Puerto Rico: The More Things Change, The More They Remain the Same


Nations often celebrate their independence and rightly so, whether contested or not.  But in the case of Puerto Rico, its political status leaves it with a false sense of celebration. This, of course, will either be denied or agreed upon depending on political stance.

My position stems from the invasion of Puerto RIcos by th US in 1898. That, in itself, sets off disagreement on whether it was an invasion or not. Yet, as early as May of 1898, Puerto Rico was the focus of invading US forces. Historically, many at the time welcomed the invasion under the assumption that independence would be gained under US control, especially, after 400 years under Spanish rule. But, unlike the battles fought against the indigenous people of the Americas for American expansion, the invasion of Puerto Rico was not intended to be a part of this expansion nor of independence. The era of manifest destiny had reached a point which would not include it. Instead, Puerto Rico merely went from being ruled by Spain to being ruled by the US with an empty promise of change. The first of which was the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917 which granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship and in return the US gained an even greater pool of military recruits to draft into the army as America readied itself for entry into World War I.

In the early 1950’s, Puerto Rico’s  “commonwealth” status came into being,  Puerto Rico adopted its Constitution and the United Nations removed Puerto Rico from its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (colonies). While many believed this to be positive change, it was all merely smoking mirrors, for Puerto Rico, to this day, remains an unincorporated territory (colony).

Uncle Sam watches as the “Goddess of Liberty” heralds freedom for Cuba,
Puerto Rico and the Philippines

There are many facets to this Puerto Rico-US relationship. The facts are on the table. Puerto Rico’s status of ‘free association’ with the United States is a farce. It ultimately remains under US control, its local self-governing status can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. citizenship of Puerto Rican residents of Puerto Rico can be withdrawn.

It’s obvious that the few aforementioned facts aren’t reasons  to celebrate. Puerto Rico remains in political limbo while the US Congress continues to ignore it and it’s even more obvious that Puerto Ricans fail to see it.

The more things change,

the more they remain the same.