Puerto Rico’s ongoing economic crisis and the inadequate emergency response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria are deeply tied to the island’s neo-colonial political arrangement with the United States. The two-principle alternative political arrangements—statehood and independence—are the subject of vigorous ongoing debate both on the U.S. mainland and the island. However, the results of periodic plebiscites on the island are often poor indicators of the island residents’ true preferences on the matter because they are often subject to politicization and abstention campaigns. Therefore, I use a survey with a representative sample of island residents conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to explore the issue. I propose that island residents’ views of the U.S. federal government heavily influence the political preferences about statehood and independence. In order to account for the island’s unique political context, results take into account the role of U.S. political parties and leaders in these matters. Based on the results, Puerto Ricans who viewed the U.S. federal government and leaders positively would prefer pro-statehood, while those who viewed them negatively preferred pro-independence. Not only does the project offer greater clarity on these questions due to its methodological approach, but I also believe that it fills a gap in the current scholarship which often explores the political views of U.S.-mainland residents of Puerto Rican descent.


Corral, Álvaro


Political Science


Latina/o Studies


Puerto Rico, colonialism, territorial status, policy, United States intervention, Latinx

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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