Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jones Act

On March 2, 1917 the Jones-Shafroth Act was signed into law by then President Woodrow Wilson.This law gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. Were they asked if they wanted this citizenship? No. President Wilson welcomed the Puerto Ricans into their "fathers house" while, in Puerto Rico, Jose De Diego refused the invitation. Just days after taking office, the newly elected legislative representatives, allocated $25,000 of their own money to hold a plebiscite. The hope was to overrule the Jones Act. Only Congress could approve a plebiscite, and to even approach Congress, islanders had to be Americans. The plebiscite never happened then.

In a population of more than 1.2 million people, only 288 Puerto Ricans refused to give up their "God given identity." What a shame it is that Puerto Ricans get to vote in a Presidential primary, yet those same Puerto Ricans cannot vote in an actual Presidential election. The Jones Act may have given Puerto Ricans citizenship but to this day it is still the oldest colony on earth.

Fernandez, Ronald. The Disenchanted Island: Puerto Rico and the United States in the Twentieth Century(Praeger, 2nd edition, 1996)


  1. I disagree with the voting rights. Any Puertorican can vote in presidential elections, as long as he/she is a resident of a state. It's a matter of place not people. Just like the citizens of Washigton DC. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution says Representatives are to be chosen "by the people of the several states."

  2. Yes, of course, they can vote but not in Puerto Rico, which means that they would have to become a resident of a state to be able to do so. This has been a hot issue for many years and it derives from the fact that although Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and Puerto Rico itself is, depending on individual views, a commonwealth , colony ...the people (U.S. citizens) themselves can't vote in an actual presidential election because of where they're at.
    Puerto Rico: The Oldest Colony on Earth