Puerto Rico

unincorporated territory of the United States of America

Puerto Rico (officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, literally the "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico"), is a self-governing commonwealth of the United States, an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands. The capital and largest city is San Juan. The island's official languages are Spanish, which is predominant, and English.

Puerto Rico's flag
Coat of arms of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico

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  • Now is when I understand that no matter what happens I will be Puerto Rican...the nation is in my blood...and this song is dedicated to that noble, little peasant (jibarito) Raphael and to my "Island of Enchantment". (translated from Spanish lyrics)
    • Marc Anthony's 1999 version of the song Preciosa, Puerto Rico's unofficial anthem. With jibarito (little peasant) he refers to Rafael Hernández, the song's original author, saying he is a true Puerto Rican. Island Songs: A Global Repertoire
  • Puerto Rico is a beautiful island, with a culture enriched by old, old stories gained from many people. Traces of this culture are everywhere. And there are still many more story seeds waiting to be planted.
    • Pura Belpré "I Wished to be Like Johnny Appleseed" in The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré by Lisa Sánchez González (2013)
  • Statehood will destroy Puerto Rico's national identity in short order, while the present Commonwealth system will destroy it as surely, though more slowly...I repeat now the words that I wrote to my distinguished friend Don Luis Ferré in a public letter, October 6, 1964: God save the children of Puerto Rico from the day when they have to be protected from discrimination practiced against them by people of alien origin in the schools of their own land.
    • Pura Belpré "Statehood/Commonwealth" in The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré by Lisa Sánchez González (2013)
  • Some of the folksongs and games have inspired the writing of outstanding Puerto Rican authors, especially in their books of poetry and memoirs. Some examples are Angeles Pastor, Carlos N. Carreras, and Evaristo Rivera Chevrement. As you see, the folklore has left a rich legacy in the life and literature of Puerto Rico.
    • Pura Belpré "The Folklore of the Puerto Rican Child" in The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré by Lisa Sánchez González (2013)
  • When I was a girl, my parents would say, "Puerto Rico can't be free because we would be poor like Haiti or Cuba." It turns out that out of the fear of being poor, we didn't dare to become free. Then Hurricane Maria comes, devastates everything, and maybe we are now as poor as Haiti and Cuba, and not free.
  • If I were Joan of Arc de Bonaparte I would become governor of Puerto Rico and make my island a state—and then become president of the United States of Banana—and head south to conquer all of Latin America and the Caribbean—and swoop back north to take over Canada. I could do all that—if only I could decide between three options: Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy.
  • Soy boricua. In spite of my family and in spite of my country, I’m writing the process of the Puerto Rican mind—taking it out of context as a native and a foreigner-expressing it through Spanish, Spanglish, and EnglishIndependencia, Estado Libre Asociado, and Estadidad—from the position of a nation, a colony, and a state—Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy—not as one political party that is parted into piddley parts and partied out.
  • I want the secession of Puerto Rico from the U. S. of Banana.
  • ¡Puerto Rico es la espada/que detendrá el avance/del imperio sajón!/Sea su herida la última/que en tu suelo latino/haga el vil opresor.
    • Puerto Rico is the sword/that will delay the advance/of the saxon empire!/Let her wound be the last/that on its latin soil/the vile oppressor makes.
    • Julia de Burgos, Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos (1982)
  • Everything is so new in Puerto Rico. I wanted to build something the way Puerto Rico started, something from the old land.
    • Roberto Clemente, discussing his recently opened restaurant, El Carretero (roughly translated as "one who leads the ox-drawn cart"), as quoted in "Roberto Clemente Baseball's Brightest Superstar" by Arnold Hano, in Boy's Life (March 1968), pp. 25 and 54
  • The Puerto Rican ethos, or character, is precisely defined by its undefinition. We are always trying to define ourselves and never get there; but it is part of our definition that we keep looking. It's like Diogenes, who was always looking for truth with his lamp; and although he never found what he was looking for, the important thing was that he kept on looking.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • This is very typical of Puerto Rican culture and of all Latin men. Women are either the Madonna or the whore. It's very difficult for them to have an idea of a woman who is neither, or perhaps both.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • When it really got bad in Puerto Rico was in the 1930s, when these big, absentee-owned corporations were dominating the scene. They weren't just Americans; some of them were Puerto Ricans. Sugar processing ceased to be under small ownership and became incorporated into mega-enterprises.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • In Puerto Rico the sixties arrived four years late-in a colony everything gets there a little late. So from 1968 to 1972 we were right in the middle of all that. Drugs, marijuana, rebellion. Everybody wore long hair.
    • Rosario Ferré interview in Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out by Donna Marie Perry (1993)
  • Puerto Rico, like all the countries of the Caribbean, is a nation where fantastic reality, the world of magic, is ever present. There are various sects of white magic, such as Santeria. It is a reality that is very palpable in our environment, and this is why there are no great differences between fantasy and reality...All Caribbean writers have this in common.
    • Rosario Ferré Interviews with Latin American Writers by Gazarian Gautier (1988)
  • From the U.S. standpoint, Puerto Ricans are not good enough to live in a country of their own but are good enough to die in Vietnam for a country which is not theirs.
    • Eduardo Galeano Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1997)
  • We begin today by looking at the fight in Congress over disaster aid for Puerto Rico since it was ravaged by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. On Monday, two competing disaster relief bills stalled in the Senate as Democrats and President Trump continue to fight over federal relief funds for Puerto Rico. A companion bill to a January package passed in the House failed after Republicans objected to the lack of relief funding for recent flooding in the Midwest. Another Senate bill, supported by Republicans, fell short of the 60 votes it needed. It contained just $600 million for Puerto Rico’s food stamp program, a number Democrats say is far too low as many Puerto Ricans are still recovering from the devastation of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Democrats also say aid should cover rebuilding and other forms of disaster relief.
  • One after another, countries such as Spain and Greece, states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kansas, and American colonies such as Puerto Rico-are becoming laboratories for how much pain can be inflicted on a population for the purpose of satisfying creditors and ideologues.
    • Amy Goodman Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (2016)
  • Nearly a million people lost power last Thursday after a fire at an electrical substation in the capital San Juan. The massive blackout came just days after the private U.S. and Canadian company LUMA Energy formally took over management of the island’s electric grid from PREPA — that’s the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority — which was devastated by Hurricane Maria. LUMA said it also faced a cyberattack shortly before a fire. Many people are still without power, facing ongoing blackouts. The union for Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, for PREPA, fought to block the privatization. Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Control Board, the mechanism put in place by Congress to manage its public debt, has pushed an austerity agenda that includes privatization of public assets like the electrical grid.
  • The United States for many years has tried to convert Puerto Rico into a model of hybrid culture: the Spanish language with English inflections, the Spanish language with hinges on its backbone--the better to bow down before the Yankee soldier. Puerto Rican soldiers have been used as cannon fodder in imperialist wars, as in Korea, and have even been made to fire at their own brothers, as in the massacre perpetrated by the U.S. army a few months ago against the unarmed people of Panama--one of the most recent crimes carried out by Yankee imperialism. And yet, despite this assault on their will and their historical destiny, the people of Puerto Rico have preserved their culture, their Latin character, their national feelings, which in themselves give proof of the implacable desire for independence lying within the masses on that Latin American island.
  • Our Nation is proud of the progress made by the people of Porto Rico. Endowed with liberty, freedom, with self-government and individual opportunity through incorporation under the American flag, the island by the efforts of its citizens and the cooperation of the whole United States has in a single generation emerged from stagnation to a high place in the march of progress. Porto Rico is, indeed, a magnificent example of what a capable and intelligent people may accomplish under free institutions. You have, indeed, shown courage and initiative under these impulses of freedom and liberty. In proof of this progress I need but recall a few evidences. You have in this single generation since joining in our citizenship increased more than 60 percent in population, increased over 500 percent in material wealth and over 800 percent in attendance upon public schools. You have decreased illiteracy by almost 50 percent and the death rate has been diminished by more than 60 percent.
  • It's hard to imagine an energy system more vulnerable to climate change-amplified shocks than Puerto Rico's...If [Hurricane] Maria is a teacher, this emerging movement argues, the storm's overarching lesson is that now is not the moment for reconstruction of what was, but rather for transformation into what could be.
    • Naomi Klein The Battle For Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists (2018)
  • Puerto Rico has a deep history of popular resistance and some very radical trade unions.
    • Naomi Klein The Battle For Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists (2018)
  • Our petition as women, amongst you free citizens of Pan America, is like the petition of my Puerto Rico in the community of American States. We have everything done for us and given us but sovereignty. We are treated with every consideration save the one great consideration of being regarded as responsible beings. We, like Puerto Rico, are dependents. We are anomalies before the law.
    • Muna Lee (writer) "In Behalf of the Equal Rights Treaty" (February 7, 1928), Address delivered before the Unofficial Plenary Session of the Sixth Pan-American Conference, Havana, Cuba. Included in A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee, edited and with biography by Jonathan Cohen
  • Give us statehood and your glorious citizenship will be welcome to us and to our children. If you deny us statehood, we decline your citizenship, frankly, proudly, as befits a people who . . . will preserve their conception of honor, which none can take from them . . .
  • I personally believe that regardless of the situation, the United States owes a reparative decolonial process, regardless of what the ultimate status is.
  • Even US citizens living ABROAD have the right to vote but US citizens in Puerto Rico cannot. It’s colonialism...
  • It is now time to take stock of our own house and to resupply its strength. Part of that process involves taking stock of our relationship with Puerto Rico. 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.
  • Let's go, Puerto Ricans, let's go already,/for LIBERTY is waiting, ever so anxious!
    • Lola Rodriguez de Tió, Borinquen: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Literature (1974)
  • In view of that core purpose, denying benefits to hundreds of thousands of eligible Puerto Rico residents because they do not pay enough in taxes is utterly irrational. Congress’ decision to deny to the U. S. citizens of Puerto Rico a social safety net that it provides to almost all other U.S. citizens is especially cruel given those citizens’ dire need for aid,” she wrote. “Puerto Rico has a disproportionately large population of seniors and people with disabilities...Equal treatment of citizens should not be left to the vagaries of the political process...Because residents of Puerto Rico do not have voting representation in Congress, they cannot rely on their elected representatives to remedy the punishing disparities suffered by citizen residents of Puerto Rico under Congress’ unequal treatment.
  • Puerto Rico will not only survive this. It will bloom once again.
    • part of statement after Hurricane Maria, translation from Spanish quoted here (2017)
  • When we talk about almost 3,000 lives that... were lost during Hurricane Irma, many of them happened in the aftermath of Maria because of the lack of power in Puerto Rico. So, in order to rebuild the economy, in order to make sure that people’s lives are protected, we need to restore the power grid. And so, for the president to compare oranges to the lives of Puerto Rico shows you that he doesn’t value the lives of the people in Puerto Rico. For him, brown people are not deserving of our commitment of the federal government to show up and assist and provide the resources. For him to question the $600 million in food assistance is shameful. Sixty-five percent of the children in Puerto Rico lives in poverty. And, by the way, Puerto Rico, like any other state, was able to receive food assistance, like any other state, until 1984. So this is not something that is really out of the blue. That was the reality of Puerto Rico. And that is what I intend to do by introducing legislation that will restore the ability of Puerto Rico to compete for federal nutritional assistance like any other state, and, for that matter, to all of the territories. After all, they are American citizens.

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