traveling latin america
Travel and tourism throughout Latin America. Puerto Rico and the United States

There are many people who know that Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, but aren’t quite sure what that means. Here’s a quick rundown.
Puerto Rican Flag

At the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States of America, and in 1917 President Woodrow Wilson passed a law giving Puerto Ricans US citizenship.

Puerto Rican voters adopted a constitution in 1952, and the island became a commonwealth of the US. Puerto Rico has its own government, which works much like a state government. The Puerto Rican people elect a Governor and the members of their Senate and House of Representatives.

Puerto Ricans also vote for a Residential Commissioner, the sole representative in congress of the 3.8 million Puerto Ricans on the island. The Residential Commissioner is a non-voting member of the US House of Representatives, but is permitted to vote in the special committees he takes part in, such as the Small Business, Resource and Agriculture committees.

Puerto Ricans can join the US military, and the US is responsible for protecting Puerto Rico in wartime.

Finally, although Puerto Ricans are American citizens and carry a United States passport, residents of the island cannot vote for the US president, and they do not pay federal income tax.

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