White House, Uruguay President Urges U.S. To Become Bilingual
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[May 13, 2014]
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Uruguay President
Jose Mujica, meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama, on
Monday urged the United States to become bilingual, joking that
immigrants from Latin America would fill the country with Spanish
"We belong to a continent where our mother tongue is more or less
Spanish. And we live in a time where we need to learn English," the
leftist Mujica, dressed in a suit but no tie, said to Obama.
"And you will have to become a bilingual country ... because the
strength of Latin women is admirable and they will fill this country
with people who speak Spanish and Portuguese, too," he said.
Obama is pushing for broad immigration reform in the United States
that would require undocumented immigrants to learn English, pay
fines and eventually earn a pathway to citizenship. The effort is
stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mujica also used his time with the U.S. president to encourage a
fight against smoking, which he said was killing 8 million people
around the world every year.
"That is more than World War I, World War II. It's murder. We are in
an arduous fight - very arduous - and we must fight against very
strong interests," he said, according to an interpreter.
Obama is a former smoker.
The U.S. president praised Mujica for his leadership. He did not
mention the issue of marijuana. Mujica signed a decree earlier this
month outlining a new policy that would allow Uruguayans to be able
to buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week at between $0.85 and $1 a
gram, a low price compared to the black market.
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"I have had the pleasure on several occasions of having discussions
with President Mujica, and have been consistently impressed with the
progress that Uruguay has been making under his presidency," Obama
told reporters, speaking before his counterpart in the Oval Office.
He said both men were interested in deepening their respective
countries' mutual bonds.
"So this gives us an opportunity to find ways that we can further
deepen this relationship. We both think that there's room for
additional work to expand trade and commerce between our countries,"
(This story has been refiled to fix misspelling of "deepening" in
(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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