5 Reasons Why Language Is Not a Barrier to Puerto Rico Statehood

Statehood is a practical solution for Puerto Rico. As a state, Puerto Rico will have a full voice in American democracy, the full support of the United States, a governing system that has been proven to work, and — history shows — a stronger economic position. Statehood would give the people of Puerto Rico voting rights and equality with other citizens of the United States. It would put Puerto Rico on an equal footing with the other States.

Most Puerto Ricans do not want independence, as is demonstrated by the fact that independence has not gotten into the double digits in any referendum held on the Island. Independence is feasible under the U.S. constitution, but it would probably mean the end of U.S. citizenship and the loss of federal support. For a currently insolvent territory, independence would be a tough choice. It’s not likely to succeed without complete dedication and support among the people of Puerto Rico… and that is unlikely.

The only other option is statehood. Enhanced commonwealth has been rejected by the United States government, and Puerto Rico can’t make changes to the relationship between the island and the U.S. without having the U.S. government on board.

Economically and politically, statehood is clearly superior to the current territory status.

But there are still people who feel that differences between Puerto Rico and the other states present a barrier to statehood for Puerto Rico. They fear that communication will be a problem, and on those grounds would reject statehood for Puerto Rico.

Here are five quick reasons not to worry about the language question:

  1. English is one of the official languages of Puerto Rico.
  2. English is not the official language of the United States.
  3. English is widely understood in Puerto Rico. At one time, only about 10% of the residents of Puerto Rico spoke English comfortably, but more recent estimates put the percentage at 50%. This is the percentage of English speakers in New Mexico when they became a state.
  4. English is widely used in Puerto Rican media. The people of Puerto Rico often watch English-language TV and use the internet in English. People in the mainland U.S. also often watch Spanish-language TV and use the internet in Spanish.
  5. There are more Spanish speakers in current U.S. states than in Puerto Rico.

Language differences did not prevent Louisiana or Colorado or Maine from becoming States, and language differences needn’t prevent Puerto Rico from becoming a State, either.

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