TIME FOR PUERTO RICAN PRINCIPAL AT HERMAN BADILLO – ROSARIO CALA READY TO TAKE HELM
This past month, a golden opportunity opened at Herman Badillo Public School 76 to hire a Puerto Rican as school principal, but unfortunately, the school will continue to be led by a non-Latino in a school which is 90% Puerto Rican/Latino.
The candidate many community people expected to see selected, was Maria Rosario Cala, who served as their temporary principal for eight months from 2017 to 2018 and did an exceptional job! When this vacancy became available, people thought she was the obvious choice.
According to many parents, she is the unofficial voice of the school, always reaching out and working with the Puerto Rican/Latino parents and students, communicating both in English and Spanish, serving as the unofficial “Community liaison.”
For the past several years she has been the school face at the Puerto Rican/Latino Day Parade, representing Herman Badillo. She also represents the school at community functions involving the Puerto Rican/Latino community. She really has had an impact in developing a positive link between the school and the community. In this role, she has helped solve potential problems with teachers and students. While not part of the job requirements, translating or interpreting has become part of her role at the school. All morning announcements, 5 days a week, are done by Maria – in English and Spanish.
According to her colleagues, Maria has taken the lead in supporting cultural diversity. She led and promoted Multi-cultural Ecology, School Climate, and understanding the different cultures. She is the one that coordinates and initiates cultural school activities for students, teachers, and the parents.
All this is important considering that 90% of the students at Herman Badillo are Puerto Rican/Latino and there is an absence of Latino administrators or Latino role models at the top chain of the school system – not only at Herman Badillo Public School 76.
The voice of the community must come together and put a stop to this obvious case of discrimination against the Buffalo Puerto Rican/Latino community and take the opportunity to meet with the Board of Education to develop a “Puerto Rican/Latino Affirmative Plan” to identify, recruit, and hire Latino Educators/Administrators to address this problem.
But first, let us make sure Maria Rosario Cala is given her date in class, and move to hire her for the position she proved, repeatedly, to be able to lead with flying colors.
This problem is not isolated to Herman Badillo. There are 6 Bilingual Schools in the District; only 3 of them have Latino Principals: Frank A. Sedita Community School, BPS30 – Principal, Rafael Perez; D’Youville-Porter Campus School BPS3, Principal; Freddy Barrera BPS48 @ 39 – Principal, Miguel Medina; Frederick Law Olmstead, BPS64 – Principal, Marquita Bryant; Bilingual Center, BPS33 – Principal, Hadassa Bachelor; and Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy, BPS76 – Principal, Kathryn Foy, who is leaving this July.
We have more related facts, but we want you to do your research to learn the numbers of schools with a predominantly Latino student body with no Puerto Rican/Latino principals or administrators. The Buffalo Puerto Rican/Latino community is not the same community of yesterday. We have the numbers, we have the education, we have the professionals, we have the educators/administrators to lead many of the Buffalo Public Schools.
The Buffalo Latino Village challenge our Puerto Rican/Latino community and Educators, to raise your voice and make sure that the Buffalo School system will do the right thing, not for you or me, but for our children and our young people. Groups like Hispanic Heritage Council (HHC), Hispanic Women’s League, Puerto Rican Latino Committee (PRLC), and the Hispanics United of Buffalo (HUB) must demonstrate their community leadership and say: “enough is enough!”
The Puerto Rican/Latino community has an opportunity to let the School Board know how it feels about this issue. The next Board of Education meeting (virtual) is scheduled for Wednesday, June 17th. Community leaders must support this committed and qualified woman for the principal position. 816-3568 is the number to sign up to speak.
Looking at her resume and years of teaching, combined with her many years of student and community service, Maria Rosario-Cala has paid her dues. Show her we CARE…
FOR THE 149TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Quintana is no stranger to controversy and no stranger to life’s ups and downs, an experience close to our own home. He relates and feels what we feel in the West Side. He is not an outsider, he a legitimate West Sider.… He is one of us!
Background: Former City police officer who served in various roles for 24 years ranging from School Resource Officer to serving as a Community Police Officer.
In 1994, Robert Quintana became a Nationwide Ambassador for United Way. He appeared in television commercials with Buffalo Bills’ Thurman Thomas and crossing the country to share his story on how his life was impacted by the years of community service. He found himself running for the Niagara District. He was elected and served two full terms devoting himself to better opportunities and a better future for the residents of the West Side. While serving on the Council, Roberto Quintana also served as Chairman on the council committees of Legislation, Crime, and Reorganization. Simultaneously, he served as a member on various other committees.
Why we need to support Quintana: As you can see, he has the track record to do us proud if he is given an opportunity to represent us in Albany as our State Assemblyman. We do not need someone who is going to take direction from the political machine. We need someone who is going to take directions from our community. He has the experience in governing, effecting positive legislation, dealing with difficult budgets, and who does not need on the job training. Most importantly, he is NOT A YES PERSON. He has the strong character to play by the community’s game, and not by the political machine’s game. Under his leadership, our community will be present at the table, not under the table. He is exactly who we need to represent us.
The West Side is the only Buffalo community that represents true cultural diversity. Help us keep it that way! With Roberto, we can begin to carve out a business and economic development plan to help our businesses and our residents. Vote Quintana: Assemblyman for the 149th District
ROBERTO QUINTANA FOR ASSEMBLYMAN,
NYS 149TH ASSEMBLY DISTRICT, BUFFALO, NY
THIS IS WHY:
The endorsed candidate, Jon Rivera, has no direct ties with our Puerto Rican/Latino community. He lives far from our community and has no idea of our daily struggles. His only ties is his father, Niagara District Councilman David Rivera.
On the date of Jon Rivera’s endorsement, there were no, not even one, Puerto Rican or Latino standing by his side, only an all-white cast of political characters. This is a sign of things to come if you elect a Puerto Rican/Latino controlled by the democratic political machine.
On the other hand, it was a breath of fresh air to see Roberto Quintana surrounded by Puerto Ricans/Latinos, and others, as he announced his entry into the race to become the next NYS 149th Assemblyman. The announcement was made right on Niagara Street, which is the heartbeat and soul of the Latino community.
Roberto brings to this race what we need: experience, west side resident, and understands the social, economic, and political needs of our people and community.
While Jon Rivera was endorsed by politically controlled Latinos, Roberto Quintana was endorsed by Latinos from all walks of life, including Dr. Raul Vazquez, Alberto O. Cappas, and Raul Hernandez, three people that live or work in the lower west side community. Dr. Raul Vazquez runs the family health facilities on Niagara Street, Raul Hernandez is the owner of the well-known restaurant, “Niagara’s Café”, and Alberto O. Cappas is the publisher of the monthly publication, Buffalo Latino Village, as well as the founder of the Puerto Rican/Latino Committee (PRLC). They are all politically independent individuals and well-known advocates for the Latino community. (See photo on May issue of the Buffalo Latino Village)
You are not going to get that quality of leadership or service from the endorsed candidate.
Quote from Roberto Quintana: “The important thing is that we keep serving our community in these difficult times of crisis. The safety, health and security of Mi Gente, Mi Pueblo, is the most important priority right now. This is a time where Leaders stand up and Lead! I applaud you, Dr. Vazquez, Cappas, and Pizzaro, and all the volunteers from our community, who quietly and without hesitation, have been on the streets making a difference. Take the time, do your own research, talk to people, make the right decision. It’s your choice, it has a direct impact in the growth and development of our community.”
When the time for election comes, it should not be a difficult choice, cast your vote for Roberto Quintana as your next New York State Assemblyman for the 149th Assembly district.
CHRISTIAN PARRA & COMPANY FOUND WAY TO HELP DURING THE CORONAVIRUS
CHRISTIAN PARRA. As always, you find this young man out there in the street, in the community working to make life better for our communities. If you don’t know Parra, you should!
He is the founder of PUSHING Latinos Forward and the Peoples’ Machine, as well as a member of the Puerto Rican/Latino Committee, and a ‘guest writer’ for the Buffalo Latino Village. He recently worked for the PUSH organization, leaving to work with the Citizens Action organization.
He called me during the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis (this past month, March), early on a Saturday afternoon to see if I had a list of senior citizens that needed help or food. He explained that there were “too many senior citizens living alone and isolated, and we need to identify them and get to them with food and any assistance we can provide. We just can’t stay home”, he said.
Him, along with a group of young men and women, and assisted by his partner, Geovaira Hernandez, a Latina who is becoming well-known through-out the state for her work with climate change and environmental issues.
A fundraising apparatus was organized, including social media, Facebook, and paypal, plus direct donations.
With the help of their community contacts, the group was able to go shopping for foods, and have teams to make food deliveries. They organized the project into several steps, the first was the purchase of carts; phase two was the preparation of individual care packages, and phase three was the delivery of the food to the elders and large families in the community. They even called me to see if I needed anything, seeing that my wife and I are both senior citizens, but with God’s blessing, we were ok and did not need anything.
According to Parra, this effort “will continue until this Coronavirus crisis is over. We can still use support and donation so we can continue. Please help us help our senior citizen community. If you want to donate, go to paypal.me/helpbuffalofunds or https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/helpbuffalofunds. All the money goes directly for food. We are all volunteers, doing this for free, and we feel very good about it, knowing that we are fulfilling a vital role during the time of need.”
Parra said he was grateful that many came to help, which includes Adam Bojak is running for NYS Assemblyman in the 149th NYS Assembly District. Other helpers include Eric Antony Maldonado, Avi and Keith.
For information: email@example.com.
BLACK AND BROWN COMMUNITIES NEED A PLAN AND A DESIGNATED DISTRICT FOR BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WITH A COLLECTIVE AGENDA, NOT INDIVIDUALISM
March 2019 Issue
Dear Black community: I’ve noticed that several black businesses, but not many, are popping up in different parts of Buffalo, but not in the Black or East Side community.
While this looks positive on the surface, and take my word for it, the business might not complete a year.
Some of these new businesses will fail before the year is over. We must designate several blocks in the black community, like Jefferson or Fillmore, and develop a black business and economic development district with an art and cultural theme, with Restaurants, Black Cultural Center, Book Store, Boutique Shop/s, College satellites (UB, Canisius, Buffalo State, etc.), Library, Bank/s, Art Galleries, Retail businesses, and barbershops. Many of these black businesses exist already, but they are scattered all over the city struggling to survive, with very little consumer traffic.
These businesses, if located in the district, or black businesses that relocate, will generate consumer traffic. It will also, which is very important, leave the money in the community, building a strong economic base. Having an isolated black business in a non-black community is not the thing to do, at least not at this time.
We need to think collectively. Otherwise, our businesses will continue to fade away, one by one, and without notice. The Black community leadership must commit to a collective business and economic plan. Without it, ghettos will not go away.
The same applies to the Puerto Rican/Latino community. Imagine if El Museo, El Batey Dance Company, Hispanic Heritage Council, La Ultima Hora, Panorama Hispano, Buffalo Latino Village, La Cueva Restaurant, and other Latino businesses, were all located on Niagara Street.
WE MUST INVEST IN OUR COMMUNITY!
A MESSAGE TO OUR LATINO COMMUNITY
November 2019 Issue
Honest and loyal representation in our community is going to cost money, to sustain it, to maintain it, and to grow our communities.
One of the major problems we have in our communities is that we don’t invest in our candidates, and we don’t vote!
You know what happens when we don’t supply our support to our candidate/s running for office? The interest groups, and people outside our communities, take the advantage and opportunity to invest, donate, contribute, and support them. By the time our candidates get elected into office, they no longer belong to our community. The people that invested in them get the goodies and the right to control them.
They got him or her elected — not us!
The next time your local candidate comes to you for help, do the right thing for your people, and for yourself and family:
Register to vote – this is a must in our democracy. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain! Research your candidate, find out about what your candidates stands for, look at his or her experience with the community. Contribute If you like what you find out, contribute what you can, $5, $10, $15, etc., and if you can, give more. Get the word out to your friends and family to support your candidate and encourage them to donate what they can to help him or her get elected. If you have the time, get involve directly by working with the committee working to get him or her elected. There is so much you can do for the candidate, just by volunteering one to three or four hours per day or for the whole week. The little time you give your candidate can turn out to be beneficial to you and to our community.
If we do all these things, the candidate becomes a product of the community, becomes your candidate, and not of the political machine, not of the outside interest groups. American politics is very serious, and the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can grow and advance the future of our own community — socially, educationally, and economically. Look at the political principle of this city: “You have to pay to play, and, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Well folks, let’s stop the political abuse, and let us begin to develop our own “game in the interest of our people, our children and youth.
REGISTER, EDUCATE YOURSELF, LEARN ABOUT WHO’S WHO IN YOUR COMMUNITY….
Remember, when you say that you’re not interested in politics, that in itself is a political statement. Help, and join those that are working to bring respect and quality representation to your community. Do your homework and find out what groups in your community are truly looking out for your interest, not for themselves. Too many people in our community complain and cry about government service, but are not registered voters.
We need to grow and develop, we need to be creative, imaginative, work to make our young people proud of their Puerto Rican Roots, their Dominican Roots, their Cuban Roots, their Latino Roots… We must carve out a piece of the action for our community. All other communities have their territory, their commissioners, their elected officials, and their countless number of businesses and services.
We too are entitled to have a dream, but that dream must be carved out by us, not outsiders. We can use their support, but not their handouts.
Help your leaders! Help yourself! Register to VOTE!
A MESSAGE TO POETS AND WRITERS READY TO PUBLISH
November 2019 Issue
Dear emerging Poets and Writers: I’m writing this piece of information directed at poets/writers who are ready or interested in getting their work published.
In answer to the questions, ’how do I find a publisher for my book?’ This information should be able to help you in your decision process.
There are many literary organizations that will help you with your interest in getting published in your own local community. Don’t take shortcuts. Do your research and locate these literary groups. They exist locally, state, and nationally. For example, Poets & Writers, Poets Society, Poetry Foundation, and Just Buffalo. You may have to pay a membership fee, but its worth it, it’s a good investment, take advantage and enroll for their seminars, workshops, and attend their programs when they invite and feature establish poets or writers.
This is all part of the journey to be a published poet or writer. For those with a complete manuscript, these groups will help you to identify legitimate publishers. Sometimes, you need to pay a small fee ($10 to $50) to have your work reviewed and consider for publishing. Don’t take shortcuts, otherwise, you are going to find yourself spending a lot of money to print a book that is not going anywhere.
Now, if you have good skills in editing, marketing, promotion, etc., you might want to consider publishing the book yourself (it’s called “self-publishing”) using Amazon, and other online semi-publishers will print your book as is, and only charge you to purchase your own book at a low rate while selling to customers a said price that you agreed to.
Make sure to do the proper research before going this route, and don’t take any shortcuts. Remember that even great writers or poets have to depend on an editor to make them look good in the revision and formation of the book (front and back cover), but their legitimate publisher assumes the complete cost, not the writer. The publisher even invests money in marketing and promotion. Do your research, it is right under your nose.
Again, do not take shortcuts, and don’t pay hundreds or thousands to book printers that disguise themselves as legitimate publishers. Do your research
LATINO CENTER COMING TO LOWER WEST SIDE, HOPEFULLY, WITH A VISIONARY ENGINE, AND A SHORT-AND LONG-TERM MISSION
October 2019 Issue
First it was the San Juan District, then came the cultural art mural, after that came the Isaias Soto Gonzalez Library, in addition to their annual fund-raisers, plus all-year events, which includes the Latino Heritage Month in September…and now comes the “Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute”, their biggest ambitious project so far – the construction of a 3-floor building to serve as the “Hispanic Cultural Center”, and by the way, did anyone in the community decide on the name? As for me, I hate the term “Hispanic” – but that’s another story for a history lesson.
The proposed new project will be located on the corner of Niagara and Hudson Streets (lower west side), which will be green energy efficient with solar panels and other energy savings, it will encompass about 33,000 square feet on three floors.
The primary architectural design objective (designed by Snyder Architecture), is to create a friendly, modern, and sustainable facility with Latino elegance. The conceptual exterior images depict a variety of natural materials such as stone and wood, accented with bold colors, reminiscent of the Caribbean. The facades also incorporate expansive sections of glass to deliver abundant natural light and encourage visual connections to the internal activities, promoting inclusivity for a diverse user group.
Interior spaces include a museum, café, gift shop, performing arts theater, activities space, broadcast media center, learning labs and administrative spaces-spread over the first two floors. The third floor will be allocated for tenant leased space as means of generating revenue, to support economic sustainability – the heart and soul of the Center.
Since it is designated a “public facility”, all the codes have or will be addressed, so the project should move forward without any setbacks or obstacles.
A REAL CHALLENGE: The city of Buffalo has been growing and developing for quite some time now, but unfortunately, the Puerto Rican/Latino community, along with the Black community on the east, have been left behind.
We too, need to get a piece of the action, and this center, hopefully, can serve as the jump-start engine to begin the economic development process of our community. While most of the community groups are in fear of competition, we believe that competition is good, based on the nature of HHC’s concept, there is absolutely no competition.
While we were not too happy with the history and cultural banners project on Niagara Street, and we were disappointed with the planning process of the naming of the Niagara Branch Library, we believe the Center is essential in moving toward establishing “our Puerto Rican/Latino District”, to provide the economic & cultural visibility, desperately needed on the lower west side, adding our contribution to the diversity of the city.
HHC has done a great job on behalf of the lower west side, with or without support, and they have displayed a level of community arrogance. While we know HHC means well, most of them don’t reside in the community they claim to serve. Neither have they ‘truly’ tried to recruit ideas, suggestions or opinions from the Puerto Rican/Latino residents, but it’s not too late to incorporate their participation or involvement; it would be great for “Council members” to actually live on the lower west side, especially when they claim to love and advocate for our community so much.
Having said that, it’s an excellent move for HHC, but this must be only the beginning. Raices and El Batey, for example, should occupy space in the center, but only temporarily. They need their own “economic space” to control, plan, perform, to help generate human traffic (consumers) to spent money on the lower west side, to benefit our already established Latino and non-Latino businesses and community.
With the right marketing and promotion, the San Juan District should have no problem in attracting tourists from Canada and other parts of New York State – the Peace Bridge is only a few blocks or seconds away.
In addition to Raices and El Batey, HHC should work on an economic plan to attract el Museo, Amor y Heritage, el Buen Amigo, and other related groups to be part of the Puerto Rican/Latino Renaissance, getting them to relocate to the San Juan District. New York State has an economic program that help businesses with tax abatements, renovation, and a period of free rent if one relocates to a designated economic zone. I believe the San Juan District can, if not already, become a designated zone for economic, art and cultural growth and development; this is where HHC can get “creative” and use their political connections wisely.
As a writer, I would love to see a Latino literary bookstore where one can come for a reading or to purchase a book published by one of our local poets and writers – Jose Vega, Olga Karman, Rosa Gonzalez, Jorge Guitart, Laura DeJesus, Alberto O. Cappas, and also feature non-local Latino authors.
We depend too much on non-profit groups or private sector to serve us, instead of ‘us’ serving the community with our own independent, economic spirit, as providers, and not as consumers.
That must be the vision and mission of HHC, but it must involve PRACA, Hispanic United of Buffalo, Belle Center, Hispanic Women’s League, and El Buen Amigo. HHC has a challenge on their hands, a challenge that has been overdue, and no other Puerto Rican/Latino group has displayed that level of leadership.
The Buffalo Latino Village extends it’s support and appreciation to the HHC gang (Casimiro Rodriguez, Michele Agosto, Maritza Vega, and company) for the hard work demonstrated on behalf of the community. They need our support on this cultural project!
We need to see the light on this one!
“Let the welfare of the people be the highest law“
(the motto of Puerto Rico)
The Journey of Puerto Rico
September 2019 Issue
Besides being labeled or forced to be called “Hispanics”, we are truly Puerto Ricans, Puertorriqueños, Tainos, and boricuas. We were originally known as Borinquen before we were invaded by Christopher Columbus on November 19, 1493, and claimed the island for the rulers of Spain, at the time, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
In the American history books, it says that Puerto Rico was discovered, which is far from the truth.
In that same year, 1493, they erased the name Borinquen and named it San Juan Bautista, but they changed it to Rich Port (Porto Rico) when they found there was gold in the water.
By the way, the meaning of Borinquen means “land of the brave lord, which was what the original natives called their country at the time.
Spain continued to own and oppress the people of the colony until the beginning of the Spanish-American war in 1898, and as you should know, Spain lost that war to the US, and forced to give up their rights to Puerto Rico, becoming a possession of the US, and it has been a US colony since then.
You should know that during that war, Spain granted independence to all their other colonies in Latin America and was in discussion of granting Puerto Rico a process leading to their independence, but the United States never honored that agreement.
Today, Puerto Rico is a unique country with rich cultural diversity, composed of black, white, and brown faces. The historians and the politicians try to color it as a “ beautiful melting pot of cultures due to the influence of different cultures like Spanish, Asian, Taino Indians, and Africa”, but they leave out the slavery, the rape of our women, and the on-going violence imposed on us.
We like to say, “we come in all colors”, although there is a percentage of light-skin Puerto Ricans who deny their African heritage. There are also black Puerto Ricans who are beginning to appreciate and speak out celebrating their black roots. Like me, although I look very white, I celebrate my cultural roots and I’m proud to say that I’m not white by the nature of those cultural roots.
The United States is about 1,080 times bigger than Puerto Rico, just so you know.
Puerto Rico is located on the northeastern side of the Caribbean Sea. The population of Puerto Rico was about 3.4 million prior to 2019, but it has been decreasing in population due to US control, local government corruption, and the recent Hurricane Maria, finding many Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland, mostly to Florida, where you will find over 1 million living in Orlando.
Puerto Rico continues to be the most highly populated of all US territories.
Puerto Rico is found in the Caribbean region of North America. It is a popular travel destination for many across the globe. Many say it is the future paradise colony for the rich and large corporations.
We are still a territory, a colony of the United States. It is not a state. We do not have all the rights of regular Americans, for example, Puerto Rico do not vote in the presidential elections. They cannot vote for a president, however, Puerto Ricans who are born in Puerto Rico are US citizens.
The Puerto Rican flag, designed in 1892, was proclaimed the official flag of Puerto Rico in 1952. The governor at the time was Luis Munoz Marin, at one time he lived in the mainland, a poet, writer in New York, but influenced by American politics, and the corporations, moved to Puerto Rico, becoming the first “Puerto Rican” governor of the colony.
You should know that prior to becoming the official flag of Puerto Rico, it was a violation or crime to carry or wave the flag in public. The flag is very much like the flag of Cuba, as both were designed at the same time.
The red stripes are symbolic of the “blood” that nourishes the three branches of its government; Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. The white stripes represent individual liberty and the rights that keep the government in balance.
The first known incarnation of the symbol was made by Puerto Rican Manuela `Mima’ Besosa. She is our Puerto Rican Betsy Ross. The motion to adopt the flag was approved unanimously by the Puerto Rican revolutionaries. In 1895, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the only two Spanish colonies left in the Western Hemisphere.
As a point of fact, and not too many people known this, but the Puerto Rican section of the Cuban Revolutionary Party founded by Jose Marti, agreed upon using the Cuban flag as the model for the Puerto Rican flag.
The colors of the Puerto Rican flag are:
Red Stripes – The blood from the brave warriors of the revolution.
White Stripes – Victory and peace after obtaining independence.
Blue Triangle – Our sky and sea.
White Lone Star – Our beautiful Island.
As their first Puerto Rico governor, Luis Munoz Marin was mandated to eliminate the revolutionary movement led by a man named Pedro Albizu Campos, who was a trained lawyer who also served in the US military as a loyal soldier, but hated the US treatment of Blacks in the south, resigned his commission, and returned to the colony to fight for its independence, becoming the leader of the Independence Party. He was highly loved and respected.
Eventually, he was arrested by the federal government, served time, and released to die a few years later in his homeland. While in prison, he was poisoned or injected with radiation. Today, Pedro Albizu Campos is considered the father of Puerto Rico.
Some facts you should know about Puerto Rico:
The World’s Largest Single-Dish Radio Telescope is located in Puerto Rico.
El Yunque Is the Only Tropical Rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.
Puerto Rico was not discovered by Christopher Columbus, it was invaded
Puerto Rico’s Unofficial Mascot Is a Tiny Tree Frog Found Only on the Island, and it make a unique sound like coki, coki, coki, meaning that it is calling a mate to have sex.
If you do not know by now, some of the Puerto Rican last names are:
Rivera, Rodriguez, Garcia, Diaz, Fernandez, Hernandez, Martinez, Lopez, and of cause, Cappas
The Reality of Puerto Rico Today
Today, Puerto Rico is in a state of emergency.
There is a real political and economic crisis in the colony today.
In the first decade of the 21st century, Puerto Rico’s economic growth slowed, even as its national debt rapidly expanded.
In 2015, the worsening economic crisis led its governor to announce that Puerto Rico could no longer meet its debt obligations.
In 2017, under legislation passed by the US Congress to help Puerto Rico deal with its economic crisis, the commonwealth declared a form of bankruptcy, claiming debt of more than $72 billion, mostly to U.S. investors. Puerto Rico’s economic crisis was compounded when Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane.
In Maria’s aftermath, Puerto Rico’s inhabitants—some 3.4 million American citizens—found themselves with a shortage of water, food, fuel and an uncertain future.
Its public debt is over $73 billion and it continues to increase at an alarming rate. Unemployment is at a dismal 14 percent and 46 percent of the island’s inhabitants are living below the poverty line, a rate higher than that of any state on the mainland.
Puerto Rico’s serious and worsening economy is largely rooted in its colonial status.
As a U.S. colony, Puerto Rico’s insolvent municipalities and public corporations cannot declare bankruptcy.
And because Puerto Rico is not independent, it is prohibited from seeking help from international financial institutions, leaving it with few options in the face of what seems like inevitable default. Yet while the right to declare bankruptcy is important in helping the island restructure its mounting debt, it is only part of a short-term solution to a crisis that is, at its core, deeply structural.
Puerto Rico’s economy is both limited by and dependent on Washington. Constrained by U.S. federal laws and regulations, the island’s economy lacks the structural capacity to thrive on its own. Puerto Rico has no control over its monetary policy and little control of its fiscal policy.
Issues that has to do with immigration, foreign policy and trade are control or dictated by U.S. law and U.S. regulatory agencies.
In 2019, Puerto Rico has no actual representation in Congress, decisions are made with little to no consideration for the needs and general welfare of the island’s residents.
Puerto Ricans must obey laws passed by a government in which they do not participate. Independence would grant Puerto Rico a platform to address the debt crisis on its own terms and afford the island’s 3.5 million inhabitants the right to self-determination.
As for Statehood, economic and cultural arguments aside, statehood has never been a real option for Puerto Rico. Contrary to Alaska and Hawaii, which were deemed “incorporated” territories with the intention of moving toward annexation to the Union, the decision to keep Puerto Rico as “unincorporated” was a ploy to avoid statehood.
Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory means that it “belongs to, but is not part of the U.S.” And that is unlikely to change.
A Republican-controlled Congress would never admit Puerto Rico — with its massive debt and overwhelmingly Democratic (and non-white, Spanish-speaking) voting base — into the Union, even if such a determination is made by the island’s residents.
In addition, too many states have less people than Puerto Rico. If Puerto Rico was admitted as a state of the union, all the states with smaller population would lose some representation in Congress, losing political pull.
For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have chosen to accept the comfort of a familiar yet broken status quo over the uncertainty of real, revolutionary change. Many on the island and in the diaspora adhere to a colonized mentality, one that believes an independent Puerto Rico is economically unsustainable. But liberated nations across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America have demonstrated otherwise.
Singapore is a prime example. With a size 14 times smaller than Puerto Rico, less natural resources, and a significantly higher population density, Singapore has thrived socially and economically since gaining independence — even exceeding the per capita income of the United States.
An independent Puerto Rico would more readily protect the welfare and the rights of its people than the United States.
Since the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898, Washington’s relationship with Puerto Rico has been one of exploitation and convenience. From the Ponce Massacre and government-sanctioned programs aimed at forcibly sterilizing working-class Puerto Rican women to unethical testing and human radiation experiments on Puerto Rican prisoners, the U.S. government has a shameful track record of transgressions on the island.
And let’s not forget Vieques: for more than 60 years the U.S. Navy used the island of Vieques as target practice. Though the bombings stopped in 2003, the U.S.’ legacy on Vieques continues in the form of destroyed land (over half the island is dilapidated), shattered livelihoods, and increased rates of cancer, birth defects, and illnesses — the result of contamination from years of continuous bombings.
Yet because Puerto Rico lacks any real autonomy or representation, these and other travesties — both social and economic — are largely ignored. Independence would hold accountable elected representatives at all levels of government and restore power to the people.
Absent an act of Congress, the Federal Reserve is prohibited from lending Puerto Rico money. The U.S. Treasury officials and the White House have publicly ruled out aid packages to save the island’s government from default, instead advising Puerto Rican officials to just keep searching for “credible” financing plans.
The United State Congress continues its anti-bailout position, refusing to extend financial relief by extending Chapter 9.
You should know that some of the biggest stakeholders in Puerto Rico’s financial crisis can be found on the U.S. mainland. The island’s municipal bonds have been widely traded in U.S. markets due to their triple tax-exempt status — exempt from federal, state and local taxes, they’ve been an attractive bet for long-term investors. Despite the growing economic instability and the rumblings of a potential default, investment banks and hedge funds have continued to view Puerto Rico that way.
Last year, the island sold some $3.5 billion in municipal bonds even though they were given junk status — the largest junk-rated municipal offering in history, according to Bloomberg. And earlier this year, Goldman Sachs’ asset management division boosted its stake in Puerto Rico’s government-run power company, PREPA, from $351 million to $1.3 billion.
The sad reality is the following:
Puerto Rico political system and its economic in structure is completely control by the United State government, policies that are influenced by the greedy US corporations.
Under this nightmare, the Puerto Rican government officials are corrupt, as you can read from current publications.
Did you know, for example, New York City, with a population of over 8-9 million people, has only one mayor, while Puerto Rico, with a population of a little over 3 million, has 78 mayors.
In the United States, mainland Puerto Ricans, are divided between Independence and statehood, and I believe, statehood wins today.
Let us look at the after affect of US and Puerto Rico on the Mainland, Buffalo, as an example:
Let me give you a profile of Puerto Ricans in Buffalo, NY, which should give you a good idea of what is going on in other states, as Buffalo Puerto Ricans reflect what is going on throughout the US mainland.
The population of the Latino population in Buffalo & Erie County is about 33,000. 85% to 90% of that Latino population is Puerto Rican.
Yet, over 95% of your Puerto Rican leaders in Buffalo identify themselves as “Hispanic.”
All their federally funded “non-profit” community organizations also classify themselves as Hispanic organizations. This indoctrination is not by accident.
I believe in the early 1980s, for the US to have better control and management of the Latino population, it devised three strategic policy action:
It created Hispanic Heritage Month. This slowly erased ethic and cultural identify of the Puerto Ricans.
Prior to the creation of Hispanic Heritage Month, 90% of Puerto Rican organizations identified themselves as Puerto Rican organizations.
The US convinced the “non-profits” that it if they wanted funding for their programs or projects, they would be in a better position to get funding if they identified themselves as “Hispanic.”
If you look at the Buffalo Puerto Rican organizations today, this is what you get:
Hispanic Heritage Council
Hispanic United of Buffalo
Hispanic Women’s League
Hispano Panorama Newspaper
Puerto Rican and Hispanic Parade
If you ask a Puerto Rican kid today “what is your nationality, he or she will tell you that he or she is Hispanic.
This issue may not be clear or understood by people who have no knowledge about the political practice of mental and political colonialism, which is well alive today.
As you can see from the brief outline I layout for you today, Spain is the evil root responsible for the invasion of our country, creating slavery, rape, and the violence. The United States continued the practice when they took over Puerto Rico in 1898.
Puerto Ricans never invaded Spain, Spain invaded Puerto Rico. I never went to Spain; Spain came to me. I’m not Spanish, but I do speak Spanish.
Let me leave you with this poem I wrote back this past year:
A MESSAGE TO THE LATINO DISAPORA
(c) 2017 by Alberto O. Cappas
Not from Spain
Not born in Spain
We did not go to Spain
Spain came to us
Introducing us to slavery.
We are not Spanish
We speak Spanish
I’m Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban & Mexican
From a place called Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Cuba, & Mexico.
Unclutter the pages in the head
To wake up the history of the past
To heal the mind to think again
To educate the present to have a future.
Let us dare to embrace the image in the mirror
Let us be a family again
Let us adopt our lost generation
Enslaved by foreign ships
I’m Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, and Mexican
Open the pages hiding in the mind.
Erase the curse of Hispanic Heritage Month
A plot designed on the American golf course
To protect their colonies.
I’m Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban & Mexican
From a place called Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Cuba, & Mexico.
I’m not Hispanic,
Just like the Black is not a “Negro.”