Freedom in the World
Puerto Rico *
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Former governor Anibal Acevedo-Vila was found not guilty of corruption charges by a United States federal court in March 2009. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s economy continued to worsen amid the global financial crisis.
For years, Puerto Ricans have been nearly equally divided between those who support the continuation of commonwealth status and those who favor full U.S. statehood. Commonwealth supporters argue that the special status allows the island to maintain its separate culture and an exemption from federal income taxes, while advocates of statehood seek presidential voting rights and full representation in Congress. A third option, independence, has little popular support; the Independence Party (PIP) candidate for governor received just 2 percent of the popular vote in 2008. While many Puerto Ricans have looked to the new American president, Barack Obama, to resolve the island’s status, no initiatives emerged from the administration during its first year.
The commonwealth constitution, modeled after that of the United States, provides for a governor elected for four-year terms and a bicameral legislature, currently consisting of a 27-member Senate and a 51-member House of Representatives, elected for four-year terms. As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are guaranteed all civil liberties granted in the United States.
Women enjoy equal rights under the law in education, at the workplace, and in other aspects of society. However, women’s rights organizations maintain that women are still subject to widespread discrimination.