Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fortuño has jokes!

Just this past week as I sat and browsed through various news stories I ran across one that not only made me laugh but had me asking "are they really surprised?" Here the they are the FBI and the the surprise refers to corruption in Puerto Rico as being rampant. If anything, the FBI should know as they have, in many past events, had their hands in the cookie jar for a very long time. Their involvement in Puerto Rican politics goes so far back that they should readily have all sorts of corruption information. As for corruption, no difference there between corrupt politicians in Puerto Rico and those in the U.S. Especially within a government which seems to be so desperately in want of being a part of the U.S. that they (some Puerto Rican politicians to put it nicely) U.S. politicians ways (corrupt).

So I stop laughing and move on to the HMIC (Head Moron in Charge). Excuse my foray into harsh wording but when I see the current Governor of Puerto Rico giving a speech (he does show eloquence), especially as he did recently on the economy, I begin to smell a rat. Again, he captures the listener with eloquence and has one believing that 1+1 can equal 4. With an unemployment rate at 17 percent, Luis Fortuño (I'll refrain from using a title) is a bit premature to say that improvement is occuring. The stark reality is that there is nothing to celebrate about. He might just be planning to balance the budget on the $500 plus lunch he had at the Sheraton Hotel during the recent UPR student strike.

To add, his political aspirations, which... he should have aspirations, include a pro-statehood interview in which he talks to Newt Gingrich. That's correct, pro-statehood interview, Fortuño will have you believing everything is fine under the sun and that he has saved the economy. Like Run-DMC said many years ago in their song Peter Piper, "and if I lie, my nose will grow, like the little wooden boy named Pinocchio", Well, hats off to Fortuño and while your at for his nose may just poke you in the face. To the language question his answer is, "All of us as parents want our children to be totally fluent in English. That is an aspiration that every single parent has in Puerto Rico." He fails to mention that only 20 percent of the island's residents speak English fluently, even after 112 years of U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship!

By the way, he also states that Latinos are republicans! I laugh....yet again. Fortuño has jokes.

Read the latest post at"Huffs and Puffs, Blowing the Story" and enjoy
his review of Silvio Rodríguez' recent Carnegie Hall show, "The Man Who Wasn’t There"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Las Hormigas by Rosalinda Vargas de Tejas

Las Hormigas

Siempre muy ocupadas
No las molestes sino se enojan
Mi hermana las deja apachurradas
Yo nomás les quiebro una pierna
Ayer vi dos peleándose y me recordé
Cuando yo y mi hermana sufrimos los pleitos
De aquellos mas cercas de nosotros al diario
Y me enojo y hago más que quebrar algo frágil
Con un palo aviento una a un lado
Y a la otra la despedazo con ganas
Que triste ver las demás muy ocupadas
Siguen su camino y no se dan cuenta
Días después visito el hormiguero
Y no me dan ganas ni de ver las hormigas
Me siento en una piedra y no siento nada
Cuando mi hermana las ahoga con agua
Usando la manguera que marco sus piernas
Yo lo vi enojado y rojo como una hormiga

Poesía escrita por Rosalinda Vargas de Tejas

Visit Rosalinda Vargas's bookstore

Visit Rosalinda Vargas's Bookstore

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Puerto Rico: Statehood and Strike

Thursday, 16 June 2010
Press Release: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Puerto Rico: Statehood and Strike

by COHA Research Associate Krista Scheffey

The Spanish American War ended in 1898, but one aspect of the conflict remains unresolved: the status of Puerto Rico. Despite the importance of the issue, it is rarely an agenda priority in the continental United States. Recently, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2499 (“The Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010”), a bill sponsored by Puerto Rico’s Representative Pedro Pierluisi. As the Act awaits its fate in the Senate, however, the White House refuses to voice its opinion on the matter. The Obama administration seems to be stalling until October, when the Presidential Task Force is scheduled to release its official report on the status of Puerto Rico.

While the administration remains tight-lipped pending the release of the Task Force Report, unrest in Puerto Rico may speed up the tempo as to when the international community will take an interest in the island. This spring’s student strikes at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) threaten to shut down the public university system, and the strife has become multi-generational as unions and students’ relatives join the ranks of the protestors. The scale of the UPR strike and the goals it advocates are effectively bringing light to very serious economic problems that must be addressed. The strike began as a protest against government plans to cut the university’s funding by more than $100 million, a devastating budget reduction that would considerably reduce the scope of financial aid available to students. The announced budget cut follows a number of other unpopular austerity measures implemented by Governor Luis Fortuño since he began his term in January 2009.

Although the strike began as a movement against the UPR administration, the demonstration, which has been carried out by thousands of students and sympathetic Puerto Rican workers, highlights tensions in Puerto Rico that will not be easily resolved. As Congress and the Presidential Task Force individually work to resolve Puerto Rico’s future status, they must take into account the economic problems and political issues facing the island. An honest assessment of the island’s status must take into account its historical, contemporary situation. Any change in the island’s status—be it a move towards statehood, independence, or an expanded commonwealth relationship—will come with its share of difficulties and conundrums. However, the price of inaction is a continued and intolerable neo-colonial relationship that benefits neither Puerto Rico nor the mainland United States.

A History of Colonialism

Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in 1493, and the native inhabitants of the island were soon enough replaced—by conquest, disease, and violence—with Spaniards and imported African slaves. The island remained a Spanish colonial possession, making small but significant progress towards independence until the Spanish American War. In July 1898, the United States invaded the island; Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam, were ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris, signed by the U.S. and Spain at the conclusion of the war in December of that year. As Pedro Albizu Campos, a leading figure in Puerto Rico’s independence movement, explained, the U.S. was “interested in the cage, not the birds.” The U.S. wanted control of the land, but had little interest in the inhabitants of the island. The United States was already invested in the idea of constructing a canal through Panama, and securing the Caribbean was a key component of the U.S.’ plan.

The U.S. military ruled the island until the Foraker Act (also known as the Organic Act) was passed in 1900, which established Puerto Rico’s civilian government. The Foraker Act and subsequent Jones-Shafroth Act (1917) established separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches to handle Puerto Rican local affairs, while the island continued to follow U.S. federal laws. Notably, Puerto Rico received a non-voting representative in Congress (the Resident Commissioner) and a Governor to head the executive branch. The Jones-Shafroth Act also granted legal American citizenship to Puerto Ricans. In the 1950s, Puerto Rico’s status as a “commonwealth” was officially established. According to Richard Pildes, professor of Constitutional Law at NYU, the commonwealth status initiated in the 1950s represented a “creative intermediate structure” between independence and statehood that was designed to give self-governing autonomy to Puerto Rico and move it away from a colonial status. Public Law 600, passed in 1950, empowered Puerto Rico to directly elect their Governor as well as to draft a constitution (based on the United States’), which was ratified in 1952. Because of its status as a commonwealth, the island receives transfer payments from the U.S. government—including welfare and federal grants. Puerto Ricans also routinely serve in the U.S. military.

Continue reading full article here-->
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Krista Scheffey

Manifesting a Dream - Help Request

By Carmen Mojica Fabian

Manifesting a Dream - Help Request

Friends and Family,
I am in the process of getting myself into the public speaker circuit. I am asking help from anyone who has connections to any high school, middle school, organization, collegiate institution or space that would be able to have me give a presentation on my work. Not only can I give a presentation, I can also come in as a guest speaker for any class to share my story and connect with a smaller group of students. Below is the abstract for my book, as well as the link for purchasing my book and the first presentation I gave at my alma mater, SUNY New Paltz.

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Upon request I can send you a detailed letter of intent, as well as my curriculum vitale and an audio recording of my piece, "Stutter", which can be found in my book.

Thanks for the support and pa'lante siempre!

Love and Light,

This literary work is the end of a chapter in my life. It is the culmination of experiences and undergraduate research that describe and explain the effects of my identity as an African Latina on my life. It is a combination of memoirs, poems and research material that not only explain the effects of race on identity from an academic standpoint but also shares my own life as a living example. Self-hatred is a disease that runs rampant throughout much of the African Diaspora due to colonization and the dehumanization that occurred at that time. In the Latino culture, the African component of the Latino identity is often ignored, denied and is not usually a subject that is up for discussion. As one can imagine, being an Afro-Latino is not easy because of these factors but being a woman adds an entirely different dimension to this. Not only do Afro-Latinas have to deal with the constant racism in their own culture, but they have also had to endure sexism as well. In this work, part of what the research entails is the history of how Afro-Latinos came to be in this world, as well as phenotype in relation to how Latinos define themselves. Included is also research pertaining to Black Feminism, the destruction of African hair in America and women and religion on the Caribbean islands. This additional research is meant to properly describe not only the Latina aspect of an Afro-Latina's identity but also the African and female aspects as well. The research is embedded in my life story explaining how my self-hate affected different parts of my life and how I started my journey to self-love.

Hija De Mi Madre

Show your suppport here, puchase Hija De Mi Madre.

Family, Capicu, Machete y Ron

A quick post to recap a good weekend. The closing consists of rest and relaxation after an evening and night spent celebrating a 50th birthday with both family and extended family. Music, food and good times.

With that said the weekend began with another venture into an event with the Capicu Cultural Showcase familia. Not to be left undone, Capicu does what Capicu does best, bring on a great cultural/poetry show. The evening was a refreshing start to the weekend after what was a rough week. The poetry, music and visual artist display was enough to bring me out of the weeks slump.

To cap off the evening, the music group, Machete y Ron, put on a performance of traditional roots music (Bomba y Plena) fused with spoken word that had the crowd dancing in rhythm. There is something so refreshing about traditional music that soothes the mind.


EL GRITO by Machete y Ron
El David

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Francisco Oller

  • Francisco Oller y Cestero, born June 17, 1833 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a painter (visual artist).

From an early age, he demonstrated an enormous talent in art. At eleven years old he began to study art under the tutelage of Juan Cleto Noa, an art acadamy teacher. He was such an extraordinary artist that he was offered an opportunity to continue his studies in Rome but his mother would not allow it for he was too young. At eighteen, he traveled to Madrid, Spain to study painting in the San Fernando Art Acadamy (Academia de Artes de San Fernando). There he would study under the tutelage of Don Federico de Madrazo. He also studied under the instruction of Gustave Courbet.

Oller returned to Puerto Rico in 1853, upon his father's death he moved to Paris, France where he continued painting, frequented cafés and also exhibited some of his art among other great artists of that time.

In 1872, he was named the official painter of the Royal Court of Don Amadeo I de Saboya. A year later he was designated representative to Spain in the Vienna World Exhibition.

Francisco Oller y Cestero died in San Juan on May 17, 1917.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Julia de Burgos - Rio Grande de Loiza Soprano

I recently received an email with a link to a YouTube video that I'd like to share. The video posting is of the poem "Rio Grande de Loiza" by Julia de Burgos. It is a beautifully performed piece by soprano Virginia Herrera-Crilly, pianist Wilson Southerland and composed by Diogenes Rodriguez.

Julia de Burgos, one of the most outstanding poets to come out of Puerto Rico.
Enjoy the video!


Hace poco que recibí un correo electrónico con un enlace a un vídeo de YouTube que me gustaría compartir. El video es del poema "Río Grande de Loíza" de Julia de Burgos. Es una obra bellamente realizada por soprano Virginia Herrera-Crilly, pianista Wilson Southerland y compuesta por Diógenes Rodríguez.

Julia de Burgos, uno de las poetas más destacadas de salir de Puerto Rico.

¡Disfruten del video!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

La Borinqueña: An early history

A music lover from San Germán, Puerto Rico named Francisco Ramírez composed some music lyrics accompanied by guitar for his love. This composition would become a popular favorite at many festive events. It would eventually evolve into the Puerto Rican national anthem.

Ramírez met a Spanish musician by the name of Felix Astol Artés. Upon hearing Ramírez' melody, Astol, enjoying it so much, transformed it into a danza. The danza was entitled "La Bella Trigueña".

During the late nineteenth century, with the desire for independence from Spain, there existed a revolutionary sentiment. Upon hearing the danza, poetess Lola Rodríguez de Tió, quickly fell in love with it. She proceeded to write her own words with a revolutionary tone. Her version was considered subversive by Spanish authorities. Furious with this version of the song, the Spanish government began to investigate and inquire about its creator. Fearing for his life, Ramírez denied composing the music and gave his manuscript to Astol, whom being Spanish was safe from retaliation. Astol was then credited for the compositions creation.

In recognizing Ramírez as the compositions author, the town of San Germán, on December 23, 1945, made it official by placing a plaque where Ramírez house stood. The plaque honors Ramírez as the compositions author.

La Borinqueña
Versión Lola Rodríguez de Tió

¡Despierta, borinqueño
que han dado la señal!
¡Despierta de ese sueño
que es hora de luchar!
A ese llamar patriótico
¿no arde tu corazón?
¡Ven! Nos será simpático
el ruido del cañón.
Mira, ya el cubano
libre está;
le dará el machete
su libertad...
le dará el machete
su libertad.
Ya el tambor guerrero
dice en su son,
que es la manigua el sitio,
el sitio de la reunión,
de la reunión...
de la reunión.
El Grito de Lares
se ha de repetir,
y entonces sabremos
vencer o morir.
Bellísima Borinquén,
a Cuba hay que seguir;
tú tienes bravos hijos
que quieren combatir.
ya por más tiempo impávidos
no podemos estar,
ya no queremos tímidos,
dejarnos subyugar.
Nosotros queremos
ser libres ya,
y nuestro machete
afilado está.
y nuestro machete
afilado está.
¿Por qué entonces, nosotros
hemos de estar,
tan dormidos y sordos
y sordos a esa señal,
a esa señal, a esa señal?
No hay que temer, riqueños
al ruido del cañón;
que salvar a la patria
es deber del corazón.
¡ya no queremos déspotas!
¡Caiga el tirano ya!
Las mujeres indómitas
también sabrán luchar.
Nosotros queremos
la libertad,
y nuestros machetes
nos la dará...
y nuestro machete
nos la dará...
Vámonos, borinqueños,
vámonos ya,
que nos espera ansiosa,
ansiosa la libertad,
la libertad, la libertad, la libertad, la libertad!

English version

Arise, boricua!
The call to arms has sounded!
Awake from the slumber,
it is time to fight!
Doesn't this patriotic
call set your heart alight?
Come! We are in tune with
the roar of the cannon.
Come, the Cuban will
soon be free;
the machete will give him
his liberty,
the machete will give him
his liberty.
Now the war drum
says with its sound,
that the countryside is the
place of the meeting.
The Cry of Lares
must be repeated,
and then we will know:
victory or death.
Beautiful Borinquén
must follow Cuba;
you have brave sons
who wish to fight.
Now, no longer can
we be unmoved;
now we do not want timidly
to let them subjugate us.
We want to be free now,
and our machete
has been sharpened.
Why then have we been
so sleepy and
deaf to the call?
There is no need to fear,
Ricans, the roar of the cannon;
saving the nation is
the duty of the heart.
We no longer want despots,
tyranny shall fall now;
the unconquerable women also will
know how to fight.
We want liberty,
and our machetes
will give it to us.
Come, Boricuas, come now,
since freedom
awaits us anxiously,
freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Take A Walk Into This.......Nuestra Bandera

Here's a thought: As you stand along 5th Ave in NYC watching the parade floats, waiting for your favorite float to pass by, think deeply for an instant as to why you are there. Think for a moment about the meaning of Boricua, think for a moment about the immortals, think for a moment about culture, think for a moment about the true meaning of being a Boricua (True Boricua).... Soak yourself in some history as you yell at the top of your lungs, "BORICUAaaa". As you wear the red, white and blue of the Puerto Rican flag as the days fashion statement, take a walk into this.......

The following was originally posted on June 26, 2009

The Puerto Rican flag..similar to that of the Cuban flag, is beautiful, handsome and gracious.

The Puerto Rican flag was adopted by the Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, circa 1895. There are several accounts as to the actual creation of the flag but, nonetheless, it was a beautiful creation. The design of the flag is open for debate; Francisco Gonzalo Marin, Antonio Vélez Alvarado, Manuel Besosa and even Lola Rodríguez de Tió have all been credited with the design depending on the account.

While we see so many flags displayed proudly it is hard to believe that from 1898 until 1952 the same flag could not be displayed and was considered a felony to do so. It was 1952, when the flag was adopted and proclaimed the official flag of Puerto Rico.

Prior to 1952 :

  • The red symbolized the blood of the brave warriors, white for the peace and victory that would be attained after gaining independence, blue (sky blue) for the sky and blue coastal waters and the lone star represented Puerto Rico.

After 1952:

  • The red became to symbolize the blood that nourishes the three branches of government, the white became to symbolize a republican form of government and the blue triangle, which was changed to a darker shade like that of the U.S. flag, represented the three branches of government.

*Note: The blue was changed to the original sky blue tone in 1995.

Additional Notes
  • The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, formed on September 22 of 1922, was the first political party to officially use the flag as a symbol of the struggle for independence (just as the Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party did).
  • The Puerto Rican Section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party was formed on December 22 of 1895 , at which time they adopted the flag.
  • Any flag that is displayed on a vehicle must be attached to a flagpole. (ex. not on the hood, not allowed to touch the ground)
  • The Cuban flag was created in 1849 by Venezuelan general Narciso Lopez. It became official in 1902.
  • The flag should be raised with the first notes of the Puerto Rican national anthem and continue to be raised slowly so that it reaches the top of the flagpole with the last notes.

La Borinqueña
Palabras por Manuel Fernández Juncos

La tierra de Borinquen
donde he nacido yo
es un jardín florido
de mágico primor.
Un cielo siempre nítido
le sirve de dosel
y dan arrullos plácidos
las olas a sus pies.
Cuando a sus playas llegó Colón
Exclamó lleno de admiración:
"Oh!, oh!, oh!, esta es la linda tierra
que busco yo".
Es Borinquen la hija, la hija
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol.

English translation:

The land of Borinquen
where I have been born.
It is a florid garden
of magical brilliance.

A sky always clean
serves as a canopy.
And placid lullabies are given
by the waves at her feet.

When at her beaches Columbus arrived,
he exclaimed full of admiration:
Oh! Oh! Oh!
This is the beautiful land, that I seek.

It is Borinquen the daughter,
the daughter of the sea and the sun.
of the sea and the sun,
of the sea and the sun,
of the sea and the sun,
of the sea and the sun!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What example do we set?

The example we set as adults are those that our children will interpret as their own.

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade Board of Directors has decided that the selection of Osvaldo Rios as International Padrino of the 2010 Puerto Rican Day Parade is the best choice. This goes to show to what extent the parade has become commercialized. The Board of Directors here have made it so apparent in their selection that it is okay to be an accused domestic abuser . Whatever the case may be, our young men deserve and need as many positive role models as possible. I would think that in this day and age there is a pool of plenty more who are dedicated, hard working, loving, compassionate and positive role models.

The responses to his selection as Padrino are mixed and controversy continues to follow. Read... Open Letter to the Board of Directors of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Mon, 06/07/2010


Congressman Luis Gutierrez Drops Out of National Puerto Rican Day as States Grand Marshall
Will not march with Convicted Domestic Abuser Osvaldo Rios

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Puerto Rico: Commonwealth, Estado Libre Asociado or Colony

For the moment, let's define commonwealth; a nation, state, or other political unit, one founded on law and united by compact or tacit agreement of the people for the common good as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary. To call Puerto Rico a commonwealth would be to call it one of the previously mentioned. This definition leads to the simple conclusion; that Puerto Rico is indeed the other political unit.

Back in 1954, U.S. representatives at the U.N. wanted to save face in the presence of the world body so they attempted to have Puerto Rico removed from the U.N. list of unincorporated territories. It didn't happen then and it stills remain an unincorporated territory. As an unincorporated territory, Puerto Rico is subject to Congressional plenary powers under territorial clause of Article IV, sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution. Although Puerto Rico was allowed and adopted its own constitution in 1952, under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution the United States Congress has the final power over every territory of the United States. This was the case prior to 1952 and still continues to be the case. In 1959, the Department of Justice concluded that Puerto Rico remained a U.S territory. What really changed here was the name but not the reality that Puerto Rico remained and still is a colony. While the use of the word commonwealth was approved in 1952, its Spanish translation "Estado Libre Asociado" actually translates into "Free Associated State".

The term "Free Associated State" brings about the illusion that Puerto Rico is equal to the rest or on the path to equality. Puerto Rico is free to make decisions on tax matters, social policies and most local affairs (and has some measure of political autonomy) but Congress may unilaterally repeal the Puerto Rican Constitution and replace it with any rules or regulations of its choice as stated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (United States v Sanchez, 992 F.2d 1143 (1993). Quite simply, behave in a manner in which we see fit or else. The final say comes from the U.S Congress. While greatly respected and admired, Luis Muñoz Marin (first elected Governor of Puerto Rico) convinced the Puerto Rican people that the term "Free Associated State" was the best option for them. This equated to nothing more than enhanced commonwealth, the other political unit (a colonial mask!).

Ronald Fernandez, Writer, Teacher and Public Speaker with thirteen published books, put it like this: Today, Puerto Rico remains an example of a people deeply colonized and a symbol of U.S. Congressional and Presidential hypocrisy.