SAN JUAN – A small Puerto Rican group has launched a campaign to demand that the Caribbean island break all political links with the United States and annex itself once again to Spain to become an autonomous community of the Iberian nation.
“We want to become Spaniards again, to be autonomous community No. 18 of a country that we never wanted to abandon,” said Jose Nieves, the founder of the Puerto Rico Reunification with Spain group.
With the slogan “It’s time to return home!” and a promotional video with the Spanish national anthem in the background, the initiative so far has fewer than 2,000 followers on Facebook.
“We’re getting support from (U.S.) statehood advocates, independence-minded people, who would accept unification as a decolonizing option, and even supporters of the status quo,” Nieves said, referring to those who want to remain a U.S. commonwealth.
After decades of fruitless debates about how the political status of this former Spanish colony should evolve or be altered, the option of rejoining Spain “has never really been on the table, but we’re getting support,” said Nieves, thanks to “education and to the fact that supporters of other options see that we’re not moving forward toward anyplace.”
“Our demand has taken many by surprise, but it makes perfect sense. The key is in education,” he commented, after noting that Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for more than four centuries and in 1897 even had a charter that gave it sovereignty as an overseas Spanish province.
The 42-year-old criminologist and security guard also challenges the traditional narrative of Puerto Rico’s incorporation into the United States.
“In contrast to what we’re told in the schools, we Puerto Ricans welcomed U.S. troops with gunfire, not with flowers,” he says.
“The U.S. invasion was heavily contested. In fact, they could not move in during the first two attempts. Finally, they managed to do it because the mayor of Yauco sold out,” he said.
Among the group’s followers, according to Nieves, “there are many university people and ones with advanced degrees. We believe we would be accepted by the Spanish people. To date, 95 percent of the feedback we’ve had from there is positive.”