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Puerto Rico

In 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, primarily motivated by the decades of unrest in Cuba and the unexplained sinking of an American battleship in Havana Harbor.

spanish american war On July 25, 1898, during the ten-week Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.

Consequently, the island of Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the United States; the new governor was appointed by the President of the United States.

Some local governmental powers were granted the island, including an elected House of Representatives and court system, however, the U.S. maintained the ultimate veto control.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were collectively made U.S. citizens. Because of that action a few thousand Puerto Ricans were drafted into the United States army during World War I.

Many Puerto Ricans remained unhappy with the U.S. takeover of their island, and the Great Depression made things worse. in 1937, a protest march was organized in Ponce; a march that ended with 19 deaths and hundreds wounded.

The U.S. response to that peaceful protest march was called a massacre by some, and on April 2, 1943, U.S. Senator Millard Tydings introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress calling for independence for Puerto Rico. That bill was defeated and Puerto Ricans were not pleased.

In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to elect their own governor, and so they did. On October 30, 1950, nationalists organized a 3-day revolt against the U.S. in various cities and towns. To squelch the unrest, the U.S. used military force.

In the 1950s, the Puerto Rican financial situation took a strong turn, as its new manufacturing-based economy began to replace the island's long-dependency on agricultural products. That positive growth continued on into the 1960s.

financial building Today the island of Puerto Rico is one of the major tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and a significant factor in the regional petrochemical, pharmaceutical and technology industries.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but they can't vote in U.S. presidential elections. And because the United States Congress still legislates many aspects of Puerto Rican life, the details of the Puerto Rico/U.S. relationship are simply baffling, and widely debated to this day.

Like all people, Puerto Ricans also want freedom, and after a long (mostly positive association) with the U.S. many feel that if a referendum on (total) independence from the United States was put to a direct vote (today) it would easily pass. Well, that happened in 1998, and more than 50% of the population said "They weren't sure!"

Regardless, we've traveled to this casual, yet exciting island many times, and from Old San Juan to Ponce, we loved it. So will you!

About Puerto Rico

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Countries & Territories Of The Caribbean

This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.