Document Type


Publication Date


OCLC FAST subject heading

Civil rights


This article primarily focuses on the plight of the Puerto Ricans on the island because, in addition to their flawed social construction by the United States and lack of national political power, they are also legally constructed as second-class citizens. In defining the legal rights of Puerto Ricans, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that territorial citizens are entitled to fewer constitutional protections than U.S. citizens residing in any of the fifty states. The racist and essentialist social construction of the Puerto Ricans as inassimilable, the denial of legal rights by the courts, along with the democratic deficit which deprives those Puerto Ricans presently living on the island of participation in national elections, constitute the obstacles to full participation within United States society or to the establishment of their own independent sovereignty. This long history of marginalization has produced and continues to produce serious harms. The best solution is the development of a postcolonial political organization for the island. This article uses reparations theory to inform a transition to a postcolonial Puerto Rico.