This article was submitted by Vicente Longo.
The Puerto Rican Colony
By Vicente Longo
A few days ago I watched on Fox News Tucker Carlson’s interview of Ricardo Roselló, Puerto Rico’s current governor.
Ricardo Roselló is the president of the Partido Nuevo Progresista (New Progressive Party, or PNP), which promotes statehood for Puerto RIco. Tucker asked Roselló about some of his statements to the Miami Herald, where Roselló mentioned that Puerto Rico’s current financial crisis is largely due to the island’s colonial status.
I would like to comment on Puerto Rico’s colonial situation.
In 1898, Americans arrived in Puerto Rico as a result of the Spanish-American War. Up to that moment, Puerto Rico had been Spain’s colony. Americans were well received by the Puerto Ricans.
Later, in 1917, the Jones Act enacted by the United States Congress granted U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. At that time, Puerto Rico’s governors were appointed by the U.S.
In 1940, the people elected the first Puerto Rican governor, Luis Muñoz Marin, president and founder of the Partido Popular Democrático (Popular Democratic Party, or PPD). The PPD is Puerto Rico’s version of the national Democratic Party.
In 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed Law 600, which purported to resolve the island’s colonial status. The law, which governor Muñoz Marín called the ELA (Estado Libre Asociado, literally “Free Associated State”, but officially “Commonwealth” in English) was presented to the people of Puerto Rico for vote in 1952.
By then, the PPD and Muñoz Marín dominated the media (radio, press, etc.) in puerto Rico. As expected, the people supported Law 600.
Law 600 effectively perpetuated the colony. Puerto Rico’s American citizens could not vote for the President of the United States nor did they have Senator or Representatives as other American citizens have. Hence, 3.4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico have continued to be second-class citizens.
The “ELA” promulgated by the PPD and supported by the Democratic Party has only served to defend the Democratic Party’s interests (and those of multinational companies), and likewise, those of their friends in the PPD. Colonialism is what is convenient, and Puerto Ricans’ rights are not a priority.
In 2012, Puerto Ricans held a plebiscite with gathered over 80% voter participation. Three options were presented:
- An improved “ELA”, which amounts to an associated republic.
Statehood prevailed by a 58% majority.
Presently, moving to the 50 states is the only means by which Puerto Ricans can attain all their rights as American citizens. An estimated 5.5 million Puerto Ricans live in the states.
We Puerto Ricans value, treasure and love our American citizenship, but now, after a century of second-class citizenship, is the time for Puerto Rico to become a State of the great American Nation with full duties and rights.
We Puerto Ricans are proud of our American citizenship and it is fair that it be first-class.