Independence is not a popular option in Puerto Rico. It has never received as much as 6% of the vote in a status referendum, and the Independence Party has never had a successful candidate for governor. This may be why the “commonwealth” party is working so hard to separate Free Association, which is a relationship between two independent nations, from independence. There appears to be an effort going on to make Free Association sound just like “enhanced commonwealth.”
Free Association is not, and will not be, anything like “enhanced commonwealth.” Read more about Free Association.
However, there is another story about independence and why it is not a popular option among Puerto Rico’s voters. This story says that the independence movement was quashed by the U.S. government, so much so that people haven’t voted for independence in all these years… but in their hearts they still want it.
This is a great story. It would make a good musical. Is it true?
The history of U.S. anti-independence activities in Puerto Rico has been overtaken by the current policy recognizing the right of the people to independence in accordance with the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the U.N. Charter. Of course, those now universal principles are grounded in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Northwest Ordinance.
In Puerto Rico the U.S. disrupted independence activities deemed anti-American. FBI COINTEL materials show that the federal government was working against those that advocated violence as a route to independence. In 1948, a law was passed against nationalistic expression, Law 53, known as “La Ley de la Mordaza” (the Gag Law).
70 years later, repressive laws like these are a part of U.S. history. In that time, the efforts of “commonwealth” supporters to convert “commonwealth” into a “sovereign” status it could never truly become has been far more effective in neutralizing the independence ideology than the arguably counter-productive federal and local efforts to disrupt it in the early 20th century.
The independence movement
The U.S. began during the Eisenhower administration in the 1950’s to openly support independence for Puerto Rico if chosen by the people. The independence party’s position didn’t keep up with the times. They have said that they would not accept the legitimacy of a majority vote for statehood, because the U.S. has practiced a policy of duress and coercion that prevents the people from exercising freely their right of independence.