reunification with Spain

In general, Puerto Rico has three viable status options under the U.S. Constitution:

  • statehood
  • current territory status
  • independence

Statehood has been the preferred choice in the past three referenda, and there is a statehood bill in Congress right now. There is no question that the most efficient way forward is to support HR 1522 and see Puerto Rico admitted into the Union as a state.

However, there is also a bill in Congress calling for a status convention to explore the viable options except for the current territory status, plus any other creative options delegates come up with.

This mostly means that the ghost of the enhanced commonwealth may rise again and rattle its chains, extending the territory status far into the future with the complicated status convention plan.

But there is another option that is expected to try to get a seat at the convention: reunification with Spain.

Spain’s history with Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for four centuries before Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States after the Spanish-American War. The colonial relationship included trade restrictions, slavery, and local government provided by Spain.

Toward the end of the 19th century, Puerto Rico attempted to gain independence from Spain.

The Grito de Lares of 1868 was an armed insurrection against Spain. In 1871, Spain established martial rule, but in 1897 Spain gave a local Charter of Autonomy to Puerto Rico, offering home rule. A local government took its place in July of 1898. In December, Spain gave Puerto Rico to the United States, making it clear that Spain still owned Puerto Rico.

Who wants reunification with Spain?

Jose Nieves, the founder of the Puerto Rico Reunification with Spain organization, is one of the small group that wants to become a Spanish community.

Spain has 17 autonomous communities and a couple of autonomous cities in Africa. Nieves wants Puerto Rico to become the 18th autonomous community. These autonomies are roughly comparable to the states of the United States. Some were kingdoms in the past, and the Canary Islands, which became an autonomy in the late 20th century, was a colony of Spain.

In 1922, small groups of Puerto Ricans called for reunification with Spain. A 2013 petition on the subject got 314 signatures. Today, there are a couple of reunification Facebook pages with fairly large numbers of Likes and followers:

The Guardian describes the movement as “based on a mix of nostalgia and alternative history,” pointing out that there has been no response from Spain to the proposal.

However, Nieves claims that Partido Libertario de España supports the idea. This party, a libertarian group, does not have a presence in the Spanish government.

So there are small number supporting this idea, but there are at least some in Puerto Rico and in Spain who like it. The United States Constitution would allow the United States to cede Puerto Rico back to Spain.

And the group’s Facebook page sees HR 2070 as an opportunity to get their proposal on the table.

The future of the movement

Supporters of reunification see statehood as the greatest danger to their movement. Becoming an incorporated territory would also make it hard for Puerto Rico to become part of any other country. HR 2070 is the last best hope for the reunification movement.

How could they get a delegate into the status convention? Since delegates will be elected as individuals, not as representatives of parties, it is theoretically possible that some individual supporting reunification could become a wildly popular celebrity and get to be a delegate.

Since there is no upper limit to the number of decolonization options to be offered in the referendum which is to follow the status convention, it is theoretically possible that such a delegate could persuade the other delegates to slip reunification into the ballot.

Would Puerto Rico, which currently has a clear majority supporting statehood in the United States, change her mind and accept the equivalent of statehood with a nation that owned her a century ago?

In fact, Puerto Rico has already chosen statehood through a free and fair vote. Congress should take immediate action.



3 Responses

  1. We were invaded by the United States and if we look at the Treaty of Paris, that treaty was made by force, forcing Spain without any need to surrender the territory that was already Spanish territory. Puerto Rico was already annexed to Spain for this reason it was granted the right to declare itself an autonomous overseas territory of Spain

  2. Es justo que se ofrezca a Puerto Rico la opción de ser una comunidad autónoma española, en el marco del derecho de autodeterminación que asiste a los territorios coloniales. De las tres opciones ofrecidas hoy al pueblo puertorriqueño, ninguna resulta totalmente beneficiosa para él. La estatidad arrasaría la cultura e idiosincrasia locales, firmemente defendidas por los puertorriqueños. Además, el Congreso americano recela de la estatidad por distintos motivos. La independencia conduciría al país a la ruina. Y el ELA mantendría el actual estatus que ha esclerotizado la vida social y económica de la isla. Por lo tanto, la reunificación con España surge como una solución que satisface a todas las partes. A los puertorriqueños, porque les da la seguridad de la ciudadanía europea, la capacidad de comerciar y de laborar con justeza, el pasaporte europeo, entre otras ventajas. A los europeos, porque PR sería una punta de lanza pacifica y amistosa en el Caribe. Y a los EEUU, porque de manera amistosa les permitiría dar una salida a un país y un pueblo que ansía soluciones nunca obtenidas bajo el mandato estadounidense. Todo son ventajas.

  3. You can always tell who has read history in these discussions, the pro American side always lambasts Puerto Rico under Spain as if the Americans did them a favor in conquest. Whereas those who have actually read history know that Spanish Puerto Rico was a paradise compared to what the Americans would soon do to it in the following years of their conquest.

    To start off while Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony it was not like Mexico or other South American colonies, with most of the islands population having some form of military training and as such a soldiers salary so a decent living, in addition to being a major trade hub and agricultural center, only the difficult to access mountains in the center of the island proved a real problem for wealth distribution. You wouldn’t see massive shanty towns like el fanguito until after the American occupation. Hold your horses, it gets worse, due to the new state of poverty the island faced they were considered easily exploited with human experimentation along the lines of deliberate oppression and ethnic cleansing. Examples such as a deliberate implanting of cancer cells into unassuming patients with a goal of killing every Puerto Rican by Dr Cornelius P. Rhodes, as well as human trials of birth control targeting unassuming Puerto Rican women as well as testing Puerto Rican resistance to bio/chem warfare on conscripted soldiers.

    To put it this way, Puerto Rico was given the right to self govern as well as a voice and vote in Spain, being the first autonomous community in Spain, an important result of this leading to more recognition of minorities in Spain with post Franco Spain pushing for strong minority rights laws and protections they afford.

    By comparison the Americans enslaved us, with horrible pay, discrimination, and suppression of any anti American sentiment as well as deliberate exploitation by American appointed political officials with the first American governor having been the former head of dominó sugar and now controles an island with perfect sugarcane production. With later Puerto Rican elected officials were unable to veto the passing of the Gag law, under this law to speak Spanish, to speak out against the Americans, to have a non American flag or even just because they wanted to, you can be imprisoned and even tortured with many records of political opponents to the pro statehood party were found with radiation burns inflicted in prison.

    I could go on to give exact examples of life under both Spain and America, but to keep this brief, in Spain we were people, in America we are pests.

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