In their 112 year history, the relationship between United Stated and Puerto Rico has been controversial, and at times, contentious. The following are a few key moments in history:
• 1898: After more than 300 years of colonial rule, under the Treaty of Paris, Spain was ordered to withdraw their troops from Puerto Rico and cede it to the U.S.
• 1916: The Jones Act created a bill of rights; Puerto Ricans were made U.S. citizens; conscription was extended to the island – allowing Puerto Ricans to serve in American wars – and the government was divided into legislative, executive and judicial branches. English is decreed the official language.
• 1940: Under the U.S. Nationality Act, all persons born in Puerto Rico after that time are considered U.S. citizens protected under the 14th Amendment.
• 1941: United States established military bases on Culebra and Vieques.
• 1946: U.S. Senator Millard Tydings introduces a bill to Congress calling for independence for Puerto Rico.
• 1948: the Puerto Rican legislature approved the infamous Law 53, known as “La Ley de la Mordaza” (Gag Law), making it illegal to display a Puerto Rican flag, sing a patriotic tune, talk of independence, and fight for the island’s liberation.
• 1950: The U.S. Congress upgraded Puerto Rico’s political status from protectorate to commonwealth.
• 1952: The New Constitution is approved by voters and the island is officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
• 1953: The largest migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States mainland occurred, with 69,124 emigrating (mostly to New York, New Jersey and Florida).
• 1967: The Partido Estadistas Unidos (United Statehooders Party) is founded to campaign for statehood. Voters overwhelmingly affirm continuation of Commonwealth status.
• 1993: English and Spanish are declared the official languages of Puerto Rico.
In a Referendum, Commonwealth status is reaffirmed with 48.6 percent, 46.3 percent voted for statehood and 4.4 percent voted for independence.
• 1996: The U.S. government recognized Puerto Rican citizenship, which exists only as an equivalent to residency: Puerto Rican citizens are those U.S. citizens who reside in Puerto Rico. Any U.S. citizen can gain Puerto Rican citizenship after a year of residence on the island.
• 2010: the Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 2499) was approved by Congress on April 29 to provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico.