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The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico

  • André Lecours (a1) and Valérie Vézina (a2)


Over the last several decades, nationalist movements in liberal democracies have challenged their community's relationship with the state. One such case that has drawn relatively little attention is Puerto Rico. A peculiar feature of Puerto Rican politics is that powerful nationalism coexists with several distinct status options: a reform of the current Commonwealth, statehood (becoming an American state), free association and independence. This article examines the various sources for Puerto Rican nationalism and discusses the relationship between nationalism and each of the status options. It also explains why none of the options has succeeded in gathering majority support amongst Puerto Ricans and why, therefore, the constitutional status quo has so far remained on the island.

Plusieurs démocraties occidentales ont eu à composer avec des mouvements nationalistes au cours des dernières décennies. Un cas de mouvement nationaliste qui a peu retenu l'attention est Porto Rico. Le nationalisme porto ricain a la particularité de venir avec plusieurs options quant au statut politique de l’île : une réforme du statut existant (Estado Libre Asociado, ELA), l'indépendance, devenir un état des États-Unis et un arrangement de souveraineté-association avec les États-Unis. Cet article examine les différentes sources du nationalisme porto ricain et sa relation avec chacune de ces options politiques. L'article explique pourquoi aucune de ces options n'a jusqu’à maintenant obtenu une majorité réelle d'appui et donc pourquoi le statu quo constitutionnel demeure.


Corresponding author

School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, 120 University, Ottawa ON, K1N 6N5, email:
Department of Political Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's NL, A1B 3X9, email:


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