What is puerto rico like: 100 Things to Love About Puerto Rico

100 Things to Love About Puerto Rico

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There are many things to love about the heart and soul of the Caribbean, but to get you started, we decided to round up 100 things we love about Puerto Rico just for you. So, if you’re feeling inspired by this list, pack a bag and charge your phone – you’ll be captioning #NoFilterNeeded and #IslandVibes in no time.

Find trails, waterfalls, and natural pools at El Yunque Rainforest. 

In terms of natural beauty, Puerto Rico is home to a variety of natural habitats – from coastal to mountainous – where you can find mangrove islands, rain forests, coral reefs, salt flats, bays, unique karst zones, and caves. Celebrate the whole spectrum at the Island’s 36 nature reserves, which offer every natural habitat you’d expect to find on a Caribbean island (and a few you wouldn’t).

The Island’s most famous nature reserve is El Yunque, the only rainforest in the U. S. National Forest System. Spanning 28,000 acres and home to more than 240 types of trees, you’ll also find 25 waterfalls, unique bird species like the Puerto Rican parrot, and native species like the coquí frog.

Lesser known but equally inspiring is Caja de Muertos island, off the coast of Ponce, where you’ll find beautiful mangroves, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and caves. You can explore – as long as you don’t disturb the flora and fauna – and enjoy the crystal-clear waters at the beach.

From the rainforest to dry forest, the Island’s landscape is rich in diversity.  

Puerto Rico’s forests are another illustration of the Island’s bio-diversity. From dry forest to rainforest, the Island presents a variety of landscapes that offer trails, historic sites, and even ziplines – along with habitat for flora and fauna.

Hike to remote beaches, birdwatch, or ride a bike through Guánica’s Dry Forest. Designated as a United Nations International Biosphere, it is one of the most extensive tropical dry forests in the world. Make sure you bring lots of water to stay hydrated as you explore this magnificent dry forest.

The opposite of Guánica’s forest, Toro Negro is a cloud forest nestled in the central region of the Island. The park includes sections of nine rivers and two lakes where you can fish, kayak, or boat. You can also walk along its paths, bathe in natural pools, and enjoy its recreational areas, all of which are very popular with campers.

For a complete immersion into Puerto Rican culture, stay at a family-owned parador. 

For travelers who want to get beyond a big resort and find a more local experience, one of the Island’s paradores is the perfect choice. These smaller, family-owned hotels are known for their hospitality and comfort. Located outside of San Juan and near popular attractions, these properties are a great way to see more of the Island during your visit.

One of the most awarded paradores is Combate Beach Resort in the southern town of Cabo Rojo, which is known for its warmth and top-notch breakfast. Enjoy the charm of a Spanish hacienda at historic Parador Guánica 1929, which was originally constructed during the 1920s. If you make your way to the mountains of Adjuntas, you’ll find Villas Sotomayor, the first eco-tourism complex in the central region of Puerto Rico. Relax and let your Instagram stories make your friends jealous.

Take breathtaking pictures with stunning backgrounds at the lighthouse in Cabo Rojo. 

Housing centuries of history, the lighthouses of Puerto Rico tell the tales of maritime adventures, battles, colonization, architectural fashion, and more. Perched along the beautiful coastline, there are 11 towers that are still active, and all were placed in the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest faro – sitting proudly at El Morro – was built in 1846 and the rest were constructed before the end of the 19th century.

While traveling around the Island, you’ll find them in unique locations, like Los Morrillos in Cabo Rojo, a lighthouse that sits atop of a hill with a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea. Or visit the lighthouse at Las Cabezas de San Juan in Fajardo for history and scenery in the eastern region. Another can’t-miss lighthouse is Punta Higüera in Rincón, a tranquil place with a picnic area and bar on-site.

The Puerto Rican longaniza at Restaurante La Sombra is worth the wait!

There’s no better way to get to know a destination than through its food. Perfect for a wandering gourmand, or any hungry traveler, the Island has four popular culinary road trips you shouldn’t miss.

The most famous “food road trip” in Puerto Rico is Guavate, just 40 minutes south of San Juan. Take exit 32 and follow the road to the famous “Pork Highway” in the mountains of Cayey. The stretch of the road is lined with dozens of lechoneras (open-air restaurants that specialize in slow-roasting whole pigs), a Puerto Rican staple. Locals make a daytrip out of visiting Guavate, ordering several pounds of juicy pork with crunchy cuerito (crispy skin) that servers roughly chop with a machete while you wait. Combine it with arroz con gandules or some yuca al mojo for an iconic Boricua lunch.

Along PR-155 and PR-156 in Orocovis you’ll find the Ruta de la Longaniza, a group of restaurants specializing in a local type of intensely flavorful, slightly spicy sausage made from pork or chicken (sometimes a mix). The longaniza can be served in a variety of dishes, chopped up on a platter with a side of tostones, cooked into rice, or stuffed into mofongo. You can try out all of its variations in the mountains of Puerto Rico.

The art of chinchorreo is best practiced at Piñones, the old route from Loíza to Carolina (right behind the SJU airport). Following one of the Island’s most picturesque ocean drives, you can sample delicious specialties and fritters at dozens of food stands. What more perfect pairing is there than fried food, cold beer, and a beautiful beach?

Last but not least, seafood lovers will want to try the Ruta del Mojo Isleño in Salinas, where a handful of restaurants have taken it upon themselves to perfect a special local sauce —  a finger-licking combination of slow-cooked tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, and olives, which locals call mojo isleño. Try it spread over fried snapper, conch salad, octopus or mofongo, and enjoy views of the southern coast while you do.  

Puerto Rico has had representation at the James Beard Foundation house. 

The Island’s culinary scene is thriving and more vibrant than ever, with chefs and restaurants constantly innovating techniques and fusions of flavor that highlight the diverse heritage and culture of the Island as well as its local products.

The creativity and variety of Puerto Rico’s cuisine are showcased by masters of their craft and establishments that have highlighted the Island’s gastronomy in different ways. Among them are chefs María Mercedes Grubb and José Enrique, as well as restaurants Vianda and Verde Mesa, which have all been nominated for accolades by the James Beard Foundation.

The water will sparkle as you explore the uniqueness of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescence. 

Have a surreal eco-adventure visiting a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico, where a kayak trip on a moon-less night reveals glowing water when you paddle. There are only five of these rare ecosystems in the world, and the Island is home to three of them. The mesmerizing brightness of the bays is due to the amount of microscopic, single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates that light up when the water is agitated. And, while bio bays around the world are seasonal, the ones in Puerto Rico shine all year-round.

Recognized in 2006 by the Guinness World Records, Mosquito Bay in Vieques is the brightest one in the world. Fun fact? Fajardo’s bio bay, Laguna Grande, is not technically a bay, but a lagoon. The narrow and long canal that leads to the “glow-in-the-dark” water makes this a unique body of water. Lastly, La Parguera in Lajas has another bio bay, the only one in Puerto Rico that allows motor boats to come in and out of it. You’ll find a variety of guided tour offerings to explore them.

The luxurious St. Regis Bahia Beach hotel.

Set out to be pampered and treated like royalty when you stay at the Island’s most opulent accommodations. With extravagant fixtures and top-of-the-line amenities, impressive guest rooms, and award-winning restaurants, these luxury hotels offer unbelievable getaways in awe-inspiring settings. They are all award-winning properties that have been featured in publications such as Forbes Travel Guide, Condé Nast Traveler, and others.

Find extreme relaxation at the Condado Vanderbilt hotel, a historic retreat that is home to the only Hammam Spa in Puerto Rico. Or, experience the first St. Regis location in the Caribbean at The St. Regis Bahía Beach Resort, which is the first and only Audubon’s International Gold Signature Sanctuary certified location in the Caribbean. There is also the Dorado Beach, a Ritz Carlton Reserve, an eco-resort that evokes barefoot luxury all-around. The nature reserve on the property, which is a former plantation, offers 1,400 acres of natural beauty to guests.

Recharge your soul, refresh your mind, and be sure to capture every moment in these lavish accommodations.

Did you know that Puerto Rico is responsible for over 70% of the rum sold in the US? Yes, it’s the Island’s chief export, and includes more than 80 types of rum. From silver to golden and amber, spiced and dark, the versatility of the spirits offered on the Island makes it easy to find one that is perfect for you. You can learn about the spirit’s history, how it is made, and sample a few types on a tour at one of the Island’s distilleries.

In Cataño, Casa Bacardí will wow you with its modern visitor center, where you are welcomed with a cocktail made with the world’s number one rum. There, you can choose between three tour options: Historic Tour, Rum Tasting, or Mixology Class. In the gift shop, you can even bottle your own premium rum directly from the barrel.

There is also Hacienda Santa Ana, home to Ron del Barrilito. Its recently opened visitor center offers an insightful history and profiles of Ron del Barrilito. You can sip craft cocktails and enjoy the pleasant views of the hacienda that has been manufacturing this darling spirit since 1880.

Puerto Ricans know how to throw a party – so you’ll find festivals on the Island are turned all the way up. Two annual events celebrating much different facets of Island culture have risen to international renown for their vibrancy and significance.

Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, the most popular annual party in Puerto Rico, takes place during the third weekend of January and it marks the official end of the holiday season. The fiestas take over Old San Juan from Wednesday to Sunday evening with artists and artisans, parades, live music, dances, and circus performances. Parties extend from the day well into the night, especially on the weekend.

The Casals Festival, the biggest classical music festival in the Caribbean, pays homage to the cellist Pablo Casals, who moved to the Island in the 1950s and organized the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, this premier event has drawn some of the biggest names in the industry to Puerto Rico and its schedule of performances span several weeks.

Visit Vieques’ black sand beach and cross it off from your bucket list.

Clear skies above and white sand beneath your feet — or maybe black sand, depending on your choice — will make for a perfect Instagram post. Puerto Rico is home two of the most pristine, picture-perfect, award-winning beaches in Puerto Rico: Flamenco beach in Culebra and Playa Negra in Vieques.

Flamenco has made the list of the most beautiful beaches in the world a handful of times over the past couple years. Relax and watch the water change different shades of blue throughout the day, from crystal clear to turquoise, and – at times – even emerald green.

For something different, Playa Negra is a black-sand beach recognized as one of the best unknown beaches in the world. The scenery is complemented by golden colored cliffs whose ridges carved by the power of nature alone.

Go swimming, snorkeling, catch up on reading, or take stunning pictures to show off back home.

Ocean views at Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan.

Feel like you’re traveling back in time when you visit Old San Juan, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is also listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. With charming 16th century fortresses, cobblestone streets, fountains, museums, and more, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into history. Visit La Fortaleza, a palace that has served as the governor’s mansion for centuries, making it the oldest executive mansion in continued use in the New World. There’s also El Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal, imposing citadels that are the largest military fortifications built by the Spanish in the Caribbean during the 16th Century. Whether you are a history buff, art lover, or sightseeing enthusiast, Old San Juan offers an array of memorable experiences and places — as well as some unforgettable photo opportunities.

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Things to know before going to Puerto Rico – Lonely Planet

With breathtaking oceanfront vistas, lush, breezy mountains, tropical rainforests and one of the coolest culinary scenes in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is the kind of destination to just enjoy the ride.

Puerto Rico has a reputation for being an expensive spot to visit, but learning a few of the island’s unspoken social rules and etiquette will go a long way to helping you enjoy the island vibes and understanding what makes Puerto Rico such a memorable spot. 

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Planning your trip to Puerto Rico

Check the visa rules (US citizens don’t need a passport)

While Puerto Rico is its own country, and local laws and customs differ from those of the United States, the island is still a Commonwealth of the USA.

This means US citizens don’t require a passport or a visa for entry. Flights from the US are considered domestic, so you won’t go through customs when you arrive on the island and you won’t need to present a visa or pay a departure tax when you leave.

However, visitors must still pay the local tax of 11.5% on goods and services and you’ll be required to pass through the US Department of Agriculture channel at the airport before you leave, just to make sure you don’t bring fruits or vegetables or open food packets back into the US.

Non-US citizens may need to apply for a 90-day visa prior to arrival in Puerto Rico, but countries that are part of the US Visa Waiver Program won’t need a visa thanks to international agreements. Check out this list to see what countries are part of the program.

Puerto Rico’s 5 best road trips serve up tasty snacks, beautiful beaches and stunning views

Rent a car for long-distance road trips

Public transportation in Puerto Rico often falls short. The bulk of the San Juan metropolitan area – comprising the municipalities of San Juan, Bayamón and some parts of Carolina – is served by buses run by Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA), but the routes and pick up times are unreliable.

Getting out of San Juan to visit the beautiful central mountain range, the beaches of the northwest or the southwestern desert requires a rental car.

Cars can go up or down in price depending on the season, but you’ll get more out of your trip if you’re able to explore on your own and make all the stops you need to take photographs at the amazing miradores (lookout points) sprinkled along Expressway 22 in the north or Route 66 in the northwest.

Rent a car to reach the fascinating, forested interior of the island © Boogich / Getty Images

Don’t expect to see the whole island in one trip

Puerto Rico is 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, but don’t let that fool you – the geography is anything but small in scale. The island has a surface area of 3,515 sq miles, and white, sandy beaches are only one of the natural wonders you’ll get to experience in Puerto Rico.

Visitors can marvel at bioluminescent bays, caves that are thousands of years old and adorned with Taino hieroglyphics, and a wealth of rivers, canyons, high mountain peaks and salt flats.

While a lot of tourist attractions and popular bars are in San Juan, real Puerto Rican culture is often best encountered in places outside of the metropolitan area. It can take up to three hours to get from one side of the island to the other, and there are bound to be some roads that are either closed or temporarily closed for repairs.

Traveling from one end of the island to the other can be a breeze if you use the expressways, or it can be a long rollercoaster ride via the island’s beautiful backroads. Expect delays due to construction and improvement work along major highways, and be prepared for epic traffic jams from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm, when most people are either heading to or home from work.

The best times to visit Puerto Rico: a guide to budget traveling, beaches and more

Pack bathing suits and your Sunday best

As a former Spanish colony, Puerto Rico was left with a legacy of Spanish colonialist practices, including widespread Catholicism, as is common in other nearby Latin American countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Puerto Ricans tend to be quite conservative when it comes to dress codes and the places where these apply. In Old San Juan – where the governor’s mansion, La Fortaleza is located – it’s common to see workers in full suits or long shirts regardless of the tropical heat.

Flip flops are usually reserved for the beach or super casual situations, such as trips to kiosks and beachside restaurants, or riverside walks. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you show up at the main mall, Plaza las Americas, in only a bathing suit.

Some clubs have dress codes too, requiring men to wear nice shoes or women to not wear sneakers. Pack your bathing suit and flip flops, but also bring some dressy outfits for going out at night or if you plan to visit any religious sites.  

Buy tickets ahead for tours and attractions

If you’re planning to join a snorkeling trip, go on a catamaran tour or eat at the 1919 Restaurant in the Vanderbilt Hotel, book your spot ahead of time. Trust us, planning ahead will be a game-changer.

Discuss local politics with care in Puerto Rico  © Colvin / Getty Images

Etiquette in Puerto Rico

Don’t expect everyone to speak English

Regardless of Puerto Rico’s modern political status, Spanish remains the language most widely spoken on the island. While you’ll find plenty of Puerto Ricans who speak near-perfect English, you’re most likely to meet these people in the metropolitan area and peripheral cities such as Caguas, Bayamón, Guaynabo, Carolina and Trujillo Alto.

Even in Old San Juan, where restaurant and tourism industry workers will speak to you in English without a problem, it’s worth asking someone if they speak English before asking for directions. Code-switching is hard and it might take a second or two to realize what language people are speaking. 

If you’re venturing outside of the main tourist zones, brush up on your Spanish, be patient and courteous and you’ll make fast friends with island residents.

Discuss politics with care   

When asking Puerto Ricans about their experiences of major national events such as Hurricane Maria, it’s tempting to come to the conclusion that Puerto Rico becoming a US state would solve these issues. Even if you mean well, saying this to Puerto Ricans comes off as paternalistic and colonialist, implying that Puerto Ricans lack the agency to determine their own political status.

As dramatic as this sounds, conversations about the island’s political situation can get heated, and bring a lot of emotional baggage as Puerto Ricans have never been able to fully agree on the best status for the islands amongst themselves. A better approach is to come to these conversations with an open mind.

Remember that Puerto Rican politics and US politics are incredibly different. The best thing you can do is listen to Puerto Ricans and let them tell you their stories, their hopes and what they want to see the island become in the future.  

Throw yourself into the rich variety of Puerto Rican cuisine © Ayotography / Shutterstock

Be ready to sample the full range of Puerto Rican cuisine

Don’t let the tasty street snacks – pernil (roast pork), alcapurrias (stuffed, fried fritters) and bacalaitos (codfish fritters) – steal all your attention. While these traditional and delicious foods are prevalent, Puerto Rican cuisine is vast and complicated, with influences that range from West Africa to Spain and Asia.

You’ll find vegetarian-friendly restaurants such as vegan cafe El Grifo in Caguas and 100% HP in San Juan. Then there’s the fine dining experience at internationally renowned 1919 Restaurant inside the Vanderbilt Hotel in Condado, or French restaurant Trois Cent Onze.

Puerto Rico has a host of extraordinarily talented home-grown chefs and wonderful influences from other countries, such as the island’s ubiquitous Puerto Rican-Chinese restaurants, which are typically family-run and cozy. Come for the mofongo (mashed fried plantains) and pernil, but stay for the surprising breadth of culinary experiences that await in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico on a budget: enjoy reggaeton and beaches for less

Be ready for the real “island time”

It’s tempting to think of Puerto Rico as a laid-back escape where the majority of the time is spent going to the beach or hanging around in the sun.

The reality is that the island is centered on a busy, metropolitan city, with people rushing to work early in the morning, and traffic jams at the end of long workdays.

If you need to do any errands, plan ahead, because government offices, fast food restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets will almost always have long lines. Making a scene or looking exasperated because the cashier took a little bit more time than usual will most likely earn you some dirty looks.

You’re on vacation; enjoy the slower pace and go with the flow. You’ll soon learn the art of Puerto Rican small talk and taking a breather while you wait. 

Petty crime can be a risk on some urban beaches at night © Martin Wheeler / EyeEm / Getty Images

Health and Safety in Puerto Rico

Be aware of the hurricane season

Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1 to November 30, and while Puerto Rico isn’t typically hit by hurricanes, when they do hit, they can be devastating. When booking hotels and plane tickets during hurricane season, always check with your airline about their natural disaster policies.

If you do happen to get stuck in Puerto Rico during a hurricane, your hotel will likely have an emergency plan. Tourists are well taken care of on the island, so ask your lodging about contingency measures before you go.

This is not to say you can’t travel during the hurricane season – indeed, June to November is one of the most breathtaking seasons on the island. Just keep an eye on the news and monitor your favorite weather app for warnings of approaching storms.

Exercise caution on Puerto Rico’s beaches 

Beaches in Puerto Rico are beautiful, with crisp white sand and crystal clear waters for all to enjoy. However, there are usually no lifeguards on duty, and if you’re staying on the Atlantic coast in the north, the ocean tends to be choppier compared to the mild waves of the Caribbean in the south.

You can usually spot rip currents and whirlpools by the appearance of the surface of the water, which will look different to the water where waves are moving towards the beach.

Don’t panic if you do get caught in one – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends conserving your energy and swimming parallel to the shore until you get out of the current. While rip currents can be deadly, they rarely pull people under the water, just away from the shore.

Exercise caution when swimming with children and if you see a patch of water or a beach that’s completely empty, that’s usually for a reason. This could be jellyfish, spiky sea urchins or strong undercurrents.  

When visiting the beach, don’t bring flashy jewelry, expensive cameras, or leave purses out in the open, as pickpockets can be an issue on high-traffic tourist beaches such as Ocean Park and Isla Verde.

The best things to do in Puerto Rico: history, surf and tropical adventures

Exercise the same caution you would use in a big city back home

Puerto Rico is generally safe for travelers but keep an eye out for risks such as dark, empty streets in Old San Juan and other San Juan neighborhoods. In particular, exercise caution when venturing out to clubs in Santurce – this is a high-crime area at night.

Some beaches in urban areas aren’t really safe to hang out at night either. There’s no police presence and these beaches tend to be hidden behind hotels and residences with little to no lighting, providing an excellent opportunity for petty crime. Research the area where you’re staying and try to speak to someone who already lives there or has visited to gauge safety levels. 

Don’t skimp on sunblock and bug spray

Caribbean sunlight can hit hard if you’re not used to it. The islands are close to the equator and get hit directly by the sun during most daylight hours, with noon to 4pm being the most punishing hours of the day. Don’t skimp on sunblock – aim for SPF50 or higher. You’ll still get a nice suntan without the nasty burn.

Any local will tell you that bugs – especially mosquitoes – are a nuisance on summer nights. In the worst cases, they can also carry tropical diseases such as dengue fever, zika and chikungunya. Your best protection against bugs is to wear a lot of DEET-based bug spray, especially in areas close to bodies of sitting water, such as mangroves, lagoons and lakes.   

Day 5. Puerto Rico

?

Daniel Zorin ( Juan ) Wrote,

Category:

  • Travel

The time came time. The US was the entry and the main target was the Caribbean. I have not been to this region yet. This trip is not without an element of vanity, because the Caribbean is the place on earth where you can visit many different countries in a short time. Of course, you can also travel around Europe or Asia in the format 1 country = 2 days (and flights between countries will be even cheaper), but this will be superficial, and in the Caribbean just 1-2 days for each island is enough.
There are as many as 30 countries in the Caribbean, I knew almost nothing about most of them before, except for the name. Now I can even draw a map of the region from memory. When planning, it didn’t really matter to me which specific countries to visit, I was guided by the price of flights and visa requirements (I have US visas and a Spanish Schengen visa, you can enter all American and Dutch colonies with them, but French and English mostly closed).
Puerto Rico Island consistently featured in all potential itineraries. There are cheap tickets from many cities in the USA, and there is no border control when arriving from the mainland, plus this is a local hub, from there there are flights to many other islands. In the end, it so happened that I was able to leave Puerto Rico for only one day, although it was quite possible to spend two here.
Immediately at the exit from the airport, +30 degrees Celsius breathed on me in a sweater, coat, hat and scarf. The weather forecast from Google promised rain with thunderstorms all day and the next week, but as always, it screwed up completely. At first glance, the climate here (at least in November) is lighter than in Southeast Asia. Humidity is lower, it is quite possible to live in the shade, although not as easy as in Spain and other dry countries.
Puerto Rico seems to belong to the USA, but everything is worse here than on the mainland — people are poorer, there is more crime, and public transport is bad. In all the numerous US cities where I have been, public transport, contrary to the common stereotype, was quite decent, comparable to Europe. In Puerto Rico, I waited for a bus at the airport for almost an hour, although the website claims a frequency of 15-20 minutes. It is also very inconvenient here that you can pay for the fare only in cash and only with coins. The fare costs $0.75, so the previous days I specially saved coins so that I had the right amount.
The island of Puerto Rico is quite large, but outside the capital there is no public transport at all! There are only collective taxis, as in the most backward countries of the world, only the prices for them are American, which makes your eyes pop out of their sockets. $20-30 per hour trip? Switzerland is cheaper. Also, taxis are expensive here — from the airport to the center costs $ 20 for less than 10 kilometers. For comparison, in the most expensive EU country, Finland, a taxi costs about 1.50 euros per kilometer.
I found a hostel for $14, an hour walk to the old town, but next to the airport bus stop.
At Burger King, prices are lower than on the mainland, but the menu is also slightly different: there are no double cheeseburgers, only single ones for $1 or with bacon for $1.40. Lunch with Whopper costs a little over $5 ($7-8 on the mainland).
Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain and passed to the United States after the Spanish-American War of 1898. San Juan looks like cities in Mexico, and there is also a huge UNESCO-listed fortress. Outside the old city, Americans built Empire-style buildings and many resort hotels and condominiums over the course of 100 years.

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Hint islands to change their humiliating status

Svyatoslav Knyazev

06/21/2017

While the «exceptional superpower» teaches the whole world the basics of democracy, the presence of an incomplete «semi-colony» at its side, on which you can save a lot, seems to suit it perfectly. That is why the referendum that has just passed, in which 97% of its participants voted to become the 51st state of the United States, remained unnoticed.

The “unincorporated” territory dependent on Washington is desperately seeking to get rid of its “suspended in the air” political status, but the US leadership does not particularly care about this.

Recall that in July 1898, the US armed forces seized the islands of Puerto Rico, which belonged to Spain at that time, and in December of the same year, representatives of Washington, having twisted Madrid’s arms at negotiations in Paris, forced the Spaniards to cede the archipelago to them, along with the Philippines and Guam. The United States established «outside government» in Puerto Rico through a governor appointed from Washington, and in 1900 created a Congress in the islands, with a majority of the upper house made up of Americans. At 1917 Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship, albeit with limited political rights. The independence movement that rose in the archipelago in the 1920s and 1930s was brutally suppressed by the US authorities, and its leaders were sent to prison.

After World War II, Washington slightly expanded the political rights of Puerto Ricans, allowing them to elect their own governor, but this did not fundamentally change anything. The standard of living on the islands was much lower than «in the metropolis», and therefore the population of Puerto Rico began to move en masse «to the mainland.» From 1945 to 1965 the number of islanders in the territory of the US proper has grown almost tenfold.

Against the background of economic problems in Puerto Rico, the fighters for independence again raised their heads. In order to somehow reassure the people, Washington in 1952 granted the archipelago the status of an «associated territory», but this did not solve its problems. Since the 60s of the twentieth century, the leftist forces launched an armed struggle for the liberation of their country, but the American security forces drove the opposition underground, and destroyed its leadership.

Today, Puerto Rico lives much poorer than even the poorest states in the United States. Prices for administrative services and products in the archipelago are on average one and a half times higher than in the United States, and subsidies are much lower.

But here is one of the largest concentrations of US military bases in the world (according to some reports, 37 facilities in a relatively small area). In the media, one can find references to the fact that in Puerto Rico not only is a radar station installed and naval exercises are being conducted, but American nuclear weapons are also stored.

Poverty and lack of prospects have recently again increased the flow of Puerto Ricans fleeing to the United States. In just a few years, every seventh inhabitant of the islands (about 500 thousand people) left their native lands for the sake of the «American dream». However, this still does not help the situation. Unemployment in the archipelago is 12%, and recently there have been massive school closures, depriving many children of the chance to achieve at least something in life. Recently, local authorities were completely forced to start a default procedure.

Given the fact that gaining independence for Puerto Rico is an almost impossible task, many islanders decided to get rid of the humiliating semi-colonial status in another way. In the 2012 referendum, more than 60% of its participants (with a turnout of about 77.5%) proposed to include Puerto Rico in the United States as a full-fledged state. However, Washington remained deaf to the proposals of the «younger brother».

And so, on June 11 of this year, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, decided to “try his luck” again and organized a new “general will”, the results of which turned out to be rather ambiguous. After 2012, the outbreak of pro-American enthusiasm subsided, and most of the population of the archipelago, apparently, decided to listen to the opinion of the opposition parties, which called for a boycott of the new referendum. The result, as mentioned above, is a turnout of 23%, which, it seems, reflects the real popularity of the ideas of local «unionists».

Will the referendum have any legal consequences? Most experts doubt this. Washington frankly ignored the results of the will of the Puerto Ricans in 2012, when one could talk about a real increase in US support on the islands. Why would the White House and Congress pay attention to a much less representative event? In addition, in both houses of the US Parliament today there is a strong majority among the Republicans, who are rather cool about the islands dependent on the States in the Caribbean. Hispanics and African Americans traditionally prefer to vote for the Democrats. Under the current legal status, Puerto Ricans living on the islands are deprived of the right to vote in national elections, however, if they are granted it, this could deal a serious electoral blow to the positions of the Republicans.

Puerto Rico in the Western media has recently like to compare with the Russian Crimea. However, such comparisons can hardly be called correct.

Firstly, the Soviet Union, whose successor is the Russian Federation, never captured Crimea. Secondly, the peninsula was part of the RSFSR for many years, and even within the framework of the USSR it was transferred to Ukraine illegally. Thirdly, the vast majority of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians who speak Russian (Puerto Rico is dominated by Hispanic Latin Americans, who are radically different from US residents in terms of language and culture). And, most importantly, immediately after the return of Taurida to Russia, official Moscow granted Crimea and Sevastopol the status of full-fledged subjects of the federation, and their residents — citizenship with all political rights. But, even if we distance ourselves from all these differences, we will see that the Russian Federation, when making a fateful decision in 2014, was guided solely by the will of the Crimeans themselves, expressed by them in a referendum.

The “exceptional” country, which is trying to teach us in a mentoring tone and imposing sanctions against us, unfortunately, is still somewhere in the 19th century in its consciousness and regularly grossly violates international law.

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