Statehood movement in Puerto Rico

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Statehood movement in Puerto Rico
Purpose advocates for Puerto Rico to become a state of the United States
Key people Carlos Romero Barceló
José Celso Barbosa
Luis A. Ferré
Luis Fortuño
Pedro Pierluisi
Pedro Rosselló
Affiliations New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association
Coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Puerto Rico

The statehood movement in Puerto Rico refers to initiatives throughout the history of Puerto Rico aimed at changing the current political status of Puerto Rico and creating a U.S. state "Puerto Rico". The movement is not limited to one group of individuals or even one single organization, but represents instead the events and activities of tens of groups and organizations, and thousands of individuals, that share the common goal of advocating, supporting, or seeking statehood for Puerto Rico.

On December 11, 2012, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico enacted a concurrent resolution to request the President and the Congress of the United States to respond diligently and effectively, and to act on the demand of the people of Puerto Rico, as freely and democratically expressed in the referendum held on November 6, 2012, to end its current status as a territory and to begin the process to admit Puerto Rico to the Union as a state.[1]

In 2014, resolutions were introduced in both houses of the United States Congress (H.R. 2000; S. 2020) to hold a yes-or-no referendum among Puerto Rican residents on statehood, with a "yes" majority compelling the President to submit legislation enacting Puerto Rican statehood.[2][3] Both resolutions have been referred to committees.[4]


Further information: Political status of Puerto Rico

Following the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States in 1898. Puerto Rico is listed as an unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status. Puerto Ricans were given US citizenship in 1917. However, any American (Puerto Rican or not) is unable to vote in presidential elections if they live in Puerto Rico. Any American (Puerto Rican or not) who lives in one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia is able to vote for president. The Office of the President is responsible for policy relations between the United States and Puerto Rico. Voters chose not to alter the status quo in plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998. In 2012, the government of Puerto Rico enacted a resolution that could eventually lead to U.S. statehood for the territory.[5]


There have been several referendums including questions on statehood, see: List of Puerto Rican status referendums

2012 statehood vote[edit]

On November 6, 2012, eligible voters in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico were presented with two questions. First, when asked to approve or reject Puerto Rico's current status as a commonwealth (or territory), voters rejected it 54% to 46%.

Second, when then asked to choose their preferred status for Puerto Rico, 61.15% of those who marked an option chose statehood in the United States, while 24% of ballots were submitted blank. The preferred status consultation did not include Puerto Rico's current status as a territory (Estado Libre Asociado as defined by the 1952 Constitution) as a choice, but instead an alternative named "E.L.A. Soberano"[6] President Barack Obama has pledged to respect the voters' decision.[7] In December 2012, President Barack Obama said that the majority had spoken in favor of statehood and urged Congress to react.[8] On August 1, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Puerto Rico's status as a direct result of the 2012 plebiscite vote and invited Governor Alejandro García Padilla, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, and pro-independence supporter Rubén Berríos to give testimony and answer questions from the committee.[9]

Government Funds[edit]

On January 15, 2014, the United States House of Representatives approved $2.5 million in funding to hold a referendum. This referendum can be held at anytime as there is no deadline as to when the funds have to be used by.[10] In the following weeks, the United States Senate passed the bill which was signed into law on January 17, 2014 by Barack Obama.[11]


In Puerto Rico[edit]

Outside Puerto Rico[edit]

The 1940 Democratic party platform expressed their support to a larger measure of self-government leading to statehood for Puerto Rico.

The Democratic party platform of 1940 said:

We favor a larger measure of self-government leading to statehood, for Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. We favor the appointment of residents to office, and equal treatment of the citizens of each of these three territories. We favor the prompt determination and payment of any just claims by Indian and Eskimo citizens of Alaska against the United States.[12]

President Gerald Ford proposed statehood in 1976:

I believe that the appropriate status for Puerto Rico is statehood. I propose, therefore, that the people of Puerto Rico and the Congress of the United States begin now to take those steps which will result in statehood for Puerto Rico. I will recommend to the 95th Congress the enactment of legislation providing for the admission of Puerto Rico as a State of the Union.[13]

President Ronald Reagan favored statehood:

I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President, initiate the enabling legislation to make this a reality.[14]

President George H. W. Bush raised the issue of statehood before Congress in his first State of the Union message in 1989:

There’s another issue that I’ve decided to mention here tonight. I’ve long believed that the people of Puerto Rico should have the right to determine their own political future. Personally, I strongly favor statehood. But I urge the Congress to take the necessary steps to allow the people to decide in a referendum.[15]

President George H. W. Bush issued a memorandum on November 30, 1992, to heads of executive departments and agencies, establishing the current administrative relationship between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This memorandum directs all federal departments, agencies, and officials to treat Puerto Rico administratively as if it were a state insofar as doing so would not disrupt federal programs or operations.[15]

On December 23, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed executive Order 13183, which established the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status and the rules for its membership. Section 4 of executive Order 13183 (as amended by executive Order 13319) directs the Task Force to "report on its actions to the President ... on progress made in the determination of Puerto Rico's ultimate status." President George W. Bush signed an additional amendment to Executive Order 13183 on December 3, 2003, which established the current co-chairs and instructed the Task Force to issue reports as needed, but no less than once every two years.

Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party, in their respective 2008 party platforms, have expressed their support of the rights of the United States citizens in Puerto Rico to determine the destiny of the Commonwealth to achieve a future permanent non-territorial political status with government by consent and full enfranchisement.[16][17]

The Republican Party platform of 2008 and 2012 says:

We support the right of the United States citizens of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state after they freely so determine. We recognize that Congress has the final authority to define the constitutionally valid options for Puerto Rico to achieve a permanent non-territorial status with government by consent and full enfranchisement. As long as Puerto Rico is not a state, however, the will of its people regarding their political status should be ascertained by means of a general right of referendum or specific referenda sponsored by the U.S. government.[18][19]

The Democratic Party platform of 2008 says:

We believe that the people of Puerto Rico have the right to the political status of their choice, obtained through a fair, neutral, and democratic process of self-determination. The White House and Congress will work with all groups in Puerto Rico to enable the question of Puerto Rico's status to be resolved during the next four years.[20]

The Democratic Party platform of 2012 says:

As President Obama said when he became the first President to visit Puerto Rico and address its people in 50 years, Boricuas every day help write the American story. Puerto Ricans have been proud American citizens for almost 100 years. During that time, the people of Puerto Rico have developed strong political, economic, social, and cultural ties to the United States. The political status of Puerto Rico remains an issue of overwhelming importance, but lack of resolution about status has held the island back. It is time for Puerto Rico to take the next step in the history of its status and its relationship to the rest of the United States. The White House Task Force Report on Puerto Rico has taken important and historic steps regarding status. We commit to moving resolution of the status issue forward with the goal of resolving it expeditiously. If local efforts in Puerto Rico to resolve the status issue do not provide a clear result in the short term, the President should support, and Congress should enact, self-executing legislation that specifies in advance for the people of Puerto Rico a set of clear status options, such as those recommended in the White House Task Force Report on Puerto Rico, which the United States is politically committed to fulfilling. The economic success of Puerto Rico is intimately linked to a swift resolution of the status question, as well as consistent, focused efforts on improving the lives of the people of Puerto Rico. We have made great progress for Puerto Rico over the past four years, including a sharp, historic increase in Medicaid funding for the people of Puerto Rico and fair and equitable inclusion in the Recovery Act and the Affordable Care Act. Going forward, we will continue working toward fair and equitable participation for Puerto Rico in federal programs. We support increased efforts by the federal government to improve public safety in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands, with a particular emphasis on efforts to combat drug trafficking and crime throughout our Caribbean border. In addition, consistent with the task force report, we will continue to work on improving Puerto Rico's economic status by promoting job creation, education, health care, clean energy, and economic development on the Island.[21]

The latest report by the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status recommends that all relevant parties—the President, Congress, and the leadership and people of Puerto Rico—work to ensure that Puerto Ricans are able to express their will about status options and have that will acted upon by the end of 2012 or soon thereafter.[22]

The report further recommends, "If efforts on the Island do not provide a clear result in the short term, the President should support, and Congress should enact, self-executing legislation that specifies in advance for the people of Puerto Rico a set of acceptable status options, including the Statehood, that the United States is politically committed to fulfilling. This legislation should commit the United States to honor the choice of the people of Puerto Rico (provided it is one of the status options specified in the legislation) and should specify the means by which such a choice would be made. The Task Force recommends that, by the end of 2012, the Administration develop, draft, and work with Congress to enact the proposed legislation."[22]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Senate and the House of Representative of Puerto Rico Concurrent Resolution
  2. ^ Opinion: Puerto Rico Statehood Is A Moral, Democratic And Economic Imperative
  3. ^ Sen. Martin Heinrich Presents Bill Seeking Puerto Rico Statehood
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ The World Factbook
  6. ^ "Resultados Plebiscito". 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ White House clarifies status stance
  9. ^ "Statements from U.S. Senate Hearing on Puerto Rico Political Status Plebiscite". 2013-08-05. Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  10. ^ "U.S. approves funds for referendum on Puerto Rico's status". 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  11. ^ "Make room for 51st star? Spending bill includes $2.5 million for vote on Puerto RIco statehood". 2014-01-22. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  12. ^ 1940 Democratic Platform, July 15, 1940
  13. ^ "Gerald R. Ford: Statement on Proposed Statehood for Puerto Rico". December 31, 1976. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  14. ^ "Presidents of the United States on Puerto Rico: A Legacy of Support for Human Rights and Self‐Determination" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  15. ^ a b Garrett, R. Sam; Keith, Bea (Jun 7, 2011). "Political Status of Puerto Rico: Options for Congress [Report RL32933]". Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. 
  16. ^ "Democratic Party Platforms: 2008 Democratic Party Platform". Archived from the original on 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  17. ^ "Republican Party Platforms: 2008 Republican Party Platform". Archived from the original on 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  18. ^ 2008 republican Platform : Government Reform,
  19. ^ 2012 Republican Party Platform
  20. ^ 2008 Democratic Party Platform, August 25, 2008, The American Presidency Project.
  21. ^ 2012 Democratic National Platform
  22. ^ a b REPORT BY THE PRESIDENT’S TASK FORCE ON PUERTO RICO’S STATUS, Page 23, Recommendation No. 1 & Page 30, Recommendation No. 7 & Recommendation No. 2, Page 24, 2nd Paragraph of Page 28, March 11, 2011, The White House.

External links[edit]

S.2020 - Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act of 2014