Friday, November 9, 2012

Puerto Rico: The little Engine That Could But...

Puerto Rican politics can be very complicated business. You can sit at the dinner table with family and there will be someone for statehood, another for commonwealth and yet another for independence.  The myriad of reasons for each is enough to make for a complex algorithm. There is never an easy answer.

The most recent plebiscite (the fourth since 1967) proves that, Puerto Ricans, are still very divided when it comes to their future. Along these lines, there is no need to explain their current political status. That's been done plenty of times. Truth is, just like a Californian or New Yorker that knows very little about each others politics to even be concerned, such is the case with Puerto Rico. Who in the U.S. really took notice of that small island, with a population of nearly four million, and its plebiscite vote?

The important thing to understand is that the U.S. Congress has no obligation to address this plebiscite. Up at the Hill there are barriers already set in place, as the machinations are in motion to ignore all the hoopla in Puerto Rico over this. As is always the case, Washington will merely nod its head in acknowledgement of the plebiscite while continuing to ignore the peoples right to self determination in the world's oldest colony.

At the end of the day, nothing is resolved for the plebiscite is merely a reflection of the algorithm and indecisiveness of a dependent people. Like the little engine that could, Puerto Rico keeps chugging along without a station in sight.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

From Summer Olympics to Plebiscite: What's Next for Puerto Rico?

What is it about national pride that brings out a glow in people? That deeply embedded sentiment of belonging to something great. A reflection of your very being. I pondered this thought as the 2012 Summer Olympics were played. I quietly watched and digested the pride of the Puerto Rican athletes as they competed in various sports. And then, there was this feeling of contradiction.

Puerto Rico's Olympic Committee (COPUR) sent a total of 25 athletes to the 2012 Summer Olympics. Yes, Puerto Rico has an Olympic committee. Many never consider this as odd because to know that Puerto Rico is a nation in colonial bondage is to know America's secrets. To some, it is a foreign nation, to others a commonwealth or invisible. But, to know its history is to know that it a possession of the U.S.

The Olympic Games, considered to be the world's foremost sports competition, hosts more than 200 nations. Again, we have to stress nation and look at Puerto Rico's status as a nation. In pride, to some extent, in culture (given the American influence thus far) and in mindset, it is still a nation. Realistically, it is a nation held in silent possession and in experimental dogma.

Silently, Puerto Rico, a nation-less nation heads towards another plebiscite on the heels of positive Olympic fervor and in the midst of a presidential election in the U.S., in which they have no say. As the presidential and vice-Presidential debates take place, Puerto Ricans on the island can only watch and wait.

It is not to say, that there isn't an election in Puerto Rico. On the contrary, there is a gubernatorial election, along with the plebiscite vote. What comes out of this, can indeed be interesting. The current Governor, Luis G. Fortuno, who favors statehood and stands with U.S. republicans, is not exactly Mr. Favorable and the result of the plebiscite can contradict that which he favors. Still, the plebiscite is non-binding and doesn't change a thing. There is no real plan nor concerted effort by island politicians to take total control of the islands political future. All island politicians have is hope that Washington will take notice of their whimpering. All this, of course, is unknown to the American public.

Consider this: Immigration occurs for a reason, people looking for a better way of life may top the list. In that search, the glamorized American way of life becomes the pot of gold. Yet, in spite of the slow climb from a recession in the U.S. and Puerto Rico's one hundred plus year relationship with the U.S., Puerto Rico is still going through some tough times, both economically and socially, as witnessed by the influx of Puerto Ricans to Florida. It is then safe to say, when in difficult times people look for ways out of their misfortune. Puerto Ricans are no different. They have been led down a long road of U.S. dependency. The chains of colonialism extend for so long that the links have become more and obscure. In the end, if there ever is an ending, many questions remain and the answers, just as numerous, are never clearly defined.

Is the plebiscite vote a mathematical equation of subtraction in favor of statehood? Will the peoples right to self determination be acknowledged or ignored? Does America really want or is it prepared for a 51st state? What's next for Puerto Rico?

The debate continues.....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Of Ballots And Bullets

by Vagabond /August 28, 2012 / Originally published on #nothingtobegainedhere
Ballots & Bullets Revolver X by vagabond ©
“Political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Zedong

It’s (s)election season again in the United States Of America… Every four years when it comes time for the US to choose a president i’m reminded of Malcolm X infamous speech The Ballot Or The Bullet. The speech is a recognized as being the the 7th best American speech given in the 20th century. The power of that speech comes from it’s analysis of the modern American political system and in a way it’s a kind of bench mark in terms of how much progress (if any) has been made in American politics. But there never seems to be any real meaningful forward progress in American politics… and Malcolm’s speech made in Cleveland Ohio on April 3rd of 1964 is a reminder of just how much American politics hasn’t really changed.

Malcolm’s speech was delivered a year after the famous 1963 march on Washington DC in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. That was a high water mark for the Civil Rights movement and yet with all it’s hope and promise of change, with all it’s generational upheaval and force of will very little had changed a year later in 1964 for Black people in America. In much the same way that Barak Hussein Obama was elected president in 2008 with all it’s hope and promise of change, with all it’s generational upheaval and force of will, not much has changed for Black people or for anyone else in 2012. And so Malcolm’s speech of 1964 has a haunting and prophetic relevance because the politics of America doesn’t change.

If you listen to Malcolm’s speech and replace the reference of Black people with the 99% you’ll see that the keen empirical and analytical analysis Malcolm makes of the American political system in 1964 is completely applicable in 2012. Why? Because the American political system is not designed to change in a way that benefits those who need it to change most. It’s not designed to respond to the demands of the people who are clamoring for it. History has born this out… from the abolition of slavery, to the suffrage movement, to labor rights, to the civil rights to gay rights and immigration reform, change has been achingly slow in this country. Change may be inevitable but in this country it’s not about stopping change as much as it is about slowing it down to a glacial pace.

Please don’t mistake this as some anti-Obama rhetoric, this goes beyond Obama… Obama is one man within a system… A system that was designed for self preservation no matter who was the president and what kind of change they might want to bring… Obama inherited an abysmal situation, but it’s a situation that’s been politically designed to be nothing else but a tragedy… The global financial collapse of 2007 – 2008 was created by the American political system. The so-called “rescue” of that financial system, on the part of that very same American political system, was only concerned with the financial institutions that the political class has always been beholden to in contrast to the people who elect them.

There has been recent pressure brought to bear on this American political system for a more rapid and radical change in the form of the occupy movements which by and large are rejecting these outmoded forms of political representation. That message though, seems to have fallen on ears that refuse to hear, eyes that refuse to see, minds that refuse to reason, and hearts that refuse to feel when in comes to the two major political parties. The occupy movement seems to have awoken people to the idea that the two major parties are dictating what the issues are from a top down position as opposed to a bottom up approach. This may be the reason why the two major parties have stayed away from the occupy movement, the threat of real democracy looms large within the occupy movement.

What Malcolm was trying to get at in The Ballot Or The Bullet, was that if we can’t get what we want by the ballot then we’ll have to get it by the bullet. If the political system that claims to represent you fails to do so then the only option left is revolution… The Ballot in Malcolm’s speech is of course, the status quo, the Bullet is the revolution. Revolutions are bloody as Malcolm points out but he closes his speech by saying that America has an opportunity to create a bloodless revolution… That bloodless revolution can only happen when the paradigm shifts and those at the bottom dictates the direction and speed of the change that need to happen. The form that our “Bullet” may take in this revolution may take on a less literal form in order to create this bloodless revolution, but make no mistake, whatever form it takes it must be in the end as affective as a bullet…

You can hear Malcolm’s brilliant speech here…

You can get a T-shirt or 1″ Button of the image Ballots Or Bullets Revolver X at my design company Audio Visual Terrorism. Between the Emma Goldman quote and the Malcolm X quote the design reflects my thoughts on the American electoral process


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Along the Route: ¡Despierta, Borinqueño!

When one envisions a Caribbean island, one envisions palm trees, sandy beaches with clear ocean waters and a vibrant sunshine. A vacation on an island as such can be the escape from the mundane feeling, the stress and every day anxiety that work brings. A much needed vacation where one can relax, release and play.

It is there where one is devoid of the fact that just beyond the next palm tree lies unemployment, political deceit and a centuries old fallacy. That is the truth that befalls many Puerto Ricans that live on the island and are constantly infused with an American dream filled with promise. An American dream which makes one just capable enough to help run the machine's cogs and wheels but not to actually run the machine itself. Where the machinations of this society are in the hands of the money grubbing corporations which have politicians in their pockets.

Here is the deal. We are taught to believe that we can be as successful as the Gates and Zuckerbergs of this great society. But, like any society, there has to be a measure of control. Surely, this control has been occurring in Puerto Rico for well over a century under U.S. control. The U.S. has infused into the Puerto Rican psyche, even before the Jones Act, the dream of a Puerto Rico, USA. It is that dream that has created the political status dilemma that haunts islanders to this very day.The haunting takes shape in the psyche form that believes that without the U.S., Puerto Rico would fall into the hands a greater evil. That its very existence will be ravaged with greater poverty than currently exists. Yet, with a greater commonality or coexistence with the U.S. the belief that more can be achieved is envisioned on the other side of the coin. Within that exists the loss of a culture and identity. It continues as a belief that, without the ties that bind the two together, the island would cease to exist as a viable nation. There are many sides to the coin that make for a dilemma and either an American dream or nightmare, depending on where one stands.

Every attempt is made to assimilate into the American way of life. It is the copycat syndrome that the dream keeps alive. After all, it is said that you should follow your dreams. It is then safe to say that there is a thin line between dream and reality? The American dream is really more an illusion, a feeling of moving up from a lower social class, earning enough so your children can go to college and owning a home. It takes away the humility in the average man and replaces it with a greedy capitalists mentality. While the general population is busy keeping up with the joneses, corporate fat cats can run the country as they see fit. Just smart enough to maintain and keep the machine going but never having full control. Such is, the American dream.

A couple of questions, in Puerto Rico, then are, can it or can it not survive without the U.S. Are the people so heavily infused with an American dream that they are willing to assimilate to the point of cultural and identity loss? In the end, the answers lie within the people of the island and only if they awake from that dream and approach things on clear and concise footing.

¡Despierta, Borinqueño!

Along the parade route, as flags wave and multitudes of people adorn themselves with various trinkets of Puerto Rican  pride, we have to question where that pride leads us. We have to question the motives of the capitalist corporations that adorn floats in attempts to captivate the moment. The very same attempts which glorify the American dream across the globe. Can we continue to survive as Puerto Ricans solely on pride alone? Is that pride sincere or not? Can we carry that pride and convert it to truly preserving and enriching our fellow Puerto Ricans who are in the most need? Can we exercise our minds to learn more about the history and culture of our people?

Let us take the energy that fills our parades with pride further than the avenue routes and face that which divides us, both on the island and within every Puerto Rican enclave in the U.S. to a collective advent and confront the reality that is colonialism. It is with that, that we must find the energy to confront the stigma that affects the independent thought of a Puerto Rican dream.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Puerto Rico: Many Questions, Many Answers....

What will become of Puerto Rico?

In a recent conversation with a friend, I asked the question, "What are your sentiments toward the current Governor of Puerto Rico and where do you believe the island is going?" I asked this question because he was born and raised on the island yet currently lives and works in NYC. He owns a home in Puerto Rico and travels there extensively and his children are also being raised on the island.

I felt his reply was honest and heartfelt. He replied that he felt the Governor of Puerto Rico was no different than past Governors or politicians. That his motives were not of the people but rather self driven political aspirations. As for the direction the island is going, he would only reply, that if Puerto Rico were to become a state it would be an even greater opportunity for corporations, money grubbing realtors and the like to sink their teeth onto the island. It would be like a gentrification of sorts where many of the island folk would not be able to afford the very land that they have lived on for years and they would have to move on. For the people to believe that they would receive more assistance via statehood is absolutely absurd. They have been coached to believe that by constantly being provide with crumbs by the American government. That the identity of the Puerto Rican nation will, with time, become so minute that it will be nearly all but forgotten except by the truly ardent Puerto Rican.

Our conversation may have ended there but it remained in my thoughts. It is, after all, a year that revisits yet another plebiscite on the island. Where the politics of the island status has taken a seat alongside the gubernatorial election. I also wonder about the motives and aspirations of that Governor. Is it for the people or self driven? The bottom line is what will happen at the end. The tunnel that leads to the islands political status is dark and dank and has been for a very long time. There is no doubt that the people fear the light at the end of the tunnel. It is marred by the same repeated questions with many answers that lead to the same end.

It does lead me to other questions. Such as, what is the reason behind the U.S. Army Reserve investing heavily in Puerto Rico? What is really in the future of the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station site? With the Governor seemingly bent on higher Washington aspirations, is this all tied to an inclination toward a statehood coating of the cake?
Depending on which side of the political spectrum one stands, the answers are never easy to swallow. The frustration never seems to have an end. What will become of Puerto Rico?

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Rose in Spanish Harlem, by Alberto O. Cappas

A Rose in Spanish Harlem
Three Characters in One:
East Harlem - Spanish Harlem - El Barrio

© By Alberto O. Cappas

A Rose in Spanish Harlem
Hiding in exile until it becomes all clear
A community
Divided unto itself by itself with itself
While other cultures make themselves at home
We stay inside
Like Lobsters in a barrow
Managed by a social service over-dosed mindset
Cultural Centers keeping Boricua in the past
Preaching a strategy of outdated liberated emotions
Perpetuated by poets with words that erase
Possibilities of moving a new generation forward
Colonial chains still in full operation
A living electronic field of rappers and poets
Adding confusion to the meaning
A community consuming, not providing
Electing misguided egos into public policy positions
Cementing the fate with physical evidence:
Babies coming from babies
The young echoing the "N" word as a daily sweet diet
Tattoos carved on human bodies transformed into walking billboards
And slacks placed below the waist line as something very cool

As the poet
Pedro Pietri said,
It is time to visit
"Sister Lopez" again
"The number one healer"
And pray that the spirits
Would heal and guide us out of
Ignorance and bondage
Giving us the wisdom to build
A new Spanish Harlem
And Liberate the Rose

Rise Puerto Ricans
Rise Puerto Ricans

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Basta Ya! 31 Years, A Message from Oscar

Greetings with Much Respect and Love,

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Puerto Rican people in PR and in the diaspora for the support you have given me during the past 31 years. I also want to express the same gratitude to the freedom and justice loving people in the U.S. and in different parts of the world for the solidarity they’ve shared with me. The support I’ve received has been a fountain of strength that has helped me face and deal with the difficult challenges I’ve experienced in prison during the past 31 years, and to remain morally and spiritually strong to continue struggling and resisting.

The 31 years seem to have passed fleetingly. Many radical changes have occurred all over the world during this period of time. In Latin America progressive presidents rule in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina. In the last two countries the presidents are progressive women. And in Puerto Rico the US navy is no longer present in Vieques. Unfortunately, the most important change Puerto Ricans need has not taken place. Because colonialism seems to be more entrenched now than ever.

It was José Martí who said that for a people to be free they needed to be cultured. I believe Puerto Ricans are a cultured people. Yet we still are a colonized people. We are also a morally, mentally, spiritually strong people. But we haven’t been able to make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.

It was Albert Einstein who said that by repeating the same experiment the results were always going to be the same. Doing that is nothing else than an exercise in futility. And Puerto Rican independentists have been repeating the same experiment for decades and obtaining the same results without being able to achieve their goal of an independent and sovereign nation. The celebration of plebiscites has been such an experiment. So why do we continue engaging in Sisyphean tasks? What should we do? Let’s pay heed to Einstein’s wise warning.

My proposal is a simple one. Let’s work on the problems we can resolve with the means and resources we have at our disposal. For example, let’s take one problem related to the health issue we are facing – obesity. To resolve this problem a simple change in lifestyle will do. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and create a support network. We can also start programs of urban gardening. There’s space for such a program in the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico. And in those spaces we can grow healthy products that can help with a nutritional diet. We can look for alternative sources of energy and of transportation. Let’s start thinking of changes we can make in our lifestyles and we can resolve some of the difficult problems we face. Problems shouldn’t intimidate or scare us. They should produce ideas in our heads and challenge us to find solutions. Finding solutions to problems give us confidence, and help us transcend our colonized mentality. And that transcendence gets us closer to our goal of achieving an independent and sovereign nation and a better and more just world. We are intelligent enough to know what needs to be done. We can change lifestyles in Puerto Rico and in the Puerto Rican diaspora and by doing so we will grow stronger morally, physically, spiritually and mentally. We can make Puerto Rico a free and sovereign nation.

En resistencia y lucha,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Breaking the One-Sided Cycle: Filiberto, the movie

There are at least two sides to every story. When it comes to the history of Puerto Rico there are many stories. The same same can be said of its many patriots and their long fervor-ed stance against imperialistic might.

On September 23, 2005, the anniversary of El Grito de Lares, in the town of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, the home of Filiberto Ojeda Rios was surrounded by FBI agents. After spending many years on the FBI's most wanted list, the one side of Filiberto's life that lead to his being labeled a terrorist in his own nation would culminate in his killing by federal agents. This, of course, is the one side that is preferred by the those who seek to further deny a true patriot his right to justice for his beloved country and people.

To better understand Filiberto's life, one has to take a much deeper journey into the life of the man and into his beloved nation, Puerto Rico. It is with an understanding of both that we can then break the cycle of the one-sided story inclination that makes a man, a patriot to some and a terrorist to others. This is what one sided histories do.

 Clandestinity By Comandante Filiberto

In an attempt to better understand the man, a documentary detailing the life of this  professional musician who abandoned his trumpet and his family to live a clandestine life of armed revolutionary has been in the works. Like any other undertaking of this magnitude, a huge amount of funding is required and getting the word out is of utmost importance in achieving this.

If you would like to donate please do so, no amount is too small. You can also post it into your Facebook wall, tweet it, pin it and email it.

Filiberto, Teaser (Proyecto Chiringa) from Filiberto, the movie on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

English, Santorum, Puerto Rico: There is Still Much to be Learned

Maybe he's a bit late to the table. Or rather, Rick Santorum never made it to classroom. Wait, even if he did he would not have learned much about Puerto Rico anyway.

Carlos Diaz, 84, reads local newspaper El Vocero with a front page depicting both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a headline reading, "The National Battle Arrives on the Island. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
Politics can't get any worse when you have a presidential candidate courting the Latino vote on an island that, to most Americans, barely exists, other than for vacations. To others, it is an eye sore of total U.S. support and sustainability that feeds off social services and medicare programs. Many opine negatively based on media influence and hearsay, which also create stereotypes. It can't be based on historical facts because U.S  history lessons have been devoid of the historical facts that have led Puerto Rico to a dependency on the U.S. that is difficult to break from.

Those who do know something are called political strategist. Political strategist are fully aware of Puerto Rico's upcoming plebiscite. But, like many, they too fail to know much, if anything, about the U.S. and Puerto Rico relationship (it's called Colonialism!) over the past 100 years.

Two facts that both Santorum and company need open up a book for are: First, the U.S. Constitution does not designate an official language. Secondly, English and Spanish are the official languages in Puerto Rico.

As for statehood, if it were ever that simple, then it would have been easily obtainable a long time ago. Instead, we have a dirty little word called colonialism (or Neocolonialism). Ignored and repeatedly rephrased as "Associated Free State", "Commonwealth", or "Unincorporated Territory".

As for the campaign rhetoric, it is just that. Attempts by both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney to roll up their sleeves and make every attempt to court the Latino vote. The promises are played out like a perfect game. While the political games are played, the secret no longer remains a total secret, America still possesses the world's oldest colony in the Caribbean. In the case of politics, the door is  only open long enough for the rhetoric to be heard and then, what is learned and realized is forgotten just like promises made during a campaign.

That leaves us with this: Puerto Rican Primary = Colonial Problems

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Imaginary Nation

by Vagabond /March 8, 2012 / Originally published on #nothingtobegainedhere

Rufina Santos Mateo Birth Certificate by vagabond ©

(for Rufina and Moises Santos and Lisa Sanchez González)
legal immigrant puerto ricans never needed a green card or naturalization papers
based on the technicality of yankee colonialism
they never had to learn the pledge of allegiance or salute the stars and stripes
until they were made citizens to fill the gaps left In the trenches of
two world wars, the korean war and the conflict in vietnam
canon fodder immigrants with drafted second class citizenship
conveniently filed under the selective service negro regiments
dying in service to a country that allowed them to fill
two needs with one grave
that’s one less dead american and one more dead porto rican
puerto ricans never needed papers to come from a nationless nation
mocked by american billboards to lift themselves up by their bootstraps
in an operation to make them dependent
on the american made heel pushing down on their throats
it’s an effort to choke the dignity out of them
but all they ever spit up was broken american english
from the asthmatic factory sweatshop floors careful not to get any spanglish
on the pennies paid piece work as they sat at a singer that sang a song of oppression
they never needed papers to be encouraged
to leave a country they couldn’t fully claim as their own
to come to a country that would claim them as undesirable
this in-betweenness
this not here and not here and not over there either
this 500 year plus limbo and counting
this nationalist purgatory that requires an ongoing penance
this nation squeezed into the space of a colony contained by a fake autonomy
this nationless nation smuggled across borders in the minds and bodies of puerto ricans
this fractured indigenous european african passport
is unacceptable i.d. and so it must be fake
since it defies the social science mythology of race and nationality
papers? we don’t need no stinking papers
we carry an identity that defies classification
our papers are the deed to a current imaginary nation looking to be a former colony
but the americans have camouflaged their imperialism
with puerto rican olympic teams and pan american games
and the classification of international flights to domestic territories
and holding opinion polls called plebiscites rigged as american propaganda
while the world scratches its head trying to understand
how these americans have rewritten the old rules of imperialism
and risked allowing such facades to be the glue for such political schizophrenia
never understanding that its spectacle for divide and conquer
never understanding that its porto rican against puerto rican
then the americans hold up a defaulted bank note and say
you porto ricans have not yet paid for the right to be decolonized
and puerto ricans hold up political assassinations and prisoners of war
as a receipt that the rent has been overpaid by the tenants
who wish to serve the absentee landlord of yankee imperialism an eviction notice
but the paper for that receipt is invalid because there are no refunds on theft
and the eviction notice was written in a disappearing ink
because puerto ricans don’t need papers to validate their invalidation
they come from a set of coordinates left in a racial geopolitical void
from a place that exists without definition
from a misunderstood chapter in history
because they exist without a nation
they carry within their existence an imagined nation
they’ve lived like this for so long
they’ve grown accustomed to the contradictions of imagined nationhood
and on a sunday in early june they celebrate it
with a fervor unmatched by any real nation
they march that imagination up 5th avenue
driving it uptown against the traffic while pulling a float of dancing girls
with a permit from the mayor and flashing police escort
waving a real flag for a symbolic nation
parading the pride of their imagination as evidence to the world
that they have found a visceral way to exist within this ether of colonialism
without a tolerance for the absurd or a propensity for the surreal
or a sense of humor about the nakedness of an empire that wears no clothes
puerto ricans would have been a past tense without a future
but this blessing is a difficult poison to swallow
when they ask you for the claim check ticket for the imaginary nation
left parked in a garage only puerto rican parking lot attendants have access to
when they ask who was your mother and who was your father
and where is your grandmother
and show me on the maps of nations where it is you’re from
when they ask to see the invalid papers they have forced you not to carry
to validate your unrecognized existence

- vagabond

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God Is Not American

by Vagabond /February 19, 2012 / Originally published on #nothingtobegainedhere

God Is Not American by vagabond ©
god is not american
this is not a test of the emergency broadcast system
this is a real emergency we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news as a public service announcement for american voters
god is not american
god’s done blessing america she’s gone on to blessing
afghanistan, iraq, iran, haiti, sudan, somalia, syria, north korea, chiapas, bolivia, brazil, pakistan, palestine, puerto rico

she’s gone on to bless those places that need blessing most
your plea and your prayer for god to bless america yet again will fall on deaf ears
god will not bless you until you learn
that the blessings bestowed upon you already
were not yours to keep but yours to pass on

once you learn to share those blessings
the request line for more blessings will be reopened
until then understand that god is not a democrat or a republican
god is not american god is not american say it with me god is not american

god won’t be contained within your borders
she won’t be defined or fractured by your politic
god is an anarchist
she doesn’t belong to you – you belong to her
when your blessings are redistributed to those in need you will know god
until then you will continue to think american and be treated as such

remember god is not a democrat or a republican
god is not on your side god is not american
god is a non-white illegal alien and not welcome here or anywhere else
you have made that abundantly clear in
afghanistan, iraq, iran, haiti, sudan, somalia, syria, north korea, chiapas, bolivia, brazil, pakistan, palestine, puerto rico

god is not american say it with me god is not american
god was not born in america she doesn’t have a valid birth certificate
not the short form or the long form so stop asking for it
long story short she was born as american bombs fell around the hospitals in
afghanistan, iraq, iran, haiti, sudan, somalia, syria, north korea, chiapas, bolivia, brazil, pakistan, palestine, puerto rico
and the doctor the nurse the midwife the mother worked furiously in the dark
taking her from the womb as the back up generators went down

your addiction for blessings will no longer be fed
don’t try and campaign for more of what’s been misused already
this message was paid for by all US held political prisoners past present and future
in an effort to debunk the american mythology that god is an american
the emergency is not over the danger has not passed
in spite of that we return you now to your regularly scheduled programming

- vagabond

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Juan Boria

Juan Boria was born in Dorado, Puerto Rico on February 17, 1905. He started his primary education in his hometown, continued in the neighboring town of Toa Baja and completed high school in Santurce, in 1923. He attended the University of Puerto Rico, where he received a Masters in Industrial Arts, Drawing and Carpentry. In 1968, after 37 years of teaching carpentry, drawing and bookbinding, he retired.

In 1938, during a poetry recital, he became very interested in a poem his friend, Pablito Rivera, recited. His love for Afro-Caribbean poetry grew so much that he began to recite poems on a radio station. It was there that poet Fortunato Vizcarrondo heard and offered him his poems to recite. It was during that time that fellow poet Ramón Rivero (known as "Diplo") began to call Boria "El Faraón del Verso Negro" (The Pharaoh of the Black Verse).

In later years, Boria joined forces with Ramón Rivero "Diplo" and Jose Luis Torregrosa. Together,they traveled all over the island performing at various functions; Boria, both as a poet and as an actor. Under the recommendation of Luis Palés Matos, he traveled to Havana, Cuba, where he showcased his talents for two months. He was also sent to the Panama Canal, by the U.S. Government, to entertain the troops there. Soon after, he traveled to the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Spain and various cities in the U.S.

Boria also made television and film debuts, traveled to cultural centers, schools, and public squares in Puerto Rico and participated at the Cultural Olympics, held during the Ninth Pan American Games, in 1979.

Boria received over 200 awards during his career and an Honorary Doctorate, 'honoris causa', from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart University of Puerto Rico).

Juan Boria died May 29, 1995.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

La Fortaleza that Luis Built has Blinders

What is there that can't be understood about the Puerto Rico status issue? I believed that even the most educated have their blind sides and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño, has proven that time and time again. As of late, he is quoted as saying,

 Translation: "I want Puerto Rico to eventually be a state but it doesn't bother me if it remains a territory for a while, that, I call statesman on layaway" 

Unfortunately, his statement proves that a colonized mind will remand itself to such low levels to please the colonizer. It's as if he has spent far too much time living in a void between what is real and what is not.

Where was Fortuño when Republican candidate Newt Gingrich made this comment:
The same can be asked of him in reference to the recent book removals in Arizona, books boxed and stored away to eventually be forgotten. When the Tennessee Tea Party demands that slavery be removed from textbooks,  does he not question their motives? No different than the complete erasure of Puerto Rican history. Or is it that he just doesn't care?

Recently in Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court said Alejandrina Cabrera doesn't speak enough English to hold office in an area where the constituents are predominantly Spanish speaking. It is a reminder of anti-Spanish speaking sentiment in America and a reminder that English is the superior language spoken by the master, therefore you should learn it. My take is that a lack of English should not keep anyone from advancing but rather make it the stepping stone to mastering two or more languages.

Allan Wall writes in an article favoring Puerto Rico statehood on the Tea Party VDARE.Com site:

If Puerto Rico becomes a state, it will be a Trojan Horse for the Hispanicization of the United States.......That’s true, and mass Mexican immigration, and the way it is handled is indeed a cultural threat to the United States.
It may seem as small potatoes but what isn't seen or heard also matters. The polls may speak a bit, but in the end, it is foolish to believe in something that has been on layaway for so long. Such is the case when it applies to the American dream in Puerto Rico. There is a complete and total ignorance on the part of Fortuño which prevents him from seeing in between the lines. Point blank and in your face.
Photo from Encuesta no apoya la estadidad

Instead, the deep chagrin of his political aspirations allows him to say that he would prefer to be a statesmen on layaway. Puerto Rico has been on layaway a lot longer than he thinks. To say such a statement should be more an embarrassment than a thing of pride.The onus is on the Puerto Rican voters on the island to teach him a lesson or two come election time. Maybe Sarah Palin will take him in.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One Mans Terrorist Is Another Mans Revolutionary

by Vagabond /February 1, 2012 / Originally published on #nothingtobegainedhere

-Another Mans Revolutionary by vagabond ©

“One mans terrorist, is another mans revolutionary.”
- Moises Pagan Santos (my grandfather) 

“In our communique number 2 we warned the North American government that to terrorize and kill our people would mean retaliation by us. This was not an empty warning.”
- FALN Communique #3

 “It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center. Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad, this placement of an element of the American “command and control infrastructure” in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a “legitimate” target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to no more than “collateral damage”. If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these “standards” when they are routinely applied to other people, they should not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.”
— Ward Churchill , Statement to Rocky Mountain News

A few days ago the NY Daily News ran an article describing the FALN bombing of Fraunces Tavern in 1975. It was yellow journalism at its best. Anemic on facts but obese on sensationalism. There is no historical context or background explanation on how or why “a tiny group terrorists bent on Puerto Rican independence” would strike at “corporate executives”, just the spectacle of terrorism in service to flimsy jingoism. A self-righteous tone of superiority trumps the facts in an effort to prop up the zombie of patriotic fervor that naturally assumes that the US government and her “corporative executives” have nothing to do with the colonization of Puerto Rico.

And so it falls on me (and others like me) to set this broken record straight. First things first. Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. The FALN – the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional, the Armed Forces of National Liberation were a clandestine armed force that operated in the US in the 1970′s and 1980′s and used any and all means at their disposal to rid Puerto Rico of US colonialism. Oscar Lopez Rivera was a member of the FALN. He was arrested in 1980 and charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. He claimed a prisoner of war status and refused to take part in the trial outside of an opening and closing statement. He was found guilt and sentenced to 70 years.

The NY Daily News article places the responsibility of the deaths of the four businessmen on the shoulders of Oscar. However there was no evidence that linked Oscar to the Fraunces Tavern bombing. Oscar was never charged with the Fraunces Tavern bombing. Oscar is not in prison for the Fraunces Tavern bombing. This myth that Oscar had anything to do with the Fraunces Tavern bombing has been continually propagated as a rallying cry against the FALN. The FALN were at war with the US government in the same way that the American Revolutionaries were at war with the British. The targeting of Fraunces Tavern which played a prominent role in the American Revolution is not mere coincidence but a means towards making a bold statement about the origins of this countries colonialism and its battle for independence. Claiming that the Fraunces Tavern bombing is an act of terrorism is not much different from the British viewing the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism. But nothing blinds like one who refuses to see.

The FALN claimed responsibility for the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in retaliation to a CIA bombing of a restaurant in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico where two Puerto Rican independence supporters were killed and ten others were maimed including a six-year-old child. No one was ever prosecuted for that Fraunces Tavern bombing action. The irony of all this is that the yellow journalism being used by the NY Daily News is the same yellow journalism used to stoked the fires of the Spanish-American War of 1898. It was that war that led to the colonization of Puerto Rico by the US. Now all these years later it continues to haunt Puerto Ricans in our struggle to achieve independence.

When Oscar is released from prison and comes home to be received like the rightful hero that he is and Puerto Rico is free from US colonialism, there won’t be a newspaper large enough for the US government and the lackeys who supported it to hide their shame…

-FALN COMMUNIQUE #3 January 24, 1975

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fortuño, Romney and Status Issue

Luis G. Fortuño, the quintessential poster boy of America's Republican candidates looking for the Latino vote or simply, Puerto Rico's Governor. The same guy who has been hailed for cutting government expenditures and improving government on the colony, although, Moody's just said:

 Strategically, having Fortuño by their side makes sense to the Republican Party when courting the Latino vote. It works exceptionally well in Florida, a state which has seen enormous growth in the Puerto Rican population. This growth comes from those who have given up on the island and decided that the only way to bring about change is to make a move to Florida.

It's all politics, and like a chess game, making strategic moves is key to increasing political power in a highly competitive race. Does this make it all the more honest. Nary a positive thought comes to mind when answering that. It all rather comes to mind with many expletives. On the other hand, and I don't think I'm being harsh, if Fortuño wants to play the role of pony, then I'm sure Republicans will "ride that pony!"

Mitt Romney, businessman and politician, is making moves just like a  good businessman. If it all pans out, he could end up having Florida in no time. Those very same Puerto Rican Floridians, who have fled the island, are a part of Fortuño's flock of statehood supporters. Take Romney's latest comment,

 As president, I look forward to working with Governor Fortuño on the issues most pressing for the people of Puerto Rico – job creation, public safety and resolving the Island’s 113-year political status question....... I pledge to work with Congress to help the American citizens residing in Puerto Rico resolve their century-long status issue by choosing from the constitutionally-viable status options...."

Read more here:

Read more here:

 as checkmate!
We move on to status issue and as Romney stated, "I pledge to work with Congress.." Yes, Romney knows that Congress has the final say. It's the peoples right to self determination versus Congressional questions on what does Puerto Rico have to offer in the relationship with the U.S.

Consider this from Romney:

Politics at its best. Let's play a game.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's More Like Unnecessary and Misguided Puffing

Right on the heels of the 'Work It' controversy comes some unnecessary and misguiding diatribe of Puerto Rico. Yes, diatribe. I'll point out several reasons why this piece gets it all wrong and shows the lack of knowledge, about Puerto Rico, the writer has.
First, the island that doesn't exist, exists more than as a physical presence. Where it doesn't exist is in an American society which knows very little to null about the island. It has existed, and still continues to do so, as America's little colony in the Caribbean. It exists with a national identity like no other and it is a country to those who believe and cherish that identity.

Second, we have this:

" people often define themselves as whites. At the same time whites from there are often defined as colored people in the US and abroad..."

  "....unmentionable experiments in the past century by the US government. Because of that, the scars of colonialism by two subsequent imperial rulers, and because its people have fought every US war, the prevailing psychological scars are deep...."
The article fails to honestly realize that Puerto Rico's centuries old colonial stigma, over 400 years under Spain and nearly 114 under the U.S., has ingrained into the psyche of the people the unequivocal mindset that white is the dominating factor. Its relationship with the U.S led to the demise of its agrarian society via an attempt to industrialize, Operation Bootstrap, that failed miserably. The island's economic and social houses have been marred by the U.S. trade laws and restrictions it is subjected to.

Third, what the writer generally implies is that every street corner in Puerto Rico is crime infested and its population has become immune to "shootings and executions in the middle of the day on the expressways and virtually anywhere". Yes, there are surmounting problems, but the writer paints a picture of society that has succumbed to those problems and does nothing, when in fact, there are many who commit themselves to change and lead honest and productive lives.


 "...those who migrated to the mainland and their descendants have all the right to be and to call themselves Americans if they want to, and in fact they have no other choice. There are many grey areas in regards to the citizenship and no easy answers. Only Puerto Ricans can decide their fate..."

They have all the right to be and call themselves American? Is the writer referring to the Jones Act of 1914? That they have no other choice and that only Puerto Ricans can decide their fate, must also begin with the U.S. Congress facing its responsibility under the U.S Constitution's Article 4, Section 3, Territorial Clause.

No fear and loathing here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Huffington Post Latino Voices Still Medicore

by Ed Morales

Okay, maybe it’s not fair to trash the whole Huffington Post Latino Voices “channel” or whatever it is, but this "opinion" piece or whatever it is, might in some ways be worse than the sight of Amaury Nolasco in a dress. I will refrain from calling this an example of a blowhard dilettante choosing to dump on Puerto Rico in the same condescending way generations of blowhard dilettantes have done in the past, because it isn’t quite that. Thankfully, we are moving past the time when blowhard dilettantes dominate public discourse and a real solidarity between Latin American and Caribbean people begins to produce a productive dialog to confront the global elites that try to define us even as they attempt to destroy our culture, economy, “territory,” and communities.

You can read the rest at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

'Work It': Furthermore...

Is it the roar that comes before the real battle? Is it that intense feeling in the pit of the stomach before the real fight?

The controversial line in the debut of ABC's 'Work It' that set off that roar and intense feeling may be just what is needed to bring some attention, outside of the island, to the surmounting problems afflicting it. Nonetheless, it shouldn't be brushed off as just some 'joke' or one-liner as some may think.

According to a Primera Hora report, Puerto Rican actor, Noland Otero stated (via Facebook),
"There are more important things to do in this country. An apology from, Amaury Nolasco, for something that is a reality for some or many, perhaps not that in which we live, I think nobody is in a position to demand (an apology), when we don't do anything for anybody."

First, the country he speaks of is Puerto Rico. The same many Americans brush off as some far away Caribbean island worthy of a little vacation time without ever knowing of its nearly 114 year relationship with the U.S. Yes, I repeatedly make mention of the U.S. and Puerto Rico relationship because it may very well be a part of the problem. As tourists bathe on its beaches, enjoy the food, visit it historical sites and enjoy the nightlife, that very long relationship goes ignored.

Second, what is a reality is that with a lack of positive portrayals of Puerto Ricans on major networks and media, the one-liner that came from a Puerto Rican actor, adds wood to the stereotype fire and becomes part of that negative reality which positive role models try to break. An apology matters, in an American society with little to no substantive information about Puerto Ricans, in a Puerto Rican society, that continues to struggle with its socioeconomic and political future.

In the same article, Mariana Vicente, Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2010, goes on to say,  
 "We are not in a position to demand that the media guard our reputation when in our country we don’t even respect ourselves, brutally killing people, firing bullets in the air and so much violence in the home, let’s start out by caring for ourselves and demonstrating the contrary to the rest of the world."

Like Otero, she goes on to say, country, as if this was about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans on the island alone. This is not about guarding reputations. This is about all Puerto Ricans, whether on the island or the mainland U.S., a democracy, in which we can demand that media and major network act responsibly. 

Now, if we turn our attention to the country that both Otero and Vincente speak of and its myriad of problems then we have to think in terms of inter-correlations between unemployment, drugs, colonialism and corporatism. Caring for self is just one step in the right direction. Certainly, a visit by a President islanders can't vote for, slaps in the face by the U.S. Congress and the touting of Puerto Rico's Governor, Luis G. Fortuño  by conservatives, as a Republican vice presidential nominee aren't going to resolve any of these problems.
Regardless, of the difficulties the future holds, whether one liners or not, none should be ignored and all should be set at the forefront, if we aim to move further ahead. It has to begin with some debate less the bickering along the lines of island born and mainland born. The love for culture goes beyond saying that we are 'Boricuas' and waving flags to truly constructive action. For if we truly love our culture and the island, then that should transfer to cause, dedication and preservation.

I once mentioned that I had a dream,
"that all the powers that be in Puerto Rico finally came to their senses, sat at a big round table, put all differences aside and really discussed Puerto Rico's century old status of colonialism. That real decisions were made, hands were shaken and a unified movement, to end the real nightmare, had been born. Finally with fists up in the air (some with middle fingers raised at Washington **a little anger**), the Puerto Rican people would finally have leaders that stand as true patriots of the motherland and represent all that is Puerto Rican".

To that end, I would add Puerto Rican leaders in the U.S., as well, and discussions that begin to include ways to tackle the myriad of problems afflicting Puerto Rico.

Note: As of this writing, Aumary Nolasco had issued an apology via Twitter...hmm?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dr. Manuel Zeno Gandía

Dr. Manuel Zeno Gandía, physician and writer, was born on January 10, 1855 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. He studied and graduated in the fields of medicine and surgery in Madrid, Spain. While devoted to his practice as a doctor, he also immersed himself in journalism, politics and literature. In 1894,  Zeno Gandía published the Puerto Rican novel, La Charca (The Pond).

In 1898 the Spanish-American war set the tone for the invasion of Puerto Rico and a more public emergence of Zeno Gandía as an independence advocate. That same year, Zeno Gandía joined Eugenio Maria de Hostos, and others, on a trip to Washington, D.C. The purpose of the trip was to ask then U.S. President McKinley for the right of the Puerto Rican people to determine their political destiny.

Zeno Gandía remained active in writing and politics throughout his life. He wrote many poems, founded and was editor of La Opinión newspaper and was a member of an early
Independence Party.

Dr. Manuel Zeno Gandía died in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1930.

→ Fore more on Dr. Manuel Zeno Gandía:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Work It, Fails Before it Works 1989, season 9, episode 176 of the television series, Seinfeld, "The Puerto Rican Day Parade". In this particular episode, we find the crew heading home early from a Mets game where they encounter heavy traffic due the the Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Nothing spectacular but the usual occurrences for a Seinfeld episode until a scene with an angry mob of parade-goers damaging Jerry's car flashes before the screen. Then in another scene Kramer says, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico!" What particularly stands out is a scene which finds Kramer accidentally burning and then stomping on a Puerto Rican flag,

This episode set off much controversy and for good reason. First, Seinfeld was a very popular show with a huge viewership. Second, Puerto Rico, while a colony of the U.S. since 1898 and a tourist destination, was generally unknown to the general U.S. public in terms of any substantive information about its history, culture or people. Given the popularity of the show, it was blatantly negative portrayals of Puerto Ricans on a large scale.

Fast forward 23 years into 2012. Was there anything learned or has it been forgotten? There is still nothing substantive about Puerto Rico's culture, history and people in the classroom. A nearly 114 year relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and barely a mention about the same in history books. Yet, we have another history 'bullet' lesson via a pilot episode on ABC titled, "Work It", which seems to believe it has it down packed with a punchline that takes a jab at Puerto Ricans.

Unlike Seinfeld, this is but a line in a script. Maybe or maybe not. Consider the 'small joke' a stubbed toe which goes completely ignored and becomes gangrenous. Although, it may be a small joke, the joke in itself is a slap at the positive strides many Puerto Ricans have worked so hard to accomplish. At what point do we draw a line on negative stereotypes and show or talk of the positive roles that define the very Puerto Ricans who have accomplished them or are currently working hard to do so? Positive awareness can go a long way and ABC, as a major network, and Amaury Nolasco should demonstrate that responsibly.

In any case, "But I'm Puerto Rican, I'll be great at selling drugs" does not sit well on any level, whether jokingly or not. The onus is on all of us...


Work It Doesn't Work

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where Dreams are Bought and Never Sold (PawnShop Dream)

A dream, held at arms length but never quite obtainable; never promised but made to seem achievable. For well over 100 years the dream has been on sale, it has been bought over and over again but, then again, never quite sold. Leaving a homeland behind, for many, seemed like the only viable option and coming to closeness with ever achieving that dream.

From writer and director, Vagabond Beaumont, of the short film, Machetero, comes another film entitled, Pawnshop Dream. As Vagabond describes it:’s a surrealist comedy with its roots planted in the political soil of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and heavily influenced by the surreal Nuyorican poet and playwright Rev. Pedro Pietri. The film follows a teenage girl (played by Alexis “Flea” Fernandez) who sees a beautiful box of sand in a Pawnshop that she wants to buy. She goes in and asks the owner of the Pawnshop what it costs but the Pawnshop owner refuses to tell her. He only tells her what that she can’t afford it. The teenage girl really wants the box of sand, so the Pawnshop owner offer to put it on layaway and the teenage girl accepts putting down whatever money she has. cont...

And so the story continues, in limbo is the dreams and emptier are the pockets and purses of those believing in the dream of a piece of the pie being served to the Caribbean colony. Never a day goes by when the hammer of colonialism and capitalism drives another nail into the heart of the island. How many more can it sustain before the beats end?

Colonialism is a tool of capitalism and PAWNSHOP DREAM is a surrealist expose on the reality of that relationship. Colonialism and capitalism are historically intertwined. Although the film uses the "nation-less nation" (as Rev. Pedro Pietri calls Puerto Rico) as an example of how capitalism uses colonialism to amass financial profits that metaphor can be applied to all the victims of capitalism... Each of us is colonized by capitalism's false prophecy of prosperity...-Vagabond

It's only a dream..

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gunshots Tell the Tale

Happy New Year!...or to better associate the phrase with the following video, Feliz Año Nuevo!

It isn't so much about the new year though. The video exemplifies a problem on the Caribbean colony of Puerto Rico. The gun shots heard in the the background are akin to a war zone. It is the ease by which so many can obtain firearms in a society where the unemployment rate hovers at just below 15%.

Why the unemployment rate? Because, it is one of a those economic figures which Conservative Governor Luis G. Fortuño has been credited with lowering via his 'radical reforms' which cut government jobs and left a working class people on hopeless unemployment lines.  Yes, the unemployment rate has shown a bit of a drop from 16.9% earlier in 2011 but as unemployment figures go, that doesn't take into account the 'discourage worker' who has lost his/her job and has given up on obtaining any employment. Conservatives are quick to point at the figures while failing to point out what the numbers truly represent. It is no wonder that the picture is painted with bright colors of Fortuño as a possible Republican Vice-Presidential candidate.  Fortuño, what are the youth to do when 30% are unemployed?

Behind the curtains, there is still a struggling society. The gunshots tell the tale of that society.