Chasing Salsa

ChasingIcon-Newsletter1x1Salsa Music is deeply embedded in the Puerto Rican culture. If you want an historical definition then click here. Or by all means reference all mighty Google. Although you may get tomato sauce instead.

However, if you want an informed opinion from someone who has 40 years of listening, dancing and chasing experience, then I am the one to follow. Put your dancing shoes on and join the Salsa Chase baby. “¡Cójelo ahora LOLA!”

The purpose of this series is to bring you closer to the genre that is known to most Puerto Ricans and Latinas/os as clomid risks “La Clave de Nuestra Cultura.” It’s not just music, musicians, videos, concerts and Lyrical Masters that I will be introducing to you. No. It is simply an underlying introduction of how many Latinas/os produce monumental life events through this music. So serious levitra vardenafil in fact, that we don’t buy cialis online cheap turn off the ignition of the carro until the song is DONE playing – that’s a

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silent code by the way! Can I get an “Amen?”

Furthermore, who can argue these facts: we clean our homes to Salsa music, we make babies to Salsa music, we break up to Salsa music, and I am willing to bet that Salsa can treat and alleviate depression, can I get another “Amen?”. Then, not often enough but once in a while, we women go buy a nice dress, dust our dancing shoes and dance all night to Salsa music con un pollito bien guisao. What? Déja El Show!

In theory, please tell me that: Tu Amor Es Un Periódico De Ayer, by Hector Lavoe is not

the best breakup song EVER? Or try to convince me that Me Liberé is not the best “I packed his shit and threw out the window” type of song. But at the top of all break up songs is, Celia Cruz Que Le Den Candela (I’ve used this cialis medication one in one of my love quarrel! shhh).

Finally, I hope you enjoy this series. That with each article and/ or introduction you can understand why

I do what I do. And for FREE mind you! Just understand that Salsa Music has always been very relevant in my life and I want to share that with you. I know I am not alone buy generic viagra when I state, that no matter the hurdles one is faced to tackle, comfort resides in Salsa music. I’ve found through my own interpretation of the language of Salsa that we are all driven by

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a very strong sentiment: LA CLAVE! (you thought I was gonna say LOVE, didn’t you?- herein is synonymous.)

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The Discovery Of A Family Relic

BkIcon-Newsletter1x1When my sister’s 10-year old son couldn’t remember the name of his grandfather, who passed when he was just 3-years-old, she decided to reach back into our family archives. Taking out pictures and chess sets, my nephew soon recalled the name of the person seen with him in baby pictures, who he also ‘kinda‘ remembered had showed him how to move those black and white pieces over the green and cream checkered mat.

To my sister’s surprise, in a little pocket of one of his chess set bags, she found a sticky note with writing in pen. It was a draft for a letter our father had wrote to someone in regards to a genealogy workbook he wanted to pay for. He knew it was available free of charge, but was “willing to make a donation to cover mailing cost or any other costs.” What he wrote in the letter impacted us in a profound way. It began like this:

“I have just started to do family genealogy and I am very much interested in your Family Genealogy Workbook. I want to learn about my family heritage, and hopefully this workbook can help, but I plan on starting with this book so that it can help me put together a good gene [tree] so that one day I can pass it on to my son. Hopefully it will get him interested in family history and he will take it even farther.”

FamilyRelicWhen my sister called me to share her find after I came home from work, we both began reflecting on who I have become as a young adult. When my father wrote those sentences around the year 2004 I was an “at-risk” student. I really didn’t have much interest in my family history, or even our Puerto Rican culture. It was as I pushed myself through college that my interest in such issues sparked, coincidentally just before my father’s passing in August 2007.

Not only have I taken an interest in my cultural identity as ‘a Puerto Rican in New York,’ I’ve continued the genealogical work begun by my father. I’ve corrected some of his findings, added on, and have had a most enlightening experience doing so. The things I’ve learned about my ancestors have changed the way I see myself within the context of my family, and within the context of history. Having been able to trace my family tree back six generations, I’ve learned a great deal. As my sister and I reflected on this, we were also conscious that I took on this path after our father’s passing without knowing about the existence of this letter, and without him, to our knowledge, having ever bought the workbook, let alone later giving it to me – I took on this path on my own.

Such discoveries are rare, and I am among the lucky ones able to have such a connection to a most beloved family member. It was a powerful experience learning of the letter through my sister, and I am humbled to know I am on a path of my own making that is in tune with the dreams of my ancestors.

For tips on conducting Puerto Rican family history research, view my article, Discovering My Boricua Roots On

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Could the U.S. Government Deport Puerto Ricans?

“Plainly the USA should get rid of this millstone. That’s easier said than done, though. In theory I guess Congress could simply end the “commonwealth” relationship and cut the place loose. In practice this would mean revoking the citizenship of the 3.7 million inhabitants. And what about the five million or so Puerto Ricans who reside in the USA?

Another approach would be to get Puerto Ricans thinking that independence might be a good idea. Perhaps we could try oppressing the place: Make them tenant farmers under absentee landlords, proscribe use of their native tongue, and shut down their churches. Hey, it worked for Ireland.” - How Can We Get Rid of Puerto Rico?

BarrioIcon-Newsletter1x1Ay, nothing seems to surprise me these days, especially when it comes to imperial subjects talking about their colonies. While the above quote and article disturbs me (especially since what the author describes was actually done to Puerto Rico by the U.S. government), I have come to know that the viewpoint does not just belong to extremists, but is part of the mainstream – whether it is said publicly or not. It could also speak to a dangerous trend in political discourse that one day may become official policy.

First, the belief that Puerto Ricans are fully responsible for their (internal)colonial reality allows for Puerto Rico to be in a political limbo with the United States government for over 100 years. Let’s not forget that the archipelago colony is under the legal auspices of the U.S. Congress, as determined by the Supreme Court, i.e. “Puerto Rico belongs to but is not a part of the U.S.” Let’s not forget that there has never been a legally binding referendum (unlike what took place in Scotland) to give its people the opportunity to decide their own future, i.e. self-determination. So, if the author wants to get rid of this “burden”, then they should be pushing the U.S. government to stop practicing imperialism. That also includes taking responsibility for what it has done to the archipelago, namely destroying the local economy for the benefit of its multi-national companies. It’s also curious that the author likes to perpetuate the pathology of the colony’s residents, but forgets the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs the U.S. acquires from the colony – way more than it “invests.” Let keep it real.

Second and, most importantly, the author alludes to a theoretical probability of all Puerto Ricans loosing their U.S. citizenship, including the Diaspora. Yup, you heard me right.

For the last few years, mainstream politicians have been clamoring for the revocation of the 14th amendment, which allows for birth-right citizenship. This is obviously due to anti-immigrant xenophobia. As pathologized colonial subjects Puerto Ricans are racialized as non-white and therefore are also understood as “alien” and “dangerous” to the imperial “body.” If the 14th amendment is ever gotten rid of, then the U.S. Congress could simply strip away the Puerto Rican right to citizenship. Even more – and this might depend on ensuing lawsuits, as well as other factors – is that Boricuas who were born in the U.S. to parents from Puerto Rico could also get their citizenship taken away. That coupled with immediate independence, which the author recommends, could mean that the Boricua Diaspora could be “illegalized” and deported “back” to the archipelago. Scary, isn’t it?

Of course, there is a lot of social, political, and economic factors that need to be considered for what I have described to fully materialize. But the ideas and conditions are out there and, sadly, no one is engaging with them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Political Prisoner Norberto González Claudio To Stay In Prison

Norberto González Claudio has been in U.S. federal custody since his arrest in May 2011. Charged in November 2012 in connection with the $7 million dollar ‘expropriation’ carried out by the Macheteros clandestine organization in 1983 Hartford, Connecticut, Norberto was sentenced to five years. His release date, as still appears on the Bureau of Prisons website, was set for September 7, 2014.

Norberto González Claudio

Norberto González Claudio

Norberto’s two brothers, Avelino and Orlando, who both completed sentences also in connection with the Hartford action, wrote a letter on August 18 denouncing a recent development in their brother’s case. Apparently, Norberto’s release date has been moved to ‘sometime’ in 2015, pending a probation hearing on October 6, 2014. “This represents a cruel and unusual punishment in retaliation for Norberto’s protest and for maintaining an upright position before the abuses to which he is constantly subjected in prison,” his brothers wrote.

Norberto’s release has been called for in the most recent resolution approved by the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization.

Human rights expert Wilma E. Reverón Collazo gave the following reaction to the news: “It is a sign that the US has no intention of respecting our right to struggle for our self determination and that the President’s proposal for a plebiscite is just for entertainment purposes. Another show of force to remind us who is the boss. However the people who are willing to give life and liberty for their freedom won’t be stopped by the US government’s shenanigans.”

Download the letter in PDF format, in both English and Spanish, here.

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Eric Garner, Police Intimidation, and Social Justice

BkIcon-Newsletter1x1On August 1, two weeks after the chokehold death by police of 43-year-old Eric Garner during his arrest on charges of illegally selling loose cigarettes, the New York City medical examiner’s office determined that the death was caused from “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” They ruled it a homicide. The plainclothes officer who applied the chokehold was stripped of his gun and badge pending a criminal investigation by the Staten Island district attorney’s office, another was taken off patrol duty, and two paramedics and two EMS workers were also suspended without pay. At a Harlem rally, the autopsy report was cited as clear reason for prosecutors to take further action against the officer involved.

But with the arrest of 22-year-old Ramsey Orta, the bystander who captured video of the fatal chokehold, the death of Garner has now produced another important conversation beyond the issue of police brutality. Coming just one day after the autopsy report, Orta’s arrest has reignited the concern many have about the targeting by police of people involved in documenting and exposing their abuses, and the relation of such to the intimidation of people and movements advocating, or that would advocate, for social justice.

According to Orta’s mother Emily Mercado, police had been following her son ever since the video’s release. “They’ve been sitting in front of my house. They put spot lights in my window,” she told the media. Orta maintains that his arrest, based on police allegations that he passed a handgun later found in the possession of a 17-year old girl, was a set up. His wife, Chrissie Ortiz, believes the same, explaining to media, “The day after they declare it a homicide, you find someone next to him with a gun, and you saw him pass it off? Out in public when he knows he’s in the public spotlight? It makes no sense.” Though Ortiz could not comment on her own arrest a few days later for an alleged assault, in a TV interview she suggested it was also part of the “domino effect” caused by her husband’s footage.

Of course, due to Orta’s lengthy police record, which includes 26 prior arrests, many won’t give credibility to his claims of being followed by police, let alone look deeper into the real issue of the harassment of police brutality, and other, activists. Nevertheless, i find it important to make this connection. As a student of Puerto Rican history, i understand how political intimidation, imprisonment, and even murder, can severely affect a people’s willingness to commit themselves to social justice and other forms of necessary activism.

What Emily Mercado describes reminds me of the 24-hour surveillance of the home of Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos. The claim of Ramsey Orta makes me think of Carlos Soto Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado, two young independence activists set up by undercover police and killed in 1978. Whenever the Puerto Rican independence movement has come under attack by police and repressive forces, it is generally accepted to be part of a larger program of intimidating others from taking, or continuing to take part in struggle.

The UN Special Committee on Decolonization itself recently noted “the concern of the people of Puerto Rico regarding violent actions, including repression and intimidation, against Puerto Rican independence fighters.”

If the public becomes fearful of documenting and/ or exposing police brutality, knowing the harassment Orta and his family claims to have faced prior to his allegedly trumped-up arrest, we lose a key source in the monitoring of police activity. It is community residents (especially Black, Puerto Rican, and other people of color who are the primary targets of abuse) who are on the front lines of police relations, and if they fear retaliation by police, they will hesitate to act or even speak out against their abuses. This is an important concern because it would restrict the possibility of such necessary discussions as are taking place after the release of Orta’s video, and limit any real possibility of social change. As a result, such atrocious abuses would continue with even greater impunity.

And to be clear, we should be critical of Orta’s alleged police harassment despite his record the same way we are critical of Garner’s death despite his more than 30 arrests, as well as having refused to cooperate with officers. Abuse or injustice is still such regardless who the victim is. Furthermore, police have an added obligation to treat people humanely and fairly.

Of course, many will continue to display courage in the interest of resisting injustice, and sacrifice in the face of what consequences might result. In fact, many will be moved to action by such violence and intimidation. Hopefully we can all develop a similarly strong commitment, because without such, a life of peace with justice cannot be guaranteed.

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