Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Treaty for Puerto Rico (1898)

The Treaty of Paris (1898) was signed on Dec. 10 1898, officially placing Puerto Rico under U.S. control. The keys to the padlock of the colonial chains, which for four centuries kept Puerto Rico under Spanish colonial rule, had exchanged hands.

The image shown is © grupoHuracan via NY Latino Journal

If only for a moment in 1898, Puerto Rico would be allowed a short lived opportunity to prepare for autonomy from Spanish rule. Spain had granted Puerto Rico self government in late 1897 via the "Carta Autonómica", approved by the Spanish Cortes on November 25. The Spanish -American war would bring that attempt to an abrupt end when on July 25, 1898 American troops led by General Nelson A. Miles landed in Guánica Bay. While there was some opposition to the invasion, there were many who also welcomed it as an opportunity for change. The changes that were to come would be under many guises; from the Foraker Act (1900) to the Jones Act (1917) to the establishment of its commonwealth status the island nation would remain a colony. On Dec 10, 1898, the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1898) signaled the beginning of a new colonial era for Puerto Rico.

Treaty: a formal agreement between two or more states in reference to peace, alliance, commerce, or other international relations.

UPDATE: "The Puerto Rico Democracy Act"... H.R. 2499.


  1. "La Carta Autonomica" of 1897 was actually issued as a Royal Decree, in order to by pass opposition in the Spanish Parliament, in an attempt by the Spanish Crown to improve its relationship with its colonies bowing to U.S. pressure.

    This decree granted Puerto Rico the appearance of autonomy with a very important restrictive caveat: the appointed military governor of Puerto Rico or the Crown itself could dissolve the Insular Parliament anytime it wished to do so.

    Furthermore, this autonomy would have become history during the dictatorial rules of Gen. Primo de Rivera (1923-1931)and later under Gen. Francisco Franco (1939-1975).

    Thus, it is a historical reality that Puerto Rico never enjoyed the degree of autonomy during its four centuries under Spanish sovereignty that it acquired under the Jones Act of 1917 and later under the current Commonwealth arrangement legislated by the U.S. Congress in 1952.

    Nevertheless, the time has come to end 516 years of colonialism. The loyal U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico can only achieve the dignity of equality and shared sovereignty by becoming the 51st. State given the fact that less than 3% of its citizens favor independence.

    Antonio Longo

  2. Correct, "La Carta Autonomica" was issued as a Royal Decree and the autonomous government was to be organized as an 'overseas province' of Spain
    While Puerto Rico never obtained true autonomy, the Autonomous Charter has great historical value which defines the possibilities of that time.

    The sovereignty acquired under the Jones Act of 1917 was a way of emphasizing that "Puerto Rico was a permanent possession of the United States and that independence was not an option". The 1952 commonwealth arrangement and the Congressional bill giving Puerto Rico the right to draft its own constitution only came after it was made very clear "Puerto Rico's fundamental political, social and economic relationship to the United States would not change."

    Without question, many citizens of Puerto Rico are loyal. Many have served and continue to do so, with dignity and pride, in the U.S. military.

    While it is obvious that you favor statehood, one cannot ignore the fact that there still is a small portion, regardless of size, of the Puerto Rican population that still favors independence; if it came to an actual vote, the island's right to self determination and independence, then it would only be appropriate to include that option.

    Thank you very much for providing comment. It is through communication mediums such as this that we can learn from each other.

  3. Absolutely,Efrain. Puerto Rico has three constitutionally viable status options: Statehood, and Independence with or without an association pact that can be revoked unilaterally by either co signatory. All three of these options are included in the "The Puerto Rico Democracy Act" proposed by Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi with over 180 co sponsors. We all should let the members of Congress know than it is time for them to honor their fiduciary responsibility given to them in the Treaty of Paris and approve this important Bill to bring to an end the colonial rule in Puerto Rico.

    Antonio Longo


    For those interested, "The Puerto Rico Democracy Act" can be identified as Bill HR 2499.

    Antonio Longo

  5. Gracias, it is a pleasure to communicate and learn from you. This communication serves as a platform for me to learn even more....
    I have added a link to the bill which is now at 181 cosponsors.