Puerto Rico declares Spanish as official language

San Juan, Sep 4 (IANS) The Puerto Rican Senate has approved a bill declaring Spanish as the first official language of the country, relegating English to second position, the media reported on Friday.

Bill 1177, introduced in August 2014 by Antonio Fas Alzamora, ex-president of the ruling Popular Democratic Party (PPD), had fallen into oblivion until June when it was put to a voice vote but was rejected, EFE news reported.

However, an agreement was reached on reconsidering the bill, which was finally approved on Thursday without any prior discussion, with support from an overwhelming majority of ruling party senators.

The bill was opposed by eight senators from the main opposition party, Senate President Eduardo Bhatia, Jose Nadal Power (both from the ruling PPD) and legislator Maria de Lordes Santiago.

“In the 21st century government efforts should focus on multiculturalism, including the diversity of languages,” Bhatia said in a statement expressing his opposition to the bill.

Pro-independence legislator Santiago, however, expressed her opposition saying Spanish should be the only official language to maintain their Puerto Rican cultural identity.

In 1993, a law was passed recognising both Spanish and English official languages for the country.

Thursday’s bill proposes to establish Spanish as the first official language making its use compulsory in executive, legislative and judicial matters, and thus repeal Law 1-1993 which put both languages on an equal footing.

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