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Santorum: Puerto Rico Must Adopt English for Statehood

Posted: Mar 15, 2012

Puerto Rico must adopt English as its main language if it wants to be considered for U.S. statehood, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Wednesday.

Santorum was campaigning on the island commonwealth ahead of its Republican primary election on Sunday, where 23 delegates are at stake. One of the hottest political topics on the island is its territorial status, which puertorriqueños will vote on in a November ballot referendum. Puerto Rico currently considers both English and Spanish its official languages, but its citizens and government primarily conducts business in Spanish.

Like his main rival, Mitt Romney, Santorum said he would work with Puerto Rico to become a state should its citizens support such a move. But he said that would come with one important caveat.

“Like in every other state, it [must comply] with this and every other federal law. And that is that English should be the main language. There are other states with more than one language, as is the case in Hawaii, but to be a state of the U.S., English should be the main language,” Santorum told El Vocero newspaper in a wide-ranging interview.

Language has long been a sticking point in the debate over whether Puerto Rico should become a state and it is also a sensitive personal issue for many Puerto Rican voters.

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