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Future of Puerto Rico

- January 19, 2018
Can the struggling U.S. territory recover?
Featured Report

Puerto Rico is still reeling from two devastating hurricanes last September and an 11-year recession, which have renewed a bitter debate over the U.S. territory's political status. Hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged or destroyed nearly 500,000 homes and battered the antiquated electric system, leaving millions without power or shelter and badly hurting the already weak economy. Four months later, 40 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack electricity, and recovery is stymied by what critics say is mismanagement of the government-owned utility and the Trump administration's indifference. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy before the storms after saying it could not make payments on its $73 billion public debt. In Maria's aftermath, more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans have migrated to Florida or elsewhere, and demographers say the island could lose 14 percent of its population by the end of 2019, further weakening its economy. The struggles have revived debate about whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state. Advocates say statehood would reinvigorate the island's economy, but opponents say Puerto Rico should focus on economic and political reforms instead.

House Passes Bill

An $81 billion disaster-aid measure faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

Senate Democrats Act

Liberals are pushing a $146 billion bill to help Puerto Rico and the U.S.Virgin Islands.

Immigrants in Florida

With thousands of Puerto Ricans arriving, Florida is mobilizing to help them.

Before 1900Four hundred years of Spanish colonial rule ends.
1900–1952Puerto Ricans get limited U.S. citizenship rights.
1960s-PresentPuerto Ricans vote on the island's status.

Should Puerto Rico become a state?


Andrés L. Córdova
Professor of Law, Inter American University of Puerto Rico.


Sen. José Nadal Power
Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Senate of Puerto Rico.


Species Extinction
Is a mass die-off underway?
Citizen Protests
Do mass demonstrations lead to policy changes?
Disaster Readiness
Is FEMA prepared for weather catastrophes?