Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1978

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Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: July 25, 1978

26th Anniversary of the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Statement by the President.
July 25, 1978

To the People of Puerto Rico:

Today marks Puerto Rico’s 80th year under the American flag, and the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a form of government freely and democratically adopted by the people of Puerto Rico. Since 1898 and as American citizens since 1917, you have made a rich contribution to the life of the United States while preserving your own unique culture and traditions within the broader community.

As you commemorate this anniversary, I would like to emphasize that the United States remains fully committed to the principle of self-determination for the people of Puerto Rico. President Eisenhower made that commitment in 1953, and this has been the position of all U.S. administrations since that time. We continue to regard it as the fundamental principle in deciding Puerto Rico’s future.

My administration will respect the wishes of the people of Puerto Rico and your right to self-determination. Whatever decision the people of Puerto Rico may wish to take—statehood, independence, Commonwealth status, or mutually agreed modifications in that status—it will be yours, reached in accordance with your own traditions, democratically and peacefully.

Governor Romero Barcelo has called for a referendum after the 1980 elections in Puerto Rico to decide Puerto Rico’s future status. Should the government of Puerto Rico decide to hold a referendum, I will support, and urge the Congress to support, whatever decision the people of Puerto Rico reach.

The people of the United States are proud of our cultural and political associations with Puerto Rico over the last 80 years. We know that we can best honor our friendship, and our own democratic principles, by respecting your free choice about your own future.

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Chicago: Jimmy Carter, "26th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Statement by the President.," Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1978 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2303 Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRHRCI1NEDAPGW.

MLA: Carter, Jimmy. "26th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Statement by the President." Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1978, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2303, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRHRCI1NEDAPGW.

Harvard: Carter, J, '26th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Statement by the President.' in Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1978. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2303. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BRHRCI1NEDAPGW.