Puerto Rico: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of The Nation And People


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Puerto Rico

Introduction Populated for centuries by aboriginal people, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS’ second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rican’s were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.
History Pre-Columbian era

The history of the archipelago of Puerto Rico (Spanish for “Rich Port”) before the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well known. What is known today comes from archaeological findings and early Spanish accounts. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1786, 293 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.

The first settlers were the Ortoiroid people, an Archaic Period culture of Amerindian hunters and fishermen. An archaeological dig in the island of Vieques in 1990 found the remains of what is believed to be an Arcaico (Archaic) man (named Puerto Ferro man) dated to around 2000 BC. Between AD 120 and 400, the Igneri, a tribe from the South American Orinoco region, arrived. Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Arcaicos and Igneri co-existed (and perhaps clashed) on the island. Between the 7th and 11th centuries the Taíno culture developed on the island, and by approximately 1000 AD had become dominant. This lasted until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

Spanish colony

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. They called the island “Borikén” or, in Spanish, “Borinquen”.[8] Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island’s first governor to take office.

The Spanish soon colonized the island. Taínos were forced into slavery and were decimated by the harsh conditions of work and by diseases brought by the Spaniards. In 1511, the Taínos revolted against the Spanish; cacique Urayoán, as planned by Agüeybaná II, ordered his warriors to drown the Spanish soldier Diego Salcedo to determine whether the Spaniards were immortal. After drowning Salcedo, they kept watch over his body for three days to confirm his death.[10] The revolt was easily crushed by Ponce de León and within a few decades much of the native population had been decimated by disease, violence, and a high occurrence of suicide. African slaves were introduced to replace the Taíno. Puerto Rico soon became an important stronghold and port for the Spanish Empire. Various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal, were built to protect the port of San Juan from European enemies. France, The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture Puerto Rico but failed to wrest long-term occupancy. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries colonial emphasis was on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island impoverished of settlers.

In 1809, in the midst of the Peninsular War, the Supreme Central Junta based in Cádiz recognized Puerto Rico as an overseas province of Spain with the right to send representatives to the recently convened Spanish parliament. The representative, Ramon Power y Giralt, died after serving a three-year term in the Cortes. These parliamentary and constitutional reforms, which were in force from 1810 to 1814 and again from 1820 to 1823, were reversed twice afterwards when the traditional monarchy was restored by Ferdinand VII. Nineteenth century reforms augmented the population and economy, and expanded the local character of the island. After the rapid gaining of independence by the South and Central American states in the first part of the century, Puerto Rico and Cuba became the only Spanish colonies found in the Americas.

Toward the end of the 19th century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as “Grito de Lares”. It began in the rural town of Lares but was subdued when rebels moved to the neighboring town of San Sebastián. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the “father” of the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. In 1897, Luis Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to Charters of Autonomy for Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1898, Puerto Rico’s first, but short-lived, autonomous government was organized as an ‘overseas province’ of Spain. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, which held the power to annul any legislative decision, and a partially elected parliamentary structure. In February, Governor-General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government under the Autonomous Charter. General elections were held in March and the autonomous government began to function on July 17, 1898.

United States colony

On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.

The United States and Puerto Rico thus began a long-standing relationship. Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the U.S. with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900 gave Puerto Rico a certain amount of popular government, including a popularly-elected House of Representatives. In 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and provided for a popularly-elected Senate to complete a bicameral Legislative Assembly. As a result of their new U.S. citizenship, many Puerto Ricans were drafted into World War I and all subsequent wars with U.S. participation.

Natural disasters, including a major earthquake, a tsunami and several hurricanes, and the Great Depression impoverished the island during the first few decades under American rule. Some political leaders, like Pedro Albizu Campos who led the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, demanded change. On October 30, 1950, Albizu-Campos and other nationalists led a 3-day revolt (known as The Jayuya Uprising) against the United States in the town of Jayuya. The United States declared martial law and attacked Jayuya with infantry, artillery and bombers. On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Harry S Truman. Torresola was killed during the attack, but Collazo was captured. Collazo served 29 years in a federal prison, being released in 1979. Don Pedro Albizu Campos also served many years in a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia, for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico.

The internal governance changed during the latter years of the Roosevelt–Truman administrations, as a form of compromise led by Muñoz Marín and others. It culminated with the appointment by President Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesus T. Piñero.

Commonwealth

In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to democratically elect their own governor. Luis Muñoz Marín was elected during the 1948 general elections, becoming the first popularly-elected governor of Puerto Rico. In 1950, the Truman Administration allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution.[16] A local constitution was approved by a Constitutional Convention on February 6, 1952, ratified by the U.S. Congress, approved by President Truman on July 3 of that year, and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz Marín on July 25, 1952, the anniversary of the 1898 arrival of U.S. troops. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as “Free Associated State”), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.

During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced rapid industrialization, due in large part to Operación Manos a la Obra (“Operation Bootstrap”), an offshoot of FDR’s New Deal, which aimed to transform Puerto Rico’s economy from agriculture-based to manufacturing-based. Presently, Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and a leading pharmaceutical and manufacturing center.[citation needed] Yet it still struggles to define its political status. Three plebiscites have been held in recent decades to resolve the political status but no changes have been attained. Support for the pro-statehood party, Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP) and the pro-commonwealth party, Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) remains about equal. The only registered pro-independence party, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP), usually receives 3-5% of the electoral votes.

On October 25, 2006, the State Department of Puerto Rico conferred Puerto Rican citizenship to Juan Mari Brás. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice determined that Puerto Rican citizenship exists and was recognized in the Constitution of Puerto Rico. Since the summer of 2007, the Puerto Rico State Department has developed the protocol to grant Puerto Rican citizenship to Puerto Ricans.

Geography Puerto Rico has a republican form of government,[21] subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty.[2] Its current powers are all delegated by the United States Congress and lack full protection under the United States Constitution. Puerto Rico’s head of state is the President of the United States. The government of Puerto Rico, based on the formal republican system, is composed of three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Executive branch is headed by the Governor, currently Mr. Anibal Acevedo Vila. The Legislative branch consists of a bicameral Legislative Assembly made up of a Senate upper chamber and a House of Representatives lower chamber. The Senate is headed by the President of the Senate, while the House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker of the House. The Judicial branch is headed by the Chief Justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. The legal system is a mix of the civil law and the common law systems. The governor and legislators are elected by popular vote every four years. Members of the Judicial branch are appointed by the governor with the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in the form of a nonvoting delegate, formally called a Resident Commissioner (currently Luis Fortuño). The current Congress has returned the Commissioner’s power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.[22] Puerto Rican elections are governed by the Federal Election Commission;[23][24] While residing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but they can vote in primaries. Puerto Ricans who become residents of a U.S. state can vote in presidential elections.

As Puerto Rico is not an independent country, it hosts no embassies. It is host, however, to consulates from 42 countries, mainly from the Americas and Europe. Most consulates are located in San Juan. The Holy See has designated the Papal Nuncio in the Dominican Republic as the ecclesiastical liaison to the Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico; the Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C. serves as the Vatican State’s ambassador to the U.S. and the ecclesiastical liaison to the American Roman Catholic Church.

As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. government, but has 78 municipalities at the second level. Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality of Mayagüez.[25] Municipalities are subdivided into wards or barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for a four year term. The municipality of San Juan (previously called “town”), was founded first, in 1521, San Germán in 1570, Coamo in 1579, Arecibo in 1614, Aguada in 1692 and Ponce in 1692. An increase of settlement saw the founding of 30 municipalities in the 18th century and 34 in the 19th. Six were founded in the 20th century; the last was Florida in 1971.

From 1952 to present, Puerto Rico has had 3 political parties which stand for three distinct future political scenarios. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain the island’s “association” status as a commonwealth, improved commonwealth and/or seek a true free sovereign-association status or Free Associated Republic, and has won a plurality vote in referendums on the island’s status held over six decades after the island was invaded by the U.S. The New Progressive Party (PNP) seeks statehood. The Puerto Rican Independence Party seek independence. In 2007, a fourth party, Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party (PPR), was ratified. The PPR’s claims that it seeks to address the islands’ problems from a status-neutral platform. Non-registered parties include the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, the Socialist Workers Movement, the Hostosian National Independence Movement, and others.

Politics Population: 3,958,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.5% (male 415,141/female 396,782)
15-64 years: 66% (male 1,254,416/female 1,358,229)
65 years and over: 13.5% (male 229,727/female 303,833) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 35.6 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 37.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.369% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.88 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.58 years
male: 74.64 years
female: 82.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed 4.2%, other 6.7% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages: Spanish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
Education expenditures: NA
People Population: 3,958,128 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.5% (male 415,141/female 396,782)
15-64 years: 66% (male 1,254,416/female 1,358,229)
65 years and over: 13.5% (male 229,727/female 303,833) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 35.6 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 37.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.369% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.88 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -1.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.58 years
male: 74.64 years
female: 82.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed 4.2%, other 6.7% (2000 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages: Spanish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
Education expenditures: NA

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