List of United States presidential visits to Puerto Rico
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Nine United States presidents have made presidential visits to Puerto Rico since the islands became a U.S. territory in the aftermath of the Spanish–American War of 1898, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The ninth and most recent visit, was by President Barack Obama on June 14, 2011. The nine presidents are honored by life-sized bronze statues commissioned and placed in a linear park, called Paseo de los Presidentes, on the south side of San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting president to visit Puerto Rico arriving on the USS Louisiana (BB 19) on November 21, 1906 after inspecting the Panama Canal. A bronze statue commemorating his visit is on public view on the south side of the Capitol of Puerto Rico.
President Herbert Hoover was the second president to visit America's most populated territory during March 1931 on board the USS Arizona (BB 39) which called at Ponce. His bronze statue was unveiled in 2008 by his great-granddaughter, Fox News commentator Margaret Hoover.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Puerto Rico during July 6–7, 1934 on board the USS Houston (CA 30). The commemorative statue honoring his visit was unveiled in April, 2008 by the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. The statue is believed to be only the third to depict him sitting in a wheelchair (the other two are located in the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC). Next to his statue, there is a bronze depiction of his pet dog, Fala.
Harry S. Truman
President Harry S. Truman, who in 1946 appointed the last appointive Governor, and first Puerto Rican to officially become the territory's Chief Executive, Jesús T. Piñero, signed the Elective Governors Act of 1947, and allowed Puerto Ricans to draft their own constitution, also visited Puerto Rico during his tenure as President. On February 21, 1948 he landed at the Isla Grande airport on board a VC-54C and left for St. Thomas the next day on board the Presidential yacht USS Williamsburg (AGC 369). A life-sized bronze statue commemorating his visit is exhibited on the south side of the Puerto Rico Capitol building.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower also visited Puerto Rico on his way to a goodwill visit to South America. Landed at San Juan International airport in a VC-137A on February 22, 1960 and was received by Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín. Later that day he flew to Ramey Air Force Base, PR where he spent the night. The next day he continued his flight to Brasilia, Brazil. Upon completion of his South American tour he returned to Ramey AFB on March 3 staying there until March 7 on vacation. During that time he played golf at Ramey AFB and at the Dorado Beach Hotel to where he flew in a U.S. Army VH-34 on March 4 and again on March 6 in a U.S. Air Force C-47 from Ramey. The bronze statue commemorating that fact is one of the first 7 commissioned by the Puerto Rico Legislature.
John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy and his wife visited Puerto Rico on December 15–16, 1961, arriving in a VC-137A, spending the night as guests of Gov. Luis Muñoz Marín at La Fortaleza, the oldest Executive Mansion in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere. The guest bedroom in which he stayed subsequently became known as the "Kennedy Bedroom". On December 16 they continued the flight to Venezuela. Upon the completion of the South American tour, they flew from Colombia to Ramey AFB for a refuel stop on December 18 and continued to Palm Beach, Florida. Kennedy did not leave the aircraft during that stop at Ramey. Until President Obama's June 14, 2011 trip to Puerto Rico, for over 49 years Kennedy's visit, which included a motorcade in addition to the visit to the Governor's Mansion, had been considered the last official visit by a sitting President, notwithstanding President Johnson's private visit in 1968 to Ramey AFB in Aguadilla and President Ford's attendance at the 1976 G-7 summit in Dorado.
Lyndon B. Johnson
President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla on March 2–4, 1968 in a private trip that began in Beaumont, Texas, and a layover in Marietta, Georgia to inaugurate the first C-5A military aircraft before flying to Puerto Rico. He arrived in a VC-137C at 5:10 pm AST. During his trip he remained on-base during his entire stay and had no contact with Puerto Rican officials, except for a brief welcoming call from former Governor Luis Muñoz Marín on March 3. He was accompanied by Congressman J. J. Pickle, among others. The statue commemorating his visit has been commissioned by President Rivera Schatz and Speaker González, but not yet unveiled or installed.
While President Gerald Ford visited Puerto Rico on June 26–28, 1976 arriving in VC-137C 72-7000 to attend the second annual G-7 economic summit, his trip is not considered an official visit to Puerto Rico, although he was welcomed by Governor Rafael Hernandez Colon at the airport. Ford was helicoptered with a HMX-1's VH-1N in and out of, and remained within the now defunct Dorado Beach Hotel, site of the summit. His statue, now placed at the "Paseo de los Presidentes", was unveiled in 2008 by his oldest son, the Rev. Michael Ford, at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda.
President Barack Obama made an official visit to Puerto Rico for four hours on June 14, 2011. Arriving on Air Force One a VC-25A (Boeing 747) 92-8000 with Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, he was greeted at Muñiz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico by Governor Luis Fortuño, visited La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere, had lunch at a local eatery with Senator Alejandro García Padilla, gave exclusive interviews to Univision local TV affiliate reporter Cyd Marie Fleming and El Nuevo Día newspaper, and attended a Democratic National Committee event that added nearly $1 million to his campaign coffers, before flying to Washington, D.C. with Pierluisi.
- Revelan detalles de la agenda de Obama en Puerto Rico – El Nuevo Día. Elnuevodia.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-13.
- Presidente viene a jugar golf – El Nuevo Día. Elnuevodia.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-13.
- Puerto Rico Gets First Presidential Visit In 50 Years. NPR. Retrieved on 2011-06-13.
- Theodore Roosevelt's letter to his children: What he saw in Puerto Rico, dated November 23, 1906 from the U.S.S. Louisiana.
- The New York Times published on November 22, 1906.