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Extra info for Puerto Rico (Modern World Nations)
In ad d i ti on , re s i dents were able to buy tex tiles, clothing, oi l , flour, wines, and manu f actu red good s f rom non-Spanish are a s . Pu erto Rican con trabandists or s mu ggl ers sold hors e s , cattle, mules, and exo tic woods to nei gh boring islands that lacked these produ ct s . This ill egal trade may seem immora l , but this form of exchange hel ped Pu erto Ricans su rvive econ om i c a lly du ring a co l onial era that was ch a racteri zed by restricti on s . All aspects of col oni a l administra tion, it must be rem em bered, were in the hands of S panish military personnel who had little con cern for the well - being of island re s i dents.
An elite group of white landowners owned much of the island’s best land. The rest of Puerto Rico’s Spanish population became tenant farmers on small land holdings. With the establishment of sugar cane plantations, the white population of low socioeconomic status was forced out of the sugar districts. White workers were an expensive source of labor; they could not compete with African slaves, who received no wages. Without land or jobs, the poor whites fled to the central highlands to settle as unlawful tenants on the unfenced cattle ranges of large landowners.
Women were allowed to vote, and for the first time a woman was elected to the legislature. Illiterate women, however, were not allowed to vote until 1935. Du ring World War II, Pu erto Ri co rega i n ed its stra tegic geopo l i tic al import a n ce . The island became the cen ter of a chain of military bases the United States establ i s h ed from Trinidad, in the Lesser Antilles, to Cuba. ” This reference was an allusion to the strategic location of the British colony of Gibraltar on the strait that links the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.