Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
We, the people of Puerto Rico, in order to organize ourselves politically on
a fully democratic basis, to promote the general welfare, and to secure for
ourselves and our posterity the complete enjoyment of human rights, placing our
trust in Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
commonwealth which, in the exercise of our natural rights, we now create within
our union with the United States of America.
In so doing, we declare:
The democratic system is fundamental to the life of the Puerto
We understand that the democratic system of government is one in which the
will of the people is the source of public power, the political order is
subordinate to the rights of man, and the free participation of the citizen in
collective decisions is assured;
We consider as determining factors in our life our citizenship of the United
States of America and our aspiration continually to enrich our democratic
heritage in the individual and collective enjoyment of its rights and
privileges; our loyalty to the principles of the Federal Constitution; the
co-existence in Puerto Rico of the two great cultures of the American
Hemisphere; our fervor for education; our faith in justice; our devotion to the
courageous, industrious, and peaceful way of life; our fidelity to individual
human values above and beyond social position, racial differences, and economic
interests; and our hope for a better world based on these principles.
Section 1. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby constituted. Its
political power emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance
with their will, within the terms of the compact agreed upon between the people
of Puerto Rico and the United States of America.
Section 2. The government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall be
republican in form and its legislative, judicial and executive branches as
established by this Constitution shall be equally subordinate to the
sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico.
Section 3. The political authority of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall
extend to the Island of Puerto Rico and to the adjacent islands within its
Section 4. The seat of the government shall be the city of San Juan.
Section 1. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. All men are equal
before the law. No discrimination shall be made on account of race, color, sex,
birth, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas. Both the
laws and the system of public education shall embody these principles of
essential human equality.
Section 2. The laws shall guarantee the expression of the will of the people
by means of equal, direct and secret universal suffrage and shall protect the
citizen against any coercion in the exercise of the electoral franchise.
Section 3. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof. There shall be complete separation of
church and state.
Section 4. No law shall be made abridging the freedom of speech or of the
press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the
government for a redress of grievances.
Section 5. Every person has the right to an education which shall be
directed to the full development of the human personality and to the
strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There shall
be a system of free and wholly non-sectarian public education. Instruction in
the elementary and secondary schools shall be free and shall be compulsory in
the elementary schools to the extent permitted by the facilities of the state.
No public property or public funds shall be used for the support of schools or
educational institutions other than those of the state. Nothing contained in
this provision shall prevent the state from furnishing.to any child
non-educational services established by law for the protection or welfare of
Section 6. Persons may join with each other and organize freely for any
lawful purpose, except in military or quasi-military organizations.
Section 7. The right to life, liberty and the enjoyment of property is
recognized as a fundamental right of man. The death penalty shall not exist. No
person shall be deprived of his liberty or property without due process of law.
No person in Puerto Rico shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. No
laws impairing the obligation of contracts shall be enacted. A minimum amount
of property and possessions shall be exempt from attachment as provided by law.
Section 8. Every person has the right to the protection of law against
abusive attacks on his honor, reputation and private or family life.
Section 9. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use
except upon payment of just compensation and in the manner provided by law. No
law shall be enacted authorizing condemnation of printing presses, machinery or
material devoted to publications of any kind. The buildings in which these
objects are located may be condemned only after a judicial finding of public
convenience and necessity pursuant to procedure that shall be provided by law,
and may be taken before such a judicial finding only when there is placed at
the disposition of the publication an adequate site in which it can be
installed and continue to operate for a reasonable time.
Section 10. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be
Wire-tapping is prohibited.
No warrant for arrest or search and seizure shall issue except by judicial
authority and only upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons to be arrested
or the things to be seized.
Evidence obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in the
Section 11. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right
to have a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation and to have a copy thereof, to be confronted with the witnesses
against him, to have assistance of counsel, and to be presumed innocent.
In all prosecutions for a felony the accused shall have the
right of trial by an impartial jury composed of twelve residents of the
district, who may render their verdict by a majority vote which in no case may
be less than nine.
No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself and the failure of the accused to testify may be neither taken into
consideration nor commented upon against him.
No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.
Before conviction every accused shall be entitled to be admitted to bail.
Incarceration prior to trial shall not exceed six months nor shall bail or
fines be excessive. No person shall be imprisoned for debt.
Section 12. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except in
the latter case as a punishment for crime after the accused has been duly
convicted. Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted. Suspension of
civil rights including the right to vote shall cease upon service of the term
of imprisonment imposed.
No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be
Section 13. The writ of habeas corpus shall be granted without delay
and free of costs. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not
be suspended, unless the public safety requires it in case of rebellion,
insurrection or invasion. Only the Legislative Assembly shall have the power to
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and the laws
regulating its issuance. The military authority shall always be subordinate to
Section 14. No titles of nobility or other hereditary honors shall be
granted. No officer or employee of the Commonwealth shall accept gifts,
donations, decorations or offices from any foreign country or officer without
prior authorization by the Legislative Assembly.
Section 15. The employment of children less than fourteen years of age in
any occupation which is prejudicial to their health or morals or which places
them in jeopardy of life or limb is prohibited.
No child less than sixteen years of age shall be kept in custody
in a jail or penitentiary.
Section 16. The right of every employee to choose his occupation freely and
to resign therefrom is recognized, as is his right to equal pay for equal work,
to a reasonable minimum salary, to protection against risks to his health or
person in his work or employment, and to an ordinary-workday which shall not
exceed eight hours. An employee may work in excess of this daily limit only if
he is paid extra compensation as provided by law, at a rate never less than one
and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.
Section 17. Persons employed by private businesses, enterprises and
individual employers and by agencies or instrumentalities of the government
operating as private businesses or enterprises, shall have the right to
organize and to bargain collectively with their employers through
representatives of their own free choosing in order to promote their welfare.
Section 18. In order to assure their right to organize and to bargain
collectively, persons employed by private businesses, enterprises and
individual employers and by agencies, enterprises and individual employers and
by agencies or instrumentalities of the government operating as private
businesses or enterprises, in their direct relations with their own employers
shall have the right to strike, to picket and to engage in other legal
Nothing herein contained shall impair the authority of the
Legislative Assembly to enact laws to deal with grave emergencies that clearly
imperil the public health or safety or essential public services.
Section 19. The foregoing enumeration of rights shall not be construed
restrictively nor does it contemplate the exclusion of other rights not
specifically mentioned which belong to the people in a democracy. The power of
the Legislative Assembly to enact laws for the protection of the life, health
and general welfare of the people shall likewise not be construed
Section 20.2 The Commonwealth also
recognizes the existence of the following human rights:
The right of every person to receive free elementary and
The right of every person to obtain work.
The right of every person to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family, and especially to food, clothing,
housing and medical care and necessary social services.
The right of every person to social protection in the event of unemployment,
sickness, old age or disability.
The right of motherhood and childhood to special care and assistance.
The rights set forth in this section are closely connected with the
progressive development of the economy of the Commonwealth and require, for
their full effectiveness, sufficient resources and an agricultural and
industrial development not yet attained by the Puerto Rican community.
In the light of their duty to achieve the full liberty of the citizen, the
people and the government of Puerto Rico shall do everything in their power to
promote the greatest possible expansion of the system of production, to assure
the fairest distribution of economic output, and to obtain the maximum
understanding between individual initiative and collective cooperation. The
executive and judicial branches shall bear in mind this duty and shall construe
the laws that tend to fulfill it in the most favorable manner possible.
Section 1. The legislative power shall be vested in a Legislative Assembly,
which shall consist of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives,
whose members shall be elected by direct vote at each general election.
Section 2, The Senate shall be composed of twenty-seven Senators and the
House of Representatives of fifty-one Representatives, except as these numbers
may be increased in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 of this
Section 3. For the purpose of election of members of the Legislative
Assembly, Puerto Rico shall be divided into eight senatorial districts and
forty representative districts. Each senatorial district shall elect two
Senators and each representative district one Representative.
There shall also be eleven Senators and eleven Representatives
elected at large. No elector may vote for more than one candidate for Senator
at Large or for more than one candidate for Representative at Large.
Section 4. In the first and subsequent elections under this Constitution the
division of senatorial and representative districts as provided in Article VIII
shall be in effect. After each decennial census beginning with the year 1960,
said division shall be revised by a Board composed of the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court as Chairman and of two additional members appointed by the
Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The two additional members
shall not belong to the same political party. Any revision shall maintain the
number of senatorial and representative districts here created, which shall be
composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be organized, insofar as
practicable, upon the basis of population and means of communication. Each
senatorial district shall always include five representative districts.
The decisions of the Board shall be made by majority vote and
shall take effect in the general elections next following each revision. The
Board shall cease to exist after the completion of each revision.
Section 5. No person shall be a member of the Legislative Assembly unless he
is able to read and write the Spanish or English language and unless he is a
citizen of the United States and of Puerto Rico and has resided in Puerto Rico
at least two years immediately prior to the date of his election or
appointment. No person shall be a member of the Senate who is not over thirty
years of age, and no person shall be a member of the House of Representatives
who is not over twenty-five years of age.
Section 6. No person shall be eligible to election or appointment as Senator
or Representative for a district unless he has resided therein at least one
year immediately prior to his election or appointment. When there is more than
one representative district in a municipality, residence in the municipality
shall satisfy this requirement.
Section 7. If in a general election more than two-thirds of the members of
either house are elected from one political party or from a single ticket, as
both are defined by law, the number of members shall be increased in the
(a) If the party or ticket which elected more than
two-thirds of the members of either or both houses shall have obtained less
than two-thirds of the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor,
the number of members of the Senate or of the House of Representatives or of
both bodies, whichever may be the case, shall be increased by declaring elected
a sufficient number of candidates of the minority party or parties to bring the
total number of members of the minority party or parties to nine in the Senate
and to seventeen in the House of Representatives. When there is more than one
minority party, said additional members shall be declared elected from among
the candidates of each minority party in the proportion that the number of
votes cast for the candidate of each of said parties for the office of Governor
bears to the total number of votes cast for the candidates of all the minority
parties for the office of Governor.
When one or more minority parties shall have obtained representation in a
proportion equal to or greater than the proportion of votes received by their
respective candidates for Governor, such party or parties shall not be entitled
to additional members until the representation established for each of the
other minority parties under these provisions shall have been completed.
(b) If the party or ticket which elected more than two-thirds of the
members of either or both houses shall have obtained more than two-thirds of
the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor, and one or more
minority parties shall not have elected the number of members in the Senate or
in the House of Representatives or in both houses, whichever may be the case,
which corresponds to the proportion of votes cast by each of them for the
office of Governor, such additional number of their candidates shall be
declared elected as is necessary in order to complete said proportion as nearly
as possible, but the number of Senators of all the minority parties shall
never, under this provision, be more than nine or that of Representatives more
In order to select additional members of the Legislative Assembly from a
minority party in accordance with these provisions, its candidates at large who
have not been elected shall be the first to be declared elected in the order of
the votes that they have obtained, and thereafter its district candidates who;
not having been elected, have obtained in their respective districts the
highest proportion of the total number of votes cast as compared to the
proportion of votes cast in favor of other candidates of the same party not
elected to an equal office in the other districts.
The additional Senators and Representatives whose election is declared under
this section shall be considered for all purposes as Senators at Large or
Representatives at Large.
The measures necessary to implement these guarantees, the method of
adjudicating fractions that may result from the application of the rules
contained in this section, and the minimum number of votes that a minority
party must cast in favor of its candidate for Governor in order to have the
right to the representation provided herein shall be determined by the
Section 8. The term of office of Senators and Representatives shall begin on
the second day of January immediately following the date of the general
election in which they shall have been elected. If, prior to the fifteen months
immediately preceding the date of the next general election, a vacancy occurs
in the office of Senator or Representative for a district, the Governor shall
call a special election in said district within thirty days following the date
on which the vacancy occurs. This election shall be held not later than ninety
days after the call, and the person elected shall hold office for the rest of
the unexpired term of his predecessor. When said vacancy occurs during a
legislative session, or when the Legislative Assembly or the Senate has been
called for a date prior to the certification of the results of the special
election, the presiding officer of the appropriate house shall fill said
vacancy by appointing the person recommended by the central committee of the
political party of which his predecessor in office was a member. Such person
shall hold the office until certification of the election of the candidate who
was elected. When the vacancy occurs within fifteen months prior to a general
election, or when it occurs in the office of a Senator at Large or a
Representative at Large, the presiding officer of the appropriate house shall
fill it, upon the recommendation of the political party of which the previous
holder of the office was a member, by appointing a person selected in the same
manner as that in which his predecessor was selected. A vacancy in the office
of a Senator at Large or a Representative at Large elected as an independent
candidate shall be filled by an election in all districts.
Section 9. Each house shall be the sole judge of the election, returns and
qualifications of its members; shall choose its own officers; shall adopt rules
for its own proceedings appropriate to legislative bodies; and, with the
concurrence of three-fourths of the total number of members of which it is
composed, may expel any member for the causes established in Section 21 of this
Article, authorizing impeachments. The Senate shall elect a President and the
House of Representatives a Speaker from among their respective members.
Section 10. The Legislative Assembly shall be deemed a continuous body
during the term for which its members are elected and shall meet in regular
session each year commencing on the second Monday in January. The duration of
regular sessions and the periods of time for introduction and consideration of
bills shall be prescribed by law. When the Governor calls the Legislative
Assembly into special session it may consider only those matters specified in
the call or in any special message sent to it by him during the session. No
special session shall continue longer than twenty calendar days.
Section 11. The sessions of each house shall be open.
Section 12. A majority of the total number of members of which each house is
composed shall constitute a quorum, but a smaller number may adjourn from day
to day and shall have authority to compel the attendance of absent members.
Section 13. The two houses shall meet in the capitol of Puerto Rico and
neither of them may adjourn for more than three consecutive days without the
consent of the other.
Section 14. No member of the Legislative Assembly shall be arrested while
the house of which he is a member is in session, or during the fifteen days
before or after such session, except for treason, felony or breach of the
peace. The members of the Legislative Assembly shall not be questioned in any
other place for any speech, debate or vote in either house or in any committee.
Section 15. No Senator or Representative may, during the term for which he
was elected or chosen, be appointed to any civil office in the Government of
Puerto Rico, its municipalities or instrumentalities, which shall have been
created or the salary of which shall have been increased during said term. No
person may hold office in the Government of Puerto Rico, its municipalities or
instrumentalities and be a Senator or Representative at the same time. These
provisions shall not prevent a member of the Legislative Assembly from being
designated to perform functions ad honorem.
Section 16. The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to create,
consolidate or reorganize executive departments and to define their functions.
Section 17. No bill shall become a law unless it has been printed, read,
referred to a committee and returned therefrom with a written report, but
either house may discharge a committee from the study and report of any bill
and proceed to the consideration thereof. Each house shall keep a journal of
its proceedings and of the voters cast for and against bills. The legislative
proceedings shall be published in a daily record in the form determined by law.
Every bill, except general appropriation bills, shall be confined to one
subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, and any part of an act
whose subject has not been expressed in the title shall be void. The general
appropriation act shall contain only appropriations and rules for their
disbursement. No bill shall be amended in a manner that changes its original
purpose or incorporates matters extraneous to it.
In amending any article or section of a law, said article or
section shall be promulgated in its entirety as amended. All bills for raising
revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may
propose or concur with amendments as on other bills,
Section 18. The subjects which may be dealt with by means of joint
resolution shall be determined by law, but every joint resolution shall follow
the same legislative process as that of a bill.
Section 19. Every bill which is approved by a majority of the total number
of members of which each house is composed shall be submitted to the Governor
and shall become law if he signs it or if he does not return it, with his
objections, to the house in which it originated within ten days (Sundays
excepted) counted from the date on which he shall have received it.
When the Governor returns a bill the house that receives it
shall enter his objections on its journal and both houses may reconsider it. If
approved by two-thirds of the total number of members of which each house is
composed, said bill shall become law.
If the Legislative Assembly adjourns sine die before the Governor has acted
on a bill that has been presented to him less than ten days before, he is
relieved of the obligation of returning it with his objections and the bill
shall become law only if the Governor signs it within thirty days after
Every final passage or reconsideration of a bill shall be by a roll-call
Section 20. In approving any appropriation bill that contains more than one
item, the Governor may eliminate one or more of such items or reduce their
amounts, at the same time reducing the total amounts involved.
Section 21. The House of Representatives shall have exclusive power to
initiate impeachment proceedings and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the
total number of members of which it is composed, to bring an indictment. The
Senate shall have exclusive power to try and to decide impeachment cases, and
in meeting for such purposes the Senators shall act in the name of the people
and under oath or affirmation. No judgment of conviction in an impeachment
trial shall be pronounced without the concurrence of three-fourths of the total
number of members of which the Senate is composed, and the judgment shall be
limited to removal from office. The person impeached, however, may be liable
and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment according to law. The
causes of impeachment shall be treason, bribery, other felonies, and
misdemeanors involving moral turpitude. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
shall preside at the impeachment trial of the Governor.
The two houses may conduct impeachment proceedings in their
regular or special sessions. The presiding officers of the two houses, upon
written request of two-thirds of the total number of members of which the House
of Representatives is composed, must convene them to deal with such
Section 22. The Governor shall appoint a Controller with the advice and
consent of a majority of the total number of members of which each house is
composed. The Controller shall meet the requirements prescribed by law and
shall hold office for a term of ten years and until his successor has been
appointed and qualifies. The Controller shall audit all the revenues, accounts
and expenditures of the Commonwealth, of its agencies and instrumentalities and
of its municipalities, in order to determine whether they have been made in
accordance with law. He shall render annual reports and any special reports
that may be required of him by the Legislative Assembly or by the Governor.
In the performance of his duties the Controller shall be
authorized to administer oaths, take evidence and compel under pain of
contempt, the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, letters,
documents, papers, records and all other articles deemed essential to a full
understanding of the matter under investigation.
The Controller may be removed for the causes and pursuant to the procedure
established in the preceding section.
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a Governor, who shall be
elected by direct vote in each general election.
Section 2. The Governor shall hold office for the term of four years from
the second day of January of the year following his election and until his
successor has been elected and qualifies. He shall reside in Puerto Rico and
maintain his office in its capital city.
Section 3. No person shall be Governor unless, on the date of the election,
he is at least thirty-five years of age, and is and has been during the
preceding five years a citizen of the United States and a citizen and bona
fide resident of Puerto Rico.
Section 4. The Governor shall execute the laws and cause them to be
He shall call the Legislative Assembly or the Senate into
special session when in his judgment the public interest so requires.
He shall appoint, in the manner prescribed by this Constitution or by law,
all officers whose appointment he is authorized to make. He shall have the
power to make appointments while the Legislative Assembly is not in session.
Any such appointments that require the advice and consent of the Senate or of
both houses shall expire at the end of the next regular session.
He shall be the commander-in-chief of the militia.
He shall have the power to call out the militia and summon the posse
comitatus in order to prevent or suppress rebellion, invasion or any serious
disturbance of the public peace.
He shall have the power to proclaim martial law when the public safety
requires it in case of rebellion or invasion or imminent danger thereof. The
Legislative Assembly shall meet forthwith on their own initiative to ratify or
revoke the proclamation.
He shall have the power to suspend the execution of sentences in criminal
cases and to grant pardons, commutations of punishment, and total or partial
remissions of fines and forfeitures for crimes committed in violation of the
laws of Puerto Rico. This power shall not extend to cases of impeachment.
He shall approve or disapprove in accordance with this Constitution the
joint resolutions and bills passed by the Legislative Assembly.
He shall present to the Legislative Assembly, at the beginning of each
regular session, a message concerning the affairs of the Commonwealth and a
report concerning the state of the Treasury of Puerto Rico and the proposed
expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year. Said report shall contain the
information necessary for the formulation of a program of legislation.
He shall exercise the other powers and functions and discharge the other
duties assigned to him by this Constitution or by law.
Section 5. For the purpose of exercising executive power, the Governor shall
be assisted by Secretaries whom he shall appoint with the advice and consent of
the Senate. The appointment of the Secretary of State shall in addition require
the advice and consent of the House of Representatives, and the person
appointed shall fulfill the requirements established in Section 3 of this
article. The Secretaries shall collectively constitute the Governor's advisory
council, which shall be designated as the Council of Secretaries.
Section 6. Without prejudice to the power of the Legislative Assembly to
create, reorganize and consolidate executive departments and to define their
functions, the following departments are hereby established: State, Justice,
Education, Health, Treasury, Labor, Agriculture and Commerce, and Public Works.
Each of these executive departments shall be headed by a Secretary.
Section 7. When a vacancy occurs in the office of Governor, caused by death,
resignation, removal, total and permanent incapacity, or any other absolute
disability, said office shall devolve upon the Secretary of State, who shall
hold it for the rest of the term and until a new Governor has been elected and
qualifies. In the event that vacancies exist at the same time in both the
office of Governor and that of Secretary of State, the law shall provide which
of the Secretaries shall serve as Governor.
Section 8. When for any reason the Governor is temporarily unable to perform
his functions, the Secretary of State shall substitute for him during the
period he is unable to serve. If for any reason the Secretary of State is not
available, the Secretary determined by law shall temporarily hold the office of
Section 9. If the Governor-elect shall not have qualified or if he has
qualified and a permanent vacancy occurs in the office of Governor before he
shall have appointed a Secretary of State, or before said Secretary, having
been appointed, shall have qualified, the Legislative Assembly just elected,
upon convening for its first regular session, shall elect, by a majority of the
total number of members of which each house is composed, a Governor who shall
hold office until his successor is elected in the next general election and
Section 10. The Governor may be removed for the causes and pursuant to the
procedure established in Section 21 of Article III of this Constitution.
Section 1. The judicial power of Puerto Rico shall be vested in a Supreme
Court, and in such other courts as may be established by law.
Section 2. The courts of Puerto Rico shall constitute a unified judicial
system for purposes of jurisdiction, operation and administration. The
Legislative Assembly may create and abolish courts, except for the Supreme
Court, in a manner not inconsistent with this Constitution, and shall determine
the venue and organization of the courts.
Section 3. The Supreme Court shall be the court of last resort in Puerto
Rico and shall be composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. The
number of Justices may be changed only by law upon request of the Supreme
Section 4. The Supreme Court shall sit, in accordance with rules adopted by
it, as a full court or in divisions composed of not less than three Justices.
No law shall be held unconstitutional except by a majority of the total number
of Justices of which the Court is composed in accordance with this Constitution
or with law.3
Section 5. The Supreme Court, any of its divisions, or any of its Justices
may hear in the first instance petitions for habeas corpus and any other
causes and proceedings as determined by law.
Section 6. The Supreme Court shall adopt for the courts rules of evidence
and of civil and criminal procedure which shall not abridge, enlarge or modify
the substantive rights of the parties. The rules thus adopted shall be
submitted to the Legislative Assembly at the beginning of its next regular
session and shall not go into effect until sixty days after the close of said
session, unless disapproved by the Legislative Assembly, which shall have the
power both at said session and subsequently to amend, repeal or supplement any
of said rules by a specific law to that effect.
Section 7. The Supreme Court shall adopt rules for the administration of the
courts. These rules shall be subject to the laws concerning procurement,
personnel, audit and appropriation of funds, and other laws which apply
generally to all branches of the government. The Chief Justice shall direct the
administration of the courts and shall appoint an administrative director who
shall hold office at the will of the Chief Justice.
Section 8. Judges shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and
consent of the Senate. Justices of the Supreme Court shall not assume office
until after confirmation by the Senate and shall hold their offices during good
behavior. The terms of office of the other judges shall be fixed by law and
shall not be less than that fixed for the terms of office of a judge of the
same or equivalent category existing when this Constitution takes effect. The
other officials and employees of the courts shall be appointed in the manner
provided by law.
Section 9. No person shall be appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court
unless he is a citizen of the United States and of Puerto Rico, shall have been
admitted to the practice of law in Puerto Rico at least ten years prior to his
appointment, and shall have resided in Puerto Rico at least five years
immediately prior thereto.
Section 10. The Legislative Assembly shall establish a retirement system for
judges. Retirement shall be compulsory at the age of seventy years.
Section 11. Justices of the Supreme Court may be removed for the causes and
pursuant to the procedure established in Section 21 of Article III of this
Constitution. Judges of the other courts may be removed by the Supreme Court
for the causes and pursuant to the procedure provided by law.
Section 12. No judge shall make a direct or indirect financial contribution
to any political organization or party, or hold any executive office therein,
or participate in a political campaign of any kind, or be a candidate for an
elective public office unless he has resigned his judicial office at least six
months Prior to his nomination.
Section 13. In the event that a court or any of its divisions or sections is
changed or abolished by law, the person holding a post of judge therein shall
continue to hold it during the rest of the term for which he was appointed and
shall perform the judicial functions assigned to him by the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court.
Section 1. The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to create, abolish,
consolidate and reorganize municipalities; to change their territorial limits;
to determine their organization and functions; and to authorize them to develop
programs for the general welfare and to create any agencies necessary for that
No law abolishing or consolidating municipalities shall take
effect until ratified in a referendum by a majority of the qualified electors
voting in said referendum in each of the municipalities to be abolished or
consolidated. The referendum shall be conducted in the manner determined by
law, which shall include the applicable procedures of the election laws in
effect when the referendum law is approved.
Section 2. The power of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to impose and
collect taxes and to authorize their imposition and collection by
municipalities shall be exercised as determined by the Legislative Assembly and
shall never be surrendered or suspended. The power of the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico to contract and to authorize the contracting of debts shall be
exercised as determined by the Legislative Assembly, but no direct obligations
of the Commonwealth for money borrowed directly by the Commonwealth evidenced
by bonds or notes for the payment of which the full faith credit and taxing
power of the Commonwealth shall be pledged shall be issued by the Commonwealth
if the total of (i) the amount of principal of and interest on such bonds and
notes, together with the amount of principal of and interest on all such bonds
and notes theretofore issued by the Commonwealth and then outstanding, payable
in any fiscal year and (ii) any amounts paid by the Commonwealth in the fiscal
year next preceding the then current fiscal year for principal or interest on
account of any outstanding obligations evidenced by bonds or notes guaranteed
by the Commonwealth, shall exceed 15% of the average of the total amount of the
annual revenues raised under the provisions of Commonwealth legislation and
covered into the Treasury of Puerto Rico in the two fiscal years next preceding
the then current fiscal year; and no such bonds or notes issued by the
Commonwealth for any purpose other than housing facilities shall mature later
than 30 years from their date and no bonds or notes issued for housing
facilities shall mature later than 40 years from their date; and the
Commonwealth shall not guarantee any obligations evidenced by bonds or notes if
the total of the amount payable in any fiscal year on account of principal of
and interest on all the direct obligations referred to above theretofore issued
by the Commonwealth and then outstanding and the amounts referred to in item
(ii) above shall exceed 15 percent of the average of the total amount of such
The Legislative Assembly shall fix limitations for the issuance
of direct obligations by any of the municipalities of Puerto Rico for money
borrowed directly by such municipality evidenced by bonds or notes for the
payment of which the full faith, credit and taxing power of such municipality
shall be pledged; provided, however, that no such bonds or notes shall be
issued by any municipality in an amount which, together with the amount of all
such bonds and notes theretofore issued by such municipality and then
outstanding, shall exceed the percentage determined by the Legislative
Assembly, which shall be not less than five per centum (5%) nor more than ten
per centum (10%) of the aggregate tax valuation of the property within such
The Secretary of the Treasury may be required to apply the available
revenues including surplus to the payment of interest on the public debt and
the amortization thereof in any case provided for by Section 8 of this Article
VI at the suit of any holder of bonds or notes issued in evidence
Section 3. The rule of taxation in Puerto Rico shall be uniform.
Section 4. General elections shall be held every four years on the day of
November determined by the Legislative Assembly. In said elections there shall
be elected a Governor, the members of the Legislative Assembly, and the other
officials whose election on that date is provided for by law.
Every person over twenty-one years of age shall be entitled to
vote if he fulfills the other conditions determined by law. No person shall be
deprived of the right to vote because he does not know how to read or write or
does not own property.
All matters concerning the electoral process, registration of voters,
political parties and candidates shall be determined by law.
Every popularly elected official shall be elected by direct vote and any
candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate for the same office
shall be declared elected.
Section 5. The laws shall be promulgated in accordance with the procedure
prescribed by law and shall specify the terms under which they shall take
Section 6. If at the end of any fiscal year the appropriations necessary for
the ordinary operating expenses of the Government and for the payment of
interest on and amortization of the public debt for the ensuing fiscal year
shall not have been made, the several sums appropriated in the last
appropriation acts for the objects and purposes therein specified, so far as
the same may be applicable, shall continue in effect item by item, and the
Governor shall authorize the payments necessary for such purposes until
corresponding appropriations are made.
Section 7. The appropriations made for any fiscal year shall not exceed the
total revenues, including available surplus, estimated for said fiscal Year
unless the imposition of taxes sufficient to cover said appropriations is
provided by law.
Section 8. In case the available revenues including surplus for any fiscal
year are insufficient to meet the appropriations made for that year, interest
on the public debt and amortization thereof shall first be paid, and other
disbursements shall thereafter be made in accordance with the order of
priorities established by law.
Section 9. Public property and funds shall only be disposed of for public
purposes, for the support and operation of state institutions, and pursuant to
Section 10. No law shall give extra compensation to any public officer,
employee, agent or contractor after services shall have been rendered or
contract made. No law shall extend the term of any public officer or diminish
his salary or emoluments after his election or appointment. No person shall
draw a salary for more than one office or position in the government of Puerto
Section 11. The salaries of the Governor, the Secretaries, the members of
the Legislative Assembly, the Controller and Judges shall be fixed by a special
law and, except for the salaries of the members of the Legislative Assembly,
shall not be decreased during the terms for which they are elected or
appointed. The salaries of the Governor and the Controller shall not be
increased during said terms. No increase in the salaries of the members of the
Legislative Assembly shall take effect until the expiration of the term of the
Legislative Assembly during which it is enacted. Any reduction of the salaries
of the members of the Legislative Assembly shall be effective only during the
term of the Legislative Assembly which approves it.
Section 12. The Governor shall occupy and use, free of rent, the buildings
and properties belonging to the Commonwealth which have been or shall hereafter
be used and occupied by him as chief executive.
Section 13. The procedure for granting franchises, rights, privileges and
concessions of a public or quasi-public nature shall be determined by law, but
every concession of this kind to a person or private entity must be approved by
the Governor or by the executive official whom he designates. Every franchise,
right, privilege or concession of a public or quasi-public nature shall be
subject to amendment, alteration or repeal as determined by law.
Section 14. No corporation shall be authorized to conduct the business of
buying and selling real estate or be permitted to hold or own real estate
except such as may be reasonably necessary to enable it to carry out the
purposes for which it was created, and every corporation authorized to engage
in agriculture shall by its charter be restricted to the ownership and control
of not to exceed five hundred acres of land; and this provision shall be held
to prevent any member of a corporation engaged in agriculture from being in any
wise interested in any other corporation engaged in agriculture.
Corporations, however, may loan funds upon real estate security,
and purchase real estate when necessary for the collection of loans, but they
shall dispose of real estate so obtained within five years after receiving the
Corporations not organized in Puerto Rico, but doing business in Puerto
Rico, shall be bound by the provisions of this section so far as they are
These provisions shall not prevent the ownership, possession or management
of lands in excess of five hundred acres by the Commonwealth, its agencies or
Section 15. The Legislative Assembly shall determine all matters concerning
the flag, the seal and the anthem of the Commonwealth. Once determined, no law
changing them shall take effect until one year after the general election next
following the date of enactment of said law.
Section 16. All public officials and employees of the Commonwealth, its
agencies, instrumentalities and political subdivisions, before entering upon
their respective duties, shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the
United States and the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Section 17. In case of invasion, rebellion, epidemic or any other event
giving rise to a state of emergency, the Governor may call the Legislative
Assembly to meet in a place other than the Capitol of Puerto Rico, subject to
the approval or disapproval of the Legislative Assembly. Under the same
conditions, the Governor may, during the period of emergency, order the
government, its agencies and instrumentalities to be moved temporarily to a
place other than the seat of the government.
Section 18. All criminal actions in the courts of the Commonwealth shall be
conducted in the name and by the authority of "The People of Puerto
Rico" until otherwise provided by law.
Section 19. It shall be the public policy of the Commonwealth to conserve,
develop and use its natural resources in the most effective manner possible for
the general welfare of the community; to conserve and maintain buildings and
places declared by the Legislative Assembly to be of historic or artistic
value; to regulate its penal institutions in a manner that effectively achieves
their purposes and to provide, within the limits of available resources, for
adequate treatment of delinquents in order to make possible their moral and
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Section 1. The Legislative Assembly may propose amendments to this
Constitution by a concurrent resolution approved by not less than two-thirds of
the total number of members of which each house is composed. All proposed
amendments shall be submitted to the qualified electors in a special
referendum, but if the concurrent resolution is approved by not less than
three-fourths of the total number of members of which each house is composed,
the Legislative Assembly may provide that the referendum shall be held at the
same time as the next general election. Each proposed amendment shall be voted
on separately and not more than three proposed amendments may be submitted at
the same referendum. Every proposed amendment shall specify the terms under
which it shall take effect, and it shall become a part of this Constitution if
it is ratified by a majority of the electors voting thereon. Once approved, a
proposed amendment must be published at least three months prior to the date of
Section 2. The Legislative Assembly, by a concurrent resolution approved by
two-thirds of the total number of members of which each house is composed, may
submit to the qualified electors at a referendum, held at the same time as a
general election, the question of whether a constitutional convention shall be
called to revise this Constitution. If a majority of the electors voting on
this question vote in favor of the revision, it shall be made by a
Constitutional Convention elected in the manner provided by law. Every revision
of this Constitution shall be submitted to the qualified electors at a special
referendum for ratification or rejection by a majority of the votes cast at the
Section 3. No amendment to this Constitution shall alter the republican form
of government established by it or abolish its bill of rights.5
SENATORIAL AND REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICTS
Section 1. The senatorial and representative districts shall be the
I. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF SAN JUAN, which shall be composed of
the following Representative Districts: 1.-- The Capital of Puerto Rico,
excluding the present electoral precincts of Santurce and Río Piedras;
2.-- Electoral zones numbers 1 and 2 of the present precinct of Santurce; 3.--
Electoral zone number 3 of the present precinct of Santurce; 4.-- Electoral
zone number 4 of the present precinct of Santurce; and 5.-- Wards Hato Rey,
Puerto Nuevo and Caparra Heights of the Capital of Puerto Rico.
II. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF BAYAMON, which shall be composed of the following
Representative Districts: 6.-- The municipality of Bayamón; 7.-- The
municipalities of Carolina and Trujillo Alto; 8.-- The present electoral
precinct of Río Piedras, excluding wards Hate Rey, Puerto Nuevo and
Caparra Heights of the Capital of Puerto Rico; 9.-- The municipalities of
Cataño, Guaynabo and Toa Baja; and 10.-- The municipalities of Toa Alta,
Corozal and Naranjito.
III. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF ARECIBO, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts: 11.-- The municipalities of Vega Baja, Vega
Alta and Dorado; 12.-- The municipalities of Manatí and Barceloneta;
13.-- The municipalities of Ciales and Morovis; 14.-- The municipality of
Arecibo; and 15.-- The municipality of Utuado.
IV. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF AGUADILLA, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts: 16. -The municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo
and Quebradillas; 17. The municipalities of Aguadilla and Isabela; 18.--The
municipalities of San Sebastián and Moca; 19.--The municipalities of
Lares, Las Marías and Maricao; and 20.-- The municipalities of
Añasco, Aguada and Rincón.
V. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF MAYAGUEZ, which shall be composed of the following
Representative Districts: 21.-- The municipality of Mayaguez; 22.-- The
municipalities of Cabo Rojo, Hormigueros and Lajas; 23.-- The municipalities of
San Germán and Sabana Grande; 24.-- The municipalities of Yauco and
Guanica; and 25.-- The municipalities of Guayanilla and Peñuelas.
VI. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF PONCE, which shall be composed of the following
Representative Districts: 26.-- The first, second, third, fourth, fifth and
sixth wards and the City Beach of the municipality of Ponce; 27.-- The
municipality of Ponce, except for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and
sixth wards and the City Beach; 28.-- The municipalities of Adjuntas and
Jayuya; 29.-- The municipalities of Juana Díaz, Santa Isabel and
Villalba; and 30.--The municipalities of Coamo and Orocovis.
VII. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF GUAYAMA, Which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts: 31.-- The municipalities of Aibonito,
Barranquitas and Comerio; 32.-- The municipalities of Cayey and Cidra; 33.--
The municipalities of Caguas and Aguas Buenas; 34.-- The municipalities of
Guayama and Salinas; and 35.-- The municipalities of Patillas, Maunabo and
VIII. SENATORIAL DISTRICT OF HUMACAO, which shall be composed of the
following Representative Districts: 36.-- The municipalities of Humacao and
Yabucoa; 37.-- The municipalities of Juncos, Guarabo and San Lorenzo; 38.-- The
municipalities of Naguabo, Ceiba and Las Piedras; 39.-- The municipalities of
Fajardo and Vieques and the Island of Culebra; and 40.-- The municipalities of
Río Grande, and Loíza and Luquillo.
Section 2. Electoral zones numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 included in three
representative districts within the senatorial district of San Juan are those
presently existing for purposes of electoral organization in the second
precinct of San Juan.
Section 1. When this Constitution goes into effect all laws not inconsistent
therewith shall continue in full force until amended or repealed, or until they
expire by their own terms.
Unless otherwise provided by this Constitution, civil and
criminal liabilities, rights, franchises, concessions, privileges, claims,
actions, causes of action, contracts, and civil criminal and administrative
proceedings shall continue unaffected, notwithstanding the taking effect of
Section 2. All officers who are in office by election or appointment on the
date this Constitution takes effect shall continue to hold their offices and to
perform the functions thereof in a manner not inconsistent with this
Constitution, unless the functions of their offices, are abolished or until
their successors are selected and qualify in accordance with this Constitution
and laws enacted pursuant thereto.
Section 3. Notwithstanding the age limit fixed by this Constitution for
compulsory retirement, all the judges of the courts of Puerto Rico who are
holding office on the date this Constitution takes effect shall continue to
hold their judicial offices until the expiration of the terms for which they
were appointed, and in the case of Justices of the Supreme Court during good
Section 4. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall be the successor of the
People of Puerto Rico for all purposes, including without limitation the
collection and payments of debts and liabilities in accordance with their
Section 5. When this Constitution goes into effect, the term "citizen
of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" shall replace the term "citizen
of Puerto Rico" as previously used.
Section 6. Political parties shall continue to enjoy all rights recognized
by the election law, provided that on the effective date of this Constitution
they fulfill the minimum requirements for the registration of new parties
contained in said law. Five years after this Constitution shall have taken
effect the Legislative Assembly may change these requirements, but any law
increasing them shall not go into effect until after the general election next
following its enactment.
Section 7. The Legislative Assembly may enact the laws necessary to
supplement and make effective these transitory provisions in order to assure
the functioning of the government until the officers provided for by this
Constitution are elected or appointed and qualify, and until this Constitution
takes effect in all respects.
Section 8. If the legislative Assembly creates a Department of Commerce, the
Department of Agriculture and Commerce shall thereafter be called the
Department of Agriculture.
Section 9. The first election under the provisions of this Constitution
shall be held on the date provided by law, but not later than six months after
the effective date of this Constitution. The second general election under this
Constitution shall be held in the month of November 1956 on a day provided by
Section 10. This Constitution shall take effect when the Governor so
proclaims, but not later than sixty days after its ratification by the Congress
of the United States.
| Done in Convention, at San Juan, Puerto Rico,
on the sixth day of February, in the year of
Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-two.
1. By Resolution number 34, approved by the
Constitutional Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4,
1952, section 5 of article II was amended, adding to such section the following
declaration: "Compulsory attendance at elementary public schools to the
extent permitted by the facilities of the state as herein provided shall not be
construed as applicable to those who receive elementary education in schools
established under non-governmental auspices."
2. By Resolution number 34, approved by the
Constitutional Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4,
1962, section 20 of article II was eliminated.
3. As amended in General Election of Nov. 8,
4. As amended by the voters at a referendum
held Dec. 10, 1961.
5. By Resolution number 34, approved by the
Constitutional Convention and ratified in the Referendum held on November 4,
1952, the following new sentence was added to section 3 of article VII:
"Any amendment or revision of this constitution shall be consistent with
the resolution enacted by the applicable provisions of the Constitution of the
United States, with the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act and with Public Law
600, Eighty-first Congress, adopted in the nature of a compact"