You might have heard of the English-Only or English-First movement. While the United States has very deliberately chosen not to have an official language, there are those who believe that English should be the official language of the United States. These people believe that Puerto Rico, which has both English and Spanish as official languages, should not become a state until the people agree to use English as the only official language.
The administration of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has hired a representative of this position as a lobbyist for Puerto Rico.
The new lobbyist for Puerto Rico is former Republican U.S. House of Representatives Member Toby Roth, who has opposed equality for the territory since he was in Congress.
Roth chaired a group of House members urging that English be made the official language of the U.S. and sponsored a national Official English bill while he was in Congress.
When a bill was proposed that would allow the voters of Puerto Rico to choose their status — a bill calling for a plebiscite on status — Roth worked to amend the bill to require that a State of Puerto Rico would use only English as the language of government. The amendment was defeated. Instead of requiring English Only, the bill recommended more English language education in Puerto Rico. This did not satisfy Roth, and he tried to defeat the bill.
The bill passed the House two years later — despite Roth’s lobbying against it — and the people of Puerto Rico were able to vote on their status. Unfortunately, “None of the above” was the winner in the 1998 plebiscite, so the status of Puerto Rico was not settled. In 2012, the next referendum brought in a clear majority vote for statehood; however, the Garcia Administration refuses to accept the vote of Puerto Ricans for statehood and against territory status.
In the face of controversy over the vote, the U.S. government has arranged for the first Federally-funded plebiscite, with the goal of settling Puerto Rico’s status permanently. Puerto Rico’s governor is preparing for the 2016 plebiscite — and Roth is helping.
Roth began to lobby for Garcia’s “commonwealth” party and “commonwealth” party administrations the year after he left Congress in 1997, having represented a Wisconsin district for 18 years. Roth has previously worked for PRFAA and at least four Puerto Rico municipalities with “commonwealth” party mayors as well as for the “commonwealth” party itself.
Now, Roth is back.
He is being paid $10,000 a month by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA). Puerto Rico is in serious financial trouble, so putting this kind of money into lobbying shows that it must be important to the administration.
The right-wing Republican might seem to be an odd representative of Garcia, who claims to be a liberal Democrat in national politics, but they both strongly oppose statehood for Puerto Rico.
Garcia supports Puerto Rico’s current status as a territory. Under it, Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in its national government and is denied equal treatment in major programs to ensure health care and improve the lives of low-income individuals.
The government’s hiring of an anti-statehood lobbyist to prepare for the referendum on Puerto Rico’s status shows how hard they are prepared to work against statehood for Puerto Rico. We believe that statehood is the only way that Puerto Rico will be able to have full citizenship and equal rights. If you agree, please sign the petition!
This post was originally written in English and may be being auto-translated by Google.