Charles R. Venator-Santiago is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and El Instituto, Institute for Latino/a, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. He teaches courses in the areas of legal and political theory, Latino/a and Puerto Rican politics, and public law.
He currently directs the Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project, the Puerto Rico Status Archives Project, and the American Samoa Nationality and Citizenship Archives Project.
He is also the Secretariat (Executive Director) (2017-2022) and Vice-President (2019-2020)/President (2021-2022) of the Puerto Rican Studies Association.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Nation-State building in the Americas
Puerto Rico/US Law Territorial Legal History
Puerto Rican and Latino Studies
University of Massachusetts at Amherst: Ph.D, Political Science 2002
Comprehensive Examinations: Public Law and History of
Political Thought Dissertation: Constitutional Interpretation and Nation-Building: Race and the Territorial Clause, 1787-1900
Chair: Roberto Alejandro
University of Massachusetts at Amherst: M.A., Political Science 1996
Areas of Specialization: International Relations and Political Theory
Thesis: The Other Nationalists, Marcus Garvey and Pedro Albizu Campos
Chair: Dean Robinson
University of Massachusetts at Amherst: B.A., Political Science 1992
Certificate: Latin American Studies
- Law and Society Association (LSA)
- American Political Science Association (APSA)
- Puerto Rican Studies Association
Outstanding Faculty of the Year (professional)
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, University of Connecticut
Media Appearances (14)
Puerto Rican evacuees are still in New York, still struggling
City & State online
In June 2016, President Barack Obama signed the PROMESA Act, which was intended to restructure the island’s debt that had grown to $72 billion at the time. PROMESA created a fiscal control board, charged with balancing the island’s budget and overseeing the commonwealth’s regulations, financial plans and laws. Unfortunately, PROMESA ended up further eroding Puerto Rico’s economic stability.
“Congress put a fiscal oversight board that essentially destroyed what was left of the economy,” Charles Venator-Santiago, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, told City & State. “There were no jobs. Block funding was (and continues to be) limited for social programs. So people were leaving (Puerto Rico in 2017) not necessarily because of the hurricane, although that exacerbated it.”
Does Congress hold power over Puerto Rico through racist, outdated rulings? Lawmakers say yes
NBC News online
Charles Venator-Santiago, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said the rulings, written between 1901 and 1922, ended up giving Congress "the power to decide when the U.S. Constitution applies to the territories.”
Puerto Rico's Governor Resigned. It's Still Not Clear Who Will Replace Him
TIME Magazine print
Puerto Rico has been thrown into upheaval in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, Hurricane Maria, and the privatization of the public sector on the island, Charles R. Venator Santiago, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, tells TIME. Venator says that the growing sense that the governor is “part of the corruption” was the “tipping point” for the public.
“People are irate that private companies are profiting while the average person is in crisis,” says Venator Santiago. “There is a material fiscal crisis affecting all of us.”
Puerto Rico, Connecticut React To News Of Rosselló's Resignation
After more than a week of mass protests, Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló says he will step down. This hour, we ask: what happens next?
We hear the latest from on the ground in Puerto Rico, and talk with Connecticut residents with ties to the island, including Charles Venator-Santiago, associate professor of political science at UConn.
Puerto Rico governor, protests, history of the black flag: Everything you need to know
Puerto Ricans can't vote in general or congressional elections, but they can vote in the primaries. This means they can register as a Democrat or Republican and can also register for one of the island's political parties.
Rosselló is registered as a Democrat in Puerto Rico and received funds from the party for his campaign, according to Charles Venator-Santiago, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut.
Georgia agency under scrutiny for treatment of Puerto Ricans
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution print
The practices have also drawn a rebuke from Puerto Rico’s governor. And they’ve evoked haunting echoes of an era when Georgia and other Southern states used literacy tests and other practices to deny African Americans the right to vote.
"I don’t want to blame everything on racism, because there’s a structural issue” with the birth certificates, said Charles Venator Santiago, the president-elect of the Puerto Rican Studies Association and an expert on U.S. territorial law. “But if Georgia is requiring people to pass a test to identify their culture, that’s a civil rights violation — having a double standard.”
Deep Cuts in Puerto Rico
Inside Higher Ed online
Professors say the deep cuts to UPR's government appropriations and hikes in tuition will jeopardize the primary engine for social mobility and economic growth for the island, which -- in addition to facing a financial crisis -- is still recovering from the extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
"They're destroying the source of professionals, the source that is going to sustain the local economy, but they’re not interested in building the economy of the island. They're trying to privatize everything on the island," said Charles R. Venator-Santiago, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut and executive director and president-elect of the Puerto Rican Studies Association.
A Territory in Limbo
U.S. News & World Report print
All U.S. territories are subject to federal rules which ban foreign air carriers to exchange cargo among their own fleet, or to transfer cargo to different carriers on U.S. soil. Hawaii and Alaska have won exemptions to this rule, but Puerto Rico, similarly geographically from the mainland, is not. Including Puerto Rico in the exemption could make the island a lucrative, Caribbean cargo hub – but there's no move in Washington to make the change, says University of Connecticut political science professor Charles Venator, author of "Puerto Rico and the Origins of U.S. Global Empire: The Disembodied Shade."
"Congress has this wide berth to do what it wants to help the island. They've chosen to discriminate downward, historically," Venator says. "It's a question of will."
Puerto Rico to Vote Sunday on Statehood
Fox Business online
With Republicans in full control of Congress -- the body that needs to authorize the admission of a new state -- a statehood bid "is dead on arrival," said Charles Venator-Santiago, a political-science professor at the University of Connecticut.
‘Citicien’: 100 Puerto Rican Artists Express Complexity of U.S. Citizenship
NBC News online
“Puerto Ricans who want to renounce from their U.S. citizenship can’t do it and we can’t become naturalized U.S. citizens either,” says Venator-Santiago. But once Puerto Ricans born on the island declare residency in the United States, their U.S. citizenship becomes constitutionally protected and can’t be revoked.
Alaska, Hawaii... Puerto Rico? A Look At One Governor's Commitment To Statehood
Connecticut Public Radio
Fifty-eight years; fifty states; one governor's commitment to change. This hour: statehood for Puerto Rico -- is it in the cards? We consider what lies ahead for the island under its new leader, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
Puerto Rican crisis roils 2016 race
The Hill online
“My guess is that the majority of them are going for Trump,” said Charles Venator-Santiago, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut. “He’s a known quantity in Puerto Rico.”
While Puerto Ricans, as U.S. citizens, are not impacted by immigration policies, Barreto wondered if Trump’s heavy hand on that topic could hurt him if they feel like the broader public is becoming hostile to Hispanics as a whole.
Latino Millennials Have The Power, So Why Don't They Use It?
Huffington Post online
Researchers believe that these children, brought to the U.S. without documentation by their parents and whom Obama granted amnesty, might become highly active in the political arena. "My sense…is that naturalized dreamers are more prone to participate in politics [and vote] than older, naturalized Latinos," said University of Connecticut professor Charles Venator-Santiago.
Puerto Rico’s healthcare debt looms
That could leave patients without access to healthcare. Senators introduced legislation last month to eliminate that cap on the grant for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid. Professor Charles Venator Santiago, a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut says, if adopted, it would treat the territory more like a state.
“There would have to be local reforms in the island, because the public healthcare system we have there is fairly corrupt,” he says. “There has to be a lot more accountability, and it can be done. It can be done quickly if the federal government would move forward, but I don’t see that impetus right now.”
Research Grants (3)
Climate Change and Puerto Rican Migration to the City of Holyoke, MA
Massachusetts Vulnerability Preparedness Program Grant
Survey on Impact of Post-Disaster Displacement on Puerto Rican Households in the Hartford Region
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
Theorizing Catastrophe Working Group
University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI)
Small Grant (seed)
Charles R Venator-Santiago
Questions about the citizenship status of people born in the US territories continue to be discussed in public debates. In 2007, Gabriel Chin (2008) questioned whether Senator John McCain, the Republican Party's presidential nominee, was a natural-born citizen, which is a constitutional requirement for eligibility to serve as the US president. Senator McCain was born on a US military base in the Panama Canal Zone, a leased and unincorporated territory located outside of the United States for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Charles R Venator-Santiago
In 1948, Congress enacted corrective legislation amending the citizenship provisions of both the Jones Act of 1917 and the Nationality Act of 1940. Under prevailing naturalization laws, a person born in Puerto Rico who acquired a US citizenship under the terms of the Jones Act was given a naturalized citizenship status. It followed that Puerto Ricans, like other naturalized citizens, who continuously resided or worked outside of the United States for five or more years were automatically denaturalized.
The Jones Act of 1917 was neither the first nor the last law enacted by Congress containing a citizenship provision for Puerto Rico. Since annexing Puerto Rico in 1898, Federal lawmakers debated at least 100 bills containing citizenship, nationality, and naturalization provisions for the island's inhabitants.
Charles R Venator-Santiago, Edgardo Meléndez
On Mar 2, 1917, nineteen years after the US annexed Puerto Rico, Congress enacted the Jones Act, an organic or territorial law providing for the collective naturalization of the archipelago's inhabitants.
Charles R Venator-Santiago
Island at War was edited by Jorge Rodríguez Beruff and José L. Bolívar Fresneda and includes contributions from seven additional scholars. The main goal of this volume is to provide a comprehensive and interdisciplinary examination of the impact of the Second World War on Puerto Rico.