Peter Lee Published on 12 November 2012
Category: English in the News
As of early Wednesday, 54% of Puerto Rico’s 1,643 precincts were interested in changing the commonwealth’s political status. Sixty-one percent of voters who chose to answer the second question believed that Puerto Rico should become a U.S. state. Currently, the island is a U.S. territory and its residents are U.S. citizens, but they are unable to vote in presidential elections and have limited representation in the U.S. House.
Nicole Arocho, a Puerto Rican student at Ithaca College, did not vote on the referendum. Had she voted, she said, she would not have supported the statehood of Puerto Rico.
“Statehood won’t happen any time soon,” Arocho said. “The voting that happened this Tuesday did not bind the U.S. in any way; it wasn’t a consult with Congress’ blessing, it was just [something] the pro-statehood political party in power wanted to do to push Congress to do something about our political status, but it isn’t that this voting is final.”
“The status of Puerto Rico should be decided by the residents of Puerto Rico,” Obama stated last year. “If the plebiscite, or the referendum, that takes place in Puerto Rico indicates that there is a strong preference from the majority of the Puerto Rican people, I think that will influence how Congress approaches any action that might be taken to address status issues.”
“We Puerto Ricans take pride in our sports teams, athletes, Miss Universe candidates and other cultural figures,” Arocho said. “If we became a state, all this would disappear.”
Jack Stearns, a recent alumnus of the University of Michigan, also thinks that the cultural barrier between the United States and Puerto Rico could prevent a successful inclusion.
“I think Puerto Rico could be a great boost to our economy, but the problem is that the language barrier is the number one reason for misunderstanding between Americans and immigrants,” Stearns said. “There’s a lot of division because of language issues.”
“If Puerto Rico becomes a state, our language, Spanish, will be substituted by English,” Arocho said. “Language is a very important part of culture and, without Spanish, the Hispanic culture of my country will fade away completely.”
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