Puerto Rico: Speak English Or Else!

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary This is probably the biggest nail in the coffin for a Rick Santorum presidency. The hopeful Republican presidential candidate went to Puerto Rico where he told the Puerto Rican people that in order for them to become a state they should “make English the only official language.” Besides shooting himself in the political foot, this is in fact not a good way to tell Puerto Ricans—whether they be for statehood or for that matter independence (which is only four percent of the population)—what language they should speak. And while Santorum is telling Puerto Ricans what language to speak, he should tell them what food to eat like apple pie and ice cream and how to build English manor homes.

One has to ask with the number of Latinos in the Republican Party, and the fact that Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States, where do we find such 19th Century thinking morons? One also has to ask why Santorum went to Puerto Rico in the first place? The only reason I can give is that he is trying to “impress” Puerto Ricans living in the United States by going to Puerto Rico and making it look like he “cares.” Well, I am sure he has impressed many Puerto Ricans that he is the wrong choice for president, and that if there are Latino Republicans left they will most likely be looking at Mitt Romney as the better choice. Romney would like to see Puerto Rico as a state, but at least he will allow Puerto Ricans to keep Spanish.

As we all know, Puerto Rico has Spanish and English as its two official languages. When Santorum thought that English should be the primary language of Puerto Rico, he was referring to the territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands where English is the primary language of these two places (in Guam it is English and Chamorro, and in the Northern Mariana Islands it is English, Chamorro and Carolinian). Two main problems here. First, neither Guam nor the Northern Mariana Islands are thinking about becoming states. Second, neither have the same history and culture of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was discovered, colonized and ruled by Spain for 400 years. This is where the roots of Puerto Rico’s origins are, along with its Taino indigenous and African roots which make the Puerto Rican people who they are. Therefore Puerto Rico could not be more different from Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands.

In my view a Rick Santorum presidency would be a total disaster for this country if we see what kind of vision he has for Puerto Rico. What his criteria would be to make Puerto Rico become a state is too high and unrealistic. With any luck we will never see a Rick Santorum presidency.

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