Puerto Rico The America you Never Knew!
OBJECTIVES • You will be able to… • Explain the political status of Puerto Rico—both how it functions independently and as a part of the U.S. • Define demographics and evaluate what the demographics of Puerto Rico, which are presented to them, tell us about the people living there • Describe the geography of Puerto Rico and their favorite past-times.
Wait a Minute…Puerto Rico is Part of America?!? • If you’re confused you’re not alone. • The simple question—Is Puerto Rico part of America or an independent country?– does NOT have a simple answer! • Let’s get to the bottom of this question…
Puerto Rico’s Political Status Like an Independent Nation: Part of the United States: Puerto Ricans have American citizenship Has been an unincorporated territory of U.S. since 1898 U.S. Congress has total authority over the island (though seldom uses it) They send (non-voting) representative commissioners to the legislature in D.C. They can serve in the military & pay some taxes (Social Security & Medicare, but no federal income tax) • Often recognized as independent by other countries • Fly their own flag • Elect their own officials • Has its own Constitution (or set of laws) • Largely governs itself • They have no voting member’s in America’s government
Puerto Rico’s History: Explains this confusing Paradox • In 1897, Puerto Rico gained autonomy (independence) after almost 400 years of Spanish rule. • But, a few months later, we acquired the island of Puerto Rico after the Spanish American War • In 1917, Puerto Ricans officially became U.S. citizens • Since July 25, 1952 Puerto Rico has had it’s own constitution and primarily governed itself • The international community has urged the U.S. to allow Puerto Rico to become a completely independent nation because it seems unfair that the U.S. still has “colonies.” • But, during four different island-wide votes the people were given three options: • Become an independent nation (6%) • Apply to become the 51st U.S. State (61%) • Or, remain an “unincorporated territory” of the U.S. (33%)
Demographics • Who are these people? To learn that we must explore demographics. • Demographics • data that describes a group of people (Ex: age, religion, language, etc…) • Over ¾ are of Spanish descent (the rest ID themselves as of African or mixed descent) • The primary language is Spanish • 97% are Christians • Almost 25% are under the age of 17 • What conclusions about Puerto Rico can we draw from this data?
what is Puerto Rico like? • “Imagine an island of enchantment surrounded by unpolluted crystal blue waters, abounding in lush green valleys, and graced by rain forests that served as home to more than two hundred species of vividly colored plants and harmoniously singing birds. Before people reached its shores, this was Puerto Rico.”
Others Enjoy the History of San Juan…(which pre-dates the Mayflower by over 100 years) Or Exploring its second largest City, Ponce. (Know as the “Pearl of the South” for its architecture & scenic Beaches)
Puerto Rico’s Geography • Puerto Rico consists of four islands: the main island, Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. • They are the tops of underwater mountains that linked the Americas millions of years ago • The main island is roughly 100 x 35 miles • It is located just over 1,000 miles form Miami, FL
Close Ties to United States • Not only is Puerto Rico closely tied to the U.S. politically and geographically, the people feel tied together too! • There are 3.7 million Puerto Ricans in the country • And about 3 million people of Puerto Rican descent live in the U.S. • New York City alone has over 1 million and they celebrate a with a giant Puerto Rican Day parade every year!
This isn’t Surprising Because… • Puerto Ricans LOVE to celebrate! • In the words of one traveler, “Since everything in Puerto Rico is celebrated from the beauty of women to the ripening of a sour green fruit called quenepas, it’s a pretty good bet that at any given moment, somewhere on the island, people are dancing!”
Puerto Rican Past-times • Puerto Rican spend their leisure time in a number of different ways, including: • Horse racing • Swimming • Taking paseos (strolls) • Basketball • But, especially baseball! • Can anyone name the first superstar MLB player from Puerto Rico? (Hint—He was a Pirate.)
You Chose! • Now you can chose which aspect of Puerto Rican Culture you’d like to learn more about: • Read an article about Roberto Clemente & his impact on both Puerto Rico and the game of baseball. • OR • Read an article about all the holidays celebrated in Puerto Rico. • After you read your article, be prepared to summarize its main ideas for a partner (who read the other article).