Puerto Rico is not for sale. But the United States tried to buy Puerto Rico from Spain in 1868, 21 years before Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. after the Spanish-American War. This is evidence that the United States had strong reasons for wanting to take on Puerto Rico. The U.S. put a high value on Puerto Rico.

Why? Location location, location.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal created a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Before the canal was built, people wanting to go from the East Coast of the United States to the West Coast had two choices: a grueling overland route across the mountains and rivers between the two coasts or a grueling sea voyage around the tip of Cape Horn. Transporting goods took months and always involved great hardship.

The Panama Canal could be traversed in 10 hours, linking the Atlantic and Pacific for trade. It also made the United States a world power. It was built after Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States, but it was being planned  years before that happened. The United States made a deal with Panama, which was the narrowest part of the continent, but having a base of operations nearby made the project more practical.

With a military presence in the Caribbean, the United States was in a stronger position to compete the project and to maintain some power over it.

Gateway to South America

In the 19th century, Argentina and the United States were about equal in influence and wealth. Both were brash young upstart countries, beacons of hope for European immigrants and potential major players on the world stage. Things did not go as well for Argentina as for the U.S., but at the turn of the 20th century these two nations were rivals.

The nations of Latin America are still important trading partners to the United States, but China is South America’s top trading partner. As tensions and rivalry grow between China and the United States, it is increasingly important for the United States to counter China’s influence in South America.

While the strategic goals have changed over the past century, Puerto Rico continues to be an important link between North America and South America. The strategic importance of Puerto Rico to the United States is still. significant. The U.S. does not want to lose Puerto Rico. But Puerto Rico is no longer satisfied to be a territory of the United States. It is time for Puerto Rico to have the sovereignty of a state.

Tell your legislators that you want them to be on the right side of history, supporting Puerto Rico statehood.



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