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Should Puerto Rico Seek Reunification with Spain?

Published November 5, 2021 in Puerto Rico - 2 Comments

A few days ago, I got a comment from a reader named Dazza offering this interesting article to read by the Guardian.

You can see the article here titled “Puerto Rico movement pitches solution to economic woes: rejoin Spain.”

Anyway, I had no idea that this was a thing.

Though it’s no surprise really.

As I wrote in a recent article here, you do have some right-wing folks in Spain who seem to want to extend Spanish interests into Latin America again.

Especially those in the VOX party.

However, as you’ll see I the article linked above, this interest to unite Puerto Rico with Spain seems to be coming mostly from a few folks in Puerto Rico.

Anyway, I read the article.

Here’s my thoughts below in response to it.

The Passport Question

The first thing that comes to mind is if Puerto Ricans would even want to give up the US for Spain.

First, Puerto Ricans can get a US passport if they want one and many in their families already have one living in the US already.

Granted, if I had to guess, getting Spanish citizenship would allow for an EU passport so that’s not bad.

However, from what I know, plenty of Latinos in Latin America can apply for Spanish citizenship anyhow.

I’m not entirely certain if that applies for Puerto Ricans though given that their place is technically a US territory.

Well, according to this source here, they can but it’s complicated.

“You will only be entitled to request Spanish citizenship after two years of legal residency in Spain, if you previously hold nationality from a Latin American country. Either PUerto Rico or Dominican Republic. Also note that dual nationality between the US and Spain is not allowed.”

However, I’m not entirely sure about the “dual nationality” not being allowed.

For one, from what I read elsewhere for other Latinos (not Puerto Ricans), it is allowed.

Second, as I wrote here, other Latin countries don’t allow dual citizenship but it doesn’t really matter because the US doesn’t recognize any denunciation of American citizenship unless done with American authorities.

And I know the US allows dual citizenship.

So, if the issue is from the Spanish side, what steps do they take to make sure you “denounce” your American citizenship to be Spanish?

If it’s not in front of American authorities, then any denunciation wouldn’t matter legally for the Puerto Rican and they could keep their American citizenship.

Having said that then, it seems almost pointless for the individual to make Puerto Rico a Spanish territory.

Primarily because they’d give up being able to have American citizenship for the citizenship of another country that they could easily enough get anyhow.

Anyway, let’s move forward.

How Many Puerto Ricans in Each Country?

The next thing to consider is how many Puerto Ricans live in both the US and Spain.

I imagine that Puerto Ricans would prefer keeping the citizenship of the country that more likely has any family members living there.

According to this source here, apparently 30,000 Puerto Ricans live in Spain and this source here claims that 5.83 million Puerto Ricans live in the US.

Hell, even in small town Iowa, I remember having a Puerto Rican exchange student in my math class.

How many Puerto Rican students do you find in small town Spain that has no tourism value?

Therefore, there isn’t as much benefit for the average Puerto Rican to become a Spanish citizen from this point of view.

Granted, for those who have a family member in the US, I imagine they could still somehow get residency in the US through family.

But I imagine the process is relatively difficult but it probably depends on the individual.

Still, for the average Puerto Rican, it seems more beneficial to have the US passport than a Spanish one given a lot more would have reason to visit or live temporarily or permanently in the US since a lot more have family living in the US than in Spain.

The Race & Political Factor

In the Guardian article cited that was written 6 years ago, it said that about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico support the measure.

As I wrote here, you do have some folks in Latin America who seek political alliances with folks in Spain.

However, from what I’ve seen, plenty of them are whiter looking and more right-leaning.

Not as many indigenous or black Latinos in Latin America looking for that political support from Spanish political parties like VOX.

Of course, forming international political alliances is different from turning your country into a new territory of Spain.

Still, I do wonder how many of the 3,000 supporters are white looking Puerto Ricans?

And if there’s a difference in support for the measure along racial lines with non-white Puerto Ricans not being in support of the idea?

It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case since whiter looking Latinos, at least from what I’ve noticed, seem a little more likely to look back more strongly on their Spanish heritage.

Anyway, that’s just speculation.

I don’t know if there’s any racial divide on the issue in Puerto Rico given the obvious lack of polling done that is divided along racial lines but it’s something to think about just out of curiosity.

How Many Support it?

As I just said, only about 3,000 people seem in support of it.

Here’s the quote from the Guardian article.

“On Sunday, as the commonwealth’s financial crisis continues to cast a shadow over its relationship with the US, some of the group’s more than 3,000 members will gather in Puerto Rico for their annual assembly to explore the idea of becoming the 18th autonomous region of Spain.”

Granted, it should be said that the number of people who support this could be much higher than 3,000 since that number isn’t from a poll but only how many people are members of the movement and who went to their “annual assembly.”

Still, with only an attendance of 3,000, it can be said that it does have some support but it doesn’t look to be that strong.

However, the article was written 6 years ago as of this writing.

That was before Hurricane Maria that left some Puerto Ricans angry and others not at all angry at the Trump response here.

Could support have grown since then?

Imagines and memories of Hurricane Maria exploited by this movement to gain more support among the population that didn’t like the US response?

Either way, it’s not really a Trump issue though if we are being fair.

It’s an issue where plenty of Puerto Ricans might feel not well represented in the US and neglected as a territory.

Thus, some might want independence, statehood or, as we have seen now, being part of Spain again.

That is a sentiment expressed in the article.

“With autonomy Puerto Rico could have sufficient powers to boost the economy and attract foreign investment.”

“Nieves Seise decided to launch the group out of frustration, after repeated calls to address Puerto Rico’s status were ignored by the US. A 2012 referendum found 54% of the island’s 3.5 million inhabitants favoured changing the island’s current territorial status. The financial crisis has also injected renewed vigour into the campaigns pushing for American statehood for Puerto Rico and those pushing for independence.”

Still, I believe more support exists for US statehood or independence than returning to Spain.

Can we find some polls on the matter?

Well, a few months before Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Rico had a referendum on June 11, 2017 on the statehood versus independence as you can see here.

The results?

  • 97.13% wanted statehood.
  • 1.52% wanted independence
  • 1.35% wanted to keep the territorial status as the same.

And how many Americans want Puerto Rico to be a US State?

According to this information here, plenty do!

“Two in three Americans (66%) in a June Gallup survey said they favor admitting Puerto Rico, now a U.S. territory, as a U.S. state. This is consistent with the 59% to 65% range of public support Gallup has recorded for Puerto Rico statehood since 1962.”

Of course, to be fair, the first poll above didn’t ask how many Puerto Ricans would prefer being part of Spain instead of the US.

Obviously, that would lower the 97.13% number since I’m sure some would vote in favor of that but we have no idea how exactly it would change that referendum.

We can try to guess anyhow.

First, you have this source here where the leader of the reunification movement in Puerto Rico, known as Jose Nieves Seise, claims that 10% to 20% would support the reunification “according to a poll.”

However, neither the article nor did this dude cite what polling that he is citing and it’s not clear if said polling lists “statehood” as an alternative option to reunification with Spain.

If said polling does exist and done by someone not associated with his group in which it included statehood and independence as alternatives to reunification, then we could get a clear idea as to how lower the 97.13% number would be.

Next, given the fact that it wasn’t even included in the referendum potentially implies that it’s an idea that doesn’t even cross most Puerto Rican minds or interest.

Thus, it could be something that most Puerto Ricans don’t even care for.

So is there anything to work with online to suggest how popular this movement is?

Well, as we already know, about 3,000 Puerto Ricans are members of a group promoting this idea.

Then we have this source here claiming that some group called “reunificacion Puerto rico” has 2,000 Facebook members as you can see here.

The link to the Facebook group page is here but I’m not allowed to see it. Facebook says that it was either deleted, it was changed or limited to a “small group of people.”

Given that 2,000 people isn’t small, I wonder if it was deleted? I have no idea.

Then we have this 2013 online petition to reunify Puerto Rico and Spain that only got 314 signatures as you can see here.

Also, according to this Wikipedia article here, the idea isn’t too popular given among Puerto Ricans given, in part, due to the financial issues of Spain.

“As of 2016 rejoining Spain has not proven popular with the people nor the officials in Puerto Rico, Spain or the United States. There are also fiscal and monetary reasons this is not feasible in the short term, as Spain was very hard hit by the Great Recession and the 2008–14 Spanish financial crisis and is under severe austerity measures.”

Granted, Spain having financial issues isn’t too big of an issue, is it?

Puerto Rico is likely in a worse situation financially if I had to guess and you’ve had plenty of South Americans move to Spain for better financial prospects as you can see here.

Still, given the better economy and higher number of relatives in the US, I can see why more Puerto Ricans have their eyes on the US than Spain.

Anyway, that’s all I could find online regarding support in Puerto Rico for this idea.

About 3,000 official members as of 6 years ago, 2,000 members on a Facebook group that could potentially be deleted and Puerto Ricans not giving enough of a shit about Spain to put it on the referendum in 2017.

Not exactly impressive numbers.

Still, we do have the 10% to 20% claim by the leader of the reunification movement in Puerto Rico but I couldn’t verify any polling on that nor if said polling offered other alternatives in contrast to reunification.

Overall, it almost seems like a non-issue given the relative lack of support for the idea.

But let’s dig a little more into it.

The 1898 Paris Treaty Issue

Next, let’s dig into some international politics.

According to the Guardian article, there’s some 1898 treaty between Spain and the US that gives the US control of Puerto Rico.

Because of the treaty, the US could never give up Puerto Rico!

Here’s a quote from that same Guardian article.

“The idea is a long shot, as it relies on contesting the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which laid out the framework for the island to change from Spanish to American hands.”

Eh, I disagree.

Treaties can be broken or changed all the time.

Does the existence of this treaty make it a little more difficult to put Puerto Rico into Spanish hands?


But it’s honestly the least of their issues – especially on a geopolitical scale.

And that’ll be one of the biggest issues working against this proposal.

The Geopolitical Calculations

The US won Puerto Rico at the end of the US-Spanish War in 1898.

It was part of the American efforts to basically kick out European and foreign powers from the Western Hemisphere as the US sought to expand itself into ultimately becoming a superpower.

It’s typical of aspiring superpowers to do this.

Be it Russia insisting to the US to not expand NATO closer to its borders as the Soviet Union collapsed (which the US did anyhow).

Or Russia wanting more control of Crimea in Ukraine.

And China insisting on taking over Taiwan (though there’s various reasons why they want that) to having territorial claims with other Asian countries.

Aspiring superpowers ultimately try to have more control over their own “backyard” before expanding into the rest of the world.

It makes logical sense.

Before competing with other great powers internationally that could lead to a World War, you want to make sure it’d be near impossible for competing powers to set up shop on your border.

While Spain itself isn’t a great power these days, one could argue that some interests in their country, while those in the right-wing VOX party, would appreciate returning Spain to “its former glory.”

Regardless of if that happens, it’d be an extra risk to US national security to have Spain controlling Puerto Rico.

Imagine if a day comes where Spain becomes more antagonistic towards the US as it aspires to return to its former glory in the Americas.

Something that one supporter for the unification of Puerto Rico with Spain is thinking about the Guardian article cites here.

“In January, about a dozen supporters in the province of Castellón formally launched a group, said Spaniard Cristofer Pons Rodríguez. “Personally, I was attracted to the idea of creating a community of citizens that share the Spanish culture,” said the 24-year-old, drawing parallels with the Commonwealth or Francophonie. “It would be about creating a Hispanic bloc as an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon world, to defend our interests.”

Or perhaps Spain, in some alternative universe, aligns itself with another great power like Russia or China.

It’s not entirely impossible.

China does carry considerable economic weight in the world and Europe in general.

And Russia also has considerable influence with Europe somewhat dependent on its natural gas as you can read here.

Both countries, while not always seen in a positive light in the European Union, do carry weight.

And it wasn’t like Spain has always been a country of more “western and liberal values” that countries in NATO and the EU tend to emphasize as what helps bond them together.

After all, Spain only recently became a democracy by 1978 after the establishment of the death of Francisco Franco and the establishment of their constitution.

And, as mentioned in the comment section of this article, there could come a day where the EU fractures even more.

If that were to happen while right-wing political parties become more popular in Spain…

Which the two, if I had to guess, would likely happen simultaneously since right-wing parties tend to be more hostile to the idea of the EU…

Then I could see Spain drifting into the hands of Russia or China.

Such a country, especially if it had ambitions to achieve its former glory, would be even more hostile to the interests of the US.

Consequently, in the event of a Second Cold War, this could be disastrous.

After all, the first Cold War nearly saw the US nuke Cuba off the map and kill all of its people given their relationship with the Soviet Union.

When you have another great power establishing relationships with countries very close to the borders of another great power, you run the risk of that starting a military conflict.

While I don’t think Spain will ever become a great power again anytime soon, they are not necessarily that weak of a country and they could always form a more productive relationship someday with another great power like China or Russia.

And, even if they never do, the US would never have the benefit of hindsight to predict that.

Finally, no country wants to give up territories that it currently owns.

The US would act very quickly to make Puerto Rico a state before allowing another country to take territory from it regardless of the future of Spanish geopolitical alliances.

So, for various geopolitical calculations and because few countries (if any) willingly give up territories in normal situations, it almost makes this topic nothing more than a thought exercise as it’d likely never happen unless the US disintegrated as a country (like in a nuclear war or civil unrest that break it up).

But let’s continue with this way of thinking about it.

Economic Benefits?

Next, we have economic benefits that the article brings up as a reason for unification.

Let’s quote some of it here.

“As Spain struggles to shake off the lingering effects of a double-dip recession, Pons Rodríguez dismissed concerns that taking in Puerto Rico and its $72bn worth of public debt could dampen Spain’s tepid economic recovery. “This shouldn’t be an impediment to working together,” he said. “The more united we are, the better chance we have of overcoming issues like debt.”

Granted, as we’ve talked about the “Spanish economy recession,” we should remember this article was 6 years ago more or less.

How’s the Spanish economy now?

Here’s this article on it.

“The Spanish economy contracted by 10.8% in 2020 and could grow by 5.5% in 2021 and 7.0% in 2022. In line with expectations, the economy recorded a slowdown, leading to stagnation during 4Q2 and could have contracted in 1Q21.”

Though that’s typical of most economies these days it seems as most saw a dramatic drop at the start of Covid and have seen noticeable growth after the economies reopen as you would obviously expect after closing an economy.

How it’ll look afterwards in the coming next few years beyond 2022 when the reopening is completely done will be left to be seen.

Anyway, are there economic benefits for either side to reunify?

Well, it’s tough to say.

Obviously, having Puerto Rico for Spain would mean more consumers and taxpayers!

But Puerto Rico is considerably behind in development of both the US and Spain.

Becoming an official area for either region would likely open it up to more investment.

As you saw in that Puerto Rico video way above about Trump’s response, his exact words to handling Hurricane Maria were the following:

“Now, I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.”

Personally, I find that comment kinda funny. Here’s my interpretation of it.

“Hey, Puerto Rico, can you not have hurricanes next time? Thanks.”

But it does reflect a certain reality.

Which is that giving Puerto Rico official statehood for either the US or Spain would be costly.

Not only in terms of repairing the damage every time a hurricane hits…

Which, as you can see here, hurricanes are predicted to be more devastating and more frequent as climate change worsens, adding more to the budget problems Trump mentioned in the decades to come.

“A review of existing studies, including the ones cited above, lead us to conclude that: it is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes.”

But also, if Puerto Rico were to ever have official status anywhere, either the US or Spain would likely be required to commit more money to building up the standard of living for the folks living there.

Between the two, obviously the US has more money to spend here and it’d be a financial cost for Spain to consider obviously also.

On top of that, given the geopolitical tensions mentioned before, Spain would also likely face strong military and economic contention from the US if it tried taking a territory from it.

Not only would there be legal costs with challenging US claims on the island if Puerto Rico voted to be part of Spain…

Legal costs that might involve going in front of the ICJ…

But, if Spain were to pursue it more aggressively, they’d likely have to put military resources on the island similar to what other countries do like Honduras taking Conejo Island from El Salvador as I wrote here.

Those military resources would cost a bit themselves (including ever forming a military base if it came to that).

But, on top of that, you’d be looking a potential war with the US.

Which, if Spain were to seriously try to steal Puerto Rico from the US, I guarantee a war would happen unless the US already disintegrated from nuclear war or civil war internally.

Outside of the US crumbling into a weaker country or into various smaller countries, Spain couldn’t realistically take Puerto Rico.

And, as I said, it would normally then lead to a military conflict that would be much more costly than whatever benefits Puerto Rico can give it obviously.

Benefits like tourism value from the island’s beaches to more taxpayers and consumers?

Though, as I said, bringing the standard of living up on the island and repairing the damage of the hurricanes to come would be costly also.

Especially as the average Puerto Rican only makes 12,081 USD per year as you can see here.

Not much to tax from the people living there!

But what about economic benefits for the Puerto Ricans?

Well, as I said, that’s an obvious one that doesn’t need much explanation.

Both Spain and the US are economically better off than Puerto Rico and would assumingly provide more money in the event that Puerto Rico becomes an official area of either country.

But I imagine the US would be more generous than Spain if Puerto Rico became an actual state simply because the US economy is significantly larger than what Spain brings to the table.

With the US having a GDP of nearly 21 trillion and Spain having a GDP of 1.281 trillion.

Though, to be fair, Spain is part of the European Union and the economic benefits of that should be mentioned.

Such as giving Puerto Ricans even more countries beyond Spain to work in and send money back home than just the US.

Though, as I said before, Puerto Ricans could keep their US citizenship (in the eyes of the US anyway) and get Spanish citizenship anyhow without making their island a Spanish territory.

So, technically, Puerto Ricans could find a way to work in either territory and this benefit isn’t as convincing.

But the EU does offer recovery funds also to its member countries like it offered to Greece here (though with conditions like anything else).

With other countries like Poland and Hungary being offered money at times also.

And the GDP of the European Union is 13.3 trillion so there is money there also to help Puerto Rico.

Though, being honest, I’m not sure how much money the EU would give to Puerto Rico but I imagine there would be help to improve the island similar to what the US could do if it became a US state.

Anyway, to summarize this way of looking at it: I see more economic pain for Spain in pursuing this but I do see some economic benefits for Puerto Rico. However, some of the benefits could be obtained by becoming a US state anyhow and some other ones (like working and sending money back home) can be obtained without getting US statehood or reunification with Spain. So the benefits for Puerto Rico are not as strong in contrast but would be beneficial regardless.

Anyway, this all brings up another point to consider.

Do the Spanish Even Want Reunification?

As I said, there’s a big difference between right-wing parties like VOX wanting to expand political influence into their former colonies and actually turning former colonies into official areas of Spain that can cost taxpayer money and other responsibilities.

As I’ve laid out already, there’d be some considerable financial, military and political costs to taking Puerto Rico again (especially in the light of any expected US opposition).

Having said that, this interest to “reunify with Spain” largely seems to be from this one Puerto Rican group mentioned before.

But there has been discussion of this in Spain!

For example, as I cited in that Guardian article, they did quote one dude living in a part of Spain called “Castellón.”

“In January, about a dozen supporters in the province of Castellón formally launched a group, said Spaniard Cristofer Pons Rodríguez. “Personally, I was attracted to the idea of creating a community of citizens that share the Spanish culture,” said the 24-year-old, drawing parallels with the Commonwealth or Francophonie. “It would be about creating a Hispanic bloc as an alternative to the Anglo-Saxon world, to defend our interests.”

But outside of that?

Well, as you can see here, a man named Jorge Campos who has been the President of “VOX Baleares” has expressed public comments open to the idea of reunification from my understanding.

Outside of some members of VOX, you also have this political party in Spain called “Partido Libertario de España” that supports the idea as you can see here.

However, that party, as I have read, apparently has no real presence in the Spanish government.

Either way, despite the Guardian article claiming that some support exists in Spain in the areas of Málaga and Granada, I couldn’t find any polling in English or Spanish on how many people in Spain would be in favor of the idea.

If you can find such polling, let me know and I’ll include it in this article!

Anyway, what about government officials in Spain?

Are they cool with the idea?

Well, according to the Guardian article, they aren’t too welcoming of the idea!

“To date the movement has not received any kind of formal response from Spanish authorities. Recently Puerto Rican Iván Arrache called on Spain to take action. “Are they going to leave us to do all the work ourselves?,” he wrote in El Diario de La Marina. “It takes two to tango.”

“After two years of nurturing the movement in Puerto Rico, he said, it was time to establish whether there is any official interest in the idea from Spain. “Spain needs to give us a token of good faith, even if it’s just symbolic,” he said. “Many of us here are ready to give our all. All we’re asking for is something from the other side.”

This was a bit funny for me to read.

Like a dude texting a girl 10 times about “hey girl, a date yeah? Can we meet up?” and she leaves him on read.

Anyway, it seems like the interest on both the Puerto Rican and Spanish side isn’t that strong but that there’s more interest on the Puerto Rican side than the Spanish one.

Well, let’s carry on and discuss other ideas mentioned with this topic.

Help Catalan Separatism?

I’ve personally been to Catalan in Spain but really don’t have any real knowledge about the separatism movement in the country.

I do know that some separatism ideas exist over there.

And the Guardian article brings up an idea on how Puerto Rican reunification with Spain could help resolve the issue as you can see here.

“Spain stands to benefit from taking Puerto Rico into its fold, he said. “Don’t they appreciate the impact this would have against Catalan separatism and how this would help foster the idea of a united Spain?”

Personally, I’m not entirely following the logic with this idea but I figured to bring it up.

How does Puerto Rico relate to Catalan?

As far as I’m aware, and correct if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the two regions have much in common?

Also, if Puerto Rico separates from Catalan, could that be used as a talking point for Catalan separatists?

The logic being that, if Puerto Rico can separate from the US, then why can’t we good folks of Catalan separate?

I have no idea how Spanish politics revolves about Catalan though or how Puerto Rican reunification would impact that situation.

Still, if I had to shoot from the hip here, it sounds like it could just give more ammunition to the Catalan folks wanting separation?

But I’ll leave it at that.

Those who are more familiar with Catalan can chime in since I don’t know much about the situation over there.

The Geography Issue

Some might claim that it would be difficult for Spain to control Puerto Rico given the vast distance between the two areas.

I’ve considered this as a possible issue.

Personally, I don’t think it’d be that big of an issue as maybe some would claim.

After all, the US controls Hawaii and Guam just fine.

Granted, the US also has a much bigger GDP and military budget to expand itself literally all over the world with military bases always a stone throws away.

Still, other countries have territories located far away.

The UK has its precious Falkland Islands to the ire of Argentina.

And I’m sure there’s a few other countries out there with faraway territories.

So I’d discredit this idea.

I believe Spain has enough money to have a faraway territory.

Though, as I said before, it’s a question if Spain would be willing to actually dedicate the financial, military and political capital to take Puerto Rico realistically speaking.

Something I doubt heavily but it’d be a question for them.

“We’ll Have Autonomy!”

According to this article here, this was a quote on the Facebook page of the Reunification movement.

“The U.S. distorted our history. Nobody here knows we were Spanish citizens with full voting rights until the 1898 invasion. The United States denies us that right,” said Jose Nieves, the founder of the Puerto Rico Reunification With Spain group, to Fox News Latino.      “The Puerto Rican culture is disappearing,” added Nieves, 42, a history buff with a criminology degree from the Caribbean University.      He noted that Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for more than four centuries and in 1897 even had a charter that gave it sovereignty as an overseas Spanish province.”

Then you have this interesting quote from that Guardian article here.

“The movement is based on a mix of nostalgia and alternative history, with Nieves Seise pointing to what he calls a flawed depiction of Puerto Rico as a colony of Spain. “In reality it was an integral part of Spain. The US invaded us in 1898, and they separated us against our will.”

Well, there’s a few things to mention.

First, he says that “Puerto Rican culture is disappearing.”

If I was to be a smartass here, I could say that the original “Puerto Ricans” or the indigenous people that existed there before Spain already had their culture “disappeared.”

They all died.

Who killed them?

The Spanish!

So you want to change back to Spain that killed the original folks on your island?

Granted, I get that very few, if any, Puerto Ricans identify as Taino given their demographic decline as you can see here (even though plenty of Puerto Ricans do have some genetic ancestry tied to them).

“This is how the myth of Taíno extinction was born. The Taíno were declared extinct shortly after 1565 when a census shows just 200 Indians living on Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The census records and historical accounts are very clear: There were no Indians left in the Caribbean after 1802.”

And, on top of the genocide of the original folks living in Puerto Rico, you had Spain force Puerto Rico into a colony.

So how is that different from the US forcing Puerto Rico to be a territory?

In both scenarios, you have a stronger country turning you into its bitch.

Spain isn’t really any better in this scenario.

And, similar to Spain influencing greatly the culture of Puerto Rico after it was colonized, you also have strong American influence on Puerto Rico since it became a territory over 120 years ago.

Finally, I don’t really get how Puerto Rico gets more autonomy being a Spanish territory than an American one.

In either scenario, Puerto Ricans would get the right to vote for their president.

However, in both scenarios, the voting power of your average Puerto Rican would still be diluted by the voting power of people in either country.

With the US having 329 million people living in the US and 47 million living in Spain while Puerto Rico has a population of 3.194 million.

And, if it joined Spain, it would have to contend with the regulations of the broader EU that is less has influence over.

If Puerto Rico really wanted “autonomy,” it’d vote for complete independence and not join the US or Spain as the voters of either country would dominate the voting decisions of the drastically smaller voting bloc of Puerto Rico.

Though, if all of the Puerto Ricans were to move to a swing state of the US, I guess they could have enough voting power to maybe swing a close election.

Not sure how that’d work in Spain however.

But, according to this article here, Spain has some semblance of a electoral college system also favoring rural areas over urban areas.

So I guess they could play their cards in either country to have more voting power.

“Designed to prevent the cities from dominating politics, the country’s electoral system benefits a two-party system”

Anyway, despite how much political power a Puerto Rican could have in either country, I suppose Puerto Ricans would have more power and autonomy over the world stage being in the US than Spain.

Primarily because the US is much more powerful than Spain and doesn’t get bullied around as easily as Spain does.

Therefore, to resolve the topic of which country would offer them more “autonomy,” I think the US wins here.

To summarize anyhow, I don’t really see the logic behind “Spain was better” since, if we’re being honest, that was also the past and the US is much more wealthy than Spain is overall for its people.

On top of that, both countries colonized Spain in a way anyhow with one of them (Spain) actually committing genocide.

And, to finish the summary, being a territory of either doesn’t grant autonomy.

Final Verdict: Yay or Nay?

Look, I will say this: Puerto Rico does need to become stronger legal entity of another country someday.

It’s my opinion that some countries in the Caribbean, like Puerto Rico, Cuba or the DR, will be eating a shit sandwich from the more intensive hurricanes in the coming decades.

It’s one of those topics where we can all agree to “just move the fuck on already.”

Make a decision!

While I think Puerto Rico would be fucking itself to not join a more powerful country like the US or Spain, it’s a decision that needs to just be made already given the long history of discussing it.

It’s stupid that it’s still a topic that we haven’t established an answer to already.

Most Puerto Ricans favor changing their status and most Americans are cool with accepting them as a state.

Most Spaniards?

Well, I didn’t see any polling on the matter from their end but some do seem in support of it.

Either way, I do believe we need to make a decision and, beyond that, I’d say it’d be wise for Puerto Rico to get a better status in a more powerful country.

And putting away my biases for a second, I’d personally be OK for Puerto Rico to be American or Spanish territory.

While most Americans would be cool with Puerto Rico becoming a territory, most of us don’t really give a fuck about the island.

If it became a territory of Zimbabwe, we wouldn’t’ give a fuck outside of government officials and Puerto Ricans themselves.

Having said that, I don’t think it’s practical for Spain to take the territory unless the US literally got blown up in a nuclear war or disintegrated into smaller countries from civil conflict.

In which it wouldn’t be able to stop Puerto Rico from joining another country basically.

Outside of that, no country wants to give up any territory it has.

So it’s not practical for Spain to take it.

Nor do, outside of some right-wing folks in Spain, really give a fuck about it anyway given the lack of interest in Puerto Rico and also the other expenses associated with taking outside of dealing with the ire of the US government.

And, as we’ve seen, most Puerto Ricans prefer the US anyhow.

So, above all, I think it makes more sense to just make Puerto Rico a US state already and it’s more practical.

But, having said that, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea for it to be a Spanish territory even though I don’t think it’s practical for the reasons mentioned above.

That’s all I got to say anyhow.

For those curious, here’s a Wikipedia article in Spanish on the history of this topic.

And leave any comment you have in the comment section below.

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And thanks for reading.

Best regards,



Leon - August 16, 2022 Reply

The Reunification movement is at 16.3% according to a scientific poll done by SW Demoscopia in 2021. The biggest group is Adelante Reunificacionistas (a political organization that was formed in 2017 and recently merged with MPRE, another reunification group), they have 10,000 followers on facebook and more than 200,000 views in their youtube page. The Referendum that you mention were statehood got 97% needs to be explained, there was a boycott and the opposition parties refused to participate due to many reasons, the US never took it seriously of course, they have not taken seriously the most recent referendum of 2020 as well because the opposition to statehood was never able to participate in equal footing, the referendum was seen as another fraud.
The Reunification with Spain keeps gaining followers and sympathizers while US Congress keeps giving Puerto Ricans the runaround by not supporting a binding referendum which would include the US Statehood option for the Island. Things are changing fast in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria, for the first time the Independence Party candidate for governor reached 15% in the 2020 elections while the pro statehood party only reached 32.5%. Puerto Ricans are looking for options, and Reunification with the motherland is a very attractive option.

    Matt - August 16, 2022 Reply

    Thanks for the update on the latest numbers and also some context I missed on the referendum. I’ll look it up later and try to see if I can find some articles on the subject to update this article with.

    I think another issue too is that most people in the US quite frankly don’t give a shit about Puerto Rico and so there isn’t much political demand in the US Congress to take on statehood for Puerto Rico.

    Similarly, as I pointed out in the article, there isn’t much likelihood for Spain to realistically ever get the territory back as they’d likely have to do it by force. The reality of it all is that countries generally will go to great lengths to keep the territories they have. Like the US fighting across the planet for the Falkland Islands even though, while the Falklands do likely offer the UK some benefit, they aren’t islands that are crucial to the UK. The UK could suvive without them.

    But, on the flip side, there have been cases of countries losing territories obviously countless of times. Like the Soviet Union losing so many of its member states that became their own countries.

    So Puerto Rico could eventually move away from the US but it’d take considerable changes to one of the more powerful countries on the planet and in world history (though the US is slipping in many regards).

    Of course, in that scenario where Puerto Ricans don’t want to be part of the US but are forced to be a territory still, the greater risk then I would argue is an increase of terrorism or violent activities like we have seen decades ago. When people don’t feel represented or that their issues (like with Hurricane Maria) are not properly addressed, people tend to protest (violently or not but many times violently). Time will tell how things go forward anyhow. It’s definitely an issue that deserves more attention like many other things that the US government fails to properly respond to.

    That’s the poor reality of the situation too. While the issue at hand should largely be one dictated by Puerto Ricans as it’s their land we are discussing (at least in terms of wanting to be their own country and not a US territory), the influence of more powerful interests holds a lot of weight also in deciding the future of the island. Life isn’t always fair but that’s how it is.

    Personally, I wonder to myself the likelihood that the issue simply gets resolved by too many of the people of the island simply moving away from the island. We already have lots of Puerto Ricans who have left to the US, Spain, etc. And as the island continues to get neglected and with climate change getting worse with increasingly severe hurricanes becoming more common (among other issues), then I could only predict that more people will continue to leave the island. If too many do so and don’t live there anymore, does the issue of state hood lose relevance in political discourse (from the little relevance it has considering most of the US Congress and US voting population rarely thinks about Puerto Rico)?

    Puerto Rico’s Population Declined by 11.8% to 3.3 million over the last decade with key quotes here:

    “Puerto Rico has suffered a string of disasters and setbacks that have led to an exodus of island residents to the U.S. mainland.

    Those include drought, near economic collapse because of crushing debt, earthquakes and thrashings from hurricanes, the worst of which was Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

    Puerto Rico already was experiencing a population decline largely driven by migration and low birth rates before it was hit by Maria, according to a 2019 report by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.”

    Of course, it’s not like literally everyone on the island will leave. But I do think the exodus from the island will get worse in the coming decades due to climate change especially.

    So then it really becomes a question of how that changes the calculus surrounding the status of the island.

    Does more and more people leaving the island help or hurt its chances for a change to its current status?

    I have no idea.

    On one hand, it makes me feel like it’d make the issue even less politically relevant if less people live there.

    On the other hand, I could see how it encourages a change to the status eventually.

    Such as more devastating hurricanes hitting the island forcing people in the US to revisit the question and MAYBE address it through the Congress (which I doubt because you have many other very pressing issues like student loan debt which Americans give many more fucks about but still isn’t addressed).

    But, having said that, it’s also a question of where these folks are leaving the island from and obviously the US is one top choice many go to when moving elsewhere. I’d think that, with more and more Puerto Ricans living in the US with each decade, that’d naturally make more of them lean towards wanting to be a US state than part of Spain (especially if we consider most Spanish people not really caring too much about this issue and not having the ability to force the US to give up the territory).

    All around, when we go back to the question of the article, I just don’t see Puerto Rico — under current conditions and predicted future conditions — to becoming part of Spain.

    I think the most realistic outcomes are:

    1. Becomes a US State (which is not overly realistic given how neglected the US Congress has left Puerto Rico and the lack of fucks most of the people in the US have about Puerto Rico and how other issues that Americans care more about like student loan debt also don’t even get proper attention)

    2. It continues to be a neglected territory with more and more people simply leaving the island for wherever else (be it the US, Spain, etc).

    If I had to guess, I’d bet option number 2 is most likely. But we’ll see. Like you said, there is perhaps growing support for alternatives to the US on Puerto Rico. I’m very doubtful they will occur under current conditions but a lot of people were doubtful that the Soviet Union would ever collapse (something much greater than the issue we are discussing). So anything is possible and a country losing its territories is never out of the question.

    Take care and thanks again for the latest numbers and context on the Referendum you gave me. I’ll update the article at a later point when I got time.

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