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General, Solidarity

Community welcomes Elvira to Paseo Boricua

Posted on 27 July 2014

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On Sunday, March 23, 2014, members of the Humboldt Park community welcomed back Elvira Arellano at Adalberto Church. The church was packed with supporters. Community members made reflections on Elvira’s behalf. Elvira spoke about her activism in support of undocumented people in the US, but also on her work with Central American undocumented people in Mexico. Elvira, Emma Lozano and others made a call to continue fighting for immigration reform and encouraged people to participate in an action at ICE headquarters on Thursday, March 27. They demanded that President Obama extend de- ferred action to all undocumented people in the US. The event was widely covered by the media including live transmission on Channel 5 and Telemundo and the Chicago Tribune and Hoy Newspapers. Elvira will live in Humboldt Park and will continue her commitment to end the slave labor status of the 12 millon undocumented in the US.

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Culture, General

BOMBA as we know it

Posted on 27 July 2014

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By Brenda Torres Figueroa 

Bomba is the oldest musical genre from Puerto Rico existing today; having its origins in the plantations of the Island where Africans were brought into slavery. As documented, slaves constructed drums using barrels and other discarded materials and rejoiced around them on their day off. These gatherings, as said, were used by slaves to communicate with other plantations and plan uprisings and escapes before slavery was abolished in 1873. This tradition, that has been four hundred years in the making, speaks of ongoing struggles, resistance and aim for freedom that still define our culture, politics and identity. Bomba is not only African, bomba emerges from our “identidad criolla”, rooted in the spiritual and political transformation of our people and our culture as a mixture of Europeans, African and the natives Tainos.

Bomba elements include percussion instruments, dancing, singing and story telling. The drums used in bomba are known as “Barriles”; with them, different rhythms are produced accompanied by a maraca, the cua, the singers and the dancer. Technically, Bomba like many traditional African dances, consists of a communication between the dancer and the “subidor”, echoed by a sustained rhythm played by the “buleadores” (remaining drummers). Practitioners and enthusiasts of Bomba have no particular age, color, religion, education and socio-economical background. Bom- ba has been able to connect us with a deeper understanding of our heritage and its power of liberation, unification and preservation of community all of which preserve our culture, particularly here in our very own Paseo Boricua.

El que no tiene de dinga, tiene de mandinga”… refers to a Puerto Rican saying that we are all connected through a rich African tapestry. In year 2000, Tito Rodriguez founded in Humboldt Park, AfriCaribe, a non-profit organization that offers Bomba dancing and percussion classes. Classes at the Academy prepare students to perform rhythms of Bomba that includes sica, yuba, cuembe, holande and seis corrido. Learning bomba is not limited to performing a solo dance at the Batey, but it helps build fluency through developing movement, timing and control, it also helps develop an improvisational character that can relates to the dancer’s personal story and emotions and a connection with the community and space we share.

The traditional bomba dance (Bombazos) has also been featured in Paseo Boricua as an example of the consistent dedication to this particular genre that has also nurtured the creation of groups like AfriCaribe Performing Ensemble, Cocobale, Inaru, Bompleneras, Nuestro Tambo, Grupo Buya among many others. It’s also nurtured cultural centers such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis dedicated to preserving this rich tradition in the Chicago area. Classes at AfriCaribe will begin on Saturday, April 26, 2014. For a complete schedule and information of registration and performances, find AfriCaribe on Facebook or call 773. 879.2123.

 

 

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Campaigns, General, Solidarity

Fallece el Patriota Dr Luis Nieves Falcón

Posted on 27 July 2014

Comunidad Boricua en Chicago dice: ¡Gracias por tu ejemplo!

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San Juan- En la madrugada del lunes 10 de marzo, a las 2:20 de la madrugada, falleció el incansable luchador de la justicia, la libertad y los derechos humanos el Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón. El martes 11 de marzo, a las 10:00 de la mañana, en la Funeraria Alvarez en Bayamón, se llevó a cabo un acto de reconocimiento al destacado sociólogo y abogado. Su cuerpo descansará a partir del miércoles en el Cementerio los Cipreses en Bayamón. La comunidad Boricua de Chicago se unió al luto de el inolvidable patriota con quien compartio muchas luchas y hazañas. A continuación publicamos los mensajes de el Congresista Luis V. Gutiérrez y el director Ejexcutivo del Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño José E. López.


Mensaje de José E. López 

Es con mucho pesar que doy mis más sentidas condolencias, y las de mi familia, como también, es de la Red Nacional Boricua Pro-Derechos Humanos y el Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño Juan Antonio Corretjer, por la pérdida física de una de las figuras intelectuales más valiosas de Puerto Rico, el Dr. Nieves Falcón. Nieves Falcón no fue solo maestro de maestros, psicólogo de psicólogos, abogados de abogados, sociólogo de sociólogos; fue, sin duda, un intelectual orgánico. Nieves Falcón comprometió su vida a la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico; especialmente, a la defensa de las víctimas de persecución en la jornada por hacer de Puerto Rico una patria libre. Dedicó las pasados 35 años a liberar a los prisioneros políticos puertorriqueños. Planificó la campaña que excarceló a más de una docena de ellos en el 1999 y continuó esta jornada, hasta con su último suspiro, para ver a mi querido hermano, Oscar López Rivera, libre en nuestra Patria. En todo lugar que Nieves Falcón vivió, dejó una marca indeleble. Era una trotamundos, visitó casi todos los continentes. En cada uno, dejó parte de sí mismo. Invirtió gran parte de su tiempo y esfuerzos al fortalecimiento de la diáspora puertorriqueña. En Filadelfia, en 1991, ayudó a articular la visión que fue lo que, a la larga, liberó a los prisioneros políticos puertorriqueños a través de Ofensiva ‘92. En Nueva York, fue pionero en las tantas luchas que mejoraron la calidad de vida de los puertorriqueños, fuese en el Bronx o El Barrio u organizando tribunales sobre la violación de los derechos humanos y los presos políticos. En Chicago, vivió con nosotros en la comunidad, moldeando y creando algunas de las ideas más innovadoras sobre currículos y prácticas educativas que hicieron a la Escuela Superior Clemente un modelo a imitar en la década de los noventa. Con mucho cariño, recordamos su última visita a  Chicago en abril de 2013, donde dio tres grandes discursos e incluso cantó, con su melódica voz, una canción por la libertad de Oscar. Nieves Falcón, siempre serás nuestro Quijote, batallando contra los molinos de viento de la opresión, y nuestro cimarrón, construyendo una comunidad de resistencia, esperanza y cambio.

Mensaje de Luis V. Gutiérrez

Quiero expresar mi más profunda gratitud a nuestro patriota, el Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón, en estos momentos  cuando entra en su nueva jornada de lo temporal a lo infinito. Y, al mismo tiempo, me uno en luto con mi patria en la pérdida física de ese total boricua. Cuando pienso en Nieves Falcón, veo el rostro de cada uno de los presos políticos excarcelados. Fue su inagotable energía, su poderoso empuje, su compromiso sin limitaciones, su visión magistral que nos guío para hacer posible la victoria que obtuvimos en el 1999 con la liberación de nuestros patriotas encarcelados. Nieves Falcón no era solamente un letrado con un verbo encendido, sino un hombre para  todos los tiempos. De Nieves Falcón aprendí mucho sobre nuestra patria; de él aprendí a amarla más. Mi querido Nieves Falcón, nosotros en Chicago jamás te olvidaremos, serás siempre nuestro “Snow Falcon”, el que cuida sobre nosotros. Hasta siempre compañero de lucha.

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General, Solidarity

Líderes del PIP visitan a Oscar López

Posted on 29 January 2014

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WASHINGTON– Líderes del Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP) se reunían al mediodía, hora de Puerto Rico,  con el prisionero político puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en la cárcel de Terre Haute, Indiana.

En el encuentro participaron la senadora María de Lourdes Santiago y el secretario general del PIP, Juan Dalmau.

Ayer, los dos políticos del PIP tuvieron reuniones con líderes de la comunidad puertorriqueña de Chicago, familiares de López Rivera y su abogada Jan Susler.

“Ha sido para nosotros una experiencia conmovedora sentir, aquí en Chicago, la perseverancia de nuestra nacionalidad y de la lucha por la independencia de Puerto Rico en las condiciones más adversas”, indicó la senadora Santiago.

Dalmau, por su parte, sostuvo que espera “que esta visita sirva para fortalecer y reafirmar aún más nuestros vínculos con los compatriotas acá en Chicago”.

 

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General

Open Letter to the President (re: A Pardon for Oscar López Rivera)

Posted on 10 December 2013

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POR    – 80 Grados
Dear President Obama:

Here in Puerto Rico, your lunch with now Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla is commemorated by way of a small plaque on the table in the restaurant where you paid cash for a sandwich in a button-down white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I presume that the restaurant owners placed the plaque there because customers might want to sit at the same table where the President of the United States ate a sandwich—they might even want to have their picture taken there. They’re probably right: people often enjoy imbuing everyday activities with historical significance, even when the historical event in question here was not all that significant, not when compared to the kinds of things that usually make up the history of nations and so forth. Several months after you left, the island government unveiled a statue of you across the street from the Capitol building in San Juan, next to statues of all the other Presidents who had visited Puerto Rico during the history of American colonial rule over the island. They’re not that many. And there’s no record of what they ate, I don’t think.

I share this because, like so many here, I have a somewhat distorted notion of history and of the events that comprise it. For example, I know that you are the 44thPresident of the U.S. and that you were first sworn into office on January 20, 2009. I know this because I turned 30 years old that day and was standing in a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Washington D.C, overwhelmed by the sight of you on the big screen approaching the podium to address the crowd as President for the very first time. I remember thinking “this is historic,” and I even managed to convince myself that, although I had stood in the middle of a crowd before, that particular occasion was significant. To commemorate it, I bought and kept a copy of the New York Times. However, by the time you made your first visit to Puerto Rico in June 2011, I, as perhaps others around the world, was already significantly underwhelmed by the moral character of your presidency. I sometimes wonder whether it will be those feelings of deception, disillusion and supreme disappointment experienced by millions that will define you historically. Sometimes I hope so. Sometimes I hope not.

Anyway, I’m writing because this past Saturday, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of tens of thousands in front of the Federal Court Building in San Juan, and I was overwhelmed by the sight of so many diverse groups of people set to march through the city to demand the liberation of Oscar López Rivera, who has served more than 32 years in federal prison for conspiring to oppose U.S. authority by force. At present, he is the longest held political prisoner in America, although he was never convicted of directly harming anybody. During his incarceration he has been subjected to behavioral modification programs, kept in isolation. He is 70 years old, has a daughter and a granddaughter whom he met through the glass in a prison visiting room. He deserves to be back home. To be honest, on January 20, 2009, I was unaware of the particulars of Mr. López Rivera’s incarceration. I was aware, of course, of the historical struggle in Puerto Rico for independence from the U.S., and of the many men and women who have been imprisoned by the federal government throughout the history of U.S. colonial rule over the island for attempting to liberate our country—an at once beautiful and nefarious legacy, no doubt. This notwithstanding, it was your name (and not Oscar’s) that I learned to say first, as an affirmation of hope for more progressive politics, individual liberties and social justice—an unfortunate but typical effect of colonialism, no doubt. Thankfully, I don’t say it that way any longer. Instead, I write down the name OSCAR in big, black letters on a poster board and, like thousands upon thousands inside and outside the island, I hope against all odds that you pay attention to a place where people are expected to pay you homage simply because you dropped by and ate a sandwich. I’m writing because I, like so many of us here, would like to have Mr. López Rivera back on the island so we could run into him casually at lunch time and have the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for doing something as significant as fighting for the liberation of his country and enduring so many years in prison, all the while giving us hope for more progressive politics, individual liberties and social justice. But I digress.

This is just to say that your lunch here in June 2011, is not significant. Nor is your statue, really, as it does not commemorate anything historic you might have done here. People do insignificant things every day, even Presidents. It’s a historical fact. Some facts, however, stand out more than others. The fact that Oscar López Rivera has spent the last three plus decades in prison stands out the most around these parts. Over the last three plus decades, five different Presidents have been sworn into office. I wonder if it would be possible for you to consider standing out amongst them. I wonder if you would be interested in imbuing your presidency with historical significance in the form of a direct action to assuage this injustice perpetrated by the American government. I wonder if you would be interested in affirming the fundamental American principle of freedom and grant a pardon to Mr. López Rivera. I really hope so. At all times.

On Saturday, students at the march were chanting in unison: “Obama can’t talk about freedom, if he keeps brother Oscar incarcerated.” Thousands upon thousands agreed. And now I am tempted to ask, can you?

Sincerely,

Guillermo Rebollo-Gil

San Juan, PR

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General

MOVING BACK TO HUMBOLDT PARK AND TRANSFORMING SPACE

Posted on 22 November 2013

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by Eduardo Arocho

Born and raised in Humboldt Park, Javier Anaya is a Puerto Rican who is investing in his neighborhood and moving in rather than moving out. He has purchased a property on Paseo Boricua (2448 W. Division Street) and is renovating it with plans to move in with his family.

Javier graduated from Wells H.S. and enrolled in the College of Office Technology. Soon after he received his Real Estate license in 1996 and has been working as a Real Estate Broker for Century 21 for the past five years.

Anaya has raised three boys who were all born in Norwegian American Hospital. His oldest, now 21 is a student at Western Illinois University, his 18-year-old son is a student at Harold Washington College and his 6 year old is in first grade.

“I am proud of the fact that all my sons have been born and raised here in Humboldt Park”, says Anaya who is rehabbing a two flat he recently purchased on Division Street. Once rehabbed it will have two apartments, one of which is where Anaya will be moving in with his family. “I don’t believe that in order to be successful that I have to leave my neighborhood,” says Anaya with certainty.

Javier’s other passion is volunteering as an outreach worker for the past 8 years. He has been part of an organization called Both Sides of The Park, which helps high-risk youth and young adults to find alternatives to gangs and violence. He plans to open an Empowerment Center in the Storefront of his new building to serve this population. “Young people are without role models and that hurts our community. They need positive role models, hard working people that they can see on a daily basis and imagine possibilities for themselves and their community”, says Anaya.

 

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