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Puerto Rico in the Great Depression

Facts About the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration
Information Research Section, P.R.R.A.

December 1938

Publishing Information
    Facts About P.R.R.A. As Of December 1938

  1. Puerto Rico, densely populated, with 506 persons per square mile—with little industrial development—depends almost exclusively on its agriculture for the support of the government and the subsistence of its inhabitants. Economic and world wide political forces worked to bring agriculture, in its various phases, upon the brink of an economic crisis. The hurricanes of 1928 and 1932 ruined the fruit and coffee farms. During the years of recovery, markets disappeared. One crop farming, lack of emphasis on food crops, restrictions on sugar production, all contributed to unemployment, concentration of population, slums, disease, social unrest. It was to meet these conditions — to relieve unemployment —to remove as far as possible the causes of agricultural depression — to create new sources of wealth and income — to establish new standards of living— that there was created by Executive Order on May 28, 1935, the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (P.R.R.A.), as the agency through which sight be expended such Federal work relief and emergency funds as were available for Puerto Rico, towards the attainment of the above objectives.

  2. The objectives of the program were defined by the President in a letter dated August 1, 1935:

    "The Administration's program intends not merely immediate relief but permanent reconstruction for the Island. To this end the projects in contemplation will see to insure every person on the Island a position of reasonable independence and security. The economy of the Island is, of course, agricultural and the solution of its problems must be in terms of agricultural rehabilitation, It will therefore be sought to secure for each citizen a place on the land which will give him a fair share in the fruits of his own labor and a position of independence and security. This will require the establishment of many persons on small farming units. It will also require that these small farmers be insured adequate processing and distributing facilities at reasonable cost. Diversification of agricultural production will be sought by the program in order that the Island may approach a self-sustaining status. Cheap and available electric power, good roads, reforestation and adequate housing are also essential to effect the Administration's program... I am anxious that the Government of the United States shall discharge fully its responsibilities to the Puerto Rican people...."

  3. The program, which began in the latter part of 1935, has been financed with allocations by the President from funds appropriated in the Emergency Relief Appropriation Acts of 1935, 1936 and 1937, and by a direct appropriation to the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration in the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1938.

  4. Immediately after the Executive Order was signed, by virtue of which the P.R.R.A. was created, the offices of the agency were established and in December 1935 the whole reconstruction administration program was already functioning in a smooth and rapid manner.

  5. The first program of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration consisted of 64 individual official projects approved by the President for prosecution under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935. They covered a wide range of activities including rural rehabilitation, rural electrification, forestation and reforestation, slim clearance and low-cost housing, construction of buildings and improvements for the University of Puerto Rico, construction of a cement plant, and cattle tick and coconut bud-rot eradication. Under the provisions of the Act of February 11, 19361 (Public No. 442, 74th Congress) the availability of funds for these projects was extended to June 30, 1940.

  6. Under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1936 the President approved some 33 individual Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration work projects. While several of these supplemented certain projects approved and prosecuted under the 1935 Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, many represented new classes of projects, thus expanding the program to include Federal and non-Federal projects for highways, roads, streets, public utilities, public buildings, flood control and social service and relief programs of a "white collar" type.

  7. The twenty-nine individual Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration Work projects approved by the President under the Emergency Relief Appropriation of 1937 fell within the same categories as those approved under prior relief acts. For the most part they merely supplemented and made available funds for activities already under way. A new administrative procedure, however, involving substantially the same activities, was introduced, according to which the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration administered and supervised five projects of the Farm Security Administration relating to agricultural rehabilitation in the Island. As of November 30, 1938 expenditures under these five projects amounted to $85l,115.46.

  8. The Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1938 contains specific authorization for the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration to administer a program involving loans, rural rehabilitation and certain types of Federal and non-Federal projects authorized for the Works Progress Administration. As of December 19, 1938, 26 work projects under this authorization had been approved by the President. To a great extent they merely continue projects begun under prior relief acts but as usual the program embodies a few new activities.

  9. By the summer of 1934 unemployment in Puerto Rico had reached a total of approximately 350,000, which condition—directly or indirectly—is estimated to have affected some 75 per cent of the entire population at that time. The records of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration for Puerto Rico show that in July of 1934 there were 126,917 relief cases (heads of families or single persons), involving some 643,327 persons. In January of 1935 the figures had declined to 120,221 for relief cases involving 604,449 persons. By November of 1938, 2 the number of cases had risen to 222,606 involving 1,121,035 persons3, with an estimated unemployment of 150,000.

  10. Employment on Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration work projects began in the fall of 1935. As the program got under way, employment steadily rose, reaching a peak in. November of 1936 when 58,238 persons were employed on work projects. The monthly employment on Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration work projects from the inception of the program in 1935 through December 1938, reveals that Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration employment dropped sharply in July of 1937. In the eighteen months since then to the present time the general level has been below the average prior to July of 1937. This situation has been due to the facts that after July of 1937 the funds available to the Administration were considerably less than in previous periods and that the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration obligations against all available funds have been limited to $11,000,000 during each of the fiscal years of 1938 and 1939.

  11. At no time has the percentage of Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration employees taken from relief rolls fallen below 90.7. On December 31, 1938, the percentage stood at 98.9.

  12. Up to October 31, 1938, Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration employment on work projects had furnished approximately 108,658,865 man hours of work. Because the plight of agriculture, which represents the main source of Island income, was extremely serious in 1935, the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration program has embodied extensive rural rehabilitation activities accounting for more man hours of work than all other types of activities combined— 57.7 per cent. Other long range projects have, provided about 25.8 per cent of the total man hours of work. Work relief projects not directly related to or under the long range reconstruction part of the program are responsible for about 16.5 per cent of the total man hours.

  13. With the wide range of its objectives, in a brief period of three years, great accomplishment has been made by the PRRA. In the sugar program, for example, the Central Lafayette and its properties located in the municipalities of Arroyo, Patillas and Maunabo, on the southeastern side of the Island, belonging to foreign proprietors, were acquired.

  14. Central Lafayette consists of 4,427 acres owned by land cooperatives and 5,311 owned by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration or a total of 9,738 acres. The program involves loans totaling $4,414,943.11 to land and mill cooperatives for the purchase and operation of Lafayette Central and the construction of a butyl alcohol plant in connection therewith, where sugar cane by-products are to be converted into commercial chemical solvents.

  15. According to the program carried on in Lafayette District, in the marginal lands, 405 small farms have been created for laborers who work at the Central, where they may devote their spare time in the cultivation of minor crops. The balance of the lands has been divided into farms of not more than 500 acres to be worked according to the principles which operations compared favorably with the leading sugar centrals in Puerto Rico. The PRRA has greatly improved the properties by the construction of roads and dirt-roads in order to improve the means of transportation; the construction of 405 concrete houses for members of the cooperatives and 93 frame houses for laborers; the construction of a modern hospital of two stories, three community centers for social and educational work, the construction of three vocational schools operated by the Insular Government to teach arts and trades to the children of the laborers; and the establishment of a Central Service Farm to assist the small farm-owners and to provide them, at the same time, with seeds, agricultural implements arid fertilizers. It is hoped to demonstrate at Lafayette that it is possible to operate a sugar business on a basis that will result in general benefits for the community arid profit for those persons engaged in the business. Negotiations are being carried on for the purchase of Central Los Caños in the northern part of the Island.

  16. Loans have been made to two cooperatives other than sugar, totaling $231,000.00 for fruit canning and the purchase of agricultural supplies.

  17. Broadly speaking, the rural rehabilitation program has fallen into five main phases: (1) rehabilitation of privately owned farms under certain conditions, (2) land acquisition for resettlement, (3) sugar program about which we have spoken in referring to Lafayette Central, (4) loans to cooperatives other than sugar, and (5) soil conservation and agricultural development.

  18. The PRRI acquired in the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Ceyey, Comerío, Aibonito and Ciales 4,322 cuerdas of land at a cost of $302,420.88. These lands, belonging to the American Suppliers (an absentee company), have been divided into 461 small farms, in each one of which a concrete house with suitable farm buildings has been constructed and turned over on a rental basis to former laborers or landless farmers. This is the most important tobacco zone of the Island and for that reason tobacco continues to be the principal product of the newly created farmers, but, at the same time, they follow the diversification and intensification of farming, devoting a large part of their land to the raising of minor crops, vegetables for export, fruits and poultry.

  19. In the municipalities of Lares and Adjuntas, in the interior of the Island, the PRRA purchased 1,645 acres of land at a cost of $163,905.25 and has established there 200 small farmers. These lands are unsurpassed for the cultivation of coffee and for that reason coffee is its principal product, but as in the above case, a large part of the farm is dedicated to the raising of other products such as tung oil and vanilla, perfume plants, rare fruits and vegetables. Puerto Rico is the only place over which the American flag floats which grows vanilla and soon it will become an important exporter of this product to the United States.

  20. Following this same philosophy of reconstruction, the PRRI has acquired a 1,526 cuerda farm in Luquillo at a cost of $87,153.63 which has been divided into 198 parcels; another 433.87 cuerda farm in Trujillo Alto a cost of $39,463.97 which has been divided into 240 parcels and another 255.51 cuerda farm in Mayaguez which has been divided into 86 parcels. In nearly all of these parcels modern concrete houses have been constructed. The farm acquired by the PRRA in Luquillo has been divided into 123 farms of one cuerda each for farm laborers; 35 farms of 20 cuerdas each for farmers of experience, who desire to return to the land, and 40 farms of 10 cuerdas. The farm at Trujillo Alto is a different experiment. Because it is near Río Piedras and San Juan, a semi-urban project has been undertaken there with the purpose of depopulating congested areas in the cities mentioned. The dwellers in these parcels may work in the city, for they have an efficient transportation system, and after working hours are able to add to their income by raising every-day products in their small farms.

  21. The PRRA has extended these services of farming reconstruction to the Island of Vieques, near Puerto Rico, through the acquisition of a 431.20 cuerda farm at a cost of $26,485.39 which has been divided into 156 parcels where the same number of houses were constructed and an equal number of farm laborers wore resettled. In the Island of Vieques, dedicated almost entirely to sugar cane and pasture, the cultivation of products indispensable for daily consumption has been started as well as the intensification of the production of "Sea-Island" cotton which is of the best quality.

  22. The rehabilitation of privately owned farms in the coffee, tobacco and citrous areas through supplying relief labor, seedlings and fertilizers to farm-owners, was undertaken during 1936 and 1937. It accounts for 40,514,538 man hours of work or 37.3 per cent of the total Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration employment afforded to October 31, 1938. The condition prerequisite for receiving this aid in the first year was that the farmer agreed to sell land to the government for resettlers or agricultural workers at one-half its appraised value; in the second year a farmer had to carry out certain soil conservation practices in order to receive Federal assistance.

  23. As a result of this rehabilitation of privately owned farms, 1,668 coffee farm-owners, 1,611 tobacco farm-owners and 101 fruit farm-owners received assistance, the PRRA providing them with laborers to clear their farms, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides and offering to them all possible cooperation.

  24. Forty-one thousand five hundred and seventy-one acres of land, comprising roughly eight separate developments located chiefly in the tobacco, citrous and coffee regions, have been purchased or are contracted for purchase, 32,330 acres of which are being subdivided into small subsistence farms of varying sizes, on which 2,428 small concrete houses, including a few rammed earth, brick and treated wooden houses, have been erected for occupancy by agricultural workers at low rentals. Five hundred and four additional houses are under construction.

  25. The Rural Rehabilitation Program also includes the campaign against the eradication of cattle tick for which 762 dipping vats have been constructed, and 15 additional tanks are under construction, in the rural zones of the Island, whereby the cattle owners are required by law to take their cattle every 15 days to the vats until the insect that has brought about such enormous losses to the cattle industry of the country is entirely under control. A total of 470,799 cattle, mules, horses, and goats has been dipped under the systematic program which began in May of 1936. Another rural rehabilitation program included the eradication of bud-rot, the coconut tree disease that threatened to destroy the coconut plantations in Puerto Rico, such as happened in Cuba several years ago. The success of those works has been definitive. During 1936, under this program for coconut bud-rot eradication, 1,790 groves in an area of 28,130 acres were cleaned out. One thousand seven hundred diseased palm trees were destroyed.

  26. The success of this program has been increased by the reforestation development through which more than 22,000,000 trees have been planted and there are about 7,000,000 trees in the several nurseries established in the Island for future planting, thus reestablishing the forests that were once devastated by the lack of vision of previous generations.

  27. On the 21,835 acres of forest land already acquired or under contract for purchase, three ranger stations and two buildings at the Forest Experiment. Station have been constructed; 58 miles of roads and 61 miles of forest trails have been laid out; 10,096,700 mahogany and spruce trees have been transplanted, most of the plants coming from eleven nurseries constructed and now being operated. Eleven workers' reconstruction camps were operated in connection with the forestation and reforestation program until June 30, 1937.

  28. In regard to soil conservation and agricultural development, activities have been carried on during 1937 and 1938 in cooperation with other Federal and Insular agencies. Among other things, this has involved (a) the construction of 34 miles of outlet channels protecting 996 acres, 73 miles of hillside ditches protecting 273 acres, 551 miles of diversion terraces protecting 173 acres, 8 miles of ridge terraces protecting 73 acres, 28 miles of bench terraces protecting 268 acres, 93 miles of vegetable barriers protecting 205 acres, 7,276 miles of contour tillage protecting 7,772 acres, 8 miles of wattles protecting 136 acres, 2,280 lineal feet of retaining wall, 37 acres of individual coffee terraces and the collection of 32,000,000 bamboo cuttings; and (b) the planting of 6,497 acres of land in resettlement farms, of which about 1,996 acres have been harvested. Twelve central service farms have been constructed and are being operated on which 1,287 acres have been planted to such crops as coffee, plantains, bananas, oranges, avocados, grapefruit, vegetables, cotton, etc. In these central service farms the resettlers are being instructed in scientific cultivation and animal husbandry. Selected seeds, plants, swine, goats, and poultry are distributed among them. In connection with the central service farms there also have been various community activities of a social, recreational, educational and health character.

  29. With the purpose of spreading supplementary products in coffee regions and stimulating the creation of new industries, vanilla cultivation has been started and a pilot plant for curing vanilla beans has been constructed at one of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration central service farms. To date 45,203 vanilla and 60,643 bucare cuttings have been planted on Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration lands. In addition, 364,302 vanilla and 314,213 bucare cuttings have been distributed among farmers for planting.

  30. Together with the development of the rural rehabilitation program which has been described, the PRPA has also undertaken important work for health and hygiene and has developed a vast educational program in cooperation with the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, for which, to June 30, 1938, $1,491,909.05 and $1,107,000.00, respectively, had been granted. In each of the farms bought, the Reconstruction Administration established a number of labor camps, 19 in all, where about 6,000 laborers received medical treatment end were given technical and practical education, vocational and academic, hygienic and physical. In each camp not less than 200 men were housed for a period of 6 months, before they became small proprietors. During that time, these men after working hours—40 hours a week—learned to read and write and were given instruction in arithmetic, economic arid social problems, labor legislation, geography of Puerto Rico, theoretical and practical agriculture, aviculture and manual arts. In these camps special attention was also placed on the recreational and social aspect; by carrying out programs which included recitations, plays, regional and classical music, indoor games, literary conferences and outdoor sports. The workers' camps, exclusive of forestry camps, were discontinued as of December 30, 1937, the units being dismantled for reconstruction us vocational education schools, resettlement houses end central service farm buildings.

  31. PRRA's educational program in its academic and physical aspect included also the establishment of 160 recreational centers in the urban zones, under the supervision of trained physical culture teachers.

  32. But, perhaps, the most important aspect of this program has been the creation of 15 vocational schools in the rural zones, that have been transferred to the Insular Department of Education. In these schools, approximately 3,000 students of school age and adults receive an academic education and learn several trades among which are included carpentry, plumbing, domestic science, furniture making and smithery. Two hundred and ninety-eight public schools, rural and urban, have been constructed or repaired. Thirty-four schools, involving 104 rooms, are now under construction.

  33. The development of these plans also includes the installation of needlework training centers in the country. Nine needlework centers were operated during the fiscal year 1938, and there are now eleven of such centers in operation. A total of 2,490 women has learned to sew, enabling them not only to sew and mend the family clothes but also to aid their husbands with new means of income for their livelihood and to serve as a personal inducement for future cooperatives or needlework industries. Three hundred and ten of these women are now being instructed to work on dresses, underwear and rugs.

  34. For the establishment of ten demonstration canning centers $20,254.42 were assigned. Here country folk learn to can their products in order to preserve them when there is a surplus in the market, so as to prevent loss and to store for domestic consumption. One thousand thirty-four rural families (mostly PRRA resettlers) have taken products to the centers for canning. Twenty-six thousand, one hundred and ninety-five cans of vegetables and 37,981 cans of fruit have been packed at these centers.

  35. The interest of the PRRI in the educational system of Puerto Rico, guiding it toward definite objectives, is shown by the assignment of the amount of $2,062,954.40 for the highest center of learning of the Island. With these funds the following buildings have been constructed at the University of Puerto Rico: an auditorium with a capacity for 2,000 persons; a library with room for more than 50,000 volumes; a home economic building; a school of education; a biology laboratory; a building for the College of Liberal Arts; reconstruction of the administration building and an agricultural building at the College of Agriculture and Mechanic arts of Mayaguez, affording work to more than 3,000 men. Aside from these seven buildings constructed at Río Piedras and Mayaguez for the University of Puerto Rico, five others are under construction or repair at the present time.

  36. Three buildings for the School of Tropical Medicine are under construction or repair. An animal house for the some institution has been completed.

  37. In regard to the health program, it has included an intense medico-social work which embraces not only the camp laborers where more than 6,000 men were submitted to a complete physical examination and treated according to the result thereof , but also approximately 510,000 patients who were treated in the medical dispensaries established in the rural zone of Puerto Rico. In close cooperation with the educational program, the medical division of the PRRA created a Social Service Section which takes care of all the families connected with the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, as long as these families are in need or are faced with problems that do not allow them to lead a normal life. A Dietetic Unit in charge of graduated dietitians undertook to teach the families of the laborers how to prepare and improve their diet, using products within reach of their economic status. In order to facilitate the work of the Social Service Section the PRRA has established 20 community centers in the several rural zones where agricultural programs of the PRRA are being developed, each one having a social worker, an athletic instructor and a home demonstration agent. The work of the Medical Section of the PRRA has also included dental treatment to approximately 50,000 patients; the erection of 21 medical centers consisting of 64 rural dispensaries which were turned over to the Insular Government on June 30, 1938; the construction of 25 public health units in different municipalities of the Island and the completion of important works under repair. The extension of the School of Tropical Medicine will be another important contribution in behalf of public health.


  38. The development of the hydroelectric resources is of extraordinary importance to all aspects of Puerto Rican life. However, until the year 1915 the use of this energy was very deficient in Puerto Rico and was almost totally in the hands of private capital. In that same year the Insular Government become interested in the production of electric power and in 1935 undertook a wide program to make use of the hydroelectric power available in the Island, the Legislature having then passed a law to that effect.

  39. In 1935, an initial grant of $2,727,600 was made for hydroelectric development. To date, three hydroelectric plants including transmission and distribution facilities have been completed and turned over to the Insular Government, there by increasing the potential output of the Insular electric system by 28,000,000 kilowatt hours per year.

  40. The three plants completed, by the PRRA are the following:

  41. An extension of Central Hydroelectric Plant — Toro Negro No. 1. This project, started on October 10, 1935 and costing $374,552.82, was officially turned over to the Insular Government on March 22, 1937. This extension increased the output of the plant to 18,000,000 kilowatt hours per year.

  42. Construction of the Hydroelectric Plant — Toro Negro No. 2. This project, started on October 10, 1935 and costing $409,151.15, was officially turned over to the Insular Government on March 22, 1937. The annual output of this plant is 4,000,000 kilowatt hours per year.

  43. Construction of Hydroelectric Plant — Carite No. 3. This project, started on October 7, 1935 and costing $176,185.98, was officially turned over to the Insular Government on January 10, 1937. This plant was designed to produce 4,000,000 kilowatt hours per year.

  44. Two additional large hydroelectric projects, designed to increase the present potential output by 64,000,000 kilowatt hours per annum, are under construction and, when completed, will likewise be transferred to the Insular Government. One of these, Las Grazes, is being brought to completion by the Public Works Administration at an approximate cost of $3,875,000.00. The other one, Dos Bocas, is being prosecuted by the PRRA at an approximate cost of $3,834,000.00.


  45. The transcendental importance of these reconstruction projects requires also a basic development of an economic character, and, therefore, the PRRA has developed a broad program for the promotion of cooperatives.

  46. To initiate, stimulate and develop the cooperative movement in Puerto Rico, there has been established the Puerto Rico Self-Help Corporation which is supervised by the PRRA. This corporation organized the Cooperative Handicraft, Inc. of Puerto Rico which provides permanent work for about 160 women, who make undergarments for men and women, handkerchiefs and women's dresses, all of which are to be sold in the local market or exported to the United States; the Corn Growers' Cooperative Association, having a mill and a corn bin with capacity to store and grind 50,000 quintals annually; and the Primus Potteries Cooperative dedicated to the artistic creation of ceramic objects using Puerto Rican motifs in order to create an authentic Puerto Rican art.

  47. With the cooperation of the Cooperative Division of the PRRA, which approved a loan of $75,000.00 to the fruit growers, the Arecibo Fruit Growers' Cooperative Association has constructed a hurricane and earthquake proof canning factory with a daily canning capacity of from 800 to 1,000 quintals of fresh fruits. If successful, similar enterprises for the canning of orange juice, the prospective of which at present is more promising than that of the coffee business, will be enhanced. With the same purpose, the PRRA is closely cooperating with the already organized cotton cooperative of Puerto Rico dedicated to the cultivation and ginning of "Sea-Island" cotton, having 638 members. This association produced in three years of operation 1,233 bales of cotton that were sold in New York for $181,897.75. The "Sociedad Agrícola Cooperativa de Puerto Rico", organized to enable farmers to buy fertilizers, feeds, seeds, agricultural implements, etc. at low prices, has operated successfully for the last thirteen months, and during that short period of time it has bought 13,132.31 tons of fertilizers.


  48. The increase of the population of Puerto Rico with 40,000 births yearly and a declining death rate, the exodus of farm laborers to the cities due to the state of misery in which they find themselves in the rural zones of the Island, and the concentration of the best lands in the hands of absentee owners, are the main causes of the slum problem which is being given careful consideration by the municipal authorities and the Insular Government.

  49. Here the PRRA undertook to point the way toward a new standard of living for under-privileged families by constructing sanitary, comfortable and low-cost houses in a healthy and decent environment.

  50. On about 270 acres of land located at San Juan, Ponce and Hato Rey, three urban or suburban projects have been constructed, providing a total of 811 living units. Along Fernandez Juncos Avenue, between Ledesma and San Juan Bautista streets of Puerta de Tierra, in San Juan, the PRRA has constructed a magnificent apartment house, consisting of 18 units of three stories each, connected by portals which lead into stairs giving access to four apartments on each floor. The building has 216 apartments with room for the same number of families and is constructed of reinforced concrete, built to withstand fire, hurricane and earthquake.

  51. The second project of slum clearance has been constructed by the PRRA at Hato Ray near the San Juan — Rio Piedras road. For the development of this urbanization known as the "Eleanor Roosevelt Development", the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration bought 227.193 cuerdas of land at a cost of $107,079.51. The "Eleanor Roosevelt Development" is a truly modern city with paved streets, sidewalks and drains, water system, sanitary and storm water sewerage, a school, a police station; 131 one-family houses, 91 two-family houses, 4 block model units for 128 families and eighteen three-bedroom houses — in all, 459 dwellings at a cost of $764,465.95, in which 453 families live or a total of some 2,400 persons. The PRRA has retained three houses for official use. Twelve additional units are under construction.

  52. The latest of these projects is the "Morell Campos Development" constructed at Ponce on a 50.04 acre tract bought at a cost of $21,583.23. In the construction of this development, the same model has been followed as that of the above-mentioned project, although on a smaller scale. Like the "Eleanor Roosevelt Development", the. houses of "Morell Campos Development" have two or three bedrooms, kitchen, bath room and a combination sitting and dining room. This development has 150 houses divided into 50 one-family houses, 30 two-family houses, and a block model unit for 32 families, constructed .at a cost of $284,888.80. The "Morell Campos Development" was designed to accommodate more than 750 persons.

  53. Besides the aforementioned projects, the Public Works Administration (PWA) constructed in one of the suburbs of San Juan, the Mirapalmeras Development of 131 houses, 26 of three bedrooms, 92 houses with two bedrooms and 13 of one bedroom, with space for 655 persons; and the "La Granja" Development in the city of Caguas, containing 78 units, 31 of which have one bedroom; 41 two-bedroom and 6 three-bedroom units. In all, it provides housing facilities for 400 persons. These two housing projects, once Completed, were transferred to the PRRA.

  54. In addition to these projects, the Engineering Division of the PRRA has undertaken important works for public welfare and to improve the appearance of several towns of the Island. Foremost among these works are the construction of sixteen Insular and two municipal buildings, and the repairs of fourteen Insular and eleven municipal public buildings. Thirteen water and sewer systems, involving 143,115 lineal feet of pipe, have been constructed on Federal property; eight water and sewer systems, involving 85,758 lineal feet of pipe, have been constructed on non-Federal property; also 157.6 kilometers of road and four bridges. These works include the installation of an electric plant in Vieques, the construction of 16 deep water wells, an annex to the Girls' Charity School, a Boys' Charity School, and the reconstruction of the Santo Domingo Barracks, the Artillery Park and the Old Insane Asylum building at "El Morro". These latter three are military buildings of great historical value. Ten parks or other recreational facilities have been constructed and one repaired.


  55. During its three years of existence, the PRRA has given work to thousands of persons. In September 26, 1936 there were 51,749 persons working. In June 26, 1937 there were 46,538 persons, in March 26, 1938 there were 24,925 persons, and in December 29, 1938 there were 24,205 persons employed.

  56. Twenty-six of the most noted historical and literary works of the Island have been fully indexed, involving the preparation of 39,491 index cards.

  57. A project involving triangular hurricane static research under expert supervision has been carried on for the past two and one-half years in collaboration with the Universities of Florida and Puerto Rico, the United States Weather Bureau and Canadian agencies.

  58. For the development of the program of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, there has been allocated from Federal funds a total of $57,953,189.24 through December 31, 1938. During the first fiscal year of operations $6,188,264.88 were expended; during the second year $21,639,931.52 and during the third year $13,324,175.53. From July 1, 1938 to December 31, 1938, $6,281,199.65 have been expended. These expenditures are divided among some of the several projects mentioned, as follows: $3,951,258.38 for wages to laborers in the coffee, tobacco and fruit projects; $611,084.62 for soil conservation; $842,715.51 for the eradication of the cattle tick; $5,631,180.29 for rural electrification;$193,550.80 for workers reconstruction camps; $757,228.43 for medical dispensaries; $309,420.46 for social work; $2,294,443.94 for slum clearance; $1,700,479.57 for the construction of streets, roads, etc.; $2,691,339.94 for reforestation and $5,458,663.67 for the purchase of lands.

  59. However, an analysis of the total expenditures of $47,433,571.38, to December 31, 1938, reveals the following important facts:

  60. That approximately $8,267,032.22 or 13.21% was disbursed for the purchase of materials and equipment produced wholly in the United States, and therefore had little effect on either employment or Island economy.

  61. That of the total expended, $25,985,853.03 or 54.78% went for labor or other personal services. However, surveys made by the PRERA and the PRRA, have disclosed that 79 cents out of each dollar put out for wages by this Administration was spent by the recipient for those articles of food and clothing imported, and were thus returned to the United States within the third commercial turnover.

  62. That $17,083,136.74 or 36.015% is represented in assets of the United States Government, such as land and improvements thereto, houses, and loans to cooperatives secured by first mortgages.


    1 This act sets up (1) a special fund consisting of sums allotted to projects in Puerto Rico under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, which remain available for obligation until June 30, 1940 and (2) a Revolving Fund derived from the operations financed out of the Special Fund and the proceeds of disposition of property acquired therewith. To date the only project financed out of the Revolving Fund is the operation of the Office of Housing Management, which administers the various Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration housing projects.

    2 The investigation and certification of a larger number of relief cases have been undertaken recently by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration in connection with the distribution to the needy of free food stuffs obtained from the Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation.

    3 Unemployment has been increasing in the Island at an accelerated rate during the fall of 1938 as result of several factors, among them the decline in the production of sugar due to quota restrictions; the decline in profitable markets for Puerto Rican tobacco and coffee; the decline in needlework production due to competition with China and the Philippines (which in turn rests on the present wording of "the most favored nation" clause under the Swiss Trade Treaty) and to the effect of the Fair Labor standards Act on the needlework industry in Puerto Rico, and to a lesser degree on the tobacco industry. It is anticipated that if the contemplated agreement between the United States and Cuba revising downward the tariff on Cuban sugar is consummated, the trend