In a move that could potentially transform their fragile ecosystem, some of the islands are being left in the hands of the United States after they were declared a “national monument” by President Donald Trump.
In an order issued Tuesday, Trump’s Interior Department will allow the federal government to take control of the island groups of the Mariana Archipelago, including San Juan, which has a population of more than 300,000.
Trump’s designation of the territory as a national monument means it is considered a national park.
The islands were declared in 1875 under the terms of a treaty signed between the U.S. and Britain, which called for the creation of a protected area of more then 1,000 square miles in the Marana Sea.
The island group was established in 1871 by U.N. peacekeepers to protect a Spanish colonial outpost from pirates.
It is home to an estimated 300,0000 people, mostly Spanish.
President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the islands, known as the Maranan Islands, will be officially designated a national site, marking the first time in U.s. history that a foreign government has officially recognized an island group as a “National Monument.”
The proclamation says the Maranans are “an integral part of the nation of Puerto Rico,” which is governed by a constitution that was ratified by the island’s people.
President Trump and his Cabinet, as well as members of the Puerto Rican Congress, have been working for years to restore the islands’ natural resources, the president said in his proclamation.
The designation comes as Trump faces increasing international pressure to end the Trump administration’s policies that have been accused of hurting the island nation.
The island’s president has been accused by many other governments of hurting economic development and economic competitiveness by removing protections on the islands from U. S. and international companies.