What Everyone Needs to Know series on the OUPblog, So when do we talk about this? Historians agree. A key issue is the freedom to travel to the United States under any political status option. Puerto Ricans can't agree on whether they want to join the union, remain a U.S. commonwealth or (as a small percentage argue) go it alone as a sovereign country. In 1952, Puerto Rico officially became a Commonwealth of the United States. In 1948, Puerto Rico elected its own governor for the first time under U.S. control. Even though no one can explain why their presence is excluded from the program, this issue would disappear if granted statehood. Find contact information and major state agencies and offices for the government of Puerto Rico. Required fields are marked *. I am now that much better informed. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth tribe that lives in the United States with a common currency, defense, and citizenship. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities. Oxford University Press'sAcademic Insights for the Thinking World. So why is Puerto Rico frequently referred to as a commonwealth and what does this term really mean? Puerto Rico (Spanish for 'Rich Port'; abbreviated PR, Taino: Boriken, Borinquen), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit. The Puerto Rico quarter is the second in the 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Puerto Rico is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States. My parents, both journalists, have always encouraged me to form my own opinions on the ethical, legal… The US Congress approved the constitution (after requiring several changes, especially in its bill of rights) on 3 July of that same year; Puerto Rico’s Constitutional Convention approved it seven days later, and the new Commonwealth status was proclaimed on 25 July 1952. But the people of the island can turn that concept towards their benefit as well. Though it legally has no significance, the title of "commonwealth" has come into question during disputes over the future of Puerto Rico's status as a territory … Rather, Puerto Rican voters have reiterated an overwhelming preference for US citizenship and permanent union with the United States. Most important, the vast majority of Puerto Ricans imagine themselves as distinct from Americans as well as from other Latin American and Caribbean peoples. If Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth this is a benefit that future generations will continue to enjoy. Under Commonwealth status, Puerto Rico continued to be an “unincorporated territory” that “belonged to but was not a part of the United States.” The US Congress and president could unilaterally dictate policy relating to defense, international relations, foreign trade, and investment. Clearly, these states are no different from states like California and Arkansas, which do not refer to themselves as a commonwealth. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay. In 1952, Puerto Rico officially became a Commonwealth of the United States. But, Puerto Rico’s relationship to the United States remains hotly debated. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Kentucky is also a commonwealth, as are Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In recent years, the US federal government has increasingly weakened the Commonwealth’s fiscal autonomy, in the wake of financial crisis. Commonwealth advocates believe that this formula can be renegotiated to correct its flaws and attain greater autonomy. more earnestly and assiduously in the island’s current distress. Puerto Rico is not a state, and thus, federal taxes do not apply generally to income generated within the commonwealth; Puerto Rico corporations are treated for federal tax purposes as foreign corporations and are not generally subject to U.S. corporate taxes. The island can only vote in presidential primaries, for their governor, and for a Resident Commissioner whom they send to Congress more as an observer than an elected vote provider. In 1952, Puerto Rico got commonwealth status with a local self-government. In a referendum held on 3 March 1952, 81.9 percent of the Island’s electorate ratified the Commonwealth or Free Associated State (Estado Libre Asociado, in Spanish). In 1967, 60% of Puerto Ricans voted to maintain their commonwealth status, while … However, the nature of the “compact” between Puerto Rico and the United States has been disputed from its inception. 32 of the 50 states used to be territories, so the definition of a territory often includes the fact that the place isn’t yet a state. However, even with move, Puerto Ricans, along with residents of areas such as the US. Do you ever think anyone needs help? To what extent did Commonwealth status recognize the sovereignty of the Puerto Rican people? Acquired by the United States from Spain in 1898, Puerto Rico has a peculiar status among Latin American and Caribbean countries. Puerto Rico first became a U.S. territory following the Spanish-American War, which was ignited by the explosion of the U.S.S. Puerto Rico, a tropical Caribbean travel destination and one of the islands of the Greater Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, located 125 km (78 mi) east of the island Hispaniola, (which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic). […] Numerous legal documents, from 1952 until now, say that there was no change in Puerto Rico’s political status in 1952. We bail them out just like we bail out farmers and people after hurricanes and tornadoes. Other basic elements of US-Puerto Rico relations established before 1952 include the adoption of the US dollar as the Island’s currency, US customs control, US citizenship, federal labor legislation, welfare benefits, and an elected governor. Territories Quarters Program. 32 of the 50 states used to be territories, so the definition of a territory often includes the fact that the place isn’t yet a state. Since Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States, it follows the United States' customs duties and import tariffs. Hence, both the political and economic bases of the Estado Libre Asociado have wavered. Puerto Rico, which is Spanish for “Rich Port” is also officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit, which translates to the “Free Associated State of Puerto Rico.” Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast, where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The term harks back to the area's constitution, which "simply deems it as such", says the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In recent years, the US federal government has increasingly weakened the Commonwealth’s fiscal autonomy, in the wake of financial crisis. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. ... State Agencies State Government Official Name: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In the excerpt below, author Jorge Duany provides the necessary background for understanding the inner workings of the Commonwealth government and the island’s relationship to the United States. There have been discussions about making Puerto Rico the 51st state of the United States of America. In recent years, Medicaid costs have increased in Puerto Rico because of economic downturns, public health emergencies like the Zika outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic, and natural disasters like Hurricane Maria and earthquakes. How did Puerto Rico become a US Commonwealth? If you are from the U.S., it is easy to travel to Puerto Rico because the Commonwealth is a U.S. territory. Puerto Rico is currently a commonwealth of the United States. One high level statement on this topic came in 2011 from The President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico, in which the White House clarified that, ““[u]nder the Commonwealth option, Puerto Rico would remain, as it is today, subject to the Territory Clause of the U.S.Constitution.”. However, the government of Puerto Rico, while ostensibly a local responsibility, falls ultimately on the U.S. Congress. Today, Puerto Rico remains a Commonwealth. But Congress, the only body that can approve new states, will ultimately decide whether the status of the US commonwealth changes. It's a U.S. commonwealth. But they are, and have been since 1917. The official languages of Puerto Rico are both English and Spanish, with some of the people mixing the two languages and speaking Spanglish. On Election Day in November 2020, Puerto Ricans voted in favor of a referendum to become a state. Written by leading authorities in their given fields, in a concise question-and-answer format, the books provide inquiring minds with the essential knowledge needed to engage with the issues that matter today. Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico - The debate over political status: In 1952, after Puerto Rico was granted commonwealth status, the United States advised the United Nations (UN) that the island was a self-governing territory. Another benefit the island enjoys is the aid provided by the United States and the tax exemption the island receives; Puerto Rico is exempt from paying federal taxes. There are several reasons, including those given by others who answered your question previously. It all started with the Spanish-American War, which began in the spring of 1898, when Puerto Rico was a Spanish territory.The U.S. invaded Puerto Rico not only because it was a … Explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico (“rich port”) in 1493, and it soon became a Spanish colony and important military outpost. And the U.S. would be permanently bound to a specific governing arrangement for the islands. While the US has many territories there are only two commonwealths; Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, a group of 22 islands in the Western Pacific ocean. They have done so many times over the course of many years. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, to this day are neither allowed to vote in the American presidential nor the American senatorial election. As a commonwealth, they get many national protections, but don't have to pay any federal taxes, which makes it an attractive place for businesses and wealthy people who want to avoid taxes. The territories are the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico (which, in Spanish, officially calls itself the 'Free Associated State of Puerto Rico').. 154's excise tax. Also known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the island has its capital in San Juan. Under this arrangement, the Island’s electorate selects its own government, and its representatives pass its own laws. On This Page. Unlike the states, Puerto Rico does not automatically receive additional federal Medicaid funding when costs rise faster than expected. […], Your email address will not be published. Puerto Rico it self is mired in corruption and low wages. There would be improvements in family tax credits, Medicaid enrollment, Medicare access, and several other federal programs that do not currently apply because of its classific… “Commonwealth” is clearly not an option that the U.S. federal government accepts – as a matter of law or policy. In 1998, no “Commonwealth” option was allowed on the plebiscite ballot. The only firm conclusion reached from the three votes was that the vast majority of Puerto Ricans want to move beyond the status quo. Making the matter more confusing, Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” party says that it wants a “commonwealth status.” There is no precedent for such a status. Since 1952, the term “commonwealth” has evolved to describe a potential relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico in which Puerto Rico is given special rights and privileges greater than those enjoyed by states. United States officials representing all three branches of government have rejected “Commonwealth” proposals as unconstitutional and unfeasible. Since then, there’s been an ongoing debate about what “commonwealth” means. Congress could also revoke any insular law inconsistent with the US Constitution. The answer to the first part of this question is clear: some people began to call Puerto Rico a commonwealth in 1952 after Congress approved its local constitution, the “Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.”  At the time, Congress was explicit that its gift of local power did not lessen federal control over the Island or change its status as a territory. No, Puerto Rico is not an independent nation or country. No, Puerto Rico is not a state, but rather a Commonwealth of the United States. 1. The territories are the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico (which, in Spanish, officially calls itself the 'Free Associated State of Puerto Rico').. Why Is Puerto Rico a Territory? Explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico (“rich port”) in 1493, and it soon became a Spanish colony and important military outpost. Act No. Although they have little say in how the federal government treats them, they have a lot of freedom to govern themselves within a few federal constraints. In a 2002 poll, 60 percent of those interviewed on the Island identified Puerto Rico as their nation; about 17 percent considered both Puerto Rico and the United States to be their nation; and only 20 percent chose the United States alone. Its name in English is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Moreover, Congress or the president could apply federal regulations selectively to Puerto Rico, resulting in both concessions and revocations of special privileges. He has published extensively on migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Hispanic Caribbean and the United States. Those who claim Puerto Rico is still a colony argue that Puerto Rico was vested with the commonwealth status by the U.S. Congress to give the appearance of self … He is the author, coauthor, or editor of 20 books, including several works about Puerto Rico. The Island possesses many of the symbolic attributes of modern nations, including a national flag and anthem; national heroes and rituals; a national system of universities, museums, and other cultural institutions; a well-developed national tradition in literature and the visual arts; and national representation in international sports and beauty contests. A commonwealth is effectively the same thing as a state. If Puerto Rico’s FMAP was determined through the same formula used to calculate the FMAP for states (based on per capita income relative to national per capita income), it would equal 83 percent, the statutory maximum, not 55 percent (Exhibit 2). And now cryptocurrency advocates from around the world have converged on Puerto Rico with the vision of making the island the epicenter of this multitrillion-dollar market. US authorities and Commonwealth sympathizers have long argued that the Puerto Rican people exercised their right to self-determination. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. […] I will rant that I wish some news commentators would refer to Puerto Rico as a commonwealth rather than a territory, even though commonwealth status is just plain […]. Since then, Puerto Ricans have voted several times on whether to become a state or not, but the idea has never become popular enough to sway a majority of voters. Why Is Puerto Rico a Territory? San Juan, the capital, invites further exploration with its iconic buildings and landmarks. Futhermore, while Puerto Rico has a congressional representative, this representativ… Puerto Rico meets most of the objective and subjective criteria of conventional views of the nation—among them a shared territory, language, and history, except for sovereignty. Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean Sea, has been a territory of the United States since 1898, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American war. When asked what new option they preferred, 61% chose statehood. In 1952, Puerto Rico adopted the official name of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and a new constitution. Puerto Rico held status votes in 1967, 1993, 1998, 2012, and 2017, which gave Puerto Rican voters the choice over whether their Island should remain a U.S. territory or change its relationship with the U.S.. A new status vote has been scheduled for November 3, 2020.. A thread runs through all discussions of Puerto Rico plebiscites: should “commonwealth” be on the ballot? I grew up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico during the 2006-Present Puerto Rican Government Debt Crisis. The confusion and lack of understanding over the “Commonwealth” option in Puerto Rico led to inconclusive plebiscite results in 1967, 1993 and 1998. Unlike the Philippines, which became independent in 1946, and Hawaii, which became a state in 1959, the future of Puerto Rico's political status continues to be uncertain. It is a territory of the United States organized as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with its own elected Governor and legislature. Why is Puerto Rico a commonwealth of the United States? Another benefit the island enjoys is the aid provided by the United States and the tax exemption the island receives; Puerto Rico is exempt from paying federal taxes. Pro-statehood and pro-independence critics contend that Commonwealth is a colonial status because of the lack of effective representation and unrestricted congressional and executive power over Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican’s are American Citizens and not ‘foreigner’s’. Puerto Rico is not currently eligible for the food stamp program that exists for disaster victims in the United States because it is not an official state. So why are we continuesoly bailing them out with financial aid and from what I have seen a inordinate number of their citizens commit crimes in the US then bail back to PR to avoid being charged. If Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth this is a benefit that future generations will continue to enjoy. Phone Number: 1-787-721-7000. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The commonwealth has a crucial case before the U.S. Supreme Court, people are protesting in front of the governor's mansion, and a restructuring plan could wipe out some of … In effect, elevating Puerto Rico to a “new commonwealth” would give the island the benefits of sovereignty without sacrificing the benefits of U.S. governance. Commonwealth is a term used by two unincorporated territories of the United States in their full official names. Under the Commonwealth, Puerto Ricans have unrestricted entry into the US mainland. Everything is very expensive except what little is grown there (guess what was distorted by Hurricane Maria). What does that mean? Americans who travel between the continental U.S. and its commonwealths do not need a passport. Why is Pennsylvania called a commonwealth? One reason Puerto Rico has trouble is that the USA doesn’t allow direct shipping but adds tariffs on Puerto Rico. The subordinate citizenship status of Puerto Ricans continued under Commonwealth as well. Puerto Rico is often called a commonwealth, but that is actually just a word in the official title of the government of Puerto Rico. Your email address will not be published. We will only use your personal information to register you for OUPblog articles. Fifty-two percent spoke in support of statehood while 48 percent did not. The next year, the United Nations removed Puerto Rico from its list of non- self- governing territories. Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898. Excise taxes. Puerto Ricans voted on their status in 1967, 1991, 1993, and 1998. It’s classified as an “unincorporated territory,” meaning the island is controlled by the U.S. government but is separate from the mainland. Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS. 5 Reasons Why Puerto Rico Probably Won't Become The 51st State. Apparently the term "commonwealth" was preferred by a number of political writers in the 1700s. Statehood would eliminate the legal inequalities that exist. Here are the reasons why this Oregon metals fabricator’s plant in Puerto Rico is their leading profit maker worldwide. Puerto Rico Is a Commonwealth Congress granted Puerto Rico the right to elect its own governor and exist as a U.S. territory with commonwealth status in 1952. The brainchild of Luis Muñoz Marín and the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Commonwealth was originally supposed to be a transitory, intermediate status between full independence and annexation as a state of the American union. In addition, many US constitutional provisions—such as the requirement of indictment by grand jury, trial by jury in common law cases, and the right to confrontation of witnesses—were not extended to the Commonwealth. Today, Commonwealth also means a political unit having local autonomy but voluntarily united with the United States. Under the party’s proposal, Puerto Rico would not be a territory but not be a U.S. State or a nation. Seems to this humble reader that U.S.A. ought to be helping P.R. Why is Pennsylvania called a commonwealth? Puerto Rico, officially Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Spanish Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, self-governing island commonwealth of the West Indies, associated with the United States.The easternmost island of the Greater Antilles chain, it lies approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of the Dominican Republic, 40 miles (65 km) west of the Virgin Islands, and 1,000 miles (1,600 km) … However, the US federal government remained in control of most state affairs, including citizenship, immigration, customs, defense, currency, transportation, communications, foreign trade, and diplomacy. Officially, the Island was no longer considered a US colony. A commonwealth is effectively the same thing as a state. The commonwealth. Puerto Rico’s elected governor appoints all cabinet officials and other key members of the executive branch; the insular legislature determines the government’s budget; and the judicial system amends its civil and criminal code, without federal interference—as long as such measures do not contradict the US Constitution, laws, and regulations. Puerto Ricans can't agree on whether they want to join the union, remain a U.S. commonwealth or (as a small percentage argue) go it alone as a … Main Address: PO Box 9020082 San Juan , PR, 00902-0082. They would retain that right under statehood but probably lose it after independence. Rushmore | Puerto Rico 51st. However, most of the Island’s electorate does not currently support the creation of a sovereign state in Puerto Rico. Let’s see… if you fall into financial trouble or you mismanage money should you be kicked out of this Country? This legislation was meant to declare that Puerto Rico, though still under overall control of the United States, had self-rule. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. Here is another ad in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Series — perhaps one of the most effective business development advertising campaigns ever devised.. Why Puerto Rico is the most profitable of Omark Industries’ 14 plant sites in 5 countries. The What Everyone Needs to Know (WENTK) series offers a balanced and authoritative primer on complex current event issues and countries. A majority of Puerto Ricans have thus far failed to agree on whether Puerto Rico should remain a commonwealth concept, be admitted as a state, or become an independent nation. Clause of the island ’ s legal, political, and transnationalism in the wake of financial crisis Mt. A referendum to become a state still under overall control of the United States under political! 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Migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and citizenship to as a is..., but rather a Commonwealth, will ultimately decide whether the status quo has increasingly weakened Commonwealth. If you fall into financial trouble or you mismanage money should you be kicked out of this?...

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