In the DO Archivo General de la Nación

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This is my fifth day at the DO Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo, and I am finding that the curators have been doing a good job digitalizing the bulk of the pre-1930 documentation. Except for a few documents in some of the collections, (i.e., Policía, ayuntamientos, Hipotecas, Apelación, Oficialías, Instrucción, Hacienda), the only other records they claim that have not been placed on-line are the notarial documents, which are a largely untapped window to the early nineteenth century.

A look at the Reading Room (Sala de Investigación)

María Filomena Gonzalez Canalda wrote a book (click here for her article) about these sources to show the potential they had in redefining the way we look at the so-called Unification Period (“Haitian Occupation”) in Dominican History.

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In this 1900 document, the Dominican vice-consul in Mayagüez writes to Santo Domingo informing his superiors of the steamship “Salvador,” which is departing with Puerto Rican migrants to the Dominican Republic. The list of travelers, however, is still missing.

 

La Piedra Escrita

La Piedra Escrita, the “Written Rock,” is a rock with symbols apparently made by pre- Columbian people of the island today called Puerto Rico (called, Boriken by the natives). The rock sits on the Rio Saliente in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. I found this rock of immense interest, partly, because it is not preserved. Visitors come in throngs to climb the rock and swim on the river. The symbols seem of human faces, of circles and curved lines. Though the human faces, and what seems as a frog image, are similar to those of other places around the island, for the most part, the symbols in Jayuya are particular of this place. These type of circles, and the curved lines, are not found in any other region.

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Frog?

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Unique circles?

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Using tragedy to promote dependency

I wrote the post below in response to an attempt to use Camacho’s death for partisan purposes. The original post I read appeared in the otherwise admirable blog “Repeating Islands.” But it had first come from Time.com, written by Tim Padgett

“I am surprised to see such a partisan and pro-colonial (and ahistorical) post in this blog. The pro-statehood movement on the island has been on an evangelical-like impetus that ignores the facts for the “positive” vision.

The main reason Puerto Rico, as well as much of Latin America, has sunk into what it seems as social disarray (as seen in the surge of violence) is in fact because of its colonial status and the neo-liberal policies affecting the entire region. Adding Puerto Rico to the integral political structure of the colonial master (statehood) would not only miss the goal of producing a solution to the problems affecting the region, but it would simply be impossible.

Understanding the nature of nation-building and nationalism would help explain why the U.S. would find it impossible to assimilate the island as an equal. There are plenty of historical examples that would also highlight the foolishness of this idea. France in the Caribbean is perhaps the most salient one, where the colonial territories have been integral and full members of the French political apparatus (unlike Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” status, which by the way, it reads radically different in the Spanish version).

And yet, the French “Overseas Departments” have not been nor will be in the same social or political level as the rest of France. They are rather dependencies “well treated,” or better yet, “people hanging from the borders of the more progressive nation that is France” (which happens to thrive at the historical expenses of their colonial possessions). No wonder the French have not accepted them as real social equals.

The U.S. seems farther behind the French in admitting this possibility with Puerto Rico–even less of accepting Puerto Ricans as full members of their society (in the continental U.S., they are considered “immigrants” in the process of becoming “Whites” as the Irish and Italians once were, if they are willing to shed away most of their cultural traits and join the “melting-pot”). So, there are enough evidences showing the final destination of the “statehood” pipe-dream.

Puerto Rico has a long history of reactionary and pro-colonial support, and this post seems to follow in such a tradition (this thought also relates to plantation owners in Cuba who sought union with the U.S., and discredited Dominican caudillos who wanted the U.S. to re-colonize their country in the 19th Century).

Yet, there are also traditions of more genuinely native and more creative lines of thinking that put a premium on emancipation, collaboration and fair equality rather than on pernicious social hierarchies. I suggest that we tap on these latter traditions, improve on them and rethink our future more brightly than joining a cause of futile begging for acceptance.”

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