By 1865, when the new liberal government took the helm in Madrid, Puerto Rico had nearly lost its hope of ever getting the promised "special laws." The island had been denied representation in the Spanish Cortes since 1837, when the last Spanish liberal regime refused to admit its delegates and those of Cuba. Since that time, Spain had promised to govern both islands by a new set of special laws that would befit their "special circumstances." 1 Nothing came of the promise and Puerto Rico became subjected to 28 years of despotic rule, under conservative military generals. On 21 December 1865, however, the new liberal regime that took over the government in Madrid issued a decree requesting that Cuba and Puerto Rico send delegates to the metropolitan capital. The colonies were instructed as well to hold elections and to choose delegates who could form part of a Junta Informative that was to review the pressing problems of both colonies. 2