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Linguistic Nationalism and Partisan Politics During the Second Half of the Twentieth Century. Chapter 7: (pp. 177-264) Torres González, R. (2002). Idioma, bilinguismo y nacionalidad: la presencia del inglés en Puerto Rico . San Juan, PR.

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Linguistic Nationalism and Partisan Politics During the Second Half of the Twentieth Century

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Linguistic nationalism and partisan politics during the second half of the twentieth century l.jpg

Linguistic Nationalism and Partisan Politics During the Second Half of the Twentieth Century

Chapter 7: (pp. 177-264)

Torres González, R. (2002). Idioma, bilinguismo y nacionalidad:

la presencia del inglés en Puerto Rico. San Juan, PR.

Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico

Prepared By: Aníbal Muñoz Claudio

Course: EDUC 8130

Prof. Dr. María A. Irizarry

Date: February 21, 2006


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Preview

  • Electoral course of the political parties in PR

  • Elections in Puerto Rico (chart)

  • The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

  • The New Progressive Party (PNP) and the Statehood Movement

  • The Puerto Rican Independent Party (PIP) and the Independence Movement

  • Perseverance of the Puerto Rican cultural nationalism


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Electoral Course of the Political Parties in Puerto Rico

  • Despite the political and cultural autonomy obtained through the foundation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (ELA), along with the recent (1949) linguistic policy which declared Spanish as the language of instruction in the public school system, the English language and the American culture acquire greater presence and influence in various aspects of the Puerto Rican culture.

  • This cultural and linguistic ‘north-americanization’ was due not only to deliberate teaching approaches or government policy, but rather to many indirect consequences derived from the development of the private sector, political upheavals, and socio-economic and demographic changes that have taken place on the Island since that date .

  • However, in spite of the advances of this ‘north-americanization’, it has varied its intensity, from time to time during the second half of the century, since it has been challenged in many fronts by the resilient Puerto Rican cultural nationalism promoted by either political parties in government positions as well as many entities from the private sector.

  • Chapter 7 talks about the political arena, while chapter 8, presents the economic, socio-demographic, and cultural aspects. (Torres González, R. 2002)


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Electoral Course… (cont.)

  • One of the indicators where the ‘north-americanization’ process manifests itself overwhelmingly, is in the electoral course (trajectory) of the main political parties of the Island since 1948 to the present.

  • Since 1948, a great majority of the Puerto Rican voters have supported those political parties that have favored some type of political association with the United States. These are:

    a. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) which promotes the

    continuation of The Commonwealth (ELA)

    b. Different Parties that have advocated for Statehood

    1. Statehood Puerto Rican Party-Partido Estadista Puertorriqueño

    2. Republican Statehood Party –Partido Estadista Republicano

    3. New Progressive Party (PNP) since 1967

  • As it has been evidenced, the electoral strength that have favored these political parties have shifted from time to time, while the favoritism for the Independence movement has decreased considerably since 1952. (Torres González, R. 2002)


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Elections in Puerto Rico from 1948-2000ELA (PPD)(PNP)(PIP)


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Elections and Plebiscites in Puerto Rico from 1948-2000ELA (PPD)(PNP)(PIP)


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The Popular Democratic Party (PPD)The Commonwealth of PR

  • When the Constitution of the Commonwealth (ELA) was signed and approved by governmental authorities and Governor Luis Muñoz Marín, there were two clear tendencies that defined all PPD advocates back then (these tendencies still prevailed at present times with some degrees of variations).

    a. A cultural nationalism (p.181) with strong ties to Hispanic affiliations b. An occidental approach ( from the University) with an identification with the US citizenship and strong political, economical, and cultural ties with the country

  • Despite their ideological differences regarding the cultural issue, both tendencies had coincided since the early forties to have Spanish as the official language of instruction in both, the public school system and the University.

  • These tendencies continued their association under the ELA parameters, the Constitution itself, and later in the “Bootstrap”(Manos a la Obra) government initiative of economic development which boosted and transformed the PR economy from an agrarian type into a more industrialized one. (Torres González, R.2002)


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PPD and the ELA (cont.)

  • Since the foundation of the ELA, many political leaders, even within the PPD ranks, and other prominent citizens (René Marqués –p.183), have acknowledged and criticized its political status as an inconclusive one. Such status kept the Island on hold which many considered (and still consider) a colonial status.

  • There have been several attempts to culminate the ELA. However, all have failed through time due to the indifference of Washington (capital of United States). (p. 182. Torres, González, R. 2002)

  • During the 50’s, the Western (occidentalismo) discourse keeps its hegemony in the academic fields of the State University (UPR) where it has great influences in the PPD ranks as well as in the cultural and educational aspects of the Island.

  • UPR President, Jaime Benitez’s effort to place the University at the service of the modernization and industrialization projects of the government, responded to his attempts to foster the creation of more professionals (techno-bureaucrats) with a modernist and scientist mentality little less identified with past Hispanic roots. (p.185)(Torres, González, R. 2002)


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PPD and the ELA (cont.)

  • However, it is, precisely, the cultural effects and the identity threat brought by the industrialization and ‘north-americanization’ process, which provoked the resentment in the PR population, the expressions of a cultural nationalism and the defense of the Spanish language as central issue to preserve the PR cultural identity. (p.186)

  • One example of these effects is the massive migration of Puerto Ricans to US in the 60’s.

  • Governor Muñoz Marín was very concerned about the effects on the language and in the culture brought by the ‘north-americanization’. (187)

  • Governor Muñoz Marín pronounced his famous speech The Puerto Rican Personality in the ELA, better known as Agapito’s Bar. p.189-190

  • During the 50’s, the government makes all efforts to promote the Puerto Rican culture in the education through key textbooks such as: La Llamarada, Tiempo Muerto, and Terrazo. (p.193 –irony )

  • The Puerto Rican Institute of Culture and the Puerto Rican Academy for the Spanish language were created as means to protect the Spanish language and the PR culture itself. (p.205, Torres González, R. 2002)


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PPD and the ELA (cont.)

  • The PPD continues with its persistent determination to protect the Spanish language –Rafael Hernandez Colón’s Spanish Only Law of 1990 (Ley 68, Ley Orgánica del Dept. de Educación) (p.212, 215)

  • Governor Hernández Colón clarifies in his speech his feelings about declaring this law. (216-217)

  • There can’t be any doubt that the emphasis that the PPD has placed and places (nowadays) on the ‘Hispanic’ or the ‘Hispanic-American’ and specially in the Spanish language, as an axis of the Puerto Rican culture and nationality, has been a great political asset in the two fronts of the struggle regarding the political status of the Island.

  • On one hand, to fight against the statehood advocates, and on the other hand, to establish the “cultural base” from which they could demand a greater political autonomy for Puerto Rico.

  • The success of this strategy is yet to be seen, although it seems that is has been more effective on the first front than in the second.

    (Torres González, R. 2002, p.223)


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Up to the 40’s most of the statehood leaders supported the americanization process and the bilingual teaching approaches of the Americans.

When Commisioner Villaronga (1949) established his language policy, he was highly criticized by the statehood leaders. (p.223)

During the 50’s and 60’s the statehood leaders continued criticizing the linguistic policy and the cultural nationalism since, according to them, it pretended to separate Puerto Rico from the US. (224)

In 1967, Luis A. Ferré (who later became governor) founded the PNP and proclaimed the concept of “estadidad jíbara”. (227)

Based on the civil rights movements of the 60’s and 70’s, Governor Carlos Romero Barceló presented the statehood issue as one of an ethnic minority claiming their civil and constitutional rights to the US. (p.229) to achieve an equal political status. (Torres González, R. 2002)

The New Progressive Party (PNP) Statehood Movement


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The (PNP) Statehood Movement (cont.)

  • In 1991, Pedro Roselló. PNP candidate then, referred to the language law as the “Spanish Only Law” and, among the critics, the PNP stated that this law will jeopardize the teaching of English in PR schools. This approach opened the doors for the new statehood discourse of the 20th century. (p. 231)

  • In 1991, the PNP won a referendum regarding linguistic and cultural issues.(p. 233) Later, in 1992, when the PNP won the elections under Governor Pedro Rosello, they approved a new language law in which both languages Spanish and English were declared official languages of Puerto Rico.(p.234)

  • Both the PPD and the PIP opposed the new law.

  • PNP Legislature clarified the intentions and motives of the law. (p. 239)

  • It is not until Governor Rosello’s second term, when it was attempted again to establish bilingual education (Proyecto del ciudadano bilingue y la Ley Orgánica de 1999) –different from the position of the PNP which had been the same since Villaronga. (p.243) (Torres González, R. 2002)


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From the three main political parties of the island, the PIP has been the most consistent in regards to the issues of language and culture. They have been the most persistent in defending the Spanish language as the official language of the Island and the language to be used in the public school system.

Although they approve the teaching or learning of other languages in school, they have not been so committed to say that English should be that other language necessarily. (p. 248)

The main exception to the PIP’s national and cultural orientation was Ruben del Rosario, who was a fervent critic of the catastrophic version that the English language could have a negative influence in the Puerto Rican Spanish. (p. 249)

Del Rosario’s political and cultural nationalism was expressed in his book Ser puertorriqueño y otros ensayos. (p. 250. Torres González, R. 2002)

The Puerto Rican Independent Party (PIP) The Independence Movement


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The Independence Movement of the PIP (cont.)

  • In recent decades, the PIP has shown lenience to accept the English language as the second language of Puerto Ricans. A good indicator was the PIP’s support to the “Ley Orgánica” approved in 1990. (p.251)

  • There are many PIP scholars and intellectuals with different views of the cultural nationalism which vary from the early positions. (p.252)

  • The PIP assumed a radical position in the “Young Project” as an ally of the PNP. (p.253)

  • The PIP plays a major role in the withdrawal of the US Marine Corps from the Island of Vieques, thus prompting a chain reaction that generated a fervent Puerto Rican cultural nationalism. Some sectors of the Independence Movement like the Socialism activist, lawyer Juan Mari Bras, among others, renounces to his American citizenship. The effects of these incidents in the political status along with the rejection to the US culture are yet to be seen.

    (Torres González, R. 2002)


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Perseverance of the Puerto Rican cultural nationalism

  • The survey conducted by Hispania Research Corporation in 1992 revealed some interesting findings regarding the perspectives of Puerto Ricans about their linguistic and national preferences. (p. 255-256)

  • UPR professors Ángel L. Rivera and Jorge Benitez carried out another poll in 1995 which revealed that a majority of Puerto Ricans considered more important “to be Puerto Ricans” than “being American citizens”.

  • The study of Nancy Morris (1995) also revealed a strong Puerto Rican nationalism. (p. 257) Above all the aspects mentioned, the Spanish language is the predominant cultural symbol of Puerto Ricans

  • However, all surveys conducted revealed an acceptance for the teaching of English as a second language in the public school system.

  • The PR nationalism takes another form in the movement of an intellectual and social front known as “sociedad civil”. (p. 260-261)

  • These studies have sustained that the same US attempts to ‘americanize’ the Island have instead reinforced the consolidation of the cultural, national, and linguistic identity of Puerto Ricans. (p. 263-265)

    (Torres González, R. 2002)


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Summary –final thoughts of Chapter 7

  • In a century in which the language and culture (or languages and cultures) of Puerto Ricans have been one of the main issues of the political controversies in regards to the colonial relations between Puerto Rico and the United States, it is surprising that towards the end of the century, these issues have acquired an importance perhaps like never before, not only from the Independence side, but also from the Commonwealth and Statehood supporters. In this way, Torres González concludes his chapter with a passage from Duany (1997a):

    Cada uno de los partidos políticos (insulares) articula su propio proyecto para adelantar la identidad puertorriqueña, pero todos parten del nacionalismo cultural. Este extraordinario consenso ideológico entre las elites políticas, así como entre los sectores populares, debe sentar las bases para la descolonización definitiva de la Isla en el siglo 21.(p.13)


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References

  • Torres González, R. (2002). Idioma, bilinguismo y

    nacionalidad: la presencia del inglés en Puerto

    Rico. San Juan: PR. Editorial de la Universidad

    de Puerto Rico

  • Negrón de Montilla, A. (1990). La americanización de Puerto Rico

    y el sistema de instrucción pública, 1900-1930. Río Piedras:

    Editorial Universitaria

  • Marques, R. (1977). El puertorriqueño dócil y otros ensayos,

    1953-1971. San Juan PR: Editorial Antillana


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