Puerto Rico spent most of its history under the control of Spain. In the year 1898, the islanders wanted their freedom and welcomed the U.S. invaders as their last hope of liberation from Spanish control. The United States brought the promise of democracy to Puerto Rico, but its true intentions did not include letting go of the island. Although the United States claimed that its intentions were to civilize Puerto Rico and help it become a democratic society, its hypocritical manner of dealing with the island had a great impact on Puerto Rican development. The early years of U.S. colonization affected many aspects of Puerto Rico, including economics, politics, and social relations.
When the United States first took Puerto Rico from Spain, its plans concerning what to do with the island appeared to be noble. According to Fernandez, "The United States would resurrect Puerto Rico, like Lazurus, creating, in Senator Foraker's words,a new era?a new life?and prosperity far exceeding any hopes that have been excited or any anticipations that have been entertained.?(Fernandez 2)" In other words, the United States viewed Puerto Rico as something that had to be saved, and claimed that their plan was to rescue it from its inferior status and improve the standard of living. Puerto Rico was to remain under the control of the U.S. until it was capable of taking care of itself. In the words of Trías-Monge:.
Its fundamental tenets would be that the people of Puerto Rico were not ready for self-government; a learning period, of unspecified duration, was necessary before self-government could be extended; the eventual status should be neither statehood nor independence, but a self-governing dependency, subject to the plenary power of Congress; the learning process required a policy of political and cultural assimilation, which necessarily involved the extension of United States laws, institutions, and language to the island, and living conditions should be improved to the extent possible.