The meaning of the 4th of July in Puerto Rico


An article by Rocio Gonzalez for

The 4th of July is the most patriotic celebration there is in this country, where America honors its Founding Fathers and others who were courageous enough in the colonies to stand up to the British. But here’s an interesting thought: How do Puerto Ricans feel about this holiday?

For starters, many have been looking forward to this four-day weekend. Like many Americans in the states, families head to the beach, the movies and the sales.

Politically, the feelings that the 4th of July brings up in the island can vary dramatically. In Puerto Rico, some will say that that “country” is the last colony on earth and that this needs to change. Some fight to become the 51st state. Some fight for the territory to gain more rights. Some fight for independence of their home.

The 4th of July in the island of enchantment

The 4th of July scene in Puerto Rico varies depending on the people involved. While some people take the time to commemorate the occasion and reflect on American freedom, others feel it’s ironic, celebrating independence in an island territory that is not a state and not a sovereign nation.


The movement to get Puerto Rico to become the 51st state is decades old, and led by the New Progressive Party (PNP). The highest-ranking public officer the PNP has is Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who is Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress. This year, he will be the keynote speaker in the party’s Independence Day event, as the PNP’s leader.

Every year, the PNP hosts a big 4th of July celebration to “celebrate statehood and the birth of the American nation,” as Pierluisi recently said. Many — in some occasions thousands — gather to share good food and good music to mark the holiday.

This year they have additional reason for cautious celebration. Pierluisi has already introduced legislation into the House of Representatives to move forward with what he hope will be one final plebiscite for voters to determine whether they support statehood or not, and many statehood supporters are optimistic this is it — the moment Puerto Rico joins the union.

As statehooders celebrate the United States’ 237th birthday, others may opt for a low-key holiday.

For the other two main political parties in Puerto Rico, celebrating the 4th of July can have little to no importance. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s party, the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), is opposed to statehood. Instead, Populares celebrate July 25, the day the Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico — that’s the territory’s official name, commonly known in English as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico — was created, upon the signing of the island’s constitution in 1952.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) observes Sept. 23, the day of the Grito de Lares — or the Cry of Lares — even though it is not an official holiday. Independentistas commemorate Sept. 23, 1868, the day the first major revolt against Spain took place in the Puerto Rican town of Lares, and independence was declared. The uprising failed, but it remains a significant moment in Puerto Rico’s history.

Puerto Rico pushes the U.S. on status

But as the 4th of July goes by mostly ignored by these groups, there have been developments in the United Nations regarding Puerto Rico’s position as a colony of which they have definitely taken notice.

Last month, the U.N.’s Special Committee on Decolonization called upon the United States to expedite a process that would allow Puerto Ricans “to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.” Recently, there has been more of a push — from all sides — to seek an answer about the island’s status from the U.S. government.

One way or the other, the stage is set and perhaps next 4th of July, Puerto Rico will find itself a little closer to becoming the 51st state or a sovereign or independent nation.’

For the original report go to

One thought on “The meaning of the 4th of July in Puerto Rico

  1. First Latino citizens of the USA.. who still maintain our culture and language.. along with recognition of our soldiers who served.. along with our parents and grandparents who immigrated to the mainland during hard times.. and given citizenship by the US after Spain.. –Yes, I think it’s time for #51 !!

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