Agrarian Puerto Rico: Reconsidering Rural Economy and Society, 1899–1940
Fundamental tenets of colonial historiography are challenged by showing that US capital investment into this colony did not lead to the disappearance of the small farmer. Contrary to well-established narratives, quantitative data show that the increasing integration of rural producers within the US market led to differential outcomes, depending on pre-existing land tenure structures, capital requirements to initiate production, and demographics. These new data suggest that the colonial economy was not polarized into landless Puerto Rican rural workers on one side and corporate US capitalists on the other. The persistence of Puerto Rican small farmers in some regions and the expansion of local property ownership and production disprove this socioeconomic model. Other aspects of extant Puerto Rican historiography are confronted in order to make room for thorough analyses and new conclusions on the economy of colonial Puerto Rico during the early twentieth century.
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acreage acres agrarian agricultural American average Bureau cane capital Caribbean census Central coastal coffee colonial compared controlled corporations crops Cuba cuerdas cultivation decade decline Department despite distribution districts dominant early twentieth century economic established examined expansion exports extensive fact families farmers figure Government Governor growth harvested highlands important increased indicated investment island labor land land concentration land tenure landless landowners landownership largest less major Managers mean million mills municipalities of Puerto municipios nineteenth century number of farms occupied owners ownership patterns percent Percent of Total Percentage period plantations planted population Porto pounds Printing production Puerto Rico regions Report Rican Rico’s rural San Juan Santa Isabel sector social society Spanish structure Sugar Company sugar-producing sugarcane Table tariff tion tobacco United University urban Vieques Washington workers World zones