Chapter IV focuses on the presence of the Americans in Puerto Rico during the early part of the twentieth century and their subsequent development of the sugarcane industry there. During this time, the United States military occupied Puerto Rico. Due to this occupation, the native islanders were affected in numerous ways and were looked down upon by the Americans.
The Americans viewed the natives as incompetent and unable to be trusted. Many new American banks were popping up in Guamani that were reluctant to finance island run mills, but were giving money to the American run mills: “A number of powerful banks from the north had recently opened branches in GuamaniThese banks, however, found no difficulty in financing the new sugar corporations that had recently arrived in town, but mistrusted island initiative” (26).
The opening and inauguration of the Snow White Mills, “the ultramodern refining complex the newcomers (Americans) had been building from months on the valley,” (28) was of major significance in this chapter. Don Julio was strong-willed and vowed that he would not sell any of his land and “share the same fate” as the other local sugar mills. It was rumored that the Americans had declared a cessation of hostilities in the sugar mills war, and were now willing to aid the criollo hacienda workers. This was his opportunity to mingle and discuss his plans with the owners of Snow White Mills.
When Don Julio arrived at the fair grounds, he made his way over to Mr. Durham and Mr. Irving, the president of the mills and the president of the sponsoring bank National City Bank, respectively. These two Americans saw the US victory as a major step towards modernizing for the US and for Puerto Rico: “Twenty years ago it brought you freedom and order; this times its bringing you our nations progress. Thanks to that army out there your island is being inaugurated today in to the modern age,” (32) said Mr. Durham speaking of the army that was present at the festivities.
Don Julio was disturbed and offended by this comment. Mr. Irving said that the progress of the new century belongs to Americans and the progress of the past belongs to the Spanish. Yet again, showing how the Americans look down upon the native peoples.
He then proposed his deal to the two Americans; he would sell them some of his cane fields, if they would lend him the money to modernize his own mill. The Americans find this to be amusing because Don Julio thinks that the bank invested to wipe out foreign landowners, when they were really investing in a business that has potential to be profitable: “This man thinks our bank is Snow Whites business partner! Im afraid youre mistaken my friend. Weve no vested interests whatsoever in the venture, and there no way M. Durham can tell us what to do. And taking Don Julio gently by the arm, he explained that his banks role was not to choose between criollo and foreign landowners, but to loan out money to a solid enterprise, for the good of all,” (33) said Mr. Durham.
This shows the difference between the two ways of thinking. The Americans are concerned with the business aspects and money. On the other hand, Don Julio is worried about his family business.
The day of the inauguration was a big spectacle with a zeppelin, donning the colors of the American flag on its tail on a banner stating “April 15, 1918- Follow Our Example,” flying in the direction of the new mill. This zeppelin served two purposes. The first being that the banner was showing their feeling of superiority over the native peoples. If the native peoples were to follow the American way, they would be better off. Also, the zeppelin is leading the peoples towards the festivities. This shows that the Americans dont believe that the natives must be lead and are not able of doing things on their own.
In conclusion, there are many differences that are apparent between the Americans and Puerto Ricans in this chapter. The American occupation and taking over helped to bring out and show these differences. The manner in which the Americans go about dealing with the Puerto Ricans shows their lack of respect. Most of all, Puerto Rican sugar fields took the worst hit.