Puerto Rico’s relationship with the UnitedStates is a complicated one, which means Americans often get Puerto Rico all wrong.
One of thebiggest misconceptions is that Puerto Rico is its own country or that it is an Americanstate – the island’s official name, Free Associated State of Puerto Rico adds to theconfusion.
But, it’s actually neither.
The island is a commonwealth of the United States.
For practical purposes, this means anyone born in Puerto Rico is automatically a UScitizen and that the island is governed by the President of the US as their commanderin chief, though it does elect its own governor as second in command and has a local constitution.
Which, brings us to a related misconception: that Puerto Ricans can’t vote in US elections.
As individuals, they actually can.
Unless they file for Puerto Rican residency status.
But, this is their choice.
The default is that they are US citizens who can vote.
Though,as a territory, the island lacks equal representation in Congress and the Electoral college, sotheir voice is often muted.
3/ Speaking of which, many Americans believe Puerto Ricansdon’t speak English, but about half of the islanders speak the language at some level,and it’s one of the two official languages.
The other is, Spanish, not some unique PuertoRican Spanish-like language as some Americans believe; though they may use unique words,intonations, and inflections – it’s still just Spanish.
Another stereotype is that peopleare mostly of African descent.
But, Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly identify as “White”(⅔) and fewer than 20 percent could genetically trace their ancestry back to Africa, thoughthis African influence is very much a part of their culture.
When Puerto Ricans leavethe island, it’s easy for Americans to assume they’ll end up living in New York and arehoping for a career in professional baseball.
Two pretty common but untrue stereotypes.
Though the largest population does reside in New York.
But, Florida is a close secondand the majority of Puerto Ricans are actually scattered throughout the rest of the US.
Andobviously, very few people, period, play professional baseball.
While definitely prominent, PuertoRico’s presence is dwarfed by the Dominican Republic and Venezuela who have more thantwice as many professional players.
When Americans visit the island, many are surprised to findthat it’s not as tropical and rural as they expected – with American style malls, pizzashops, and densely populated streets.
It is also a major player in pharmaceutical andtextile manufacturing, and by many measures Puerto Rico is the most competitive economyin the Caribbean.
To find out what American’s get wrong about Cuba, please click here now,and to find out what life is really like for people growing up in Puerto Rico, check outmy video here.
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