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.