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Puerto Rico

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico

Last modified: 2024-05-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: puerto rico | united states | america | cuba | star | stripes | hoist triangle | usa |
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[Flag of Puerto Rico] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 22 November 2023

Official Name: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Flag adopted: 1952 (Designed: 22 December 1895)
Coat of Arms adopted: 1976 (First adopted: 9 March 1905)

See also:

The Flag

Puerto Rico's flag is 100 years old on 22 December. The NANDO News service on the net had a short report on the celebrations a few days ago. Some lines from the report:

"The flag was created in 1895, by the Puerto Rican section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, which advocated independence for Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spanish rule." (...) "Its design is the same as the Cuban flag, but with the colors inverted. It has five horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, with a white star on a blue triangle in the extreme left." (...) "Before 1952, police arrested anyone displaying the flag on charges of insubordination against the United States. When Puerto Rico became a Commonwealth that year, the flag became the island's official emblem."

Jan Oskar Engene, 21 December 1995

The National Flag is the highest expression of Nationality and pride for the Motherland. Back in 1511, Spain issues an official flag for Puerto Rico, based in the Coat of Arms authorized by the Spanish monarchs.
On December 22, 1895, a group of 59 Puerto Ricans gather at "Chimney Corner Hall" in New York City and organizes a political group, attached to the Cuban Revolutionary Party to organize the Pro-Independence movement in Puerto Rico, still under Spanish ruling. According to the meeting acts, the flag " same as the Cuban, but the color stripes are inverted..."
There are different theories regarding the origins of our flag, one of them names Manuel Besosa as the designer, in a letter written by his daughter she says, " father asked me to sew together some pieces of cloth, white, red and blue that he brought himself , this tiny flag had 5 alternate stripes, red and white, and a triangle with a five point star within it...".

This is the symbolism according to the 1895 meeting:

Red Stripes - The blood from the brave warriors.
White Stripes - Victory and peace after obtaining independence.
Blue Triangle - Our sky and coastal waters.
White Lone Star - Our beautiful Island.

It wasn't but until 1952 that our Legislature approved the final symbolism of our flag:

Red Stripes - stands for the "blood" that nourishes the three branches of our government; Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.
White Stripes - represents individual liberty and the rights that keeps in perfect balance our form of government.
Blue Triangle
- stands for the "Republican Government", represented by the three branches.
White Lone Star - represents "The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico".
Dov Gutterman , 28 December 1998

There has been an issue during recent years regarding the blue tone of the triangle in the Puerto Rican flag. The 1895 original design used a sky blue, however when the flag was adopted officially by the Commonwealth in 1952 it featured a dark blue very similar to that of the US flag (which is the one depicted above). I don't know the exact reasons for that change but I suspect that the new commonwealth government of the time did not want to use what had been a revolutionary independence flag. Nonetheless, with the celebration of the flag's 100 anniversary in 1995 the current pro- statehood administration decided to go back to the original sky blue tone. Still, there are many different tones of blue used around the island, even among those in public buildings. Most government buildings have switched to the sky blue but many still use the dark tone. Also, independence supporters like to use a very light blue tone while commonwealth and statehood supporters prefer darker tones. It has become possible to identify the status preference of people based on the flag that they use.
Victor Quinones, 24 March 2000

After this digression, the original PR flag was simply the Cuban flag with the colors reversed.  The blue was not dark but sky blue, as in the Cuban flag.  The PR flag was forbidden in the island from 1898 until 1952, but was flown in defiance by the black-shirted Cadet Corps of the Puerto Rico Nationalist Party.   After 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the original flag based on the reverse-colored Cuban one, but changed the hue of blue to dark blue, matching the USA flag.
Esteban Jimenez, 3 November 2000

I suppose the shade of red was also darkened, as the US flag uses "Old Glory Red" and the Cuban flag uses a medium shade.
António Martins, 7 November 2000

Since 1995 the official flag of Puerto Rico changed. Now the official one is the sky blue variant. The Dark blue variant was official Since 1952 to 1994 and the governor of Puerto Rico in 1995 signed a law that the official flag of Puerto Rico is the sky blue variant.
Nelson L. Román, 19 December 2004

Ramón Reyes Díaz relates in "Claridad" the origin of the flag of Puerto Rico. On 21 December 1895, "Patria", the official organ of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, announced a meeting during which the Puerto Rico Section of the party should be formed. The meeting was attended on 22 December 1895 by 59 Puerto Ricans; it took place in Chimney Hall, New York. Torreforte, a survivor from the Grito de Lares insurrection, presented the new flag of Puerto Rico during the meeting. It was similar to the Cuban flag, but with inverted colours for the triangle and coloured stripes (red triangle and blue stripes for Cuba vs. blue triangle and red stripes for Puerto Rico). The three colours of the flag and the three points of the triangle have the same meaning as in the Cuban flag, that is the republican ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity proclaimed by the French Revolution. There are different hypothesis on the identity of the designer of the flag. Torreforte said that the flag designer was Francisco Gonzalo (Pachín) Marín. Antonio Vélez Alvarado claimed he was himself the designer of the flag. Roberto H. Todd said that the flag was designed by Manuel Besosa, member of the board of the Puerto Rican Section. The first flag was sewn by Maria Manuela (Mima) Besosa according to Robert H. Todd, or by Micaela Dalmau, according to Antonio Vélez Alvarado. The flag of Puerto Rico was used for the first time during the Yauco Attempt ("Intentona de Yauco") on 24 March 1897. In 1932, the Nationalist Party used it as its emblem during the elections. Blanca Canales hoisted the flag in Jayuya in 1950 when proclaiming the Republic of Puerto Rico. Lolita Lebrón used again the flag during the shoot-up in the United States Congress in 1954. The legislative chambers attempted to officialize the flag in 1916, 1922, 1927 and 1932, to no avail.
Ivan Sache, 6 January 2007

It would be good to check how much this alleged regulation is observed in practice, for many images of the (official or otherwise) flag of Puerto Rico I could found on line shows the same shade of blue (and red) as the US flag. There were also few with a lighter shade of blue (but with medium red, not dark).
António Martins, 14 January 2007

The only laws found is that of 1952 with the dark blue version Furthermore, on the official website of the Government of Puerto Rico, the version they display is the dark blue version, as well as in all Government portraits.
William-Jose Velez Gonzalez, 24 October 2008

Woodson Rainey asked:
"I am comparing the flag of Cuba with the flag of Puerto Rico On this site. The flag of Cuba has a blue field that is clearly an equilateral triangle. The flag of Puerto Rica has a blue field that appears to be isosceles with the two base angles greater than 60 degrees and extending into the banner by a dimension equal to 4 stripes.
Is this true or is this a printing/drawing illusion?"
No it isn't a printing illusion, however (and strangely enough), if made according to legislation both flags should actually have the same equilateral triangle at their hoist (the flag of Cuba according to Law No.42 or 1983 and that of  Puerto Rico by Act No. 1 of 1952).  Despite this, the Puerto Rican legislation is apparently ignored in practice, with the apex of the triangle only extending the centre point of the flag.
Christopher Southworth, 15 July 2009

Bill penalizes use of the American flag in the absence of a Puerto Rican flag:
… la bandera es el símbolo patrio de más alto valor para una nación. Es el principal símbolo con el que cada pueblo se identifica y se distingue ante la gama de países que componen la comunidad internacional" (… the flag is the national symbol of the highest value to a nation. It is the main symbol that identifies each town and stands before the range of countries that make up the international community.)
--Bill 555 introduced 25 January 2013 by Rep. Charlie Hernandez, Puerto Rico, House of Representatives
Dave Martucci, 26 January 2013

National Flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be.
For Puerto Rico: PMS 032 red, 281 blue. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

Air National Guard

Puerto Rico does not have an Air Force but it does have an Air National Guard. I have not been able to find an illustration of any roundel for it on the web, but did find several sites selling decals for Puerto Rico Air National Guard markings, so they must have some sort of unique insignia.
Ned Smith, 19 April 1999

Puerto Rico is a non-incorporated territory of the United States, so it has no Armed Forces of her own. Our Air National Guard planes use the American roundel.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 4 March 2000

"Coquí" Flag

There's something green on the Puerto Rican flags. For sure, photographer Gregory Bull was not focusing on the flags...
Here is the photo from titled: "People line the street waving Puerto Rican flags along Fifth Avenue in New York Sunday, June 8, 2003, during part of the Puerto Rican Day parade. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)".
Francisco Santos, 11 June 2003

It is the Puerto Rican "Coqui" (a frog) which is a Puerto Rican icon. Over this coquí is written: Puerto Rico.
Nelson Román, 11 June 2003

Storm Warning Signals

According to this WMO page, Saint Lucia use the US signal set:
Extensively quoted from text: all references to flags and their meanings (information on broadcasts left out if not accompanied by hoisting flags). Sequence follows text.
- 56a (red pennant): "Small Craft Advisory: weather or sea conditions (either present or forecast), sustained for more two hours, that might be hazardous to small boats. Mariners learning of a Small Craft Advisory are urged to determine immediately the reason by tuning their radios to the latest marine broadcasts. Decision as to the degree of hazard will be left up to the boatmen, based on his experience and size and type of boat. The threshold conditions for the Small Craft Advisory are usually 18 knots of wind (less than 18 knots in some dangerous waters) or hazardous wave conditions.
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 41a (double set of red pierced black): "Hurricane warning: winds 74 miles an hour (64 kt) and upwards when in connection with a tropical cyclone.
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 39a (double set of red pennants): "Gale warning: winds within the range 39 to 54 miles an hour (34 to 47 kt).
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
- 40a (red pierced black): "Storm warning: wind 55 miles an hour (48 kt) and upwards, except that when winds are associated with a tropical cyclone, HURRICANE warnings will be hoisted for winds 74 miles an hour (64 kt) and upwards. (...)
1. Displays are made from about 200 points along the sea coasts, the Great Lakes, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. No displays are made in Alaska but warnings are broadcast by radio.
2. Hurricane watch: (...) No display is provided for the "Hurricane watch"."
Jan Mertens, 20 April 2008