by Rebecca Rios, Editor, Que Ondee Sola, NEIU
Que Ondee Sola Magazine (QOS) and Union for Puerto Rican Students (UPRS) at Northeastern Illinois University hosted Plantando Semillas on Thursday, April 14th. The annual event highlights the social, political and cultural connections between Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. Dr. Yarimar Bonilla, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, gave the keynote address and spoke about colonialism and political practices in the Caribbean. Her lecture provided a visual c
artographic perspective of colonialism, sovereignty and non-sovereign struggles in the Antilles from 1804 (Haitian independence) to 2016. Dr. Bonilla is the author of a seminal work on non-sovereign futures focused on the French Caribbean. Guests included Hon. Jesus Rodriguez- Espinoza, the Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago, Hon. Marcelino Miranda, Consul for Consular Assistance and Legal Affairs from the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago, and Hon. Marie Casimir, Consultant from the Consulate General of Haiti in Chicago. Hon. Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza discussed historical implications of colonization on political relationships between Latin America and Africa. He explained the importance of making those connections and getting rid of European or U.S. “middleman” in diplomacy. He also explained the importance of policy in Venezuela, since Hugo Chavez took power, against imperialism and interventionism. Hon. Marcelino Miranda spoke about the cultural landscape of Mexico in relation to Belize, where he lived for many years. He noted the difference between diversity and inclusion. In Belize, he said, people identified with African roots and everyone, regardless of ethnicity, spoke creole. He said this was very different from Mexico. In Mexico, he explained, a small African population existed but was not talked about. Hon. Marie Casimir provided insights into the historical and political connections between Haiti and Latin American. Haiti, she explained, was the first country in the Western Hemisphere to become independent. Alexandre Pétion, from Haiti, aided Simon Bolivar with supplies, soldiers and a printing press in his struggle to liberate Latin America from Spanish colonial rule. This support was crucial in Bolivar’s struggle and, one could argue, it made his success possible, said Casimir. The event also hosted two musical performances. Gerald Alfred, from Kreyòl Roots in Chicago, performed Haitian music to give the audience a taste of the culture, which incorporates love, resistance and hope into song. Finally, Chris Rios and Noele Contreras performed a salsa piece that was upbeat and energetic. Students from LLAS 225: Puerto Ricans and the Caribbean worked in collaboration with QOS and UPRS to put together the event. A group of students from Clemente Community Academy also participated. Over 50 people attended.