Puerto Rico Gov.-elect Alejandro Garcia Padilla on Tuesday joked about his command of English after he had to ask a U.S. reporter to speak more slowly.
Garcia Padilla, who narrowly defeated incumbent Luis Fortuño in the Nov. 6 election, referred to a press conference held on Monday to speak about his government transition committee.
He asked the reporter who questioned him in English to speak more slowly, saying that there was an echo in the room.
The governor-elect then answered somewhat doubtfully and with prolonged pauses, something that quickly became a hot topic on social media.
"I do the best I can and I couldn't think of the word 'flow,' and besides we were in the Casa Olimpica and there was a terrible echo and I could not hear her well," Garcia Padilla said on Tuesday.
Garcia Padilla's remarks came a day after the president of U.S. English, Chilean immigrant Mauro Mujica, said that if Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st state its government will have to use English exclusively.
Mujica brought up the issue a week after the Caribbean island held a non-binding referendum in which 54 percent of the Puerto Rican electorate said "no" to the island's current commonwealth status and 61.1 percent said San Juan should seek U.S. statehood.
U.S. 2010 Census figures show that 96 percent of Puerto Rico's 3.7 million residents speak Spanish as their first language. EFE