Puerto Rico Government and Politics

By | November 20, 2021

Located in Central America according to holidaysort.com, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. This means that Puerto Rico belongs to the United States, but is not part of them. Territories and their citizens are only entitled to the full protection of the Constitution when the United States Congress has incorporated them as an “integral part” of the nation.

The relationship of the government of Puerto Rico with the federal government of the United States is for many comparable to the relationship of the federal government of the United States with its states. Everything related to currency, defense, foreign relations and most of the commerce between states falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The government of Puerto Rico has fiscal autonomy and the right to collect local taxes. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States with all the rights and duties conferred by that citizenship, but since presidential elections are only held in incorporated states and territories, residents of Puerto Rico do not participate in them, unless they have legal residence in an incorporated state or territory.

The Resident Commissioner is the sole representative of the local government in the United States Congress. The Resident Commissioner has the right to speak but not to vote in the United States Congress, except when the same Congress grants him a vote in the “joint committee.” When this occurs, the Resident Commissioner can vote, but only when his vote is not decisive on the matter.


The history of Puerto Rico began with the settlement of the Ostoinoid people in the archipelago of Puerto Rico between the years 3000 and 2000 BC Other tribes, such as the Arawak and Saladoid Indians, populated the island between the years 430 BC and 1000 AD. At the time of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1493, the dominant indigenous culture was that of the Tainos.


The debate about the political status of Puerto Rico has been a continuum in many local, federal (United States) and international (United Nations) spheres. In 2007, a Casa Blanca working committee concluded that Puerto Rico remains fully subject to the authority of the US Congress under the territorial clauses. The Popular Democratic Party, founder of the “Commonwealth”, protests this opinion of the White House. However, they are the only ones protesting this report and continuing to defend the current political status.

However, the legal restrictions related to the political status of Puerto Rico are not transferred to the citizen, since they limit only the territory. In this way, any citizen of the United States, even those born in Puerto Rico, can vote for the president and Congress, from any other point. But, no citizen will be able to vote for federal elective offices from the territory comprised by this island. For this reason, the argument is made that the United States continues to treat Puerto Rico as a colony.

The Constitution

Law 600 (PL 81-600), which was approved by the United States Congress, authorized the people of Puerto Rico to develop their own Constitution. This law gave the people control of internal government activities. However, this law left all articles under the Jones Act and the Foraker Act intact, as did the Treaty of Paris.

After the Constituent Assembly drafted the Constitution, the people ratified it through a referendum. The United States Congress, following the procedure required by the Federal Relations Act, approved the Constitution, which entered into force on July 28, 1952.

The Constitution includes a modern Bill of Rights that follows the tradition of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. Of the twenty original articles, however, one was amended in accordance with the congressional order to limit free secondary education, and another article was removed by Congress without the approval of Puerto Ricans. The republican form of government mimics the Constitution of the United States. A governor heads the executive branch while two legislative chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, make up the legislative branch. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico is the last court of appeals in most judicial cases, but its decisions can be appealed before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Only in 1993 the Eleventh Circuit of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the decision of Congress to allow an internal government in Puerto Rico did not invalidate the jurisdiction of the Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution. The court concluded that there has been no fundamental alteration in Puerto Rico’s relations with the United States; Puerto Rico continues to be constitutionally an unincorporated territory, without separate sovereignty. The court established that “Congress may unilaterally eliminate the Constitution of Puerto Rico or the Federal Relations Law and replace them with any law or regulation it deems appropriate. Despite the approval of the Federal Relations Law and the Constitution of Puerto Rico,

Administrative political organization

It is administratively divided into seventy-eight municipalities; each municipality elects a mayor and a “Municipal Legislature” for a term of four years. The main cities are San Juan (capital), Guaynabo, Bayamón, Carolina, Caguas, Mayagüez, Ponce, Cataño, Trujillo Alto and Arecibo. Puerto Rico has two municipal islands, Vieques and Culebra, which are located to the east of the big island.

Puerto Rico Politics