Thursday, September 30, 2010



Oprima aquí para seguir leyendo/Click here to continue reading.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

El Grito still resonates.....El Grito de Lares

It was 142 years ago when the first major revolt against Spanish rule and a call for independence was born. Born out of frustration from lack of political representation, and economic freedom.

During the mid 1800's, due to increasing tariffs and taxes imposed by Spain, Puerto Rico was suffering a severe economic crisis. Obviously, there was a growing discontent with the colonial rule. Those who called for independence from Spain or liberal reforms were either jailed or exiled. To appease some of the discontent,  in 1865, Spain allowed for the creation of a board of review (Junta Informativa de Reformas de Ultramar). This board was made up of mostly Spanish-born representatives which, of course, voted nearly all suggestions down.

Ramón Emeterio Betances, a staunch believer in the abolition of slavery, had for many years sought out to liberate as many slaves as possible by buying out their freedom. The Spanish government, which ruled over Puerto Rico, did not look upon Betances and company very kindly. Threatened with exile, Betances and Segundo Ruiz Belvis fled Puerto Rico for the Dominican Republic. A change in government, 1862, allowed for Betances to return to Puerto Rico. His return, the eventual creation of the review board and the voting down of almost every measure that was suggested were the seeds for revolt.

Betances would again be exiled in 1867, leaving for New York then the Domincan Republic and eventually the U.S. Virgin Islands. From exile, Betances organized revolutionary cells in Puerto Rico. The stage had been set for revolution on September 29, 1868. Unfortunately, authorities on the island discovered the plan so the date of the planned revolution had to be moved up.

Thus, on September 23, 1868, the town of Lares was taken over, authorities taken prisoner and the town church served as the place for rising the revolutionary flag knitted by Mariana Bracetti. It was then, that the Republic of Puerto Rico was proclaimed. With this proclamation, the revolutionaries departed for the next town, San Sebastián del Pepino (San Sebastián).  There they met up with strong resistance and retreated back to Lares. Eventually, the Spanish Militia surrounded the town of Lares and ended what is known as "El Grito de Lares."

Today, El Grito still resonates.... "Lares es Tierra Santa, y como tal, debe entrarse a ella de rodillas" - Pedro Albizu Campos

Sunday, September 19, 2010

El Grito de Poetas @ el Museo del Barrio...

(El Grito de Poetas W/Emanuel Xavier @ El Museo del Barrio 9/18/10)
(l to r: Tito, Emanuel Xavier, Majestik Originality, Chance, Advocate of Wordz, Chilo)
(Frt: Simply Rob, True)

There comes a time when just one word isn't enough to describe an event. In this case, it is a combination of several words. Words such as powerful, energetic, passionate, creative, profound and intense are just a few that can be combined when describing the performance of El Grito de Poetas.

They set the stage on fire, setting off Hispanic Heritage Month with a boom at El Museo Del Barrio's first feature for the new Speak Up/Speak Out Spoken Word Series (with host Emanuel Xavier). Performing to a standing room only crowd (the crowd was so deep some had to get turned away), the words of this diverse group of latino and latina poets enveloped the crowd with a sense of family, culture and tradition.  I am sure that those who truly appreciate this creative platform were enthralled and would agree with the same.
From the beginning, El Grito de Poetas kept the momentum smoothly flowing from one to the next. In the end, El Grito was definitely heard.

The creative poetic genius of El Grito de Poetas are:
Advocate of Wordz
Majestik Originality
Simply Rob

El Grito de Poetas on their 5 year anniversary

Friday, September 17, 2010

Michael Torres with a brief overview on Albizu: The Documentary

The following is a brief overview by producer and director Michael Torres on his film project Albizu: The Documentary...

The project started in the summer of 2007 when I took my first trip to Puerto Rico armed with a mini dv camera and a microphone, there I met Alfredo Robles who I hired as a camera man and has since become a great friend and valuable contributor to the production.

My intention was to shoot as many interviews as possible and assemble them into a sample reel. We were able to interview: Nationalist; Rafael Cancel Miranda, Antonio Cruz Colon, Tato Torres and Juan Mari Bras, UPR Professors Amilcar Tirado and Juan Manuel Carrion, Luis Angel Ferrao and Albizus granddaughter and Nationalist Party president Rosa Albizu Meneses.

Those interview became the trailer for the project – Since posting the trailer, we’ve made a lot of exciting progress, the project has received development grants from Latino Public Broadcasting and ITVS; these grants have allowed us to do extensive research in Puerto Rico, New York and Harvard this past year. In the research phase I’ve uncovered an abundance of original, never before seen photos and footage, and never before published audio recordings and speeches.

On my most recent trip to Puerto Rico I had the honor of finally meeting 2 of Albizus surviving children, Dona Laura Albizu Meneses and Pedro Albizu Meneses and Albizu’s Granddaughter Cristina Meneses. In addition to the family I met Carlos Padilla, a former nationalist who shared a cell with Don Pedro in the 1950’s, and 103-year-old Isabel Rosado who was one of Albizu’s closest comrades and the subject of Melissa Montero’s: Our Women Our Struggle.

In August 2009 I had the honor of being part of NALIP’s Latino Producers Academy 2009 – Basically they select 10 projects at different stages of production, and invite the producers to spend 10 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the 10 days, professional documentary filmmakers and mentors from PBS, HBO, Sundance, ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting, and CPB workshop your projects and help you improve them.

Being a first time documentary filmmaker the hardest thing to figure out sometimes is knowing what you don’t know. The academy and its mentors created a safe place for filmmakers to ask questions and explore their projects with fresh perspectives. I arrived at the academy still unsure what direction to take my project in and suffering from severe writers block, after a series of one on one and group sessions with mentors I had a creative breakthrough and am well on my way to a successful production – I can honestly say it was the best 10 days of my professional life.

Since the workshop, I’ve completed a new treatment, and I’m working on the final script and preparing applications for the next round of production grants in January.

Michael Torres

Donation info:

Official Merchandise:

An excerpt from an interview with Dr. Anthony Stevens Arroyo....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rosa o Linda, Decide by Rosalinda Vargas

Rosa o Linda, Decide

Mi nombre me lo dieron, no es lo que soy

Usted no tiene derecho de cambiarlo y mas

No me diga algo que me haga dudar quien soy

Ahora si puedo pensar y renegar y mas

No le perdono lo que me dijo años atrás

Eres Rosa o Linda nomas

Mejor Linda que Rosa porque Rosa

Me recuerda de una sirvienta común

Así en dos por tres marcas en mi mente una cosa

Que una pequeña e inocente aun

No sabe de prejuicio y de maestras mal educadas

En años atrás eran y quizás sigan siendo aun
- Rosalinda Vargas

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Valor y Sacrificio

Thinking of valor and sacrifice can conjure up thoughts of giving of oneself as of in life and limb. There have been many who have given of themselves in such a way. Hence, Pedro Albizu Campos' words, "la patria es valor y sacrificio" resonate of deep patriotic sentiment. How one carries that sentiment is what makes the individual. In the case of Puerto Rico, it requires a person to want to learn about the injustices under colonial rule and the price paid by those who stood up against it.

It is not that one should drown themselves in solely seeking the knowledge of the history of Puerto Rico. It is though that one should seek the correct knowledge and convey it in the same. I repeatedly hear of preservation of culture but instead witness far too many letting it slip through their fingers.

To learn of ones history is not to be interpreted as being un-American but rather as being a part of the whole. Far too many accept the status-quo, without condition nor question. Knowledge is knowing, not understanding, so to understand the history of Puerto Rico is to understand why those who have valiantly sacrificed so much, have done so.

'Lo que bien se aprende nunca se olvida.'

Friday, September 10, 2010

Juan Mari Brás (12/2/1925 - 9/10/2010)

It was in July of 1994 when Juan Mari Brás committed an act that inspired many Puerto Rican independistas. It was then that Mari Brás renounced his U.S. citizenship while claiming the right to live in the country of his birth, Puerto Rico.

Born on December 2, 1925 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Juan Mari Brás became involved in politics at an early age. His father, active in the independence movement, took him along to political events frequently.  It was during his time at the University of Puerto Rico that Mari Brás marched, during a student strike, with a Puerto Rican flag in protest against the Universities refusal to allow Pedro Albizu Campos to visit. Albizu Campos had been invited as a guest speaker by the university's pro-independence student body.  Mari Brás was expelled for his actions.

Mari Brás was an exemplary model of the Puerto Rican independista. In 1946, he became one of the founding members of the Puerto Rican Independence Party along with Gilberto Concepción de Gracia.  He served as the president of the party's "Puerto Rican Independence Youth". In 1959, he founded the "Pro-Independence Movement" and he also founded the newspaper Claridad, along César Andreu Iglesias. In 1973, he spoke before the United Nations becoming the first Puerto Rican to raise the issue of Puerto Rico's colonial dilemma.

Juan Mari Brás never so much as gave an inch when it it came to unending devotion to his patria...Puerto Rico. May he rest in peace.

Juan Mari Brás (12/2/1925 - 9/10/2010)

"Only through a great unified movement looking beyond political and ideological differences, can the prevalent fears of hunger and persecution be overcome for the eventual liberation of Puerto Rico, breaking through domination by the greatest imperialist power of our age." -Mari Brás

Biografía de Juan Mari Brás

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Producer/Director... Michael Torres

Last year I posted a short bio, with a link, of producer and director Michael Torres. I have recently had the pleasure of communicating with him and he has provided me with his full bio. Michael is currently working on his first documentary film, Albizu.

Producer/Director Michael Torres
Born in and inspired by The Bronx. Michael began his filmmaking journey in 1998 at a local public access station. Inspired by Robert Rodriguez’ Rebel Without a Crew, he saved his pennies for 2 years so he could buy a Mac and a DV camera to learn filmmaking first hand and tell his stories. Mike worked as a production assistant on dozens of student films, independent features, and television shows and was an intern at socially conscious networks Paper Tiger TV and Deep Dish TV. In 2000 Michael was accepted into Third World Newsreels film and television production workshop. It was there he shot, directed and edited his first 2 shorts Apollo Kids (2000) a social commentary on systematic racism and it effects on our youth and Super Jesus (2001) a dark comedy revolving around gangs and a homeless superhero.

In 2002 Michael headed west to Los Angeles to pursue his filmmaking aspirations while working full time as an editor. Presently he works as a documentary editor at The Halo Group where he is editing Cradle of Rock a documentary chronicling the Asbury Park music scene and the race riots that destroyed a thriving community.

Mike was a participant in Film Independents Project;Involve, a mentorship program that brings young filmmakers of color together with industry professionals. Michael is fortunate enough to have an accomplished documentary filmmaker and former IDA president Lisa Leeman as his mentor. Lisa is also serving as a consultant on the documentary film Albizu.

Currently Michael is in production on his first documentary film, Albizu, which received development grants from Latino Public Broadcasting and ITVS. Albizu is a historical biography on Puerto Rican revolutionary Pedro Albizu Campos, and the strange and violent relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico between 1898 and 1965.and a brief history of the project.

Michael Torres

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Oscar López-Rivera

Oscar López-Rivera was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico on January 6, 1943. His family moved to Chicago when he was twelve years old. In later years he beacame a respected community activist and one of the founding members of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School (formerly Rafael Cancel Miranda High School) and the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Oscar was very active in many community struggles in Chicago and a Puerto Rican independence leader. Arrested in 1981, he was charged with seditious conspiracy and various other charges. 'Described' as a leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional-FALN). Oscar was eventually convicted on the charge of seditious conspiracy, armed robbery and some lesser offenses.

Seditious conspiracy can be defined as overt conduct towards an established order. In this case the established order being the U.S. The conduct can be either written, via speech or organizational. The act in this case was of attempting to overthrow the U.S. government from Puerto Rico, which the U.S. invaded in 1898.

For the charge of seditious conspiracy, armed robbery and some lesser offenses, Oscar was given a sentence of 55 years. A sentence that is out of proportion when compared to other crimes committed during the same time period. Some of the conditions under which he has spent his prison term were found to be in violation of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. (ref.)

The National Boricua Human Rights Network's (NBHRN) new campaign to ask for parole for Oscar Lopez Rivera is well under way, ProLibertad has started an online petition to get President Barack Obama to give Oscar parole or to commute his sentence.

In the words of Congressman Vito Marcantonio, U.S. Congressman, in a speech given by him on August 5, 1939 before Congress titled 'Five Years of Tyranny.' (Recorded in the Congressional Record, August 14, 1939)  "There is no place in America for political prisoners...When we ask ourselves, 'Can it happen here?' the Puerto Rican people can answer, 'It has happened in Puerto Rico.' as he spoke about the treatment of Puerto Rican Nationalist and U.S. prisoner Pedro Albizu Campos.

Click on the image above to sign the petition