The Com­mon­wealth of Puer­to Rico has a unique his­to­ry as a part of the United

States. Unit­ed States suzerain­ty over Puer­to Rico orig­i­nat­ed with the acqui­si­tion of

the islands in 1898 after the con­clu­sion of the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War. For decades,

the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment admin­is­tered gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions in Puer­to Rico through

mil­i­tary liaisons or civil­ian offi­cials appoint­ed by the Pres­i­dent. Leg­is­la­tion enacted

by Con­gress in 1950 (P.L. 81–600) and in 1952 (P.L. 82–447) grant­ed Puer­to Rico

author­i­ty to estab­lish a repub­li­can form of local gov­ern­ment through a constitution

approved by the cit­i­zens of Puer­to Rico and the Con­gress in 1952

Puer­to Rico remains sub­ject to con­gres­sion­al juris­dic­tion under the Territorial

Clause of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Under this author­i­ty, Con­gress has passed

leg­is­la­tion that gov­erns ele­ments of Puer­to Rico’s rela­tion­ship to the Unit­ed States.

For exam­ple, res­i­dents of Puer­to Rico hold U.S. cit­i­zen­ship, serve in the mil­i­tary, are

rep­re­sent­ed in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by a Res­i­dent Com­mis­sion­er elect­ed to

a four-year term who does not have priv­i­leges to vote on the floor of the House, are

sub­ject to fed­er­al laws and are ben­e­fi­cia­ries of fed­er­al aid as approved by Congress,

do not vote in nation­al elec­tions, and pay no fed­er­al income tax




Forak­er Act of 1900

Jones Act_1917

CRS Report For Con­gress 2005

Hear­ing on PR sta­tus (2006)

Puer­to Rico Democ­ra­cy act of 2007

H. R. 2499    Puer­to Rico Democ­ra­cy Act of 2010