Puerto Rico: More Than a Coat of Arms

Most former colonies have lost little time after independence in erasing obvious signs of their past. Puerto Rico is different in this respect, for it succeeds in making its present allegiance clear, with no attempts to obliterate its medieval background.

A striking example of this demonstrative preservation of history is that Puerto Rico continues to have an official Coat of Arms. The latter was awarded by Kind Ferdinand of Spain way back in 1511. The major symbolism of the Coat of Arms relates to the dominance of Spain, the strong Catholic influence in the region, and the integrity of Puerto Rico as a colony of Spain. The Coat of Arms has a substantial spread of green, which some people see as a secular symbol of Puerto Rico’s rich vegetation, whereas others read Catholic influence in this color as well.

There can be no doubt that the Coat of Arms celebrates subservient links with Spain, and the exclusivity of the Catholic faith on the entire island. It is therefore to the credit of the United States, of which Puerto Rico is now a territory that such symbolism is allowed to continue with official status.

Many countries can learn from the liberal and tolerant attitude of Puerto Rico. People with roots in Europe, the Americas, and Africa live together in harmony. The territory’s economy makes raid strides, especially in the sectors of travel and tourism as wel as agriculture, while Puerto Rico also reinforces an old tradition for excellence in education. The people respect the facts of the past even as they strive for better and more prosperous futures.

The complex relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States mainland comes in to question periodically. There are elements on the island which hanker for greater independence from the United States. However, the relationship works to the advantage of Puerto Rico, and hence the majority opinion is in favor of continuing the status as a territory and member of the Commonwealth. Since no other part of the U.S. has an official Coat of Arms, perhaps this aspect of Puerto Rico governance is a satisfying means of independent expression!