Municipalities / Evolution and Development of the Municipalities in Puerto Rico
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The early chronicles of the colonization of Puerto Rico indicate that by 1510 there was more than one Spanish settlement on the island called San Juan Bautista. Juan Ponce de León had founded Caparra on the north coast, near the ample harbor known then as Puerto Rico, literally "rich port." Cristóbal de Sotomayor was exploring the western end of the island at the time with the intention of founding settlements.

Sotomayor is credited with founding the Villavilla: The villa was a settlement that had certain privileges to distinguish it from a village or aldea. de Sotomayor in the northwest (Aguada or Añasco) and of attempting a second settlement in the area of Guánica. Presumably this was near the territory under Agueybaná, who was considered the principal chief or cacique on the island, in some undetermined site between the mouth of the Coayuco (Yauco) River in what is now Indios ward in Guayanilla, or near what is now Guánica.

Our historians have proposed the existence of other probable early settlements. For example, there was a provisional settlement at the mouth of a river called Ana by the indigenous people, near what is now Manatí; another towntown, founding: A group of vecinos that wanted to found a town had to grant a power of attorney to one or more other vecinos to represent them before the governor and viceroy. This person could authorize the founding of the town and the establishment of a parish. The grantors of the power of attorney had to be a majority in the given territory and more than ten in number. Once the case had been made, the governor appointed a capitán poblador or settlement official to represent the vecinos and one or more delegates, who usually lived in nearby cabildos vecinos to receive the necessary documentation. Proof was required that the settlement was so far from a church that it was very difficult for the settlers to partake of sacraments and municipal services. In general, proof was provided of the absence or bad condition of roads and bridges. If the petition was approved, it was required that the vecinos mark off the new municipality and build public works such as a church, a parish house, a government house (Casa del Rey), a slaughterhouse, and a cemetery, and to set aside land for the town square or plaza and the commons (ejidos). The vecinos were expected to cover the cost of building these works by levying special assessments. Usually one of the land owners donated some land for the founding. Once the requirements had been met, the governor authorized the founding of the town and the parish, and he appointed a Lieutenant at War who usually was the same capitán poblador. called Higüey, at the mouth of the river now called Añasco; a settlement called Villa de Tavara near what is now Guánica Bay; and the village of Daguao on the east coast. None of these lasted very long, since they were abandoned for better locations or because of an uprising of the indigenous people in 1511. Subsequently, the development of the new colony was centered on two settlements: Caparra, to the north, later called Ciudad de Puerto Rico; and San Germán in the east, originally located in the area of Añasco-Aguada. Although San Juan and San Germán were the first Puerto Rican municipalities, they both were forced to move to new locations in their struggle for survival.

Caparra was a port and the seat of government, a center for communication and commerce with Spain with agricultural and cattle ranching being developed in the surrounding areas. Caparra was a landing point for dry goods and foodstuffs from Spain and a shipping point for gold that was mined in Puerto Rico. San Germán was a point of contact and exchange with Hispaniola, which at the time was the principal colony of the emerging Spanish territory in the Antilles.

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On Municipal Autonomy I
Puerto Rico: A Historical Overview
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