of this while earning a remarkably low per capita income of about $19,000 per year, half the US average. Elizabeth: By 1976 the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), which is now Health and Human Services (HHS), found that 37.4% of all women of childbearing age in Puerto Rico were sterilized. The complex sufferings of the Puerto Ricans that were reinvigorated by McKinley’s seizure of the island and perpetrated by a settler colonial mindset continue today. More than 200 others wounded. Just recently, California prisons are said to have authorized sterilizations of nearly 150 female inmates between 2006 and 2010. Thank you!! . During McKinley’s second term, he was gratified by the Supreme Court’s decision confirming the administration’s limited application of the Constitution to these insular possessions. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). Police and FBI had full authority to stop anyone on the street and invade any Puerto Rican home, particularly Nationalist homes. He died on April 21, 1965. She began to receive psychiatric treatment in … These laws were based on theories of human heredity and the fear that conditions like poverty, criminality, feeblemindedness, and even sexual “deviance” were inheritable traits. 549 (2016) (codified in scattered sections of 15 29, and 48 U.S.C.). Mix of the civil law and the common law systems, Discussion of this nomination can be found on the, Learn how and when to remove these template messages, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, "Translation of the Provincial and Municipal Laws of Puerto Rico (1899)", The Laws of Puerto Rico, and other downloads, Puerto Ricans in the United States Space Program, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Law_of_Puerto_Rico&oldid=959142732, Articles with multiple maintenance issues, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2009, Articles needing POV-check from August 2013, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2014, Articles containing Spanish-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 May 2020, at 10:13. “I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers,”. “Even though poor women are targets of population control they do not follow population policy blindly; most women exercise a certain degree of agency.”. Unable to pay these imposed taxes, struggling farmers sought aid from the only bank that could help them: The American Colonial Bank. As tensions built, The Nationalist Party waged a revolution against the US on October 30, 1950. Chicanas and puertorriquenas have been subjected episodically to unwanted sterilizations in state institutions and public clinics while also struggling to access safe and affordable birth control, including surgical sterilization. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Source. To that end, the US set about denying basic rights to the people of Puerto Rico. Legal scholar Paul Lombardo sums it up this way: “Doctor Priddy’s motives in proposing a sterilization program had less to do with thinning the ranks of the mentally and physically bereft than they had to do with satisfying his own strong and unique sense of morality. Empire Laura Briggs summed it up well when she wrote, “for liberals as much as conservatives, the future wealth or poverty, strength or weakness of the Puerto Rican nation was located symbolically and literally in women’s wombs.”. He does not tell that in thirty-four years of American intervention, the people have been dispossessed of their land and brought to the condition of paupers. As Puerto Rico is under United States sovereignty, there is also a Federal District Court for the island. Unemployment for Puerto Rican is around 10% compared to the US rate of 3.9%. Our real problem lies in the actual control by American capital of practically all our wealth. Next up was the Foraker Act of 1917. Its repeal would generate an island-based shipping industry: building, operation, maintenance, and ownership would provide opportunities for many skilled laborers such as carpenters, electricians, welders, electrical engineers and seamen. . 24, No. In fact, historian Molly Ladd-Taylor found that sterilization laws were actually fiscally expedient. Jane Lawrence, “The Indian Health Service and the Sterilization of Native American Women,” American Indian Quarterly Vol.
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