Discourse on Puerto Rico’s Sovereignty Since the Spanish American War

Authors: Thomas Weidemeyer*, Florida International University
Topics: Political Geography, Latin America, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Puerto Rico, sovereignty, insular, territories, colonial, colonialism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Congressional B, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Puerto Rico has a continuing history on the question of their sovereignty. I will be discussing that history, describing the past of the present of Puerto Rico’s political status. Beginning with the time that Spain ceded the island to the United States the island’s political status has been problematic. Just prior to the United States taking possession of Puerto Rico, Spain had agreed to allow changes in the colonial government and thereby producing a certain feeling of self-determination for the people of the island. After the United States took possession, the political shifted again to a different form, that also restricted self-determination. Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico were ceded at the same time, however they followed different paths concerning their political status. I will highlight discourse from different time periods to illustrate the political status of Puerto Rico and how the discourse produced by the United States contributed to that political status. One example of this will be the discourse used in the proceedings of the committee of the United States Senate – the subcommittee on Territories and Insular Affairs. In addition, the Insular Cases heard by the Supreme Court are informative. Many sources enlighten the past of the present of the political status of Puerto Rico.

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