Puerto Rico’s government

Although the United States government is set up in such as way as to guarantee the rights of its citizens from whom it derives its powers, it has not extended those same rights to the people of Puerto Rico – the only voice in federal government is the governor, who is a nonvoting member of US Congress.

While Puerto Rico has gained some benefit from being a possession of the United States, the island is treated as little more than a colony with the US President as the head of state.

Puerto Rico’s political landscape

Partido Popular Democrático (PPD)
The pro-commonwealth PPD wants no major change in Puerto Rico’s status.

Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP)
PNP campaigns for Puerto Rico to become a full member of the United States with all the benefits that would bring to the island’s people.

Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP)
The most influential pro-independence party, PIP has failed to become a majority party in government elections or in referendums about the political status of Puerto Rico.

Becoming a commonwealth since 1951, Puerto Rico’s constitution provides for a republican government with a separation of powers – executive, legislative and judicial – as in each of the US states.

While the Puerto Rican government is responsible for internal affairs, the Federal government controls defense, foreign affairs, the postal service, customs and immigration, and social security – as exists in the United States.

However, unlike the United States, Puerto Rico’s citizens – who hold US citizenship – have no vote in Presidential elections. Neither do they have voting representation in the US Senate or the House of Representatives.

The Puerto Rico government consists of a 27 member Senate and a 51 member House of Representatives and is headed by a governor. Elected every 4 years, the governor can appoint judges to all courts except the Federal District court.