[lg policy] US: Where the Candidates Stand on Puerto Rican Statehood

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 17 15:19:58 UTC 2012

Where the Candidates Stand on Puerto Rican Statehood

Published March 16, 2012

Fox News Latino

The divisive issue of Puerto Rican statehood takes center stage this
week as the GOP candidates focus their attention on the U.S.
territory’s 23 delegate spots that are up for grabs in Sunday’s
primary election. Despite not being able to vote in the presidential
elections, Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens in 1917 and were granted
the right to elect their own governor in 1947.  While the island’s
official languages are English and Spanish, Spanish is used by most of
its citizens and only 15 percent of Puerto Rican residents are fluent
in English.

Statehood, along with the controversial topic of English as the
official language of the U.S., could play a decisive role in deciding
which of the GOP candidates grabs Puerto Rico’s delegates, and even
who wins November’s presidential elections. Fox News Latino has
compiled a list of where each of the candidates and President Obama
stands on the issue of Puerto Rican statehood.

Barack Obama

Last year, Obama became the first U.S. president to make an official
state visit to Puerto Rico since John F. Kennedy went to the island in
1961. The president stated that he supports Puerto Rico’s right to
self-determination and would back the island in whatever choice it
makes on its status. The President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s
Status issued a report in March recommending that the island hold two
more votes on the issue by the end of 2012.

"I am firmly committed to the principle that the question of political
status is a matter of self-determination for the people of Puerto
Rico," Obama wrote in March in a statement about the White House task
force report, according to Bloomberg. The White House report
recommended that Puerto Rico decide first whether to remain part of
the United States or become independent -- then depending on the
outcome, a second vote would decide if the island becomes a
commonwealth, seeks statehood, or decides on a form of independent

"We’re giving Puerto Ricans the tools they need to build their own
economic future, and this is how it should be," Obama said.

Mitt Romney

Of all the GOP candidates, the former Massachusetts governor appears
to have the most open view in support of Puerto Rican statehood.
While Romney is a proponent of making English the official language of
the United States, and has promised to reduce government spending, he
has stated that he supports Puerto Rican statehood without any kind of
language or budgetary requirements.

In a recent opinion piece on Fox News Latino, Robert G. de Posada, the
former president of The Latino Coalition, argued that the cost of
making Puerto Rico at least a bilingual state would cost the United
States around $25.67 billion, per year.

"Gov. Romney needs to come clean with Republican voters and be
transparent," Posada wrote. "If he truly believes that English should
be the official language of the U.S. and that federal spending must be
reduced, then he must tell voters before the Republican primary on the
island that Puerto Rico should have to adopt significant language
policy changes—that is, change from de facto Spanish to de facto
English—and achieve, at the very least, substantial economic parity
with the poorest state in the Union before Congress and the President
should agree to admit it as the 51st State."

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum arrived Wednesday in Puerto Rico following victories
earlier in the week in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries.
The former Pennsylvania senator is hoping to continue his recent surge
on the island as he spoke to the local press and met with Puerto Rican
Gov. Luis Fortuño – a Romney supporter.

In an interview with Puerto Rico’s El Vocero newspaper, Santorum
stated that he supports the island’s right to self-determination of
statehood but that first Puerto Rico would have to do something about
its official language.

“Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any
other federal law," Santorum told the paper, according to NPR. "And
that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other
states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of
the United States, English has to be the principal language."

On Thursday, however, Santorum backpedaled from the comments he made
to El Vocero.

"Obviously Spanish would be the language here," Santorum said, adding
that it’s essential that English be taught and spoken "universally"
throughout the island. "That’s something that I think is essential to
be an American period, whether you’re going to be a state or not,
people should speak English and it should be a common language among
all Americans," Santorum said.

Newt Gingrich

The former Speaker of the House has been much more coy than his fellow
GOP rivals. Instead of saying outright that he supports Puerto Rican
statehood, Gingrich stated that he would work with the people of
Puerto Rico to establish the process of ascension, if that is what
they choose. "I am not dictating the outcome of the referendum because
there are several options and the Puerto Rican people have to make
that decision," Gingrich said, according to ABC News. "But I think
they have every right and I support their right to have a referendum
to decide on statehood or not and that is something which I would
actively support as their right to have a referendum and then, as
every other state has, to negotiate the process of accession if that’s
what the people of Puerto Rico want to do."

Ron Paul

While he’s a strong supporter of making English the official language
of the United States and has co-sponsored bills on the issue, Paul has
barely addressed statehood. When questioned about it, Paul has said
that he’s “not taking a position at this time."  The Texas senator
also did not vote on the final passage of H.R. 2499, the Puerto Rico
Democracy Act of 2010.

Where Mitt Romney Stands on Issues of Import to Latino Voters

Where Rick Santorum Stands on Issues Important to Latino Voters

Where Newt Gingrich Stands on Issues of Import to Latino Voters

Where Ron Paul Stands on Issues of Import to Latino Voters

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/03/15/where-candidates-stand-on-puerto-rican-statehood/#ixzz1pO5x7IdO

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