by Kristal Bivona
Rick Santorum visited Puerto Rico hoping to snag as many of the U.S. territory’s 23 delegates as possible. Puerto Ricans will vote in the upcoming primary, but not in the general election. However, Santorum turned off many Boricua voters when he remarked that the island should make English the primary language if Puerto Ricans want statehood. He later explained, “As the son of an Italian immigrant myself, I continue to believe that English is the language of opportunity in America under statehood or the current status.”
Many Puerto Ricans do not speak English. Spanish language media immediately attacked Santorum, pointing out that what he said can be considered offensive and ignorant of Puerto Rico’s reality. This November, while the 50 states vote for the President, Puerto Rico will revisit the question of becoming a U.S. state. Although Santorum remained neutral on the question of Puerto Rico as the 51st state, his comment about language certainly caused a stir.
In response, Santorum’s campaign explained that he just meant that it was important for Puerto Rican children to have the opportunity to learn English, attempting to soften his comments.