Puerto Rico gov’t celebrates 100 years of US citizenship
SAN JUAN — Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín said that “today is a historic day!” as he reminded that on March 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act, which grants U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans.
“The Jones Act also protects all island-born Puerto Ricans under the nation’s Bill of Rights. In that sense, today we also celebrate 100 years in which every Puerto Rican born on the island enjoys their U.S. citizenship,” Rivera Marín said in a WKAQ 580 radio interview.
The former Consumer Affairs secretary sid Puerto Ricans “treasure” their citizenship.
“We Puerto Ricans have guaranteed liberties, bestowed by U.S. citizenship, with which we can move freely around the world, with which we are guaranteed fundamental rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the right to due process, and certainly, we Puerto Ricans treasure our American citizenship,” he declared.
Rivera Marín said the government will celebrate the occasion Thursday.
“Today, to celebrate those 100 years, there will be several events. The governor [Ricardo Rosselló] signed an executive order that creates the ‘Commission to Celebrate the U.S. Citizenship’s Centennial.’ Today we will be in the House and Senate; there will be a joint session celebrating several activities in which we acknowledge this historic event, the signing of the Jones Act, which gave us American citizenship, which we treasure so much,” he added.
For his part, former Sen. Ángel Rosa argued that granting U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans was merely a strategic move by the federal government.
“The United States was about to enter the first World War that had formed in 1914, and when they were bracing themselves for the war they were looking for ‘cannon fodder,’ so they extended American citizenship to all people born in the Puerto Rico territory. Up until then, Puerto Ricans had been in limbo, since they had stopped being Spanish but hadn’t become U.S. citizens,” he explained.
However, Rosa, who supports the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), clarified that his party recognizes the citizenship’s importance.
“You can be in favor of the Commonwealth or ‘Free Association,’ but everyone in the PDP wants citizenship. Obviously, those who believe in statehood believe in citizenship as well. Even in surveys that have been made and that I have seen, many independence supporters also want an agreement to extend citizenship to Puerto Ricans,” he said.
Rosa explained that, as long as the commonwealth doesn’t change its current territorial condition, citizenship will be a birthright. He clarified, however, that in a Free Association agreement, citizenship would be a matter of discussion, since no place with which the United States has that type of a relationship, bears that citizenship.