Ohio & Michigan's Oldest and Largest Latino / Hispanic Newspaper

Since 1989




    media kit    ad specs    classified ad rates    about us    contact us


Club Taino Puertorriqueño celebrates Puerto Rico’s Constitution Day

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent 

TOLEDO: Latinos and non-Latinos alike gathered this past Sunday for a picnic featuring various Puerto Rican dishes, artwork and music to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the proclamation of Puerto Rico’s Constitution.

Luis Vázquez, Edith Vázquez, Jessica Vázquez, and María González enjoy July 25th celebrations.

Puerto Rico’s Constitution was approved by U.S. Congress and made effective July 25, 1952, making the island a largely self-governing commonwealth associated with the United States. It established an unprecedented political relationship. In Spanish, the political status is called “estado libre asociado.”

 July 25 has become known as “Puerto Rico’s Constitution Day.”

Roughly 150 people attended Club Taino Puertorriqueño’s 13th annual “Constitution Day Picnic” July 26, 2009, held at Swan Creek Metropark in Toledo, from 1:00 to 6:00PM—that featured Puerto Rican cuisine of lechón asado a la varita ( a pig roasting), habichuelas guisadas, ensalada de pollo, and arroz con gandules. Music played by DJ Luis Motezuma Jr. varied from salsa, merengue, bachata, and reggaeton.

An art exhibition featured paintings by Nelson Pérez that ranged from Puerto Rican sites, flamenco dancers to “casitas del campo” or houses on the countryside.

“It’s very important to have (events like this). It teaches and maintains our traditions,” said María González, President of Club Taino Puertorriqueño, “It’s important for us to pass them onto our future generations,” she said, adding she has three daughters and five grandchildren.

Today, there are 4 million Puerto Ricans living on the mainland and close to 4 million living on the island.

Luis Vázquez, Manager of the Department of Justice Affairs Office of Reentry in Cleveland, gave a brief, historical description on the Constitution Day, and also mentioned important dates for the Puerto Rican community surrounding suffrage and citizenship.

Chico Maria Gonzalez y hija

The United States acquired Puerto Rico in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans—both on the island and on the mainland—were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917 by the Jones Act. The Constitution, granting its people an extent of self-governance, would be signed 35 years later.

Vázquez said the greatest benefit that the constitution granted Puerto Ricans on the island was greater autonomy.

“It radically changed Puerto Rico,” Vázquez said “It was an important moment in the history of Puerto Rico. It gave them ownership to develop their own government,” he said.

Vázquez said he hopes more Latino families will take on the obligation to pass on the Puerto Rican traditions to their children.

“My focus is giving a message to our children that whether you're born in Puerto Rico (or on the mainland) you need to cultivate the culture,” Vázquez said, “A lot of our children are not learning the language; parents are not taking the responsibility,” he said.

Vázquez, who was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said he and his wife Edith, of Colombian descent, have made it a priority to teach the culture and language to their two children, a 21-year-old daughter and a 25-year-old son.

Luis Muñoz Marín and the commonwealth status

Luis Muñoz Marín, of the Popular Democratic party, was Puerto Rico’s first elected governor (serving from 1949 - 1964) and with Congress spearheaded the constitution and the commonwealth status.

Since Marin’s 1940 election victory to the Senate, his “Operación Manos a la Obra,” or Operation Bootstrap transformed the island from an agrarian to a manufacturing economy that increased jobs, and improved living conditions.

Commonwealth Status language

Although the island has its constitution and is highly self-governing, the United States controls most matters related to defense, transportation, immigration, and foreign trade.

The U.S. citizenship granted to Puerto Ricans on the island has limited benefits and obligations.

Puerto Ricans living on the island are not eligible to vote in Presidential elections, for the most part are not required to pay federal taxes, and have no vote on the Congress floor. Plus, Puerto Ricans born on the island may never be eligible to run for U.S. president. But all Puerto Ricans are eligible to enlist in the U.S. Military and serve in war.

“Personally as a Puerto Rican, I have had an issue with (not being able to vote for the U.S. president if I’m on the island),” Vázquez said “We were the largest minority to die in Vietnam War. If you're going to fight for this country, you should be able to vote for the president. Some people may never be able to run for president even though they are a U.S. citizen. That definitely needs to change,” he said.

He added it’s going to take the Puerto Rican people and “their voting power” to bring those changes.

But he said many remain uninformed about the political issues surrounding Puerto Ricans.

Vázquez said he believes the nomination of Puerto Rican Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court has already shed great light on those issues.

“She’s a brilliant, intelligent woman, that through her platform, she’s bringing a great awareness to the Puerto Rican culture that people didn’t know about,” he said.

The future political status of Puerto Rico

In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose to keep the existing political status.

Adam Martinez
Vázquez said that although he believes at some point Puerto Rico will either become an independent country or a new state of the United States, the move away from the current commonwealth status will not occur any time soon or in the near future. He added he would like to see Puerto Rico's political status remain a commonwealth.

González, from Isabela, Puerto Rico, said if she lived on the island, she would want Puerto Rico to remain a commonwealth.

“It's been hard for (Puerto Ricans) to find a common ground,” González said “but it’s got to be decided by the Puerto Ricans living on the island.”

Editor’s Note: Anyone interested in obtaining more information concerning Club Taino may contact its president, María González, at 419-385-1150.





Web laprensa





«Tinta con sabor»     Ink with flavor!



Spanglish Weekly/Semanal

Your reliable source for current Latino news and Hispanic events with English and Spanish articles.
Contact us at [email protected] or call (419) 870-6565



Culturas Publication, Inc. d.b.a. La Prensa Newspaper

© Copyrighted by  Culturas Publication, Inc. 2009