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History of Puerto Ricans’ migration Essay


The waves of Puerto Rican migration can be classified into three distinct periods. These periods provide an illustration of the historical context and the reasons why the Puerto Ricans left the island. For instance, both the economic and political relationships prompted the movement. The Puerto Ricans started migrating during the period between 1900 and 1945.

The movement was mainly due to political and social economical reasons. During this time, many workers were greatly affected in addition to the fact that economic infrastructure was deteriorating. The collapse in infrastructure was attributed to the poor performance of sugarcane industry.

The San Ciriaco Hurricane witnessed in the year 1899 led to the death of many workers deployed in the sugarcane industry since most of the workers in this industry were Puerto Ricans.

Their migration was also triggered by their desire to work in foreign establishments. The early migrants commonly referred to as ”Pioneros” settled in the new York City and immediately formed Puerto Rican communities that were bonded by common geographical and historical past, customs, language, traditions, and social lifestyles (Torres-Padilla and Rivera 2).

Relationships and struggles

After their migration, the lifestyle of the Puerto Ricans in the New York City proved to be very difficult. During the early 1920s, the Puerto Rican community settled on the eastern side along the second and third avenues. After a while, the house industry realized a substantial growth whereby it was possible to include grocery stores and barbershops. In addition, there was entertainment in homes which accommodated birthday parties, wedding ceremonies and holidays (Whalen and Vázquez-Hernández 70).

The Puerto Ricans experienced lot of challenges as they struggled to sustain themselves. Due to their unskilled labor force, the Puerto Ricans were exposed to hard tasks while being offered little pay. For instance, one of the jobs offered to them by the industrialists was removing glued labels from bottles. This process required them to put their hands in cold water to prevent them from making scratches on the bottles when removing the labels. Those working during the night shift were exposed to lot of cold since they could not afford coats or hand gloves to keep them warm during the winter season (Whalen and Vázquez-Hernández 72).

Some workers also complained that at times they were required to do extra work like washing dishes, clearing the snow sidewalk and trashing. They were not allowed to make any complains and whoever could be spotted complaining risked being tossed unceremoniously and would not get access to the wages that he/she had worked for the whole period (Whalen and Vázquez-Hernández 73).

Defining moments and factors

There are a number defining moments that can be used to show how the Puerto Ricans in the New York City engaged themselves in the cultural, political and economic relations that seemed to have a great impact on their level of control. One of the examples of such moments was the cigar strike that was witnessed in the year 1919. The strike was successfully carried out by the young Puerto Rican community whose main aim was to enhance power. Another defining moment was the creation of mayor’s committee in the year 1949.

This committer was supposed to address the issues affecting the community in addition to catering for the affairs of the Puerto Rican community.

During this period, the Puerto Ricans had an intense economical and political interest. Another defining moment was the period between the years 1960s and 1970s when the Puerto Rican community engaged in radical activities in politics. During this time, the Puerto Ricans managed to acquire limited and temporary power after succeeding in rejecting cultural and political values that were found to be very dominant (Sanchez 45).

The Castro Cuban revolution was also a defining moment. The black power and civil rights movements, Vietnam War protests, labor militancy and student unrest helped to shape the political agenda that offered the Puerto Ricans a new form of awakening in pursuing radicalism. The community movement that was founded in 1961 had a great focus on educating young leaders.

During the same period, different movements such as the young lords and Puerto Rican student community engaged in street demonstrations to protest the increasing cases of police brutality, poor living conditions, discrimination, and poverty as well as neglect in education and health. By 1960, all these issues had become a major focus of the Puerto Rican radicalism (Sanchez 48).

Effects of the defining factors/moments

The defining moments presented the Puerto Ricans with a number of unusual opportunities whereby they could alter and solidify their structural state. For instance, the cigar strike witnessed in the year 1919 signaled a major challenge in regards to the structural state occupied by the Puerto Ricans.

The transition period caused the structural position of the Puerto Ricans to be exposed precisely. The views and demands of the Puerto Ricans were shaped by the strike and the response from the cigar industry. The cultural and political impact of the 1919 strike was witnessed after the economic impact of the strike.

In recap, it can be concluded that the dramatic defining moments exposed the objective interests, structural position and structural power of the Puerto Ricans.

Works Cited

Sanchez, José Ramon. Boricua Power: A Political History of Puerto Ricans in the United States. New York: New York University Press, 2007. Print.

Torres-Padilla, Jose and Carmen, Haydée Rivera. Writing off the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008. Print.

Whalen, Carmen Teresa and Victor, Vázquez-Hernández. The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005. Print.

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IvyPanda. "History of Puerto Ricans’ migration." November 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-puerto-ricans-migration/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "History of Puerto Ricans’ migration." November 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-puerto-ricans-migration/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'History of Puerto Ricans’ migration'. 20 November.

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