US Mint unveils quarter with Spanish inscription

The Associated Press

Friday, April 3rd 2009, 1:26 PM

commonwealth-of-puerto-rico-quarterSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The director of the U.S. Mint on Thursday unveiled the first U.S. coin with an inscription in Spanish, a quarter honoring Puerto Rico as the “Isla del Encanto” — or “Island of Enchantment.”

The coin presented at a ceremony in the Caribbean territory’s capital is the latest in a series that already has recognized all 50 states and, like the others, it depicts the traditional profile of George Washington on one side.

But the reverse side shows a sentry box on a Spanish colonial fort and a hibiscus, the U.S. island’s official flower, along with the phrase: “Isla del Encanto.”

At the presentation in San Juan’s colonial district, U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy said the U.S. coin is the first to circulate with a phrase inscribed in Spanish.

He said the quarter will be an ambassador for the “marvels” of Puerto Rico.

sq.color.2009.prGov. Luis Fortuño, whose party favors making this Caribbean island the 51st U.S. state, dismissed any suggestion that the inscription highlights Puerto Rico’s cultural differences with the mainland.

“The reality is the United States is one of the biggest Spanish-speaking countries in the world, with 45 million citizens of Hispanic descent,” Fortuño said, adding that the use of Spanish represents “the integration of a great nation” that has room for many languages.

The Puerto Rico quarter entered circulation on Monday.

A quarter for the District of Columbia debuted earlier this year, and the Mint is also rolling out others this year for Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.