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One small island, one nation. Every single change can change anything in history.
Seeds of the Revolution
Ramón Emeterio Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis organized the revolt with careful planning and time to make the island of Puerto Rico an independent nation. The world carried on, Spain had just ended its revolution in the homeland, the year was 1868. Speaking of simple liberal reforms would send you to jail in the small, yet wealthy island of Puerto Rico, Peninsulares abused of mulatos and 'Borinquenes' often, and taxed heavily for the problems of them. On September 28, 1868, Manuel Rojas declared independence, with the Ten Commandments of Free Men.
The "Campaign for Liberation"
On the early morning of the 29th, thousands of Borinquenes revolted, storming into armories of the numerically inferior Spanish troops, the Spanish were caught surprised, the Governor of Puerto Rico was in a confused state, and gave power to his bests generals, and then, personally left to Cuba to ask for aid. (To which some called him a simple coward running away.)
"El Telegrafo" a ship carrying 3000 mercenaries, which were mostly received from the Dominican Republic which supported Betances' movement, landed south-west of the island, in Cabo Rojo, which had a large Spanish presence.
The Spanish Garrison in Puerto Rico numbered 5,000 men, they were thinly spread in the island, with Militia, they made up to 8,000 men. Yet, they were still thinly spread, many in the militia abandoned the army, they were greatly outnumbered, as the majority of the villages had their men fighting against Spanish troops.
Around 9:00 AM, "The Liberation Army" was in three main groups, one of it, with the 3,000 mercenaries was clearing the west cost and pushing east, into the mountains, they numbered around 8,000 men, another army in the west, which had many horses, people often said "the army has more hoses than men", went around 'major' areas in the south and west, defeating the low Spanish presence in the south, they numbered 2,000 men, and had sent 1,000 men to the mountains in the middle of the island. Then, the army in the north besieged San Juan, the capital, which had 1,000 men Spanish men in the city, tough, seasoned, and loyal soldiers, and the army of liberation there numbered 10,000 men, they had light artillery pieces.
San Juan was an archipelago, it had been attacked three different times by the British twice, and once by the Dutch, the archipelago never fell to them. Manuel Rojas, who was leading the army that besieged San Juan, worried that Spanish reinforcement would take them by surprise. And the Spanish had a large garrison in Cuba.
Rojas, who was also the Supreme Commander of All the Armies, ordered the other armies to split in half, and take the mountainous areas, while they vigilantly patrol the coastal waters. The armies headed to the mountain, progress was slower than usual, they faced ambush from times to times, they gathered enthusiastic supporters, but saw unhappy citizens, who feared the Spanish would make them suffer even more. And some just look disgustedly away from the revolutionaries due to their patriotism towards Spain.
Time passed on, the siege in San Juan died down, and less raids passed against the armies passing on the mountains. The army besieging San Juan stayed the same. As people realized what was happening, they joined the revolutionaries, or simply stayed quiet. The army of the west which also patrolled the south had 1,300 men. The army in the east had 2,000 men. The armies in the center now numbered 7,000 men, gaining many supporters over there in the mountainous regions. The army there split into five groups. 1,400 evenly. One group went to the west army, one to the east army, one to the southern part of the island, to help the weak west army who had to stretch itself, one to the army besieging San Juan, and another stayed in the area. In total, the army of liberation numbered
The army of liberation numbered a very high number, 20,300, much larger than what Betances, the organizer of the revolution expected. The Spanish in total all around the island by the time numbered 1,000 to 2,000 men scattered around the island, including the garrison in San Juan. The liberation army had little quality, the majority of them didn't even have weapons, only 6,000 of them had weapons, and most were stationed in the siege of San Juan, Manuel Rojas used clever tactics with gun powders to make the Spanish think they had decent equipment, when in reality, the majority of the army poorly followed orders in an event of battle, and wielded clubs and any thing that could hurt a Spanish soldier.
Spanish in Cuba quickly got the word, and were ready to send 1,000 men to help crush the rebellion, but the Governor of Puerto Rico arrived, and explained and detailed the situation more accurately, he exaggerated the situation, saying how the rebels had warships, perfectly coordinated in battles, and so on. The Governor of Cuba, a loyal man to the crown of Spain, then sent 7,000 men, all he could send, due to Cuba having its own unrest.
It was by know October 2nd. The siege of San Juan went to a stalemate, as the defenders refused to surrender, who also had a good amount of supplies of food inside, and the light artillery Rojas had was not enough.
In a letter, he wrote to Francisco Ramirez, the man who was given the title of President of the Republic: My dear friend, we face a grave situation, the malditos (damned) Spanish refuse to surrender, word is a force is arriving soon to Puerto Rico from Cuba, we are outequipped, the Spanish have a small force in Puerto Rico, but with help from their colony in Cuba, we are in a tight spot.
And President Francisco Ramirez wrote back: Mi amigo (my friend) do not worry, let me handle that.
And he was. The President had sent an envoy to the United States, and the United Kingdom. The envoys somewhat exaggerated what Spanish soldiers have been doing before the revolution began, especially to news reporters, who published it gratefully, and even some few 'spies' in Spain also gave gross exaggeration of 'war crimes' as anonymous sources told news organization in Spain of many things.
The United States, who was interested in Cuba, thought that Spain could be slightly weakened for future conflicts if Puerto Rico became independent. Cuban Rebels in Cuba, began offensives, hearing of their 'cousins' rebelling, and stopped effectively any possible chances of the Spanish in Cuba sending more men to Puerto Rico. The United Kingdom, stayed neutral in all this, but condemned the Spanish for abusing of rights of men. In Spain itself, there were rumors of a disastrous defeats that had happened, which brought many frowns in the people of Spain.
Spain, saw the situation becoming worse the passing day, even if the army reached to Puerto Rico, and swiftly defeat the enemy armies, Manuel Rojas, the leader of the "Liberation Army" promised a bloody war that would knock the will out of all the Spanish that supported it. And again, the President of Spain himself, gave sympathetic view to Puerto Rico, due to him himself coming to power by a liberal revolution.
And then, on October 27, Puerto Rico was granted full independence.
The Young Nation
Truthfully, the young island did not achieve independence by winning battles- yes they did win early battles against the Spanish garrison - but they, in fact, won it by the support of the international community, especially the United States, and the President of Spain himself.
The young nation immediately faced difficulties, a thousand young and hard-working men died in the revolution, this put a severe lack of workforce in the island, they decided to keep the Spanish currency, they also quickly faced a monopoly crisis, and U.S merchants quickly bought many farms and had a monopoly in the small island.
This frustrated the first and new President Ramirez greatly, he was advised by his advisors to either expulse them out by force, start up a powerful industry in the island indirectly to expulse them, or simply let them be, as they may actually make Puerto Rico much wealthier- but Ramirez worried about corruption, he had seen and heard examples of European monopoly in South America.
In the beginning of his administration, Ramirez proved to be a charismatic leader, he encouraged Puerto Ricans to farm more, to be more "Borinquen!" and to have union for they had a great future. He privately donated funds to small companies that provided local competitions to U.S companies, a political party Estabilidad Para Nosotros (Stability for Us) or the E.P.N publicly called out for the patriotism to buy Puerto Rican animals, foods, and other kind of products, this party and Ramirez's administration publicly were rivals, but privately, they were in good terms.