Constitution of Puerto Rico Day is celebrated every 25 July and has been a public holiday in Puerto Rico since the adoption of its present constitution in 1952.
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Constitution Day is a celebration of a new status and relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Specifically, Puerto Rico moved from “colony” status to “commonwealth” status.
On 3 July 1952, the new constitution was approved by 82 percent of Puerto Ricans in a referendum. That same day, the governor signed it into law. However, the U.S. Congress proceeded to amend the new constitution on a few points and agreed to accept it only on condition of those changes being implemented. Thus, it took until 25 July for the new constitution to actually be put into effect.
The background of the momentous vote was a long struggle of Puerto Ricans for greater control over their local affairs. This culminated in a constitutional assembly being formed in 1951. The U.S. government insisted that a republican form of government and a bill of rights be included but otherwise largely allowed Puerto Ricans to determine their own system of government.
July 25 was chosen on purpose for the exact date of the constitution’s implementation and the holiday that commemorated that event. The reason was an attempt to displace an earlier holiday held on 25 July called “Occupation Day,” which marked the arrival of U.S. invasion forces at the city of Yauco as American soldiers first attacked Spanish positions on the island during the Spanish-American War.
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