Much has happened since July 25, 1898...


Yes, much has happened in Puerto Rico since July 25, 1898, when American Troops under the leadership of General Nelson Miles landed in our island with a contingent of sixteen thousand men. At that time Puerto Rico was a full fledged colony of Spain. Since the very discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the New World on November 19th, 1493; and the arrival of the Spaniards under the leadership of Juan Ponce de Leon in 1508, Puerto Rico was a very oppressed territory. Our population had few rights, little opportunities and the island lived in misery. At that time Puerto Rico was named "the poor house of the Caribbean."

During these first one hundred years, the relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States has been of great significance and benefit to both. This relationship made possible the economic and political stability needed for economic development, made possible numerous federal programs, made possible our free trade with the rest of the nation, made possible our "Operation Bootstrap", made possible our Commonwealth Status, made possible our American citizenship, and made possible our rights and freedoms guaranteed under our Federal Constitution.

Today Puerto Rico is "the shinning star of the Caribbean". The island enjoys the highest per capita income in Latin America. Our "standards of living" or "quality of life" are unequaled in Latin America. We have the highest life expectancy in Latin America. Puerto Rico is one of the great tourist destinations in the world. Puerto Rico is the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals worldwide. The largest manufacturer of soft drink syrup is located here. The highest volume department stores, and highest volume stores of many retail chains are located in the island. Many scientific developments have been made in our island. Our island has been the birthplace of numerous world leaders in the fields of politics, sciences, sports, banking, government, economy, among others; most of whom received their education here in the island, now with residence in the United States and numerous countries throughout the world.

The success of the Puerto Rico of today is in the greatest part the result of what has happened in the last one hundred years in co-existence and working together with the greatest nation of all, the United States of America.

The following is a chronology of the most significant activities that have taken place since that July 25th, 1898 that have helped make what Puerto Rico is today:

Click on any year below to view that decade.
1890 1920 1950 1980
1900 1930 1960 1990
1910 1940 1970  

Year Month/Day Event
1898 April 22 State of war declared between Spain and the United States.
  July 25 United States Army invades Puerto Rico arriving in the south coast town of Guanica under the leadership of General Nelson Miles
  August 12 Peace protocol or truce is signed to end the Spanish American War
  October 18 Spanish sovereignty end in the island of Puerto Rico
  December 10 The Treaty of Paris, or "Treaty of Peace between United States and Spain" is signed in Paris, France. This treaty officially concluded the Spanish American War.
1899   The first and only elections are held under military rule to elect municipal Officers.
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1900 April 12 President William McKinley approves the Foraker Law, establishing a civil government and free trade between Puerto Rico and the United States.
  May 1 Charles Allen was the first civil governor to be inaugurated in San Juan on May 1, 1900. President McKinley named five Puerto Ricans to the Cabinet; Jose DeDiego, Manual Camuñas, Jose Celso Barbosa, Rosendo Matienzo Cintron, and Andres Costas. Among the six members from the United States was Dr. M.G. Brumbaugh as Secretary of Education.
1901 March 4 The Hollander Law was approved giving Puerto Rico a Resident Commissioner in Washington. Federico Degetau was named to the position.
1902   United States declares Puerto Rico a territory
1906 November 6 President Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. President to make an official visit outside the U.S when he visited Panama and Puerto Rico. While in Puerto Rico he addressed the Congress of Puerto Rico and recommended that Puerto Rican become U.S. citizens.
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1914   Martin Travieso and Manuel Domenech are the first Puerto Rican to be named as officers of the Executive Cabinet.
1917 March 2

Under the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson the Jones Act was approved. This Act gave Puerto Rican United States citizenship ( Some 300 persons rejected the American Citizenship- probably to maintain their Spanish citizenship) and a bill of rights. It also created the island Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Foraker Act still continued to determine economic and fiscal aspects of the government.

    20,000 islanders are drafted into the Armed Forces to fight in World War I.
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1922   The case of Balzac vs Porto Rico (258 U.S. 308) was resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in which it declared Puerto Rico was a territory rather than part of the Union
1928   Charles Lindbergh visits the island in "The Spirit of St. Louis"
1929 January 9 Pan American inaugurates service between San Juan and Miami. Air Mail postal service is inaugurated.
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1932 May 17 The Congress of the United States approves a law to change back the name of the island to "Puerto Rico" . The name had been used erroneously as "Porto Rico" by U. S. Navy personnel.
1933   A program of economic assistance known as PRERA begins to be implemented
1934   Franklin D. Roosevelt pays a visit to the island.
1935   President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurates the Puerto Rican Reconstruction Administration. This office provided guidance and funds for agricultural development, public works and for bringing electricity to most of the island
1938   Under the leadership of Luis Muñoz Marin the Popular Democratic Party is founded.
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The United States starts construction of military bases in the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

Rexford Tugwell was named governor of the island. He was governor from 1941 to 1946.

1942   The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company was established.
1943 April 2 U.S. Senator Tydings introduces a bill in Congress for independence for Puerto Rico.
1945   Seeking better job and economic opportunities islanders begin migrating to the United States, mainly the large urban areas in New York, New Jersey and Chicago.
1946 July 21

President Harry Truman designates Jesus Piñeiro the first Puerto Rican to be governor of the island.

Pan American Airways starts direct non-stop flights to New York City.

1948 August 4

United States Congress approves a law that allows the people of Puerto Rico to elect their own governor.

Luis Muñoz Marin becomes the first governor to be elected by the Puerto Rican electorate.

The Statehood Republican Party was founded

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1950   The first Social Security cards were issued.
1951   Law 600 was approved. This law gives Puerto Rico the right to establish a government and a constitution for the internal administration of the island affairs.
1952 March 3 The flag of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was adopted based on a 1895 design.
  July 25 The new Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico goes into effect
1959   The San Juan Star was inaugurated.
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1961   President John F., Kennedy visits the island.
1966   Plaza Las Americas, the largest shopping center in central and South America is inaugurated.
1967 July 23

The first plebiscite on the political status of the island was held. Voters overwhelmingly affirm the continuation of the Commonwealth status by the following vote percentages:

Commonwealth 60%
Statehood 39%
Independence 1%

Our point of view on the above numbers is that 99% of voters affirmed their desire to continue with our American citizenship and continue the Puerto Rico-USA relationship as outlined in our Commonwealth Constitution and/or would be statehood.

1968   New Progressive Party is formed. Don Luis A. Ferre is elected governor. This is the first time the statehood New Progressive Party wins an election.
1969   "El Nuevo Dia" newspaper is founded
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1970   United States Army takes almost complete possession of Culebra Island.

Carlos Romero Barcelo is elected governor.

Section 936 of the Federal Internal Revenue Tax Code was implemented. This new code gave American companies a tax "break" allowing banks to experience an unprecedented growth.

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1980 April 30

Luis Muñoz Marin, founder of the Popular Democratic Party, and first elected governor of Puerto Rico dies.

Carlos Romero Barcelo is again elected governor.

1988   Rafael Hernandez Colon was elected as governor.
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1991   In one of the biggest blows to the Puerto Rico-USA relationship the government of Puerto Rico, under the leadership of Rafael Hernandez Colon eliminated English as one of the official languages of Puerto Rico leaving Spanish as the only official language. Governor Hernandez Colon receives an award from the government of Spain for declaring Spanish the only official language of the island. The Puerto Rico government sells 80% of the long distance telephone service to Telefonica Internacional de España for 140 million dollars.

Pedro Rosello is elected governor with the New Progressive (Statehood) Party.

San Juan becomes the site for weeks long celebration of the 500 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovery of the New World.

1993   The first piece of legislation under the governorship of Dr. Pedro Rosello was Law #1 which again declares both English and Spanish official languages of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was the first domain under the United States to declare English an official language- even before this was done by any of the states.
  November 14

A referendum was held for a political status preference. The Commonwealth formula was the winner, but this time by a narrower margin as follows:

Commonwealth 48.6%
Statehood 46.3%
Independence 4.4%

1996 November 4 Dr. Pedro Rosello is again elected governor by the largest margin of any statehood governor in Puerto Rico history.
1998 March 8 For the first time in Puerto Rican and United States history, a bill is approved by the U.S. House of Representatives which provides for the people of Puerto Rico to hold a referendum to express the ultimate desire for the islands final status.
  July 25 Governor Pedro Rosello announced the status referendum enabling law which would allow the celebration of the plebiscite even if the final law was not approved by this Congress.

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