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Charles  Venator-Santiago, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Charles Venator-Santiago, Ph.D.

Associate Professor | University of Connecticut


Dr. Venator-Santiago is an expert in US territorial law and policy with a focus on the history of citizenship


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

Political Theory

Latino Politics

Puerto Rico/US Law Territorial Legal History

Public Law

Puerto Rican and Latino Studies

Education (3)

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

Affiliations (3)

  • Law and Society Association (LSA)
  • American Political Science Association (APSA)
  • Puerto Rican Studies Association

Accomplishments (1)

Outstanding Faculty of the Year (professional)

2012 Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, University of Connecticut



Charles  Venator-Santiago, Ph.D. Publication Charles  Venator-Santiago, Ph.D. Publication




The Future of the Puerto Rican Body - Part II of Bankruptcy and Citizenship in Puerto Rico Colloquium (Session 2) Puerto Rico's Challenges and Solidarity: Before and After Hurricane Maria #LASA2019


Media Appearances (26)

Focusing on Latino communities–and not on whether they’re for Biden or Trump

WNPR - The Wheelhouse  radio


Election coverage in 2024 has portrayed individual members of Latino communities as a collective bloc. As coverage of polling sacrifices nuance over numbers, an opportunity is missed to delve into issues that a large percentage of Americans care about. Polls are used in the media, for example, to show that President Joe Biden is behind in his campaign–and that Latinos are breaking for former president Donald Trump. But, a report from the Brookings Institute, shows that Latinos are underrepresented in most polls. And that “national election polls are not designed for sub-group analysis.” Today on The Wheelhouse, honing in on people and policy, and not on who prospective voters from the Latino diaspora are going to vote for.

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CT’s Puerto Ricans continue to face disparities, research reveals

WNPR  radio


Despite some improvement since 2000, Puerto Ricans in Connecticut still have the highest poverty rates in the state, particularly among women, according to the research conducted by Luis Palomino, a UConn graduate student, and Charles Venator Santiago, associate professor of political science and director of the Puerto Rican Studies Initiative at UConn. “I see a lot of women in what I think is a position of power,” Venator Santiago said. But, “when I look at the data, the numbers are really low. Salaries are low. Poverty is higher. A lot more single women who are heads of the household. Unless I look at the data, I wouldn't think that there are inequalities.”

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CT's Latino population continues to grow and confront disparities

WNPR  radio


Residents identifying as white in Connecticut declined from roughly almost 79% in 2000 to 62% in 2022, according to Charles Venator Santiago, a professor at the University of Connecticut. Unofficial U.S. Census estimates from 2022 suggest that the Hispanic community is on track to comprise one-quarter of the state's population in the near future due to its younger demographics and are anticipated to be a critical part of the labor force of the next generation, according to Venator Santiago. But despite the growing influence of the Latino community, disparities still need addressing.

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The fierce fight to lead Puerto Rico

Politico  online


Charles Venator-Santiago, associate professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Political Science and El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, says González-Colón is seen as “a more palatable alternative to Pierluisi because she appeals to the type of loud or vociferous Puerto Rican who takes charge” and has a “sort of Trumpiest attitude in Puerto Rico … and it appeals to a lot of people in Puerto Rico.” “She has a chance of winning because people don’t like the governor,” he says.

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Concerns prompt Hartford ballot change heading into Election Day

NBC Connecticut  tv


A political science associate professor at UConn, Charles Venator Santiago, said this could discourage Latino voters from participating. "Because it sends a message that they are not important," Venator Santiago said.

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Why Puerto Rico Is Adding ‘USA’ to Its Driver’s Licenses

New York Times  print


Many residents of Puerto Rico have long viewed the island’s status as a colonial territory as untenable, debating the pros and cons of statehood, being a commonwealth and independence, said Charles R. Venator-Santiago, a professor of Latino politics and law at the University of Connecticut. Puerto Rico has held six nonbinding plebiscites on whether it should become a state, most recently in 2020, when 52 percent of voters on the island endorsed the move. Turnout has often been low, amid boycotts by critics who support the status quo, or the smaller faction that seeks independence.

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Puerto Rico’s power play: How should billions of energy dollars be spent



Charles Venator-Santiago, associate professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Political Science and El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, noted Pierluisi is running for reelection next year — and said it “wouldn’t surprise me if some middle-income residents are selected to receive these funds” for political reasons.

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Puerto Rico Statehood Might Not Be A GOP Disaster Waiting To Happen

Daily Caller  online


Charles Venator Santiago, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut, told the Daily Caller “based on local electoral data, would be apportioned 2 Senators and probably 4 reps (maybe 5), which would mostly align with the Democratic Party (a no go for Republicans),” echoing Republican fears.

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Puerto Rico's Political Possibilities Post-Fiona

WNYC's The Takeaway  online


The devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona has re-opened conversations about the unsustainable nature of Puerto Rico’s status as a colonial entity. Many are calling for statehood as a solution to bureaucratic challenges that slow down disaster relief. In revisiting this discussion, we hear from Christina Ponsa-Kraus, a Geroge Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School and Dr. Charles Venator-Santiago, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, about the status of Puerto Rico’s future and the Island’s political possibilities.

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For some, ‘Latinx’ is a learning curve; for others, it's a term of inclusion

CT Public Radio  radio


Latino identity is shared among more than 20 nations, said Charles Venator Santiago, an assistant professor at El Instituto at the University of Connecticut. "The list of identities is just as complicated as it is here in the United States," he said. It's a diverse experience that has also been swept into the term, "Latinidad." “The problem of 'Latinidad' is how do you identify shared beliefs, experiences, interpretations of what it means to be Latino? Afro Latinos or women or LGBTQ,” Venator-Santiago said.

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Column: Puerto Rico’s future status should not be a pawn in political gameplay

Los Angeles Times  print


“The lobbying power of the Puerto Rico statehood movement is incredible,” Charles Venator, an associate professor of political science at University of Connecticut and author of “Hostages of Empire,” told me. Yet Puerto Rico status bills, which have been introduced more than 100 times over the years, have floundered. The latest ones will also likely stall in the Senate since most Republicans fear Puerto Rico statehood would tip the balance of power in favor of Democrats.

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Puerto Ricans push back on Kimberly Guilfoyle's 'first-generation American' remarks

NBC News  tv


Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898. Puerto Ricans were given citizenship in 1917 and were granted birthright U.S. citizenship through the National Act of the 1940s. "After 1940, Congress declared that anyone born in Puerto Rico is born in the United States, so for her to claim that she is the daughter of immigrants is really tricky," said Charles Venator-Santiago, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut who is coordinator of the Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Puerto Rico, Connecticut React To News Of Rosselló's Resignation

WNPR  radio


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.

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Puerto Rico governor, protests, history of the black flag: Everything you need to know

USA Today  


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.

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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.”

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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.

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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."

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Puerto Rico’s healthcare debt looms

Marketplace  radio


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.”

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Research Grants (3)

Climate Change and Puerto Rican Migration to the City of Holyoke, MA

Massachusetts Vulnerability Preparedness Program Grant 

2019 P.I. $149,000

Survey on Impact of Post-Disaster Displacement on Puerto Rican Households in the Hartford Region

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving 

2017-2018 P.I. $47,281

Theorizing Catastrophe Working Group

University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) 

2017-2018 Small Grant (seed) $800.00

Articles (5)

US Territorial Citizenship Today: Four Interpretations

PS: Political Science & Politics

Charles R Venator-Santiago

2017 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.

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A Note on the Puerto Rican De-Naturalization Exception of 1948

Centro Journal

Charles R Venator-Santiago

2017 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.

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Mapping the Contours of the History of the Extension of US Citizenship to Puerto Rico, 1898-Present

Centro Journal

Charles Venator-Santiago

2017 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.

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US Citzienship in Puerto Rico: One Hundred Years After the Jones Act

Centro Journal

Charles R Venator-Santiago, Edgardo Meléndez

2017 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.

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Island at War: Puerto Rico in the Crucible of the Second World War

Hispanic American Historical Review

Charles R Venator-Santiago

2016 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.

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