No, Congress Isn’t Giving Puerto Rico Back to Spain

Over the holiday, reputable newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported that President Trump and the President of Spain had firmed up a deal to return Puerto Rico to Spain, the nation which owned it before the United States.

Snopes confirmed that this report was false, but readers should have easily seen that for themselves, since the story contained the note, “Nota del editor: esta historia no es verídica. ¡Feliz Día de los Santos Inocentes!”

This silly prank hides some important kernels of truth, however.

Congress could give Puerto Rico to Spain if it wanted to.

Congress has plenary (absolute) power over Puerto Rico, because Puerto Rico continues to be an unincorporated territory belonging to the United States. The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that such territories are not covered by the U.S. Constitution and that they do not have the same rights a state has. The Constitution itself says that Congress can make all the decisions about a territory like Puerto Rico.

Spain gave Puerto Rico to the United States, and the United States could give it back.

There are many people who are unaware of the value of Puerto Rico.

El Nuevo Dia’s story included a fake quote from a fake senator: “The United States should never have taken possession of Puerto Rico. It was a mistake. Puerto Rico has cost us too much, ” said Alabama Republican Sen. Luke McCullen.”

There is no Senator Luke McCullen. There was no claim that Puerto Rico costs too much. But we have heard this kind of comment.

The United States tried to buy Puerto Rico in 1868, when a Caribbean base was needed for the construction of the Panama Canal. A couple of decades later, Spain gave Puerto Rico to the United States. While Puerto Rico was at that time trying out “autonomy” from Spain, the fact that Spain was able to pass the Island over to the U.S. shows how little that autonomy meant. Since that time, Puerto Rico has provided billions of dollars in tax breaks to U.S. corporations.

Hawaii did the same when it was a territory. But when it became a state, Hawaii became prosperous and now provides billions of dollars in taxes to the federal government. Puerto Rico will do the same as a state.

Congress has all the power in this relationship.

A number of U.S. presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have expressed their wishes that Puerto Rico would become a state. The voters of Puerto Rico have twice voted for statehood. But only Congress can make a state.

The article in El Nuevo Dia said that Congress had been planning to vote on this plan to return Puerto Rico to Spain, but had run out of time before the holidays. If there were a plan for Puerto Rico and Congress didn’t get around to voting for it, the plan would dissolve. That part is true.

We are working to make Congress understand that the time for Puerto Rico statehood is now. Join us! Click To Tweet

7 Comments

Stuart MEDINA MILTIMORE

“While Puerto Rico was at that time trying out “autonomy” from Spain, the fact that Spain was able to pass the Island over to the U.S. shows how little that autonomy meant” WTF? Spain had no option after being defeated militarily.

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pr51st

Spain had no choice. But if Spain hadn’t owned Puerto Rico — if Puerto Rico had been independent — Spain could not have given it away. Spain could give Puerto Rico away only because Spain owned Puerto Rico.

The U.S. could give Puerto Rico away now, but if it becomes a state, that will be permanent.

Reply
Johanna

PR was given away by the French without consulting the puertorican representants of the island which , by 1987, became the first and only new world’s AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF SPAIN and as such had full voice and vote in Spain unlike now with the US. If the treaty of Paris would’ve been held responsably and respectfully PR would’ve benn now part of the European union or a state of the US since 1987…

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Francis

Como que la autonomía valía bien poco? Pero si Estados unidos no la arrebató, se hundió un barco a sí mismo para detonar la guerra y luego obligar a vendérselo, junto con Cuba, Filipinas y Guam. Para los Españoles toda hispanoamerica es hermana nuestra, cosa que un anglosajón nunca entendería ya que su dios es el dinero y sus arte el mercado.

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POLA-RIVERA, ORLANDO

Our culture, values and traditions are in alignment with Spain and not with an anglosaxon dominant country like the US. Not to mention that the Spanish language, which has flourished on the Island for over 500 years even when the US government tried for decades to supplant the language, provides further proof of where our identity resets. Surely not with a dominant subversive force with whom we share no cultural ties. (And I speak about those folks on the Island, not the expats living in the US).

It is a proven fact that the war that caused the US to forcefully take control over PR was an illegal abomination instigated by a lie created by the US in order to steal since buying the Island decades earlier failed. (As if to say, if we can not buy it, we’ll steal it by creating a war.) US citizens are well aware of what underhanded, illegal steps the US government can take when it wants to establish something, which is why many US citizens do not trust it own government.

I find websites such as these laughable because it simplifies something that is very complicated in an attempt to put forward an agenda. An agenda towards statehood that many Puertorricans do not agree with as if to hide, through partial historical facts and current sentiments, what is at the heart of every Puerto Rican which is their love of their Island country and desire to defend their identity, culture and Island. Yes, we are a nationalistic bunch and that nationalism, though we have respect for the US, is squarely aligned with maintaining our heritage and identity rather than being swollowed up by a super power simply because we may seek economic support from that supper power. Give me liberty or give me death.

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AA AA

Mr. Orlando Pola- Rivera,

I so appreciate your point of view and fully respect it. It is a blessing and a git of our democratic republic that we all have a voice. I rarely reply directly to comments, but after reading yours a couple of times, I am compelled to do so.
1- The purpose of this website, in my view, its precisely to serve as a legally registered advocate group pro- Statehood. The attempt is to put forward the belief of full equality through Statehood for the American Citizens residing in PR. It is not hidden agenda to hide historical facts, nor use subjective sentiments, but rather, utilize transparent legal and constitutional facts as to the cause for PR Statehood.
2- Your comments suggest your hypothetical premise that those living in the island love, defend their identity, culture and island profoundly more that the PR “expats” living in the US mainland. I respectfully disagree with this premise. Us – the “ PR expats” by a great majority love our island, identity and culture as much as those that remain, I would say perhaps sometimes to a greater depth. It takes great courage and love to recognize the reality of limited infrastructural, geographic and economic opportunities and seek them elsewhere. Us “ PR expats” embrace our heritage as much as anyone and recognize that he who denies his heritage – has none. Perhaps because of the latter, most of us speak unapologetically multiple languages in our homes and recognize it is not an abomination to be bilingual or trilingual, to work hard, be successful and to fully integrate our customs and traditions to those of other American Citizens. Evidence to such exits loud and clear in our PR businesses in the mainland and never denying our roots. Because of this, we all rejoice when one of us trains to walk on the moon or plays in the major leagues. We all reflect when one of us sits on the higher court or in a higher government post. We all feel and pray for courage and determination when one of us is stationed in Afghanistan or Kuwait. We all embrace those of us teaching in a public school or an Ivy League College. We all dance to our music and laugh at our unique ability to laugh at ourselves. But most of all, we rejoice and are our proudest when in the middle of great loss and tragedy we embrace each other and show our resilience , empathy and compassion.
3- In terms of your comments on the US government – I can only say the following – no government is free from historical or administrative mishaps, both PR and the USA have had its share of mismanagement towards each other. Those of us who believe in Statehood, believe the first step towards full integration comes with incorporating the territory and allowing it to have full representation in Congress. PR statehood will allow PR to have a clear voice, through their votes and Congress member representatives elected locally in the island. There is no place for territorial colonialism in today’s society. The only way to end colonialism is through independence- nationhood or Statehood.
4- You stated: “we are a nationalistic bunch and that nationalism, though we have respect for the US, is squarely aligned with maintaining our heritage and identity rather than being swollowed up by a super power simply because we may seek economic support from that supper power.” – Based on this comment- I can only state that an Independent Nation cannot and should not have the citizenship of another – this would be a true abomination and nothing in the US Constitution supports it. Therefore, you and those that share your views, should absolutely explore giving up your US citizenship. This is permisible legally and you will receive a letter certificate of your PR citizenship. Juan Mari Bras did this and stood behind his beliefs and sentiments.
No one is forced to receive economic support from anyone, nor “that anyone” is obliged to provide it. It may sound cynical and rhetorical, but the reality is that PR has a poor administrative track record with federal assistance, one can only imagine it would be worse as an independent entity. The reality is that being an American Citizen is a responsibility and a privilege, no one is forced to be an American unless they wan to be. For every P RIcan that does not want or cherish its American Citizenship, there are millions of people waiting for it. In the end, it is our individual choice -how we choose to live our lives and be proud PuertoRican Americans with our love for the island and our traditions in spite of our geographic location.

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