The structure of the Puerto Rican government is similar to that of the United States, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The island has a governor and a resident commissioner who has a non-voting seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The governor, 28-seat Senate, and 54-seat House of Representatives are popularly elected for 4-year terms. Members of the Supreme Court and lower courts are appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate.
The 4 major political parties differ primarily in their views about whether Puerto Rico should change its relationship with the United States. The pro-statehood New Progressive Party emphasizes that the island is already economically dependent on the United States and believes that making the island a state would gain it representation in Washington. The Popular Democratic Party emphasizes the economic incentives that the island enjoys under its commonwealth status, including federal tax exemption and foreign-investment incentives. The 2 other major parties, the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, advocate independence for the island state. These latter parties are much smaller and less significant.
The Puerto Rican government is heavily involved in its economy. Fomento, the island's Economic Development Corporation, stimulates and guides economic growth. Since the 1950s, government involvement in economic affairs has included Operation Bootstrap, a plan to mix local labor and foreign investment by boosting industrialization based on exports; Fomento's efforts to promote petrochemicals and advanced technology industries in the 1960s; and high government spending in social welfare programs. In 1994, the government created the Foreign Trade Board to stimulate foreign investment and encourage exports. The board was mainly concerned with providing support to small businesses that had the potential to export goods to foreign markets. Puerto Rico's was the first economy in the world to become industrialized around a program that fully relied on exports, and Puerto Rico continues to focus its efforts on an economy for export, bolstering its image as an ideal location for tourism and business.
Since there is no official representation in the U.S. government, Puerto Rican citizens on the island do not pay federal taxes, although they do enjoy U.S. citizenship. Customs taxes and excise taxes on imports and exports go to the federal treasury. The island also has welfare programs similar to those in the United States. Today more than ever, the U.S. government plays a large role in Puerto Rico's economy, via tax incentives and exemptions, duty-free access, and wage and infrastructure incentives that encourage large U.S. firms and corporations to invest in the island's economy. As a U.S. commonwealth, Puerto Rico controls only its internal affairs; the U.S. federal government controls all interstate and international trade relations. The island has no military of its own, so, unlike the situation in most of Latin America, the military exerts no control over the economy. The
|Country||Telephones a||Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a||Radio Stations b||Radios a||TV Stations a||Televisions a||Internet Service Providers c||Internet Users c|
|Puerto Rico||1.322 M||169,265 (1996)||AM 72; FM 17; shortwave 0||2.7 M||18||1.021 M||76||110,000|
|United States||194 M||69.209 M (1998)||AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18||575 M||1,500||219 M||7,800||148 M|
|Jamaica||353,000 (1996)||54,640 (1996)||AM 10; FM 13; shortwave 0||1.215 M||7||460,000||21||60,000|
|Cuba||473,031 (2000)||2,994||AM 169; FM 55; shortwave 1||3.9 M||58||2.64 M||4 (2001)||60,000|
|a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.|
|b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.|
|c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].|
island's tax system is independent of the U.S. tax system, with the U.S. legislature deciding how tax revenues are spent.