Puerto Rico and the Union

June 26, 1963

Report Outline
Moves to Clarify Status of Puerto Rico
Changes in Puerto Rico Under U.S. Rule
Debate Over Possibility of Statehood

Moves to Clarify Status of Puerto Rico

Some modification of the unique status of Puerto Rico as a commonwealth linked to the United States appears to be in the offing. A bill now before Congress would provide for an eventual plebiscite to give the people of Puerto Rico a voice in determination of the island's permanent political status. Three choices are envisioned: Puerto Rican statehood, independence, or a strengthened and clarified commonwealth relationship. The dominant Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico, headed by Gov. Luis Munoz Marin, favors continuation of commonwealth status but on a firmer basis than at present.

Rising Sentiment for Statehood in Puerto Rico

That there is any need to raise the issue of Puerto Rico's relationship to the United States comes as a surprise to persons who have regarded the existing arrangement as satisfactory both to Puerto Rico and to the United States. But rising sentiment for statehood, especially among members of the island's growing middle class, presents a continuing challenge to the status quo.

Proponents of statehood feel that the economic benefits of the commonwealth relationship—chiefly Puerto Rico's exemption from federal income taxation—are not sufficient to compensate Puerto Ricans, who are United States citizens, for denial of the full rights and duties of citizenship. While the independence movement has few supporters, many advocates of statehood say they would prefer independence to the ambiguities of American citizenship under the commonwealth arrangement.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Puerto Rico
Oct. 23, 1998  Puerto Rico's Status
Feb. 08, 1991  Puerto Rico: The Struggle Over Status
May 28, 1971  Puerto Rico After Bootstrap
Jun. 26, 1963  Puerto Rico and the Union
Oct. 30, 1942  Problems of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico and other Territories