SAN JUAN, P. R. -- Puerto Rico became a self-governing "free commonwealth" Friday and celebrated its new constitution with flag-raising and parading.
The ceremonies marking its new status of freedom in close alliance with the United States came 54 years to the day after U.S. troops under Maj. Gen. Nelson Miles landed on the 95-mile-long island and raised the American flag to replace that of Spain.
Roberto Todd, last survivor of the Junta which revolted against Spain, was given the honor of raising the free state flag which he created. The ceremony was at the City Hall Building in San Juan.
Governor Acts as Host
Gov. Luis Munoz Marin, who carted and guided Puerto Rico in its new status was host to approximately 100 official guests from North and South America and raised the flag at the capital.
Munoz Marin, the Caribbean Island's first native elected governor, said that under the new status "colonialism comes to an end" in Puerto Rico.
In many ways the relations of Puerto Rico with the United States remain unchanged under the new constitution.
Puerto Ricans still are United States citizens. The island remains within the American tariff system and still has free trade with the United States.
The country now is self-governing in internal affairs, deriving its authority from its legislature. Its citizens still are subject to federal law and continue to have federal courts, however.
The new constitution was approved in a referendum by the people and by the United States Congress.
Washington's lawmakers no longer have the right to repeal insular laws and the U.S. president no longer has power to appoint such local officials as auditors and supreme court justices.
The constitution leaves the way open for Puerto Rico to become a state in the union later.