Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

FACT TUESDAY: Puerto Rico & America

by Countable | 9.29.17

This week, the NFL...

"Shut the f--k up about NFL. Do something about our people in need in #PuertoRico," Marc Anthony tweeted Monday evening. "We are American citizens too."

Ok, Mr. Anthony, we’ll devote our Fact Tuesday to Puerto Rico and its relationship to America and American pop culture. (For the record, Anthony’s tweet began "Mr. President…")

Just The Facts

  • Basic biographical info: Puerto Rico is 30 miles wide from north to south and 90 miles from west to east. Puerto Rico has 78 municipalities (including offshore islands Vieques and Culebra) that function like U.S. counties—each has an elected mayor and legislature. (Though Puerto Rico is actually an archipelago, it’s often referred to as an island.)

  • The original inhabitants of the island were the Taíno Indians, who called the tropical marine archipelago Borinquen which translates to "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord."

  • Christopher Columbus claimed the island on his second voyage to the New World. Spaniards named the island "San Juan Bautista" after John the Baptist and christened the main city “Puerto Rico,” which translates to “rich port” in English, because of its lucrative potentials. However, traders and maritime visitors kept referring to the entire island as “Puerto Rico” and the main trading port as “San Juan.”

  • On December 10, 1898, the Spanish-American War comes to a close with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which included Spain ceding Guam and Puerto Rico to the U.S. The U.S. changed (and anglicized) the island’s name to "Porto Rico."

  • On March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act into law. This granted the islanders U.S. citizenship and allowed Puerto Rico to form an elective senate, but kept the U.S. President as their Chief of State. U.S. travelers don’t need a passport to visit and Puerto Ricans don’t need work visas to live and work on the mainland.

  • Politically, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. According to the Supreme Court this means it’s a "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States within the revenue clauses of the Constitution." Puerto Ricans pay no federal income tax and can’t vote in presidential elections.

  • Puerto Rico has no senators in Congress, but does have a Resident Commissioner in the House of Representatives with limited voting privileges. (Presently, it’s a role filled by Republican Jenniffer González-Colón).

  • In 1931, the name of the island was changed back to "Puerto Rico" by a joint resolution in Congress: introduced by Resident Commissioner Félix Córdova Dávila. (In Spanish, the official formal title is “Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit. "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico.”)

  • The Piña Colada was invented by a bartender in Puerto Rico in 1954. In 1978, it was named the country’s official national drink.

  • The Arecibo Observatory - the world’s largest telescope – was built in Arecibo, PR, during the 60s. (It would suffer damage from Hurricane Maria in September 2017.)

  • 1961 sees the film release of West Side Story, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set to the rivalry of the Puerto Rican Sharks and white Jets in New York City. (According to the 2010 U.S. Census, New York is home to 1,070,558 Puerto Rican-Americans.)

From West Side Story’s "America":

ROSALIA

I like the city of San Juan.

ANITA

I know a boat you can get on.

ROSALIA

Hundreds of flowers in full bloom.

ANITA

Hundreds of people in each room!

  • Long before N*Sync and One Direction, Menudo — the Puerto Rican boy band formed in the 1970s — dominated the pop charts. The group stayed popular throughout the 1980s. Ricky Martin was a member of the group before launching his solo career and producing hits such as, "Livin La Vida Loca."

  • 1999 saw a surfeit of Puerto Ricans in American sports and pop-culture: New York Yankees Bernie Williams, Ricky Ledee, and Jorge Posada helped win the World Series. Felix "Tito" Trinidad beat (lit.) Oscar de la Hoya. Puerto Rican-born Ricky Martin joined New York-born Puerto Ricans Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony on the Billboard charts. The following year, Benicio Del Toro would win an Oscar for Traffic. ``In a few months, they have done much to undo the decades of damage done by West Side Story,'' local Sen. Kenneth McClintock said at the time.

  • 2009, however, would see an all-Spanish version of West Side Story appear on Broadway. The Spanish translations were done by a gentleman of Puerto Rican descent named Lin-Manuel Miranda. Six years later, Miranda would launch a little production known as Hamilton. (

  • Puerto Rico’s median household income is $19,518. This is less than half of the median household income of Mississippi, which ranks last amongst the 50 states.

  • Puerto Rico is back in the news of late after being hit hard by Hurricane Maria which, as Countable noted, "combined the winds of Irma with the floods of Harvey." Now that ports are opening back up, FEMA officials and hundreds of aide workers are descending on the island. President Trump has said he’ll visit the island formerly known as Borinquen on October 3.

—Josh Herman

Previous Fact Tuesdays

(Photo Credit: gregobagel / iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(95)
  • Ann
    09/26/2017
    ···

    1. Immediate assistance for Puerto Rico. 2. Amend the Jones Act to help Puerto Rico's economy.

    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
  • Shawn
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Commonwealth or state it is irrelevant. Puerto Rican's are AMERICAN CITIZENS. They serve in the US military. What they don't do is vote for president. Maybe that is part of the problem.

    Like (56)
    Follow
    Share
  • Deirdre
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Puerto Rico needs our help! It is disgusting that trump instead of communicating to the country about how he would help these American citizens he "tweets" about the NFL. Which we all know is this is the way he deflects the nation from what is really going on. Or he "tweets" blaming Puerto Rico on their infrastructure and their debt. They have no power, no water and their homes are gone. They need help not a big buffoon "tweeting" insulting things. Plus think of all the jobs that are now needed to be filled. I hope that Congress will do the right thing and send Puerto Rico the help they need.

    Like (37)
    Follow
    Share
  • Kevin
    09/26/2017
    ···

    What are we going to do about Puerto Rico? It seems like nothing and that is staggeringly wrong. We should have the navy and army going down there to help our people!

    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
  • Andy1
    09/26/2017
    ···

    No Fuck you J. Not a day has gone by since January that I haven't wanted to punch Trump voters in the mouth for what they've done to this country.

    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ticktock
    09/26/2017
    ···

    If Puerto Ricans are indeed US citizens Trump needs to try real hard and focus (he’ll probably get a headache) and help those in need before many die. This will be the measure of this Administration.

    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
  • GatewayJohn
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Time to "bail out" Puerto Rico. Let the investors forgive the debt and maybe a Work Corp to build the infrastructure certainly PR is more worthy and in need than any Wall Street firm like Goldman Sucks (oops)

    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bryun
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Puerto Rico should be made a state and we need to assist them ASAP.

    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jill
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Help Puerto Rico. Last week. Yesterday. Now.

    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
  • Laurie
    09/26/2017
    ···

    The assistance to PR has been delayed and deflected by the President and the Senate and Congress need to step up and put pressure on Trump to be responsible and help these Americans! Quit talking about their financial debt and BS! These are Americans in a horrific conditions and deserve better! Act Now!!!

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Chase
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Repeal the Jones Act.

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mark
    09/26/2017
    ···

    We should be ashamed...but the current resident in the White House is too stupid to care!

    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
  • Joanne
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Of course we should help them and of course they should be willing to become a state and pay taxes. These people are in dire need of help while trump rants about kneeling. I have no problem with helping those in need, down the road, I hope Puerto Rico rethinks it decision not to become a state.

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Maryanne
    09/26/2017
    ···

    These are human beings! They need help! Just shut up and do it!

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Christine
    09/27/2017
    ···

    Cut the red tape for aid to Puerto Rico. The San Juan Mayor said yesterday on MSNBC that FEMA needs “marching orders”. Seriously? Get the aid workers DOING.

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • David
    09/27/2017
    ···

    Please immediately do everything in your power to help the people in Puerto Rico recover just like in Florida and Texas. Send FEMA, the military, waive the Jones Act!!!

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Carmen
    09/26/2017
    ···

    Wrong J they did voted for state in may. Maybe you forgot to read that day busy kissing Trump's ass.

    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
  • Iris
    09/27/2017
    ···

    Puerto Rico needs immediate attention. The lack of effort from all parties are creating a borderline humanitarian crisis in my home country. PLEASE, DO SOMETHING!

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Dave
    09/27/2017
    ···

    How about making another state of the USA, the stock market and corporations would not like it, could not launder money and jack prices and hose the America people if it became a state. The debt they have is because they do not have states rights, but a colony of America! The Jones act would all go away, they are already US citizens just can vote and nether can the representatives, they are financial slaves. These people are so hosed they have a republican representing them.

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • MarkYukhimets
    09/26/2017
    ···

    We need to send strong massage to Mr Trump that Puerto RICO needs our help and support right now more than ever it’s our land and it needs the most attention at this moment before disaster starts to spread

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share