Politics of Puerto Rico


Politics of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( _es. "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico"), still treated by the U.S. Congress as one of the last remaining colonies in the world, [ Trias Monge, Jose; "Puerto Rico: Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World"; Yale University Press; ISBN: 0300071108.] is an archipelago located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands, approximately 1,280 miles (2,000 km) off the coast of Florida (the nearest of the mainland United States).

Political history

1898-1940

One year after the United States invasion of the island, Dr. José Celso Barbosa embraced the idea of annexation as a U.S. state as a solution to the colonial situation and founded the Puerto Rican Republican Party in 1899.

Dr. Barbosa had been the leader in the Autonomist Party that favored a republican government for Spain. For much of the 19th Century, the principal parties favored Puerto Rico becoming one of the Spanish provinces in equal footing with the rest of the provinces; such a standing was given twice, under liberal governments, but it was revoked as many times when the monarchs regained their power. In this context, Dr. Barbosa returned to the original idea of equal footing, but this time with the constituent members of the American Republic.

During the last twenty years under the Spanish flag, the local parties, with the exception of the Partido Incondicional Español (Unconditional Spanish Party) embraced the idea of autonomy. The Incondicionales accepted whatever Spain had for Puerto Rico and the Crown duly recognized their support by giving aristocratic titles to the leaders.

The great leader of the Autonomist Party, of which Barbosa and Muñoz-Rivera were members, was Román Baldorioty de Castro, who followed closely the Canadian model developed by the British and supported a similar development for Puerto Rico under Spain. Before Baldorioty de Castro, other leaders had mentioned the possibility of autonomy, generally as an answer to the Spanish insistence in instituting special laws to govern the colonies.

At about the same time that the Republican Party of Puerto Rico was organized under the U.S., Luis Muñoz-Rivera organized the Federalist Party. Like the Republican Party it supported statehood for Puerto Rico.

Muñoz-Rivera had been the leader of the monarchist faction of the autonomists, not truly out of conviction but because Spain was a monarchy. Through this support he was able to get Sagasta, whose party was not in power in the early 1890's, to support an autonomous government for Puerto Rico.

At about this time, the U.S. was pressuring Spain to grant autonomy to Cuba, but the Spaniards dilly-dallied until a year before the Spanish-American War. Sagasta was then Prime Minister and he had made a compact with the Islanders to give them autonomy. Autonomy was granted, not through an act of the Cortes (the Legislative branch of Spain), but through an edict of the monarch.

Bickering between Muñoz-Rivera and Barbosa did not allow the autonomous government to be established immediately. Sagasta demanded that they put their differences aside and both, with their respective groups, became part of the first autonomous government of Puerto Rico immediately before the War.

The Republican Party won the elections in 1900 and again in 1902. The new government of Puerto Rico, organized under the [Foraker Act] of 1900, was a mixture of the British and the American system, somewhat similar to that established for the territory of Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase. The House of Delegates was elected directly by the voters (male, propertied) and the equivalent to the Senate was the Cabinet appointed by the Governor and by the President of the United States.

Muñoz-Rivera exiled himself to New York after the defeat, but returned once the Federalist Party was no longer useful and joined Rosendo Matienzo-Cintrón in organizing the Union Party. Also with them was José de Diego.

Matienzo Cintrón had been a Republican, supporting statehood. But two years into the new government, he realized that statehood would not be granted and the desired equality as citizens was not feasible under the United States. He brought with him other former Republicans and practically all of Muñoz-Rivera's Federalists into a party that was to bring about the union of all political groups.

He was remarkably successful. They won the elections of 1904 and all subsequent elections until the 20's, when another defection of Republicans allowed for the creation of yet another party bringing into it persons supporting a status change.

The Union, initially supported statehood or an autonomous government. The it included independence. In fact, Matienzo-Cintrón went from statehood advocate to autonomist to independence advocate as a result of eight years of American civil government in Puerto Rico.

The Union Party, from the very beginning, was against the colonial government established under the "Foraker Act". Rosendo Matienzo Cintrón, Manuel Zeno Gandía, Luis Llorens Torres, Eugenio Benítez Castaño, and Pedro Franceschi started to organize the Independence Party in 1912 which paved the path for similar movements.

The Union Party quickly gained the attention of the colonial governors, all Republicans, who were willing to work closely with them because of their control of the House of Delegates. The local Republicans protested bitterly and, once took statehood out of the platform, not bringing it back until the early 20s.

Many in the Union Party leadership were lawyers who had contracts with the sugar operations recently bought and enlarged by the new American owners, thus establishing a close relationship between the nascent middle classes and the American corporate interests.

The Nationalist Party (NP) was founded in the year 1922. It strongly criticized the American colonial regime for its menace to the Spanish and Latin American roots of the Puerto Rican culture. It also advocated for complete independence. The NP began to grow with the leadership of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, who was later jailed as a subversive leader by the colonial regime. In an unauthorized march by the NP in the city of Ponce 18 nationalists were killed by the police, this would be known later as the Ponce Massacre.

1940-1968

Luis Muñoz Marín founded the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) in 1940. Their slogan was "Pan, Tierra y Libertad" (Bread, Land and Liberty). The party favored independence for the country in its initial stages but social and economic reform were priorities in their political agenda.

The Puerto Rican Independence Party was formed six years later by dissidents who saw the PPD moving away from the ideal of independence. During that period, the colonial regime appointed the first Puerto Rican governor, Jesús T. Piñero, until 1948 when the people elected Luis Muñoz Marín, the first elected governor.

The years or 1944-1948 were crucial ones in the direction of the country. Luis Muñoz Marín shifted his goals from independence to state-like autonomy to accommodate better economic circumstances. This led to the U.S. congress to enact the Law 600 of 1950 which led to the Congressional approval of a local constitution drafted by a Constituent Assembly elected by Puerto Rico and the renaming of the United States unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, using the same official name as the commonwealths of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The alternative pro-independence Tydings bill had languished in congress.

In the 1950s, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party denounced the Constitution and Muñoz Marín support as a sham, and attacked the Governor's mansion (La Fortaleza) in 1950, the Blair House, and the United States House of Representatives in 1954. Twenty-three people were killed and more than 50 were injured.

Governor Muñoz Marín inaugurated the new status called "Estado Libre Asociado" —or " Free Associated State" in English— and raised the Puerto Rican flag along with the national anthem of Puerto Rico for the first time on July 25, 1952 — date in which Puerto Ricans celebrate the Constitution of Puerto Rico ("see also:" Holidays in Puerto Rico).

1968-present

The New Progressive Party (NPP) was founded in 1968 by Luis A. Ferré, that same year the PNP won the elections. The party saw the ideology of annexation to the U.S. as a civil rights issue. The creation of the New Progressive Party polarized the political arena to a great degree as radical independence groups were formed in the 1970s and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP), a Marxist and Cuban friendly party, was created. Two of the radical groups were labeled as terrorist groups by the U.S. government, Los Macheteros and the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). These groups were viewed by many pro-independence followers as freedom fighters.

In 1972 the NPP lost to the Popular Democratic Party (PDP). Rafael Hernández Colón became the undisputed leader of the PPD at age 36. He was, as the fourth elected governor, in favor of adding more powers to the commonwealth status. One of his projects was the Puerto Rican owned marine transportation. In order to control the costs of the marine transport in Puerto Rico, the marine company "Sea Land" was bought to form "Navieras of Puerto Rico" in 1974.

The fifth governor was Carlos Romero Barcelo, a fierce supporter of the pro-U.S. annexation ideology. He was beloved by the NPP and strongly disliked by the opposition. Under his administration, "section 936" of the U.S. Internal Revenue Tax Code was implemented as an economic incentive. This allowed American companies to create profit in the island without paying taxes. His administration was shadowed by the Maravilla Hill affair, where two independence activists were killed by undercover police agents. This created a Watergate-like scandal that was later investigated by the Senate.

In 1980, Romero Barcelo remained as Governor by a controversial 0.2% margin, but lost the Senate and House of Representatives to the PDP. Independence radical groups placed bombs on 11 jet fighters in 1981 in the U.S. base Muñiz. Rafael Hernández Colón became the head of government for the second time in 1984 and stayed in power until 1992.

Pedro Rosselló became the sixth Governor in 1992. He pushed the political status dilemma in Washington, D.C. and sponsored two referendums, but these were non-binding. While he was elected to a second term, his last four years were met with mounting allegations of corruption. A former Speaker of the House, Edison Misla Aldarondo (NPP) was jailed as well as many members of Rosello's party. Most of the corruption allegations were based on extortion and appropiation of public funds. This led his party to losing the 2000 election and the Governorship when he ran again in 2004.

In 2000 Sila María Calderón (PDP) was elected becoming the first female governor of Puerto Rico, also gaining control of the Senate, presided by Antonio Fas Alzamora and the House of Representatives, headed by Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo. The PDP also elected Aníbal Acevedo Vilá as the islands' non-voting delegate in Congress.

In 2004 Anibal Acevedo Vila (PDP) was declared the winner by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico as governor by about 3,000 votes, but his party lost control of the Senate, which elected NPP senator Kenneth McClintock as its president, and the House of Representatives, which chose the NPP's José Aponte as Speaker, and Puerto Rico's seat in Congress, due to the election of Luis Fortuño.

During the 2005-2008 term, former Gov. Rosselló's unsuccessful attempt to unseat Senate President McClintock, split the New Progressive Party, a split that has continued as Rosselló initiated a fourth bid for the governorship against Resident Commissioner Fortuño in an internal primary that was held March 9, 2008, and which he lost. On the PDP side, Acevedo's rocky relationship with the NPP-controlled Legislature has been compounded with Federal investigations of his past political fundraising by grand juries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Political history

In 1950, the U.S. Congress gave Puerto Ricans the right to organize a constitutional convention, contingent on the results of a referendum, where the electorate would determine if they wished to organize their own government pursuant to a constitution of their own choosing. Puerto Ricans expressed their support for this measure in a 1951 referendum, which gave voters a yes-or-no choice for the commonwealth status, defined as a 'permanent association with a federal union' but not choice for independence or statehood. A second referendum was held to ratify the constitution, which was adopted in 1952.

Before approving the new constitution, the Constitutional Convention specified the name by which the body politic would be known. On February 4 1952, the convention approved Resolution 22 which chose in English the word "Commonwealth", meaning a "politically organized community" or "state," which is simultaneously connected by a compact or treaty to another political system. The convention adopted a translation into Spanish of the term, inspired by the Irish saorstát (Free State) of "Estado Libre Asociado" (ELA) to represent the agreement adopted "in the nature of a compact" between the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Literally translated into English, the phrase means "Associated Free State."

In 1967, the Legislative Assembly tested political interests of the Puerto Rican people by passing a plebiscite Act that allowed a vote on the status of Puerto Rico. This constituted the first plebiscite by the Legislature for a choice on three status options. Puerto Rican leaders had lobbied for such an opportunity repeatedly, in 1898, 1912, 1914, 1919, 1923, 1929, 1932, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1956, and 1960. The Commonwealth option, represented by the PDP, won with an overwhelming majority of 60.4% of the votes. The Statehood Republican Party and the Puerto Rico Independence Party boycotted the vote. After the plebiscite, efforts in the 1970s to enact legislation to address the status issue died in Congressional committees. In the 1993 plebiscite, in which Congress played a more substantial role, Commonwealth status was again upheld. [For complete statistics of these plebiscites, see [http://electionspuertorico.org/cgi-bin/events.cgi Elections in Puerto Rico:Results] .] In the 1998 plebiscite, all the options were rejected when 50.3% of voters chose the "none of the above" option, favoring the commonwealth status quo by default. [cite web|url=http://electionspuertorico.org/1998/summary.html|title=Elections in Puerto Rico: 1998 Status Plebiscite Vote Summary|publisher=electionspuertorico.org|accessdate=2007-10-01]

International status

On November 27, 1953, shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 748, removing Puerto Rico's classification as a non-self-governing territory under article 73(e) of the Charter from UN. But the General Assembly did not apply its full list of criteria to Puerto Rico to determine if it has achieved self-governing status. According to the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status in its December 21, 2007 report, the U.S., in its written submission to the UN in 1953, never represented that Congress could not change its relationship with Puerto Rico without the territory's consent.cite web|url=http://www.primerahora.com/XStatic/primerahora/docs/espanol/whitehousestatusreport.pdf|title= Report by the President's task force on Puerto Rico's Status|month=December|year=2007|accessdate=2007-12-24] It stated that the U.S. Justice Department in 1959 reiterated that Congress held power over Puerto Rico pursuant to the Territorial Clause [Art. IV, Sec. 3, clause 2, U.S. Constitution] of the U.S. Constitution. In a 1996 report on a Puerto Rico status political bill, the "U.S. House Committee on Resources stated that PR's current status does not meet the criteria for any of the options for full self-government". It concluded that PR is still an unincorporated territory of the U.S. under the territorial clause, that the establishment of local self-government with the consent of the people can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress, and that U.S. Congress can also withdraw the U.S. citizenship of PR residents of PR at any time, for a legitimate Federal purpose. [cite web
url=http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/resources/hii43194.000/hii43194_0.HTM|title=Puerto Rico Status Field Hearing
publisher=Committee on Resources, U.S. House of Representatives, 105th Congress|date=April 19, 1997|accessdate=2007-10-01
] The application of the Constitution to Puerto Rico is limited by the Insular Cases. Although no embassies are located in Puerto Rico, it hosts Consulates from 42 countries, mainly from the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Most consulates are in San Juan, the capital. While the Papal Nuncio in Washington, DC serves as the Vatican State's ambassador to the U.S. and the ecclesiastical liaison to the American Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See has designated the Papal Nuncio in the Dominican Republic as the ecclesiastical liaison to the Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico.

Political status within the United States

Under its constitution of 1952, the people of Puerto Rico describe themselves as a Commonwealth and enjoy a significant degree of administrative autonomy similar to that of a U.S. state. Puerto Ricans are statutory U.S. citizens, but because Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory and not a U.S. state, the U.S. Constitution does not enfranchise U.S. citizens not residing in U.S. states. Puerto Rico does participate in the internal political process of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S., accorded equal-proportional representation in both parties, and delegates from the islands vote in each party's national convention.

Puerto Rico is classified by the U.S. government as an independent taxation authority by mutual agreement with the U.S. Congress. Contrary to common misconception, residents of Puerto Rico pay U.S. federal taxes: import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, etc. Most residents do not pay federal income tax but pay federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), and Puerto Rico income taxes. But federal employees, or those who do business with the federal government, Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S. and others also pay federal income taxes. Because the cutoff point for income taxation is lower than that of the U.S. IRS code, and because the per-capita income in Puerto Rico is much lower than the average per-capita income on the mainland, more Puerto Rico residents pay income taxes to the local taxation authority than if the IRS code were applied to the island. Residents are eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement. But Puerto Rico is excluded from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), receives less than 15% of the Medicaid funding it would be allotted as a state, while Medicare providers receive less-than-full state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system.

Puerto Ricans may enlist in the U.S. military. Since becoming statutory United States citizens in 1917, Puerto Ricans have been included in the compulsory draft whenever it has been in effect. Puerto Ricans have fully participated in all U.S. wars since 1898, most notably World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the current Middle Eastern conflicts.

Recent developments on status

According to a December 2005 report by the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, it is not possible "to bind future (U.S.) Congresses to any particular arrangement for Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth". This determination was based on articles in the U.S. Constitution regarding territories. Prominent leaders in the pro-statehood and pro-independence political movements agree with this assessment. The Legislative Branch, controlled by the opposing New Progressive Party (PNP), supported the White House Report's conclusions and has supported bills introduced by Reps. Jose Serrano (D-NY) and Luis Fortuño (R-PR) and Sens. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) to provide for a democratic referendum process among Puerto Rico voters.

The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) announced a commitment to challenge the task force's report and validate the current status in all international forums including the United Nations. It also rejects any "colonial or territorial status" as a status option, and vows to keep working for the enhanced Commonwealth status that was approved by the PPD in 1998 which included sovereignty, an association based on "respect and dignity between both nations", and common citizenship. [ [http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/vol2n11/indep-hearing-v2n11.html Independence Hearing] by the "Puerto Rico Herald".] In an unprecedented letter sent by the Governor of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Secretary of State and the Co-Chairs of the White House's Presidential Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, Governor Acevedo Vilá stated: [http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7B0BBF386D-F7D6-4870-9CF0-EC85014C0EC6%7D)&language=EN Prensa Latina, Nestor Rosa-Marbrell, November 20, 2007; last verified on December 1st, 2007] ] [http://espanol.news.yahoo.com/s/19112007/54/eeuu-gobernador-pide-rice-enmiende-informe-estatus-pol-tico-p.html "El Gobernador pide a Rice que enmiende el informe sobre el estatus político de P.Rico"; Yahoo News; November 19, 2007 - Last verified, December 1st, 2007.] ]

:"My Administration's position is very clear: if the Task Force and the Bush Administration stand by their 2005 conclusions, then for over 50 years the U.S Government has perpetuated a 'monumental hoax' on the people of Puerto Rico, on the people of the United States and on the international community. If the 2005 report articulates the new official position of the United States, the time has come now for the State Department to formally notify the United Nations of this new position and assume the international legal consequences. You cannot have a legal and constitutional interpretation for local, political purposes and a different one for the international community. If it is a serious, relevant document, the report must have international consequences. Alternatively, the Task Force may review and amend the 2005 conclusions to make them consistent with legal and historical precedent, and therefore allow future status developments based on a binding compact." [ [http://www.fortaleza.gobierno.pr/admin_fortaleza/sistema/noticias/1160.doc Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá's letter] to U.S. President George W. Bush's President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status (formally addressed to the Co-Chairs of the Bush Administration's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status); October 23, 2007; retrieved December 26, 2007.]

On December 21, 2007, the Bush Administration's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status reiterated and confirmed that Puerto Rico continues to be a territory of the U.S. under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress, [http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/documents/2007-report-by-the-president-task-force-on-puerto-rico-status.pdf"Report By the President's Task Force On Puerto Rico's Status (December 2007)"] ] [http://www.eldiariony.com/noticias/detail.aspx?section=20&desc=Nuestros%20Países&id=1778876 U.S. hardens position on Puerto Rico ("EE.UU. endurece posición sobre Puerto Rico"); Jesús Dávila - El Diario La Prensa; December 22, 2007] ] a position shared by the remaining two-major parties: New Progressive Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party.

Political territorial occupation by the United States

Puerto Rico is an organized unincorporated U.S. territory which has been given internal self-governing powers which are referred to as "Commonwealth" status. (The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, located in the western Pacific Ocean, has a similar delegation of self-government powers by the United States.) Puerto Rico has more latitude over its internal affairs than the U.S. territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or American Samoa.

Puerto Rico has approximately the same degree of authority over its internal affairs as an American state. The United States federal government controls interstate trade, foreign commerce, customs, aviation and navigation, immigration, currency, all military and naval matters, radio and television communications, mining and minerals, highways, the postal system, social security, and other areas generally controlled by the federal government in the United States. As in the case of a state, the United States Supreme Court also have the final say over the constitutionality of Puerto Rican laws. Puerto Rico's elected governor and legislature control all other delegated internal affairs.

The major differences between Puerto Rico and the states are:
* Puerto Rico does not have the rights of a state as granted by the US constitution, because it is not a state. These include:
** Lack of voting representation in either house of the U.S. Congress, as the US Constitution provides these rights only to full states. The only delegate to the Congress is an elected Resident Commissioner who represents the people of P.R. in the United States House of Representatives. The delegate may speak but cannot vote for final passage of congressional legislation, and may serve and vote in committees, as well as the Committee of the Whole.
** The ineligibility of Puerto Rican residents to vote in presidential elections as the U.S. Constitution provides these rights only to states and the District of Columbia. P.R. does not have any electors in the U.S. Electoral College, although the Puerto Rico chapters of the Republican and Democratic parties can (and do) have state-like voting delegations to their respective nominating conventions, as well as voting representation in the Democratic and Republican National Committee.
* Exemption from some aspects of the Internal Revenue Code (see "Tax and customs laws" section of this article).
* Puerto Rico has international representation in sports and other international events as a nation. Also, many believe that Puerto Ricans are considered to be a nationality.

Presidential politics in Puerto Rico

Although the Republican Party and Democratic Party chapters in Puerto Rico have selected voting delegates to the national nominating conventions since the early 1900's, public interest in these processes heightened as a result of the efforts of a group of Democratic statehooders led by Franklin Delano López in 1976 to elect delegates supporting former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter to that year's Democratic National Convention. As a result of that effort, the Puerto Rico Legislature approved a law regulating presidential primaries in 1978, the first of which was held in 1980, with George H. W. Bush winning the Republican primary and President Carter beating Senator Edward Kennedy in a hard-fought Democratic primary. In a 1978 internal reorganization primary, statehooders took control of the local Democratic party chapter, shared control on a 50-50 basis from 1984 to 1988 and lost control that year as a result of their defeat in an internal primary that year between PDP forces led by then Senate president Miguel Hernández Agosto and NPP forces led by former Gov. Carlos Romero Barceló. While the PDP Democratic faction controls the Democratic party chapter under the state chairmanship of former senator Roberto Prats, two of the five DNC members residing in Puerto Rico, Senate president Kenneth McClintock and Francisco Domenech are statehooders. On the Republican side NPP-affiliated statehood Republicans control the GOP local chapter (Republican Party of Puerto Rico), headed by state chair and Aguadilla mayor Carlos Méndez, Republican National Committeeman and Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño and Republican National Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas. The 2008 Republican presidential primary was slated to be held in February, while Democrats held their primary in June. Senate President and Democratic National Committeeman Kenneth McClintock, former Sen. Roberto Prats, Puerto Rico's Democratic State Chair and former PDP gubernatorial candidate José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral were appointed co-chairs of Sen. Hillary Clinton's National Hispanic Leadership Council while Young Democrats of America Democratic National Committeeman Francisco Domenech co-chaired Clinton's young professionals organization. [http://vocero.com/noticiasum.asp?id=11136] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29_presidential_primaries%2C_2008] . Prats and McClintock subsequently co-chaired Clinton's Puerto Rico campaign, which she won by a 68% to 32% margin. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2008_Republican_presidential_primaries] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29_presidential_primaries%2C_2008] [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2008_Democratic_presidential_primaries] [ [http://www.goppr.org/index.php.en/ The Republican Party of Puerto Rico ] ] Being the last big primary before the last two states voted on June 3, Puerto Rico's Democratic presidential primary attracted historic levels of national media coverage. Several local politicians have expressed concern that Puerto Rico has become a "piggy bank" for presidential campaigns [http://www.elnuevodia.com/diario/noticia/politica/noticias/obama_ignoro_consejo/310007 ] .] . Recent examples include Vice President Dick Cheney's whirlwind two-hour visit to collect $300,000 in 2006 and Senator Barack Obama's somewhat longer three-hour trip in November, 2007 to collect $200,000 [http://www.elnuevodia.com/diario/noticia/portada/noticias/llego,_cobro_y_volo/309815.] .] . Both refused to meet with the news media, press the flesh or meet with local politicos, inconceivable in Iowa or New Hampshire.

United States citizenship

Puerto Ricans have been statutory U.S. citizens since 1917 extended by a law called the "Jones-Shafroth Act" (or "Jones Act") which can be modified at any time by the U.S. Congress. They are free to live anywhere within the U.S. without a visa. Similarly, all mainland U.S. citizens have the right to reside in Puerto Rico without a visa.

Territorial Dispute

The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States is the subject of ongoing debate in the United Nations and the International Community. [cite web
url=http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL32933.pdf
title=Political Status of Puerto Rico: Background, Options, and Issues in the 109th Congress
date=May 25, 2005
author=Keith Bea
publisher=Congressional Research Service
accessdate=2007-10-01
] cite press release
title=Special committee on decolonization approves text calling on United States to expedite Puerto Rican self-determination process
date=13 June, 2006
publisher=Department of Public Information, United Nations General Assembly
url=http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/gacol3138.doc.htm
accessdate=2007-10-01
] According to two consecutive Bush Administration President’s Task Force Reports,cite web
url=http://charma.uprm.edu/~angel/Puerto_Rico/reporte_status.pdf
title= Report by the President's task force on Puerto Rico's Status
month=December
year=2005
accessdate=2007-10-01
] , the latest of which was issued on December 21, 2007 [http://www.primerahora.com/XStatic/primerahora/docs/espanol/whitehousestatusreport.pdf] , Puerto Rico is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States, subject to the plenary powers of the United States government. The ruling Popular Democratic Party has challenged the Bush Administration’s Task Force Reports stating that in 1953 Puerto Rico achieved a compact of association between both nations that was recognized by the United Nations. Nonetheless, the aforementioned U.S. Presidential and Congressional Reports state that the current prerogatives assumed by the Puerto Rico government are delegated by the U.S. Congress and may be amended or eliminated at its sole behest.

In an unprecedented letter sent by the Governor of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Secretary of State and the Co-Chairs of the White House’s Presidential Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, Governor Acevedo Vilá stated:

:"“My Administration’s position is very clear: if the Task Force and the Bush Administration stand by their 2005 conclusions, then for over 50 years the U.S Government has perpetuated a 'monumental hoax' on the people of Puerto Rico, on the people of the United States and on the international community. If the 2005 report articulates the new official position of the United States, the time has come now for the State Department to formally notify the United Nations of this new position and assume the international legal consequences. You cannot have a legal and constitutional interpretation for local, political purposes and a different one for the international community. If it is a serious, relevant document, the report must have international consequences. Alternatively, the Task Force may review and amend the 2005 conclusions to make them consistent with legal and historical precedent, and therefore allow future status developments based on a binding compact.”". [ [http://www.fortaleza.gobierno.pr/admin_fortaleza/sistema/noticias/1160.doc Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá’s letter to U.S. President George W. Bush’s President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status (formally addressed to the Co-Chairs of the Bush Administration’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status); October 23, 2007] ]

On December 21, 2007, the Bush Administration's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status reiterated and confirmed that Puerto Rico continues to be a territory of the United States under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress. Thus, according to Gov. Acevedo Vila’s letter, the official Puerto Rico Government’s public policy with respect to the status of the country is: that “the U.S. Government has perpetuated a ‘monumental hoax’ on the people of Puerto Rico, on the people of the United States and on the International community”. [ [http://www.fortaleza.gobierno.pr/nota.asp?id_noticia=1160 Official Puerto Rico Government Press Release: “Gobernador asiste a reunión con Equipo de Trabajo Presidencial sobre el status político de la Isla; advierte repercusiones internacionales por no reconocer el ELA.”] ]

Disfranchisement because of residence in Puerto Rico

In the USA

U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico are counted in the decennial population census and in some other demographic studies carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau, but are not included in the national totals since PR is not part of the US. They lose their right to vote in any U.S. legislative and executive election at the national level that, despite the fact that the U.S. Government Executive and Legislative Branches hold ultimate sovereignty over all U.S. citizens and the territory of Puerto Rico. Both the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the New Progressive Party outright reject the status quo that permits disfranchisement. The remaining political organization, the Popular Democratic Party, is less active in its opposition of this case of disfranchisement but has officially stated that it favors fixing the remaining "deficits of democracy" that the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations have publicly recognized in writing through Presidential Task Force Reports.

Puerto Rico citizenship

On October 25 2006, the Puerto Rico State Department conferred to Juan Mari Brás Puerto Rican citizenship. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court and the Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice determined that the Puerto Rican citizenship in fact existed and was recognized in the Puerto Rican constitution. This "citizenship" in opinion of both the local Secretary of Justice and the Puerto Rico's Department of State, it is like the citizenship of any state of the Union, meaning that it is only used domestically, not internationally. A citizen of Puerto Rico must have a US passport to travel outside the US and its territories. This citizenship does not apply only to people born in Puerto Rico. The certificate of citizenship is not automatically conferred, and it must be requested.

The status question

Political organizations

Political pressure groups, permanent congressional bodies and leaders

* Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP)
* Ruben Berrios Martinez (PIP)
* Popular Democratic Party (PDP)
* Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (Governor of Puerto Rico [PDP] )
* New Progressive Party (NPP)
* Luis Fortuño (NPP)
* Workers' Socialist Movement (Puerto Rico)
* Socialist Front
* Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN for its abbreviation in Spanish)
* Armed Forces of Popular Resistance
* Boricua Popular Army (also known as "Los Macheteros", Filiberto Ojeda Ríos) (RIP)
* Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution
* The National Hostosian Congress
* The New Puerto Rican Independence Movement
* Hostosian National Independence Movement
* Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Rico’s Independence
* Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association
* Rep. José E. Serrano
* Senate President Kenneth McClintock
* Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño
* University Pro Independence Federation (FUPI for its abbreviation in Spanish)

Other

International organization participation

Puerto Rico may not conclude treaties with other sovereign states, although it does belong to some international bodies such as:

* Caricom (observer)
* ECLAC (associate)
* FAO (associate)
* ITUC
* Interpol (subbureau)
* IOC
* WFTU
* WHO (associate)

Diplomacy

Puerto Rico hosts consular staff from 42 countries. Most consulates are located in the vicinity of the San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.

See also

* List of political parties in Puerto Rico
* Elections in Puerto Rico
* Municipalities of Puerto Rico
* Voting rights in Puerto Rico
* Politics of the United States
* Political status of Puerto Rico

References

* [http://www.bandera.org/articulo.php?articuloID=275 ¿Qué es y por qué lucha el MST?]
# Central Intelligence Agency (USA). [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications//factbook The World Factbook] (2003). United States of America.

External links

* [http://www.gobierno.pr/ Commonwealth of Puerto Rico]
* [http://www.fortaleza.gobierno.pr/ Governor]
* [http://www.house.gov/fortuno/ Resident Commissioner (U.S. House)]
* [http://www.camaradepuertorico.org/ Puerto Rico House of Representatives]
* [http://www.senadopr.us/ Puerto Rico Senate]
* [http://www.ceepur.org/ Commonwealth Elections Commission (CEEPUR)]
* [http://www.bandera.org/ Bandera Roja Newspaper]
* [http://www.coha.org/2007/07/25/mind-over-heart-la-boricua%e2%80%99s-neo-colonial-relationship-with-washington/ Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)'s press release providing an up-to date country profile on Puerto Rico]


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