Is Puerto Rico a Colony?

Puerto Rico is neither a State nor a country, but a territory of the United States. Some people might say that it is in fact a colony of the United States.

A colony is an area that is controlled by a country, but which is not in that country. It is usually understood to be distant from the country that controls it, and people from the controlling country usually settle in the colony. A number of different European countries, for example, had colonies in what is now the United States. Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain before the United States gained control over it.

Joaquín A. Márquez is one of those who believe that Puerto Rico is essentially a colony of the United States. In his statement submitted to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee of Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Oversight Hearing, he explained the effects of the colonial nature of Puerto Rico’s relationship with the U.S.

“After World War II and the founding of the United Nations, a great universal movement to end colonialism was begun by the international community,” he explained. The U.N. developed a list of  “non-self-governing” areas — in other words, colonies. The U.N. established a special committee which calls out the owners of these modern colonies. The United States was embarrassed to see Puerto Rico included on that list.

It’s hard to be a champion of independence and democracy while also owning a colony.

“In 1952, partially in response to pressure from this movement,” Márquez continued, “the Truman Administration allowed the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to be established. While it provided a measure of local self-government, the island remained as an unincorporated territory subject to the full plenary powers of Congress under Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution. By establishing a locally self-governing territory, the United States was able to remove Puerto Rico from the United Nation’s list of colonies and stop further criticism by the world community.”

This was especially important at that point in history. The “Cold War” between the United States and the Soviet Union was at its height at that time. The U.S. wanted the world to see Puerto Rico as a showcase for American policies.

“The United States government wanted to draw a contrast between its successful stewardship of Puerto Rico and the Soviet Union’s floundering stewardship of Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” said Márquez. “While Puerto Rico enjoyed great economic progress and a vibrant democracy, Cuba languished under a hard dictatorship and a failed economic system.”

The United Nations continues to call on the United States to provide a permanent status for Puerto Rico, and the U.S. continues to ignore those calls.

But the U.S. has also changed the policies that let Puerto Rico look, temporarily, like a success story for the U.S. “These special privileges simply masked the colony’s intrinsic flaw – the insidious poison of colonialism, said Márquez. “The economic and political model on which it is based simply is not sustainable in the long-run.”

As a colony, in Márquez’s view, Puerto Rico can’t fix U.S. policies that are not in its favor, so the Island continues in the strange position of an unincorporated territory, with none of the power of a State or a country.

32 current states were territories before they became states, so being a territory clearly can be part of the pathway to statehood… but Puerto Rico has been a territory for long enough.

3 Comments

Dr Jose R Vazquez

Puerto Rico is a COUNTRY. El país de Puerto Rico. Siempre a sido un país. Y además es un territorio no incorporado y sigue siendo una colonia. Por favor
No cambien la raíz de nuestra nación por la americana.. Solo somos ciudadanos americanos por que se nos concede la ciudadanía.. Pero no somos nada más que puertorriqueños y punto. Aunque seamos el estado 51 seguiremos siendo puertorriqueños y nuestro país será siempre PR.. Pir favor.. Tengan cuidado con lo que dicen..

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Mirmar

Jose Vazquez, Puerto Rico is no country and will never be. Independence is as unpopular as ever and puerto rico is too broke and it’s citizens are too eager to leech (at best) the welfare tax dollars of the mainland.

This is just the truth. If Puerto Rico wasn’t so fixed on being so economically dependant of the US, the colony would have been self-reliant by now. But you, I and everyone knows this is not the case.

If you want independence, act like you want it. Stop sucking on the breast of the mainland, stop leeching off the profits of actual states. This is a simple request.

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John Carmen

Let’s not forget Corruption that has also played a role in P.R’s situation – but I do agree entirely, to me, it is a WELFARE state and ALWAYS will be

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