Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Puerto Rico
Region (Map name): Caribbean
Population: 3,915,798
Language(s): Spanish, English
Literacy rate: 89%

Puerto Rico is a very fertile island for the media, largely due to its ever-changing political status. The varied opinions of its inhabitants are largely expressed through the print and broadcast media.

The first newspaper in Puerto Rico appeared on December 31, 1806, just months after the first printing press arrived on the island. Spanish governor Toribio Montes imported the press and published La Gaceta , a bi-weekly available on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The first school dedicated to the development of literacy and writing opened in 1851. Governor Juan de la Pezuela Cevallos founded the Royal Academy of Belles Letters, an institution that licensed schoolteachers, formulated teaching methods and held writing contests.

Independence movements in Puerto Rico gained momentum in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Spanish Government suppressed Eugenio Maria de Hostos' 1863 book The Pilgrimage of Bayoán because it of its opposition to the Spanish regime. In 1867, the Spanish government tried to regulate the press as well. On August 31, it passed a law that required publishers to have a license and to pay a substantial deposit. Two years later, on January 3, 1869, Governor Laureano Sanz authorized the newspapers to criticize the government and the political system as long as they paid a 500 peso fee.

The independence movement culminated in the Grito de Lares revolt, a short-lived revolution that lasted only a few days. The very next year newly appointed Governor Gabriel Baldrich declared that none of these liberal laws applied to Puerto Rico. Despite Baldrich, since 1869 there have been hundreds of periodicals supporting Puerto Rican independence, from Spain prior to 1898 and the United States since then. One of the most notable in the late twentieth century was Claridad .

The United States took possession of Puerto Rico as a result of its victory in the Spanish-American War 1898. The American presence in Puerto Rico helped found over one hundred newspapers in the two years following the war. Most of these serials did not last; in fact some of them published only a single edition. Information about these publications is scarce as the facilities of early twentieth century Puerto Rico were not the best for storing copies of old newspapers.

There have been hundreds of independent newspapers published in Puerto Rico. These range from Catholic and Protestant papers, such as El Piloto and El Defensor Cristiano , to the Fascist organ Avance . With the growth of journalism came the first Puerto Rican Press Association, founded in 1891 at a meeting in the San Juan restaurant La Aurora.

There have been approximately twenty English language papers published in Puerto Rico since 1898. One of the first, The San Juan News , lasted less than a year because the owner, remembered only as Mr. Racklin, was accused of libel three times. Two political rivals, Luis Muñoz Rivera and José Celso Barbosa, founded their own bilingual newspapers to take advantage of the American presence, The Puerto Rico Herald (1901-1904) and El Tiempo , respectively. Muñoz favored a higher degree of self-government for the island, while Barbosa favored statehood.

Some of the most important newspapers in Puerto Rico include the now defunct El Mundo , El Nuevo Día , and The San Juan Star . In 1919 Romualdo Real, editor of the magazine Puerto Rico Ilustrado founded El Mundo . El Mundo was a respected, conservative newspaper, and was one of the best sources of news until its collapse in 1990. El Nuevo Día is one of the largest Spanish-language papers on the island since the collapse of El Mundo . William Dorvillier, once the Washington correspondent for El Mundo , founded The San Juan Star in 1959. Dorvillier won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and Editorial Writing in 1961, for his editorials reflecting on clerical interference in the 1960 gubernatorial elections. Spanish-speakers also read and write in The San Juan Star , long one of Puerto Rico's most influential papers.

Puerto Rico received its first radio station WKAQ in 1922. The first television transmissions took place in January 1954. The first commercial TV station was Telemundo (Channel 4), owned by the same parent company as El Mundo . In the beginning only about 7000 families had televisions. However, by 1997 there were over 1.021 million TVs and twenty-one channels on the island, including the three channels broadcast by the US military.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook 2001 . Directorate of Intelligence, 2002. Available from www.cia.gov/

Mohr, Eugene V. Language, Literature and Journalism in The American Presence in Puerto Rico . Ed. Lynn-Darrell Bender. Colombia: Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas, Inc., 1998.

Mount, Graeme S. Presbyterian Missions to Trinidad and Puerto Rico . Hansport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1983.

Ribes Tovar, Federico, Historia Cronológica de Puerto Rico . Panama: Editorial Tres Américas, 1973.

Scarano, Francisco A. Puerto Rico: Cinco Siglos de Historia . San Juan: McGraw-Hill, 1993.

Silen, Juan Angel. Historia de la Nación Puertorriqueña . Rio Piedras: Editorial Edil, Inc., 1980.

Tirado de Delucca, Elba M. Historia de Puerto Rico siglo XX . Quebradillas, Puerto Rico: Talleres Gráficos, 1997.

Andy Lefebvre

User Contributions:

Emilio Rodriguez
The first commercial TV station was Telemundo (Channel 2), and not (Channel 4)

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