Puerto Rican Statehood
No Puerto Rican statehood without English
H.R. 2499 would require that Puerto Ricans hold a plebiscite on whether or not Puerto Rico should keep its status as a commonwealth of the U.S. If a majority does not vote in favor of remaining a commonwealth, then another plebiscite would be held with only two options: to become a state, or to become an independent country.
ProEnglish opposes this bill for two reasons. First there is no provision in the bill that requires Puerto Rico to adopt English as the language of its government, which ProEnglish believes must be a pre-requisite for any territory or commonwealth to be admitted as a state. Second, the two stage plebiscite is a carefully contrived effort to get a majority of Puerto Ricans to vote in favor of statehood, something Puerto Ricans have repeatedly refused to do despite several attempts in the past. It is therefore undemocratic, manipulative, and an insult to the citizens of Puerto Rico.
Please click here to read an op-ed column by Puerto Rican Popular Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Jose Hernandez opposing H.R. 2499. For more about why this legislation is undemocratic and wrong, visit the PDP's website.
New Generation of Puerto Ricans lacks language skills
33% of Puerto Ricans between the ages of 18 and 65 are bilingual (i.e., they spoke Spanish, but reported knowing English "well" or "very well."). But among Puerto Ricans aged 5 to 18, however, less than 19% are bilingual. In both age groups, just over 14% spoke English only.
History of Puerto Rico, its status, and its official languages
1900: The island was surrendered to the United States military authority. On April 2, the Foraker Law (Organic Act of 1900) was approved, establishing civil government and free commerce between the island and the United States. The law was impulsed into Congress by Senator Joseph B. Foraker. Puerto Rico became first unincorporated U.S. territory. The new government had an American governor, with 5 Puerto Rican Cabinet members. The first civil governor (Charles H. Allen) of the island under the Foraker Act was inaugurated on May 1, in San Juan.
1902: The Official Languages Act (under the Foraker Act) was instituted and declared that in all insular governmental departments, courts, and public offices, English was to be regarded as co-official with Spanish, and when necessary, translations and interpretations from one language to the other would be made so that all parties could understand the proceedings.
1917: On March 2, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act. With this law, Puerto Rico: became a territory of the United States ("organized but unincorporated,"); had its citizens granted citizenship by act of Congress (not by the Constitution and therefore not guaranteed by it); established that elections were to be celebrated every four years; made English the official language.
1922: In the case of Balzac v. Porto Rico (258 U.S. 308) the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Puerto Rico was a territory rather than a part of the Union. The decision stated that the U.S. Constitution did not apply in Puerto Rico.
1946: A bill was passed ordering "the exclusive use of the Spanish language for teaching in all public schools."
1950: Congress authorizes Puerto Ricans to draft their own constitution establishing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
1967: The first plebiscite on the political status of Puerto Rico is held. Voters overwhelmingly affirm continuation of Commonwealth status.
1991: Puerto Rico declares Spanish the only official language of the island. Puerto Rico also rejected an amendment to “review” their country’s commonwealth status.
1993: Puerto Rico declares English and Spanish as the official languages of Puerto Rico. In a referendum, Commonwealth status is reaffirmed by voters.
Commonwealth....... 826,326 (48.6%)
Statehood.......... 788,296 (46.3%)
Independence........ 75,620 ( 4.4%)
Nulls............... 10,748 ( 0.7%)
1998: Puerto Rico votes on whether to become a state, for the third time. The party opposed to statehood, dissatisfied with the ballot's wording, encourages its supporters to vote "None of the above," the option which receives the most votes:
Independent Nation with Free Association: 0.3%
Independent Nation: 2.5%
None of the above (commonwealth): 50.3%
Click here to read K.C. McAlpin's October, 2009 editorial on Puerto Rican statehood.
Click here for more information on why ProEnglish opposes H.R. 2499.
Also see our Puerto Rican statehood press release.
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