For Immediate Release: November 12, 2012
For interviews contact: Phil Kent (404) 226-3549
On Nov. 6 Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood governor Luis Fortuno was defeated by the pro-commonwealth candidate Alejandro Padilla. The election also resulted in the island commonwealth’s legislature flipping to the control of the pro-commonwealth party. So the two-part Nov. 6 referendum asking voter preference on the island’s political status is thrown very much into doubt.
The defeated New Progressive Party claims a majority favors statehood. But due to the rigged nature of the referendum involving the ballot wording, the fact is that more Puerto Ricans chose an option other than statehood. When you total the number of voters who left the second referendum question blank, plus those who voted for “free association’ or independence, there are 978,026 people who voted for something other than statehood. So only 45 percent actually voted for statehood.
Let’s remember that the 2011 recommendations from President Barack Obama’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status rightly recognizes that, if the U.S. commonwealth ever applies to be the 51st state, Congress has ultimate authority over admission and English must play a central role in the daily life of the island.
The commonwealth is predominantly Spanish-speaking. If and when the issue of Puerto Rico goes before Congress in 2013, ProEnglish will vigorously lobby to give these task force recommendations some substance so that Puerto Ricans realize that there would be strict English requirements as a condition for admission to statehood. At a minimum, a large majority of Puerto Rico residents— who are U.S. citizens— must become fluent in English for statehood to be even considered. In this context, Congress must mandate that any new state must adopt English as its official language of government, which would also include the courts and schools. After all, English is our common tongue that unites all Americans.