Puerto Rico Politics

We are US citizens. Can easily move to the US. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917.

Puerto Ricans that move to the state can vote.


Additionally, nearly 5 million Puerto Rican-born and -descended people live in one of the 50 U.S. states, and they enjoy the right to vote. An increasing number of them are concentrated in the swing state of Florida.

Economy is interlinked in the US


PR bonds defaulting. Those bonds are widely traded in U.S. markets, and a large number of the investors who hold them live on the U.S. mainland. It doesn’t make sense that the PR government bonds should be excluded from bankruptcy protection. 

Why is PR a territory? 

Columbus arrived (not discovered) to Puerto Rico on Nov 19, 1493. Slavery and Spanish diseases made the native Taino population dwindle. African slaves were brought in to work on plantations. 

1873 slavery is abolished in PR by the Spanish National Assembly. 

French, Dutch and the British all tried to take Puerto Rico from the Spaniards. Spain built tons of forts. By the end of the 19th century, Spain had lost Cuba, the Philippines, Guam and a few other islands, but not Puerto Rico. 

Puerto Rico pushed during the 19th century for independence from Spain. In 1897, Spain agreed to give Puerto Rico a semi-autonomous government, though the Spanish-appointed government maintained the power to annul legislative decisions. (Read the Constitution that established this as such) The new government started in Feb 1898 and began to function on July 17, 1898. 

Puerto Rico came under United States sovereignty pursuant to the Treaty of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, which ended the Spanish-American War.

Citizens since 1917

1950 enacted Public Law 600, accepted by electorate of PR. 

* authorized PR to draft and adopt their own constitution

* drafted and approved by all parties (US and PR) – enacted on July 25, 1952

“Governmental responsibilities assumed by the central government of the Commonwealth are similar in nature to those of the various state governments. In addition, the central government assumes responsibility for local police and fire protection, education, public health and welfare programs, and economic development.”

Current economic status


In 1940, agriculture represented 33.7 percent of total net income, while manufacturing had 12.8 percent of the total. Nevertheless, in 2002 agriculture composed 1.0 percent of total net income while manufacturing made up 45.7 percent of the total. The financial sector is the second largest sector, with 15.0 percent of total net income. 

The country has a highly developed highway, ports and airports systems which allow a fast movement of merchandises across and beyond the Island. It has also a state-of-art communication network. Moreover, its location in the Caribbean makes the country a perfect place to develop an even larger infrastructure for a trans-shipment port with its respective value-added zones.

July 2014: 3.6M people estimate

* 0-14: 18.1%

* 15-64: 65.0%

* 65+: 17.0% 

Pop growth rate: -0.65%

10.9 births/1k pop

8.51 deaths/1k pop

-8.93 migrants/1k pop

GNP: $70.7B in 2013

GNP per capita: $19.4k

GDP: $103.1B

GDP per capita: $28.3k

GDP by sector:

  • Manufacture: 46.5%
  • Finance, insurance, real estate: 20.4%
  • Services: 12.6%
  • Government: 8.0%
  • Trade: 7.7%
  • Transportation and public utilities: 2.6%
  • Construction and mining: 1.3%
  • Agriculture: 0.7%

Families below poverty level: 41.2% (2013)

Unemployment rate: 14.3% (2014)

Consolidated budget: $29.6 B in rev, $28.6B in expenditures

Exports: $62.4B

Exports – commodities: pharma, chemicals, med equipment, food, computers, electronics, electrical equipment

Exports – partners: US 71.6%, Belgium 4.3%, Netherlands 3.0%, Italy 2.8%, UK 2.4%

Imports: $45B

Import partners: US 45.4%, Ireland 15.1%, Singapore 8.6%, Japan 4.2%, Brazil 2.7%


3.7M residents

PR being a territory can’t restructure public debt or file for bankruptcy

Unemployment 13.7%; worse than the US during the worst of the Great Recession

“After years of financial mismanagement, then-Gov. Luis Fortuno introduced austerity to the island in 2009 in the form of across-the-board spending cuts and massive job cuts in the public sector.

Now, after months of political gridlock, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s proposal for $500 million in spending cuts is expected to make its way out of the statehouse this week, according to local outlet El Nuevo Dia — even though the proposal is unpopular among voters.

The plan, which aims to raise $1.2 billion in revenue, includes an increase to the local sales tax totaling 11.5 percent. It also calls for $166 million in cuts to Puerto Rico’s public university system. The latter measure prompted mass demonstrations last week, resulting in a tense face-off between police and student protesters.”

What led to the government’s bankruptcy? 

Pharma focus

Puerto Rico has been in and out of recession since 2006. Its unemployment rate is around fourteen per cent; forty-five per cent of the population lives below the federal poverty line; and there’s a fiscal crisis—a scramble to restructure debts of seventy-three billion dollars.

…Section 936 of the U.S. tax code. (Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.) This went into effect in 1976, and exempted the profits earned by American companies from federal taxes. 

…At one point, Guillén says, more than half the drugs sold in the U.S. were manufactured in Puerto Rico.

…The problem was that the growth depended on that crucial tax break, and in 1996 Congress began phasing it out. It expired completely a decade later, and, as the subsidies disappeared, so did many factories, relocating to places where labor was cheaper and regulation lighter. Between 1996 and 2014, the number of manufacturing jobs on the island fell by almost half. Last year, the island’s Secretary of Economic Development, Alberto Bacó Bagué, said that, once the island’s tax exemption expired, “we kind of disappeared from the map.”

…political stability, participation in the U.S. legal and economic systems, an educated and skilled workforce … “One of our main problems is that not many people in the U.S. or the world know that Puerto Rico exists under the U.S. flag and with the U.S. dollar as its currency.”

~ paraphrasing the end: invest in tourism


Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Omar Eduardo