Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 January 2020
When we began this project, our objective was to empirically examine one major aspect of the inherited knowledge on how the United States impacted the structures of Puerto Rican rural society in the early twentieth century. This revolved around the fundamental issue of landownership and how basic tenure and ownership structures changed through time under US colonial rule. The prevailing interpretation, as we have stated, was that land alienation was a fundamental process experienced in rural Puerto Rico as the economy shifted from a predominantly coffee-export economy in the late nineteenth century to a sugar-plantation economy and society on the coast. Large-scale capital investments by the Sugar Trust created modern central factories in specific coastal zones, and massive corporate-owned landed estates extending for tens of thousands of acres dominated rural life in these regions, to be sure.