Porto Rico’s Needs and Aspirations

In 1898, the U.S. took control of Puerto Rico. In 1917, it officially became a U.S. territory. In 1922, a New York Times Magazine headline still spelled it “Porto Rico.” When did that change? About a decade later, in the 1930s.

Google’s feature called Google Books Ngram Viewer allows users to create graphs depicting the popularity of any words or phrases appearing in books dating from 1800 to the present, using the millions of scanned texts in Google Books’ archive. Searching both ‘Porto Rico’ and ‘Puerto Rico’ makes it clear: the switch happened in the 1930s.

Source: Google Books Ngram Viewer

Could Puerto Rico become a state? In 2020’s most recent referendum on statehood, 52.5% of Puerto Ricans voted in favor. However, while that vote expresses the will of the people, it’s up to Congress to decide whether to make it actually happen.

The Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act has 81 bipartisan House cosponsors: 62 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Introduced by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL9), the bill has not received a committee vote, despite Democrats controlling the chamber.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s version, introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), has only attracted five cosponsors — all of whom are Democrats. Considering the relatively healthy level of bipartisanship on the matter in the House, it’s unclear exactly why zero Senate Republicans have yet signed on.

Porto Rico’s Needs and Aspirations

Published: Sunday, September 17, 1922

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