New York Times
article from 1901 mentioned
inspection of the Porto Rican immigrants brought here by the steamer Colonshows that they are in such state from the need of food that they must be heldat the quarantine station and fed until they regain strength sufficient to enablethem to bear the journey to the other island and to the plantations on whichthey work.
While characterized as the remedy for Puerto Rico’s economic woes, this low wage work was the equivalent of modern day slavery, so many Puerto Ricans would escape during thelong ship to train to ship trip to Hawaii, while others who were not so lucky ended upworking in the iron mines in Cuba. As one Puerto Rican mine worker declared
In Santiago, Cuba, Puerto Ricans cannot stand up under the duress workingthe iron mines, owned by an American company. The promises made have not been met and, as a result, many of our brothers have been forced to beg forcharity
Beginning in 1890s, and in the months precedingthe u.s. invasion of Puerto Rico, attacks carriedout by “extremely impoverished peasants” whocame to be known as Los Tiznados, for the soot that they would camouflage their faces with,broke out all over the island. Peasants,sometimes numbering up to 200 people, burnedhaciendas and warehouses and stole property.Large landowners and their families werevilified and killed, while the impoverishedPuerto Rican insurgents distributed theappropriated properties among themselves.One member of the propertied class, Dr ManuelF. Rossy who was a lawyer, local political leaderand editor of the local newspaper, wrote that there had been municipalities where
As many as twenty-two estates had beendestroyed, and in many cases the coffee crophad been ruined
By the second half of 1900, urban insurgenciescarried out by Puerto Rican peasants hadbecome a daily occurrence. In the mountainoustown of Cayey, a mob of laborers storm the jailsto liberate other previously arrested members of their group, and in several towns theMayors were stoned and shot at.