Friday, November 27, 2009

Filiberto Ojeda Ríos Report Expected.....

As reported by the newly online established Puerto Rico Daily Sun there is a report expected by Dec. 31st in the ongoing investigation by the Puerto Rico Civil Rights Commission on the death of the late Filiberto Ojeda Ríos. Ojeda Rios, leader of the militant group known as Los Macheteros, was killed on Sept 23, full article..

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanks 'Giving'; Feliz Dia de Acción de Gracias!

Thanksgiving... regardless of the days meaning to each individual one has to stop and consider all the things that can be given thanks for.
I personally remember many a childhood memories of Thanksgivings long gone. They were, as is now, a day to gather among family, enjoy the many Puerto Rican style dishes, enjoy some good music and be thankful for what we had. Some will do the same today with family and friends while others will dig deep to explore the true meaning behind the day.
It's historical significance can be associated to the images often seen in classroom history books or, to the more historically interested in the days meaning, it can be associated to deeper historical facts (Desconstructing the Myths.....) not found in those same books. Images of Pilgrims and Indians at the dinner table enjoying a big feast is the norm making the occasion very picturesque. While we should be giving thanks daily we should not forget the greater meaning behind it's celebrated purpose.
The objective here, regardless of the days meaning, is to give thanks. Let's not just give it one day a year though, but every day. After all, the word thanksgiving is two words in one.

Thanks, but No Thanks? decide.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why is now the time? Fortuño Pide Incorporación de P.R. a E.U.

Puerto Rico Governor, Luis G. Fortuño, believes that there is no greater time then now for Puerto Rico to be incorporated into the U.S.

Back in 1898 as the U.S. took possession of the island it was never intended for it to become a state. Forcing citizenship upon Puerto Ricans (1917), allowing Puerto Ricans to elect their own governor (1948) and to construct a Constitution of their own (1950) were not changes but mere cloaks to cover the relationship status, colonial, that was in place. Puerto Rico's social, economic and political relationship to the U.S. fundamentally remains the same. As late as the early 1960's, then Governor Luis Muñoz Marín's attempts to call the island a 'free associated state' were shunned since Puerto Rico was neither free nor a state. As late as 2005, former President Bush's Puerto Rico Task Force reminded "Puerto Rico was not intended to become a state and Puerto Ricans were citizens by statue rather than birth." Hence, it was a colony then and still continues to be.
So..why is now the time?

Fortuño pide incorporación de P.R. a E.U.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Response to...."Puerto Ricans in New York Struggling…Still" Comment

Here we go again. As I scroll through the comments in this article I think of the possible reasons as to why Puerto Ricans are still struggling in New York even after several generations. I listened to the video and arguably the ignorance of some elected officials is shameful. There are many reasons for the struggle but the real challenge lies in correcting what is wrong and finding solutions. Stressing the importance of education and providing information to resources available to obtain the same are only a part of the solution. Many Puerto Ricans who have risen from poverty have left these communities and fail to come back and give to the same community. It's not about giving backbone but more about "you can do the same".

As always, there is that one comment which stands to be corrected.

I'll quote Mr White: " Rican’s overwhelmingly voted to become either a state (46%) or no change (50%) in 1998 so the colonially argument is irrelevant when the majority doesn’t want a change in status. The other half can come here if they don’t like there status. I’m sure millions around the world would give up their homeland to stay 6 months in America. They have lotteries around the world to come here!"

How can I possibly remain mum to this obviously historically uneducated comment. I question this commenter's knowledge of Puerto Rican history in relation to the U.S. which is 111 years old. How can independence be removed from the table as viable option? Do we take the voice of even that small majority away? It's obvoius, to say the least, that historical deprivation brings this type of thinking to the forefront. To say that 'if they don't like their status to come to the U.S.' shows a lack of the same. One does not bite the hand that feeds it, but understand, the same hand has molded a society into becoming socially dependent. Remove that dependency, allow the free thinking to develop and the possibilites of an independent nation can unfold.

Verses/Poetry (Inside the mind of an Emcee/Poet)

Jason Hernandez aka Majestik Originality, poet and emcee has just released his first book. If the book is anything like his live performance then it can only be a hit. Read more about Majestik Originality when you get your daily dose of sofrito. Click on the image below to purchase the book.

cover art by Justin "The Omnitect" Munoz

*NOTE*: A portion of ALL online sales will be donated towards the fight against MS & the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Whose Barrio?" Wins @ LILIFF; Free Admission to Screening @ BLIFF

In a previous post I introduced you to the documentary "Whose Barrio?". I am happy to announce 'a well deserved win'..................

Co-directors Ed Morales and Laura Rivera are pleased to announce that “Whose Barrio?” a documentary about the gentrification of East Harlem, won the award for “Best Documentary Short” at the Long Island Latino International Film Festival on November 8th.

For those of you living in or planning on visiting the Boston area this coming weekend, there will be a screening of “Whose Barrio?” at the Boston Latino International Film Festival (BLIFF) on Saturday, November 21st. The screening will be held at Boston University, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA, at 4:30 and admission is free!

Please visit their website for updates and to post comments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Outrageous Fortuño by Ed Morales

This article appeared in the
November 30, 2009 edition of The Nation.

On October 23 a hideous plume of black smoke filled the sky in San Juan, Puerto Rico, emanating from a gas tank explosion at a storage facility of the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation (CAPECO) in the nearby municipality of Bayamón. The explosion and ensuing fire, which forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people and caused President Obama to declare a federal disaster,
is an ominous metaphor for Puerto Rico's current state. The combination of a four-year recession, a $3.2 billion deficit and a toxic Republican-style governor, Luis Fortuño, has turned the island into a political powder keg.

After the explosion, the head of the FBI's office in Puerto Rico announced a federal investigation into whether the explosion was the result of sabotage or terrorism (the investigation has ruled this out). This dovetailed neatly with the strategy employed by the island's ruling New Progressive Party (PNP) of denouncing as terrorists labor leaders who had organized a general strike the previous week. Using Plaza Las Américas--the Caribbean's largest shopping mall and the most glaring symbol of US consumerism on the island--as a staging ground, the unions had amassed tens of thousands of protesters to denounce Governor Fortuño's recent announcement of layoffs of government workers, which would bring the year's total to about 17,000. In an economy where government workers make up 21 percent of the total workforce, these measures--employed ostensibly to protect Puerto Rico's credit rating, which is threatened with junk status--struck a deep chord of resentment among Puerto Ricans. And no wonder, since the official unemployment rate is 16.2 percent--closer to 25 percent if the underemployed are included.

The week after Fortuño's announcement, during a press conference about the development of an eastern port near a recently closed military base, the governor had to dodge an egg hurled at him by Roberto García Díaz, a 44-year-old former employee of the base. The huevazo, or "egg-throw," became a major news story, echoing the famed shoe-throwing at George W. Bush in Iraq and indicating that the island's usually raucous political environment had been kicked up a notch. While PNP functionaries fearmongered about an element that wanted to sow chaos in Puerto Rico, García Díaz became something of a folk hero.

Puerto Rico has been an incorporated territory of the United States since 1898, and although its residents were granted citizenship in 1917, the UN and much of the world still recognize it as a colony (in June the UN Special Committee on Decolonization called on Washington to expedite a
self-determination process). Since 1952, when its euphemistic status as a commonwealth or "free associated state" was coined, the island's leadership has oscillated between the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which favors the status quo, and the PNP, which favors statehood. The Independence Party, which consistently garners between 2 and 5 percent of the vote, represents a constituency that has been repressed by the US federal government since a series of nationalist uprisings that began in 1937.

Although the PNP's leaders have historically oscillated between the mainland Democrats and Republicans, the new regime seems to be living out a GOP fantasy of regaining power lost in last year's presidential election. In addition to his government-downsizing measures, Fortuño--a board member of the Republican National Hispanic Association, which includes party loyalists
such as Senators Orrin Hatch and John Ensign, RNC chair Michael Steele and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform--has emboldened a social conservatism that is suddenly ascendant on this largely Catholic-yet-carnivalesque island. A few weeks ago it was announced that several far from obscene books, such as Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá's El Entierro de Cortijo and Carlos Fuentes's Aura, would be banned from public school libraries because they contain "coarse language." Austere legislative measures, including closing bars much earlier and lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers to .02 percent from the standard .08 percent, are close to
being enacted.

Fortuño's policies even earned him a tongue-lashing on MTV Latin America's awards show, which was held on the day of the general strike. After sporting a T-shirt that read, Fortuño--Dodge This! alternative rapper René Pérez Joglar, a k a Residente of the group Calle 13, denounced the governor as a "son of a whore" because of the layoff announcement. The PNP tried to spin the insult as an attack on Puerto Rican women, and San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini promptly canceled Residente's much-anticipated show at the island's largest arena. But on November 2 a group of female activists held a semi-nude protest against Fortuño's policies, saying his cutbacks to
agencies advocating for women deprived them of human rights.

Denouncing Residente's edgy, Rabelaisian rants as trafficking in obscenity masks the obscenity of an economic policy that compounds the worst effects of this deep recession. Edwin Meléndez, an economist who directs Hunter College's Center for Puerto Rican Studies, suggested the Fortuño government needs to look more closely at other options, such as offering early retirement with full pension guarantees and renegotiation of debts incurred by government programs with attached revenue streams.

Despite the massive public protest against his policies, Fortuño is sticking to his guns. He announced in early November that 7,000 of the layoffs would be delayed until January because of faulty paperwork by a private consulting firm. The move seemed like an attempt to lessen the immediate impact of the layoffs while refusing to reconsider them.

For many Puerto Ricans, the current problems stem from a deeper, much more long-term malaise: the island's unsettled political status. Yet another plebiscite proposal, which critics say is stacked toward getting Puerto Ricans to vote for statehood, is creeping through the House in Washington. Now more than ever, it's time for a strong coalition of Puerto Ricans on the
island and the US mainland to come up with an alternative--a people's movement, perhaps seeking stronger economic ties to the Caribbean and Latin America, to demand social justice for 4 million effectively second-class US citizens.

As Residente said on MTV, "Latin America is not complete without Puerto
Rico, and Puerto Rico is not free."

About Ed Morales

Ed Morales, a freelance writer and filmmaker, is the author of Living in
and co-director of the documentary Whose Barrio?, about
gentrification in East Harlem.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Voices Against Violence Zine by Noemi Martinez

Call out for Submissions !

Voices Against Violence Zine is accepting submissions for our next issue. Please send in your essays, poetry, letters, personal accounts, artwork & photography to be included.

What is the Voices Against Violence Zine? A small zine-diy style, with work from people of color, indigenous folks, trans people & queer survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual assault. Included topics can be: healing from trauma, transformative words used as a healing mechanism, enabling healing, life after trauma, self-help guides/resources, self-healing, dancing as means to healing, healing through narration, forgiveness (do we need it?), & collective trauma.

Reposted from Hermana, Resist.
For complete info see the Original Post ---> cont.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gentrification in New York's Spanish Harlem 'El Barrio'....Whose Barrio?

Gentrification as defined is the process of renewing and rebuilding an area resulting in higher prices which are unaffordable to those living within that community..mostly poorer residents.

During the 1950's, in what is know as "The Great Migration", many Puerto Ricans made their way from La Isla de Puerto Rico to La Isla de Manhattan. Over 58,000 Puerto Ricans made their way to New York and settled in various neighborhoods from Brooklyn to The Bronx to Manhattan. Some will argue that it was gentrification, in the case of East Harlem during those same years, but looking back there was no renewing nor rebuilding then. Fast forward to today and yes...we have gentrification.

In the documentary, "Whose Barrio?" filmmakers Ed Morales and Laura Rivera bring you to today's' Spanish Harlem and introduce you to several neighborhood residents. Jose Rivera, has lived a lifetime in 'El Barrio' and shares the plight of many others who feel that they are ultimately being priced out of the neighborhood. James Garcia, has just bought a condo across from the projects and finds the neighborhood to be dirty and crime ridden. James Barrow, has no problem with the change but fears the dangers associated with a construction project next door. From the often ignored tenement buildings overseen by multinational real estate developers to the New York City Housing projects to all the newly constructed buildings which include luxury condos and co-ops you can feel the tensions of many within the community. Change is inevitable, but at what cost?

'A must see documentary on the change that is occurring and the different reactions and feelings of those within the community.'

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latino/Latina Veterans

The following is an email opinion I received via El Diario La Prensa ( ( For the record, I thank and commend ALL veterans, I have served among far too many who have given and continue to give selflessly of themselves. All without regard to race, creed, color, etc...Thank You.

A battle for history and respect

Bravery and sacrifice know no color or language. But too many of the veterans who fought for our nation have been treated as footnotes to history. It is time for the U.S. Armed Forces and White House to give proper recognition to these patriotic men and women.

As many as 750,000 Latinos and Latinas served in the armed forces during World War II, according to the U.S. Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project. During the Korean War, the 65th Infantry of Puerto Rico won the praise of legendary military commanders such as General Douglas MacArthur. Yet, in the telling of U.S. history, Latino soldiers have received little mention.

Correcting this virtual invisibility is a matter of historical accuracy. And the service of Hispanics—which dates as far back as the revolt of the 13 colonies—must be placed in its context. Latinos have enlisted during periods in which brutal racial segregation was the status quo and their rights as citizens were denied. Others served as immigrants, a tradition that continues to this day.

Many veterans of World War II and Korea have passed on or are in their golden years. The clock is ticking on our nation letting them know that they will be meaningfully reflected in books, articles and documentaries beyond those that some Latinos have worked so hard to produce and write. This includes Col. Gilberto Villahermosa’s book on the 65th, “Honor and Fidelity.” The book was recently published by the U.S. Army's Center of Military History but has been only quietly announced.

Hispanics have distinguished themselves and served throughout conflicts and in times of peace, but for the sake of our elderly veterans, we highlight some units here for formal recognition by the White House, including overdue medal upgrades by the armed forces:

Latinas with the Women's Army Corps and in general war effort

We learned during the recent judicial hearings that Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s mother Celina was a member of this Corps during World War II. She is one among many Latinas whose service deserves full salute.

The 65th Infantry

More than 61,000 Puerto Ricans served in the Korean War, the bulk of them with this unit. Despite showing great heroism, no member of the 65th has ever been awarded a Medal of Honor. In Korea, the 65th was also subjected to the largest mass courts-martial that has yet to be fully acknowledged as a consequence of the Army’s bad and unfair policies.

El Escuadrón 201

Nicknamed the “Aztec Eagles,” this Mexican fighter squadron was attached to a unit of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. In 1945, the squadron aided the Allied effort during the liberation of Luzon in the Philippines.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, along with veterans groups, historians and educators must make sure these men and women are paid tribute.

There is certainly plenty of precedent for this. Only last month, President Obama cited an Army unit that had been overlooked for decades. During that ceremony, Obama said “Today also reminds us of our obligations to all our veterans, whether they took off the uniform decades ago or days ago -- to make sure that they and their families receive the respect they deserve…”

We could not agree more.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Colony by Any Other Name is Still a Colony

The image shown is © grupoHuracan via NY Latino Journal

Not to belittle but to begin by definition, the definition of colony as per is defined as a body of people living in a new territory but retaining ties with the parent state. So for 111 years, an island roughly 100 by 35 miles situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, has been a colony of the United States. This island is known as Puerto Rico.

Since 1952, Puerto Rico's colonial status has been masked as a commonwealth. It was in 1950 that the U.S Congress approved a law allowing for Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans wanted to draft their own constitution. This public law left unchanged all the articles that were present under the Jones Act of 1917. Nothing was really changed in 1952 and the same still remains. Let's face it, when General Miles set foot in Gaunica, Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898 he did not come with a promise of riches and equality. The expectations, of many, of a free and sovereign nation were met with another padlock and chain. Then, in 1952 the intention was to change the name so as to change the mindset. Merely changing the name by which you call it does not change it true status : a colony.

Feed it with just enough to maintain it; keep it under control; provide just enough but not too much. Remember this, change will come..maybe not today, tomorrow or even in this lifetime but it will come because change is inevitable.

Read this excellent piece "For Shame: Congress and its Puerto Rican Subjects" by Ronald Fernandez.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Salsa...Catch the Rythm

Music has always been a great part of my life. I have dabbled in the art of djing and have had the opportunity to amass a sizable collection. My collection spans from hip-hop, R&B, rock and roll, merengue to salsa and then some. Pero, I have always had a soft spot for salsa so when I read this post (via SofritoforyourSoul) , 'New Salsa Documentary: Politics Of Rythm', it brought me to my feet and I just had to share...Y porque no!

Eso es que lo disfruten!
Images © MadFilms Inc,USA

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Bit of Memory

As the cold winter arrives a thought seems as if it was colder when I was younger. As I think about that for a moment I realize it may just not have been colder. The truth is the lack of heat provided by the unscrupulous landlords made it seem that way. The landlord really was more like the invisible man. Only appearing at the first of the month to collect the rent and give the excuse as to why there was no heat. Oh, the boiler is being repaired; oh, I called the oil company and they'll be here tomorrow. Funny, I almost feel as if the same landlord owned every tenement building in the community back then.

I also wonder if my mother was psychologically keeping us warm. I remember fondly the huge frame in the living room of huge splashing waves with a strange structure in the distance (I realized years later that it was El Morro). I remember all the figurines of coquis, palm trees, guiros, etc. with the red, white and blue (Puerto Rican Flag). I guess to some extent it may have worked along with just being a kid and running around all the time. As for all things Puerto Rican....well they were embedded in my subconscious .... today, I love them all dearly.

Gracias, madre mia, por inculcar en mi el amor por nuestra cultura.