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Puerto Rico - Political Flags - Part I

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Puerto Rico is not a state or a territory of the US; it is a voluntarily associated free state ("estado libre asociado", I believe is the official title.) Their citizens are US citizens and they use US currency, the US handles foreign affairs and defense, but they are internally self-governing. They have no voting representative in Congress (however someone does serve on committees and can speak on the floor) and do not pay income tax (not to Washington, anyway; I don't know the local tax structure.) Puerto Rico has its own Olympic committee and participates under its own flag there and at the Pan American games etc. There is a prominent statehood movement and a small independence movement; the shades of blue in the Puerto Rico flag supposedly distinguish these folks.
Al Kirsch, 23 March 2003

On the Puerto Rico statehood issue, there is a serious pro-statehood movement on the island.  The last vote on the future status of Puerto Rico in 1998 offered five options, of which three got significant support:  statehood, 46.5%; independence, 2.5%; "none of the above," 50.3%.  "None of the above" was supported by the party that supports continuation of the present commonwealth status and was widely interpreted as a vote for the status quo.
Joe McMillan, 24 March 2003

Puerto Rican independentists, associated republicans, and almost every one else agree that the actual flag shall never, never be replaced by another design, except for the explained blue tone of the triangle issue.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 21 February 2005

Shade of Blue in PR Flags - Political Aspect

I am from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. To make the story short, Our flag is based exactly on the flag of Cuba, only difference change the color of  the triangle and the stripes to the opposite. Being the Cuban flag  with light Blue Stripes and Red Triangle our flag should be light blue Triangle and red stripes. Also your display of the Cuban flag is wrong, their flag is Light Blue and you can verify that anywhere.
The problem of different color for my flag resides in History and how it can be manipulated by political forces.  When my country got invaded by US forces, the possession of a Puertorican Flag was a crime punished by death and prison. We had a military based government till 1952, when we elected or First Governor Hon. Luis Munoz Marin and with the consent of the US government the "Estado Libre Asociado" Commonwealth was established. Because of an error when the ordered the Flags to be displayed in New York they used Navy Blue as the American flag instead of light blue, but they had to be displayed!
The thing is that as you should know, there are 3 political parties here. One seeking Statehood, other to stay as we are, and the last one to be independent.
The thing is that those that seek statehood, change the flags form light blue to navy blue when they get into Government. That to make it look as the American Flag. So they express that the light blue is used only by the people that seek independence (which is not true). That is only to justify their use of the navy blue, which is not valid. The official flag was and still is the one with the light blue. 
Rafael Linero Rivera, 2 July 2001

My impression is that until relatively recently, blue was blue--not just in the Puerto Rico flag but in general.  I don't believe there was anything sinister or even implicitly political in the flag makers in the US (or in US-owned PR) using the same shades of red and blue as prescribed for the US flag.  That's standard practice for US flag makers generally.  The different shades of blue, I believe, have only acquired political meanings relatively recently, but I can't swear to that.   As for the Cuban flag, my understanding is that the blue is rather a bright than a light blue--certainly not as dark as US or UK blue but darker than Argentine celeste.  But again, that's an impression, not a statement based on documentation or certain knowledge.
Joe McMillan, 2 July 2001

It is interesting to read the article, whether it is has some ground or not. It has not been unknown that similar "small" distinctions, quite unimportant and neglectable to a casual observer, are give large political significance (weather true or alleged). Blue shade of a field is especially well suitable for such purpose, since often, blue is not exactly defined by legislation, but the different shades of blue used are very easily differentiated. However, I for one would be very careful about this claims, as they sound very close to "urban legend". There is a number of such "legends" about more or less every flag. On the other hand, it may well happen that various political streams that all claim right to one and the same symbol do find small and substantially unimportant (or historically undifferentiated) element that may serve as identification to those "initiated". Weather this is done in purpose and systematically, or if it is only a practice observed on preferences of large number of users, it is not quite important. I suspect that it may well be the case with the shades of blue of Puerto Rico.
Željko Heimer, 2 July 2001

Much of this may be urban legend. I have heard it reported that those who favor independence favor (and perhaps display) light blue, those who favor "Commonwealth" (present) status favor a medium ("royal"?) blue, and those who favor statehood favor a dark ("navy" or "old glory") blue. True?
As for the Cuban flag, I have seen many in South Florida and one on a Cuban freighter in Toronto harbor. The one on the freighter used a dark blue. The ones I've seen here use a medium to medium-dark shade. Never have I seen a Cuban flag in light blue, if what is meant is a shade anywhere in the range of Argentina's very light blue to Britain's RAF Ensign to Sweden's at the darker end (which is still lighter than "medium" or "royal".). So Mr Linero may need some straightening out here.
As for the politically charged nature of this, I don't think anyone here is about to take a stand one way or another on PR's legal status.
Al Kirsch, 3 July 2001

I reside in Puerto Rico and I can tell you that the only flags displayed in commercial and government buildings are the navy blue and royal blue varieties. I suspect royal blue can be called the "official" one as it predominates in government buildings. Sky blue variants have been very limited to independence groups, which comprise about 5% of the population. I have to add that this has become a charged issue during the past weeks as PR as undergone was is called as the "War of Flags" between various political groups. Independence groups have been planting sky blue PR flags near US military installations, while pro-statehooders have been showering the roads and streets with US and either dark or royal blue PR flags.
Rafael Linero Rivera, 6 August 2001

In 1995, during the pro-statehood government of Gov. Rossello', the royal or medium blue flag was made the official flag of PR, replacing the Navy blue one. The Navy blue flag was adopted in 1953 by the Commonwealth government of Gov. Muñoz Marín to match Old Glory as both flags were officially flown together for the first time since the USA occupation of 1898. It is ironic that a pro-statehood government chose the same flag that was previously ban for generations by both countries as a symbol of rebellion and independence. The sky-blue flag, has never been recognized as an official flag. But, it is true that it has been used recently by pro-independence sympathizers. It was made that way to make it as far likely as possible to the USA flag. Two very big flags has been posted at Vieques and Cayey.
The blue color of the Cuban flag was never intended to be sky-blue. It is not in the Coat of Arms. Neither it was to be Navy blue. It is a medium to medium-dark blue. So, when people say that the PR flag was inspired by the Cuban flag, only the colors reversed, they are really referring to the now official royal blue version, not the sky-blue flag. But this issue is very controversial in PR, and the faded one theory of both the Cuban and PR flags has many sympathizers here, due in part to our present political situation and the confrontation with the US Navy.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 6 August 2001

The blue on the Cuban flag is a medium blue, a lighter blue than the US flag.  The flag of Puerto Rico is derived from the Cuban flag by switching the red with the blue.  Therefore the blue on the Puerto Rican flag is also medium blue.  Or it would be, except for politics and circumstance.
The Puerto Rican flag was officially considered seditious for half a century.  Then in 1952 it became the official flag of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  Dyes fade in the sun, so the US government makes new flags dark.  The initial run of new Puerto Rican flags used the same "Old Glory" blue as found in the US flag.  I don't think there was any political statement intended.  In vexillology, the usual rule is that shades don't matter (again, because flags fade).
But some people have made the shade of blue a political issue, and at some point the Puerto Rican government officially stated that the triangle on the Puerto Rican flag is medium blue. 
Randall Bart, 2 July 2003

Protest and Victory Flags

image by Miles Li, 25 July 2019

As thousands of protestors demonstrated in San Juan this week against Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rosselló, a black and white variant of the Puerto Rican flag was seen mixed in with the normal Puerto Rican flags.  Protesters are calling for the resignation of Governor Rosselló, and the black and white flag is said to be an expression of the Puerto Rican's unhappiness with the island's political status and worsening financial crisis.  Although Puerto Rico is still a territory of the United States, since 1948 the island's governor has been elected by the people of Puerto Rico, and not appointed by the United States government. Political groups on the island exist both favoring complete US statehood or complete independence, so-far without any clear majorities, so they remain officially a commonwealth or territory of the United States.
The flag is also a mourning flag over the damage and deaths caused by Hurricane Maria, a perceived lack of governmental support for victims and their loses, and as a protest of the US government's placing of a federal control board over the commonwealth's government.
Source  #1 - Sputnik News
Source #2 - Historical Flags of Our Ancestors
Pete Loeser, 18 July 2019

image by Miles Li, 25 July 2019

The accompanying text says:

"Our Golden Flag, sublime symbol of the New Puerto Rico determined to take charge of its future once and for ever."

The flag was created in 2016 for an advertising campaign from Open Mobile, a cell phone company in Puerto Rico, after Monica Puig won the gold medal in tennis in the 2016 summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, which was the first Olympic gold medal ever won by Puerto Ricans. The flag has since become an established symbol of victory. The design was originally used in the street murals, which still seem to be the most common way of its use, often appearing together with the national flag and the black Puerto Rican flag, but as can be seen, there are also examples of its use as a real flag.

[1] Carlos A. Morales-Ramirez:
Variant Flags of Puerto Rico: Red, White, Blue...and Black, and Gold? The Vexilloid Tabloid, Portland Flag Association bulletin, ISSN 2474-1787 Issue #77, August 2019
[2] El punto medio website:
Tomislav Todorović, 30 September 2019

Civil Action Party

image from

Partido Accio'n Civil (Civil Action Party):
The portrayed tree is known as a "flamboya'n" or royal Poinciana (Delonix regia). Its bloom is bright orange. According to the site, "our emblem [badge] is a royal Poinciana in bloom, for it symbolizes an improved environment and thus shall we reforest our society..."
J. Vaquer Jr., 4 March 1999

Independence Party

image by Phil Nelson , 24 January 2000
based on image from

Green & white is the flag of the Independence Party
Anna Stone Jimanez, 31 October 1998

Could any of you do me the favor of explaining the origin and meaning of the flag of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP): vert a Scandinavian cross argent? It appears in FLAGS THROUGH THE AGES in one of the pages dedicated to symbols of political parties, but regrettably no commentary is included.
Juan Morales, 25 February 1999

Pending more information directly from the Puerto Rican Independence Party :
The green background alludes to the island of Puerto Rico, reflecting the field tincture of the national coat or arms granted by Spain on November 8, 1511. It has also been identified with patriotic hopes. The white cross honors the Christian democratic roots of the party at its inception in 1946.
The layout honors the Rebel Flag of Lares an inland town wherein an unsuccessful rebellion was prematurely staged against the Spanish government in September 23, 1868. The Lares flag, intended to become the national flag of the Republic, was designed by Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mrs. Mariana "Golden Arm" Bracetti. This layout in turn honors their liaison to the Antillean Confederacy and nationalist forces in the Dominican Republic, where Dr. Betances had been exiled to. Although in 1971 (?) the Puerto Rican Independence Party adopted democratic socialism as the cornerstone of its platform, the party emblem was created decades before this political redefinition. The flag's layout is not purposefully related Scandinavian vexillology, despite the party chairman's political and former matrimonial links to Sweden. Albeit the official flag bears no charges, other versions of the flag have charged it with:
- a right fist holding a rose, all ppr, the symbol of the Socialist International
- the party's motto: "Independencia, Socialismo, Democracia" (Independence, Socialism, Democracy) in black
- the national coat of arms of Puerto Rico
- the national seal of Puerto Rico
- the head of the Statue of Liberty (in New York) bearing a flag of Puerto Rico across its forehead
- images of four Nationalist Party revolutionaries held in US federal prisons for a deadly shootout staged at the American capitol in 1954
- images of the pantheon of Puerto Rican independence heroes
- a map of Puerto Rico
- the coqui' (Eleutherodactylus portorricensis), a native tree frog, usually depicted green or tan
- other slogans and charges incidental to specific celebrations and activities
Juan Vaquer Jr, 26 February 1999

In regard to the flag of the Puerto Rican Independence Party and the explanation of it that appears in Wikipedia, I propose this heraldic interpretation: the field vert is the shield of the arms, and the cross argent stands for the Agnus Dei and the Cross of Its banner.
Juan Jose Morales, 25 June 2017

Los Macheteros (Ejercito Popular de Boricua (EPB))

image from

Los Macheteros (official name: Ejército Popular de Boricua (EPB)), known also as EPB Movimiento Popular Revolucionario, Machete Wielders and Popular Army of Boricua.
Founding Philosophy: The Macheteros issued their first communiqué on August 24, 1978. In the letter, the group protested the deaths of two Puerto Rican independency advocates by Puerto Rican police officers. In addition to the written protest, the newly formed group physically retaliated against the Puerto Rican police force. The Macheteros first recorded terrorist action was the murder of a Puerto Rican police officer.
The Macheteros is a terrorist group committed to full Puerto Rican independence from the United States. While the group has shown activity in the continental U.S., the group is based in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, the majority of its attacks have occurred in Puerto Rico. The Macheteros believe that the U.S. is illegally occupying Puerto Rican lands. The group's terrorist activities are particularly aimed at U.S. military installations and personnel. In addition, the group has a history of attacking Puerto Rican police officers.
Current Goals: While the Macheteros are based in Puerto Rico, a bank robbery in the United States precipitated a severe blow to the terrorist group. In September 1983, the Macheteros stole more than $7 million from a Wells Fargo bank in West Hartford, Connecticut. While the Macheteros escaped with the majority of the stolen money, enough evidence was gathered from the bank investigation to arrest several key Macheteros leaders.
Despite the successful conviction of several Macheteros leaders in the early 1990s, the Macheteros have engaged in terrorist attacks since the arrests.
Esteban Rivera, 4 July 2005

Movimiento de Reunificacion con España (MRE)

image by Ivan Sache, 12 June 2014

The new party of Puerto Rico, Movimiento de Reunificacion con España, has a flag: red with a yellow cross and the letters MRE in black in the center.
Source: - Nació Digital, 11 June 2014
Jaume Ollé, 12 June 2014

The MRE is a citizen's movement campaigning for "reunification" with Spain. They want to be "the 18th autonomous community of a country  they never asked to leave". The MRE recalls that Puerto Ricans "were Spanish citizens until to the invasion of the island by the USA in  1898". José Nieves, the leader of the MRE, said that he would apply at  the The Hague Court to obtain the nullification of the Treaty of Paris  (1898) that transferred Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam from  Spanish to US sovereignty. Nieves, of Canaries and Catalan origin,  believes that the Puerto Ricans will be readily accepted by the Spanish people. The MRE, established on 13 February 2014, expects to held its first  assembly in July 2014.
The flag of the MRE was unveiled on 1 June 2014 in Río Piedras (San Juan).
Source: - MRE blog, 1 June 2014
The flag is modeled on the flag used in Puerto Rico during the 1st Spanish Republic.
Ivan Sache, 12 June 2014

Part II