Puerto Rico could soon make Spanish its official language if a senator from the islands governing party has his way.
English and Spanish are currently both the official languages of Puerto Rico, which was a colony of Spain before it became a U.S. territory in 1898. But Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora wants to change that. He introduced a bill on Thursday that would make Spanish the official language of Puerto Rico, making English the second language.
By establishing Spanish as the first official language, we will strengthen our cultural identity and validate the reality that more than 80 percent of Puerto Ricans do not understand or speak English, Fas Alzamora said in a statement in Spanish.
Fas Alzamora is a member of the governing party of Puerto Rico that is known as Partido Popular Democrático or PPD. The party wants the island to remain a U.S. territory and generally prefers Spanish over English, according to EFE. Meanwhile, those who want Puerto Rico to become a U.S. state generally support the predominant use of English.
If approved, Fas Alzamoras bill would repeal a 1993 law that made English and Spanish the official languages of Puerto Rico. The bill would also make Spanish mandatory in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the islands government.
According to the bill, all Puerto Ricans should be able to communicate with their government using the language that the great majority of them use, which is Spanish.
Fas Alzamora insisted that he does not seek to eliminate the teaching of English in schools with his bill. On the contrary, the senator said he wants to strengthen the teaching of both languages ??to form bilingual youth who face a world that is increasingly more globalized.
This legislation is not based on the concept of Spanish only, but a legislative measure that is pragmatic and realistic on [the concept of] Spanish first, he added.