Puerto Rico marks 100 years as US territory

Puerto Ricans have a form of US citizenship. They're not entitled to vote in presidential elections, but they don't pay federal taxes.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Around five million people of Puerto Rican origin, searching for better economic opportunities, live on the mainland.

It is exactly one hundred years since an act of US Congress made Puerto Rico a US territory and Puerto Ricans became US citizens.

The Spanish speaking territory, established March 2, 1917, is part of the United States but maintains a strong cultural independence. Whether to vote for statehood is a never-ending debate on the island.

Despite having US citizenship, Puerto Ricans are not entitled to vote in presidential elections.

Puerto Ricans' status also means they don't pay federal taxes. But the island's economy is in disarray with over $70 billion in debt and unemployment at 12.4 percent.

"Puerto Rico is in fairly desperate economic condition so I think there are a lot of legislators here in the US who are considering or offering a greater amount of consideration to the idea of Statehood for Puerto Rico than they have in the past," said Justin Velez-Hagan, Executive Director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.

TRT World’s Henry Morton in New York has more on this story.