Puerto Rican Contributions to the U.S.

Puerto Rico’s contributions to the U.S. begin with the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have fought for the United States in every conflict since World War I, and with the taxes Puerto Rico pays to the U.S. Federal Government. They continue with the natural resources of Puerto Rico and the strategic importance military facilities have had there over the century plus that Puerto Rico has belonged to the United States. And, with more people of Puerto Rican heritage on the mainland than on the Island, Puerto Rico has certainly contributed to the United States in precisely the same way that every state has.

But there are also many individual contributions by people from Puerto Rico. Here are just a few of the Puerto Rican heroes who have contributed to the U.S. in many different fields:

  • Joseph Michael “Joe” Acaba, is the first astronaut from Puerto Rico.
  • Deborah Aguiar-Veléz is an engineer, an award-winning businesswoman, and the author of Spanish-language computer science textbooks as part of her support of the Hispanic community.
  • Marc Anthony is an actor and singer, a television producer, and currently the top-selling tropical salsa artist of all time.
  • Olga Albizu was an abstract expressionist painter and a leading figure in the New York arts scene.
  • Maria Teresa Babín was a writer and educator who edited one of the most important anthologies of Puerto Rican literature.
  • Herman Badillo was the first congressman of Puerto Rican heritage.
  • Frank Bonilla was a leading figure in academic studies of Puerto Rico, and served as the director of the City University of New York’s Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños.
  • Roberto Clemente was a Hall of Fame baseball star and a humanitarian.
  • Jesús Colón was the first Puerto Rican writer to achieve literary success on the mainland.
  • Victor Hernández Cruz was named one of the best American poets by Life Magazine in 1981.
  • Jennifer Lopez is a star as a dancer, singer, and actress.
  • Ricky Martin is a singer, actor, and author known for bringing salsa music into the U.S. mainstream.
  • Rita Moreno is one of few performers to have won all four of the major entertainment awards: the Oscar, the Tony, the the Emmy, and the Grammy.
  • Antonia Novello served as Surgeon General of the United States, the first Hispanic woman to do so.
  • Anthony Romero is the president of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • José Enrique Serrano is a U.S. Congressman representing the South Bronx.
  • Yajaira Sierra Sastre is a nanotechnologist working with NASA, and plans to become an astronaut.
  • Sonia Sotomayor is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

This list could be much, much longer. The people of Puerto Rico are already making important contributions to the United States in every field you can imagine, and will continue to do so.


Nilsa LopezLena

I am so thankful you posted these facts. As both a Puerto Rican (born in Juana Diaz) and Mexican ancestry, I pray I too, some day, can make a difference in our country and world.


it would only be fair to also list the contributions made by the US to the Puerto Rican people here and abroad including welfare and other entitlements and weigh the pros and cons instead of just presenting a one-sided argument. and simply being in a position, such as the ones listed above, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve contributed anything meaningful to the field or the US.


I don’t understand what you mean by one sided arguments this is just a list of things that show how Puerto Rico has Americas back and how it always will and let’s not get into the fact that if it wasn’t for U.S congress Puerto Rico wouldn’t be in the situation that it is in now.

Aida ramos

PuertoRico has always help usa and vice versa for those that think that they dont yes they do im very upset that some individuals think every one in PR..is a lazy person is not true my family members they all work not every is on welfare or food stamps god bless my island amd my people.

Aida ramos

So you know yes PR..been helping usa for a long time yes usa helps them too but this article is about PR.. where the best liquor comes from and not to mentioned many other companies in PR..as well send usa millions of dollars they made in PR..get your facts straight. Love my island.


Nobody gives anything in exchange for nothing. That is a fact.
According to Ms. Rivera Negrón is a full professor at the University of Puerto Rico, with a Ph.D. in Economic Development. She is also President of the Association of Puerto Rican Economists.
With facts and figures on a detailed chart, she demonstrated one astounding fact: that in a typical year (2008), the island received a total of $4.6 billion in federal dollars, while contributing $71.6 billion dollars back to the US economy. In other words, in 2008, Puerto Rico contributed $67 billion dollars more to the US, than the US to Puerto Rico!


I take it you’re not the brightest person. Read Te title. If you would have read the title then you would know where the focus is at. There has been much research done on the subjects you feel should have been mentioned. Take a class on the history of Puerto Rico, maybe then you could rid some of your bitterness.

Antonio Sánchez

They need to stand on their own and vote for independence!!! All they offer the U.S. is more welfare mouths to feed.

Pedro Levy

It’s sad you generalize people you don’t know. Maybe your a bias racists who thinks that all Blacks should be departed back to Africa. Or all American Jews on welfare especially the Orthodox Hasidic Jews on welfare while studying in Seminary regardless the number be deported to Israel. You’re ignorance is appalling. Not all Puerto Ricans, Blacks, Jews etc. on welfare. I suppose you don’t complain about some Congress members receiving a big paycheck in exchange for favors. It’s called Lobbyists.

mark troiano

Pedro I’m guessing you’re Hispanic. I’m Italian. We’re all gangsters you know 🙂

Don’t pay attention to racists and fools. I am guessing you are too good for them to even deserve a response.

I’m 51. I was racist my Whole Life until about 48.

Then I found the Peurto Rican love of my life and I felt like a fool for all those wasted years of disliking people I didn’t know.

But believe me, I get the “do you know a gangster?” stuff all the time lol who cares?

You got a Supreme Court Justice that is Puerto Rican!! That’s awesome.

Cherish it
buona notte

Aida ramos

PuertoRico has always help usa and vice versa for those that think that they dont yes they do im very upset that some individuals think every one in PR..is a lazy person is not true my family members they all work not every is on welfare or food stamps god bless my island amd my people.

Maj Gen Roger Sandler

Puerto Rico deserves statehood. They are members of Congress without vote, they contribute to the armed forces of the United States in Activr, Reserve & National Guard membership. Statehood would bring money to the U S. Government in income taxes and Corporate taxes. The people are ready to become true citizens, as evidenced by their recent vote. I have personally worked with Puerto Ricans and found them to be intelligent, industrious & trustworthy. MAKE THEM THE 51st STATE!!


Wow the spelling of name commoncents show your educational level and ignorance…..tell that to all the veterans in puerto rico that fought and lost their lives in all the miltary conflicts defending the USA….i myself is a honorably discharged ex-marine as well as an MBA….. if you put that much effort into improving your life in your educational background instead of instead of hating so much you be successful

Sam Plunkitt

The U. S. Congress would have to be out of their minds to grant statehood to P. R. The country is bankrupt. The economy, such as it is is deplorable with no prospect of improving. It would be sheer foolishness for the U. S. to take in 3.5 million people, the vast majority of whom would be on the government dole…plus giving the Democrats millions more low information voters. Other than a few men who have served in our military, P. R has contributed NOTHING OF VALUE to the good of the U. S. or to its economy.


Just a reminder — Puerto Rico is not a country. It’s a territory belonging to the U.S. Puerto Rico sends a disproportionate number of men and women to the military. The U.S. owns Puerto Rico, so statehood would not be a matter of taking people in.

Pedro Levy

Your entitled to your opinion. But are not facts, NASA has recruits Puerto Ricans from the island.
Students from the Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas de Mayagüez (CROEM; a specialized STEM school in Puerto Rico) won first place in the “Veggies in Space o NASA Growing Beyond Earth (GBE)” competition sponsored by NASA.

So your living in your old medieval bubble. Come out….

C. White

It is wonderful that you have put this information out for the public to read. It seems as though a vast number of our population knows nothing about Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands of the U.S. probably fit in the same category. I’ve always wondered why Puerto Rice and the Virgin Islands have never been made states. Yes, they should be made the 51st and 52nd states. I think you should Twitter the man some call “president” concerning the armed forces members and that the Virgin Islands need help too.

Dennis Freytes

Plus, Puerto Rican Ancestors-**US Hispanic/ Puerto Rican Heritage–Macro History Excerpts**
“Canto claro como un Gallo Boricua de Manati-Monte Bello!”
US Hispanic-Puerto Rican legacy to American History—dates to the initial settlement of the New World; now USA–by their Ancestors—that came from Puerto Rico to Florida (1513) —107 years before the Pilgrims!
Puerto Ricans have loyally & bravely sacrifice; shed sweat, blood and tears for our noble US Flag until today!
Puerto Rico Native Tainos: Named Puerto Rico- Boriken—“Land of the Valiant Lord”…; Hundreds of years ago, left traces in the now US (Georgia) before Cristobal Colon first Trip…
Christopher Columbus found the Western Hemisphere on 12 October 1492 (first found San Salvador…); during his 2d Trip (19 November 1493), he found Puerto Rico (Native Boriken); named it “San Juan Bautista”… (Later it became Puerto Rico with San Juan the Capital). But, in his four Trips he never touched the continental land mass of the now USA…
Juan Ponce de León (1st Governor Puerto Rico-Boriken) – organized an expedition (March 1513) from the now US Territory of Puerto Rico—set sail with Crew (included Blacks and Women) from Puerto Rico-Boriken to find what the Natives called Bimini (now Florida, USA)…
*In the spring of 1513 (April 2) they arrived at a beautiful verdant land which he named “La Florida”… (This dangerous voyage into the unknown– put Florida on the Map for others to follow and develop…)
• Puerto Rico was the historic 1st Gateway to the European settlement of Florida-which opened the doors to the advanced civilized settlement of our now USA–107 years before the Pilgrims landed…
• These Spanish US Hispanic Ancestors (part of Hispanic lineage, roots, & heritage)—Made many positive contributions…overtime brought Christianity, Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Oranges…; the Spanish language (the US is the 2d largest Spanish Speaking Country); first Thanksgiving; and other good things to “America” (name set by Hispanic/ European Ancestors)…
• The Hispanic-Puerto Rican Legacy– complemented the worthy contributions of Natives and Immigrants in the forming and development of our now beloved USA…
1508 Ponce de Leon founded “Caparra” the first settlement in Puerto Rico, but, in 1509 it was moved… to what today is San Juan (formally founded-1521) where he is buried—the oldest City under the US Flag…
1565: St. Augustine (2d Oldest City under US Flag) – was founded by: Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez… (Note: My Grand-Mother is Menendez—who knows if we are blood kin…?)
1607: The English stopped in Puerto Rico on their way to Jamestown, which was later abandoned…
1620: The Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth Harbor/Rock (Massachusetts) on the Mayflower…
1776-: Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans-US Hispanics-supported the US Continental Army, and fought (for our USA) in the Revolutionary War! General Galvez (Governor of Louisiana-now 13 US States), and General Castro (later Governor of Puerto Rico) bravely fought, against the British, in the important Battles of Pensacola (Florida), Louisiana, Missouri, and others…helping General Washington; the “US Minutemen Citizen Soldiers” win the War…
*NOTE: Spain strongly supported; lent the rebelling Colonists/ US Continental Army, under General George Washington, the use of its ports in Puerto Rico, through which flowed financial aid, food, and arms for the US cause…; protection for American Ships…
*US Hispanic Ancestors, before the Pilgrims came, settled and help develop what is today California, Texas, Florida, Louisiana (includes now 14 US States)…
*Many Flags have flown over Florida: Spanish, British, French, Florida … & now our great USA Flag!
LOYAL US Puerto Ricans are the 2d largest (9 million strong) US Hispanic Ethnic segment of our great USA Population—Puerto Ricans have shed blood; fought in the War of Independence …; since 1898 (about 120+ years), have sacrificed to help bravely defend our USA (includes WW-I, WW-II, Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, War on Terrorism …). The US 65th Infantry Regiment-The Borinqueneers are recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal-highest honor US Congress can bestow); set the Example!

MACRO SUMMERY: After, 500+ years since Florida was found (from Puerto Rico)–let’s not forget the courageous US Hispanic Ancestors/ Explorers’ legacy that brought advance civilization (of the times); good things to our now USA. Also, let’s acknowledge the hard work of Natives & Immigrants, before & after this milestone; work together for the good of all: Family, Community, Florida, USA, and Humanity!

**US President Reagan: “Through the years, Hispanic American Citizens have risen to the call of duty in defense of liberty and freedom. Their bravery is well known and has been demonstrated time and again, dating back to the aid rendered by General Bernardo de Galvez during the American Revolution”.


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