Sunday, June 9, 2024

Puerto Rican cutouts, 1959


Today is the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. 

It's a bittersweet celebration, considering the enormous problems the island faces. 

Both of my maternal and paternal grandparents and my mother were born in Puerto Rico; my dad was born in NYC. I still have cousins on the island.

Puerto Rico is one of the last colonies owned by the U.S. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but do not have a vote in presidential elections. They have been drafted to fight in all the major U.S. wars since 1898.

This playset was produced by the Board of National Missions of the United Presbyterian Church in the US. It was published at a time when Puerto Ricans left the island in droves as the federal government decided to switch the economy from farm-based to factory-based. You couldn't make a living off the land anymore. And factory wages were poor. So, many came to the mainland.

The inside folder of this playset shows a factory amidst the palm trees and an open field.

Here is one of the booklets included in this playset.

About 3 million people live on the island today. 
The Taino people lived on the island when Columbus arrived. 

When Christopher Columbus arrived on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (San Salvador) in 1492, he encountered the Taíno people, whom he described in letters as "naked as the day they were born." The Taíno had complex hierarchical religious, political, and social systems. Skilled farmers and navigators, they wrote music and poetry and created powerfully expressive objects. At the time of Columbus’s exploration, the Taíno were the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean and inhabited what are now Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By 1550, the Taíno were close to extinction, many having succumbed to diseases brought by the Spaniards. Taíno influences survived, however, and today appear in the beliefs, religions, language, and music of Caribbean cultures.

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