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Michael D. Gillespie II
Professor Witherspoon
English 102-01
October 29, 2014
Effects of Colonialism on Puerto Rican Life
Expansion, the one thing that every nation and culture has in mind when thinking of their
future. This is more so seen in larger counties such as the United States, Russia, and Germany all
of which had the same thing in mind when first creating their countries: expansion. In the case
of the United States, expansion meant the colonization of islands such as Puerto Rico. Yet, who
is really affected by such expansion? Colonization often leads to the displacement of one culture
by another and can force a small culture like Puerto Rico to lose sight of who they really are as a
people in their structure of sociality, education and economy.
In the early 1490s (Puerto Rico's History) Spain had conquered a small island which
we now call Puerto Rico or Rich Port in the common Spanish language. With the Spaniards
colonizing Puerto Rico their intrusion caused the formation of a social class system. With social
class forming the Spanish had begun their rule over the land. Many of the Tainos were looked at
as a lower class of people, just a group to be used for work and entertainment. The Spanish
began to pillage the land for everything that it had, including food, water, supplies, resources,
and even women. Due to a lack of resources the Tainos could nothing to stop the invading
Spanish from taking what they now believed to be theirs.
Once settled, the Spanish won the Tainos trust and would use it against them in the long
run. At this point social order has been created there were the elite pure blooded Spaniards at the
top, the Mulattos which were the children of the Spanish and the natives, and finally the Tainos

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which were basically the slaves of Puerto Rico. A Hierarchy was created, and an educational
system was next to be organized. As in their homeland the Spaniards were educated in the same
way as their forefathers, which was based around their Roman Catholic religion (Religion)
where God was everything. For they were to become the future leaders of the land once the
adults left back to Spain or looked to expand later. Depending on the shade of their skin the
Mulattos would either be put in the lower working class or as house help. The lower class though
was used for their knowledge of the land.
Furthermore, as the social order in Puerto Rico changed there came a need for economic
reform. The Tianos that had once lived off the land, had now become the mass producing slave
labor for the Spanish economy. These new jobs consisted of mass produce food to send back to
Spain and to feed the people of Puerto Rico. With this new form of economy another problem
arose. All of the work and stress which the new jobs had caused now increased the chances of
catching diseases that the Spanish had brought with them. Once able to find cures through
homemade remedies which were made from local plants, the natives created cures for their past
diseases. For medication at this point was kept between the doctorss, who answered through the
church. For faith was and still is one of the greatest cures to any sickness for all groups.
One of the most important things which was affected and still is today is the language
which is used amongst individuals. Americans for instance use Spanish words in billboards and
advertisements just to try and connect with the overall population. For instance when Consuelo
speaks of her moms thought on the Spanglish advertisements. (Cofer) While most of the
population finds it disrespectful and stupid to say one word in a language and the rest of the
sentence in another, for they believe it takes away from the culture which, had been created and
passed down from past generations to future generation. Almost a mockery of the language

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shows the respect that a certain group gives towards another race or ethnicity. Change in
language now brings into light a new form of education. With the new language came a new
uniformed way of teaching. Now education was not divided based upon who your parents were;
everyone had to learn the same thing and in the same manner as everyone else in order to have a
structured society. For if there were multiple languages all in one small village how is everyone
supposed to communicate with another when it comes to problems or work? More so
communication is important in any community for a successful structure, for at this point in time
individuals relied on each other just as it was in the past.
All of these things build into the total package of how a culture of a civilization has been
changed all based upon one group thinking that their way is better than another. Creating a
complex for the future generations to come, since they will never have any true understanding of
where they came from and how proud their people once were. It doesnt matter if it came down
to the loss of their religion, land, or even a unique language that was passed down from
ancestors. To keep a peoples culture around throughout the ages even more so on how they feel
about themselves. If the loss of my culture was brought upon another group of people just
looking for land and easy help, I would not have gone down without a fight.

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Works Cited
"Puerto Rico's History." History of Puerto Rico. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz. The Meaning of Consuelo. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003.
"Religion." In Puerto Rico. Frommers, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014