Archive | 100 x 35

To Study and to Struggle: A Massive Student Strike Paralyzes the University of Puerto Rico

Posted on 07 May 2010 by alejandro


Some say that the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) was founded in 1903 in order to produce a local intelligentsia subservient to the demands of the United States, which only five years earlier ripped the island from Spain. In the 107 years since, the exact opposite has taken place.

In 1948, pro-independence students invited the president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, as a guest speaker, who recently had been released after serving ten years in a U.S. prison. The then-chancellor of the UPR’s Río Piedras campus, Jaime Benítez, refused to allow Albizu Campos to enter, prompting student protests. In response, a group of student leaders who held Puerto Rican flags, which was illegal during the time, were expelled.

In 1970, a massive student struggle emerged in the midst of the Vietnam War, calling for the removal of the ROTC from the Río Piedras campus. During the conflict, a policeman killed a young student, Antonia Martínez Lagares, who subsequently became a symbol of the Puerto Rican student movement.

On April 21, 2010 a new student movement commenced in response to the austerity measures proposed by the UPR President, José Ramón de la Torre, and the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, spawning an indefinite strike that is paralyzing the UPR system and brought international attention to the island.

Entering his second year in office, the right-wing and pro-statehood governor has proven to have little respect for Puerto Rico’s institutions. From firing nearly 20,000 government employees that provoked a massive one-day general strike to cutting the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture’s budget in half to getting rid of the membership requirement for lawyers to one of the island’s oldest institutions, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, Fortuño is reshaping the island, as many believe, in order to prepare it for statehood.

The UPR is no exception to Fortuño’s reign of terror. A new proposal, Certification 98, passed by the university’s Board of Trustees, eliminates fee exceptions for student athletes and university employees and their families. Furthermore, there is a proposed budget cut of up to $100 million. In response, a student-driven Negotiating Committee of 16 members were created and a list of demands were composed, which includes alternative measures to the massive budget cuts. These measures include the budget reduction of the burdensome Office of the President and a call for payment of multiple private and public entities that owe the university millions of dollars. The UPR president and the Río Piedras chancellor, Ana Guadalupe, refused to meet with the committee and washed their hands of the issue by transmitting their demands to the Board of Trustees, which are dragging their feet to review them.

Thus, on April 13 over 3,000 students from the Río Piedras campus assembled in an auditorium and the majority of those present voted in favor of a 48-hour strike. The UPR administration still refuses to meet with the students.

Now the UPR is experiencing an indefinite strike, which has expanded to include eight of the 11 campuses throughout the island.

Hundreds of students and staff even occupied, for a time, the Río Piedras campus until Riot Police, at the insistence of the Chancellor, forcefully removed them. Then she officially closed down the university’s operations, locked the main entrance, and ordered police to guard the campus. This prompted a student lawsuit and the Puerto Rican Supreme Court ordered the university to re-open its gates by May 3. Meanwhile, hundreds of students have congregated at the gates, holding theatrical performances, discussions, and even clean-ups and beautification projects of the surrounding area.

The response of support for the UPR strike has been major. The official Student Council of Río Piedras initially opposed the action but soon joined the Negotiating Committee. The Puerto Rican Association of University Professors and the Committee of Students of Private Universities have also joined the strike. Moreover, on April 27, a huge concert with thousands of students, called “¡Qué Vivan Los Estudiantes!” – “Long Live The Students!”, was held in front of the locked gates of the Río Piedras campus. Musical artists from the island and around the world, such as Calle 13, Ricky Martin, Rubén Blades, and Juanes, offered their support.

Nonetheless, the opposition has remained firm. Fortuño himself, a day before the concert, spoke directly to the strike in his yearly “State of the Commonwealth” address. In his incendiary speech, which received massive applause by the pro-statehood controlled Congress, he chastised the students for abusing their “privilege,” especially in the face of such a gracious government system. Reminiscent of a national speech by Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz when confronting massive student protests on the eve of the 1968 Olympics, Fortuño said that the people of Puerto Rico are of law and order and believe in democracy. At the conclusion of his address, he said “…we are here, ready and willing to offer the help… to protect the rights of all the students – both to the miniscule group that protest to the immense majority of those who want classes to continue.”

As mentioned earlier, there is a long trajectory of student struggle at the UPR, proving that one of the most important institutions in Puerto Rico is producing minds eager to reshape the challenge with a fair dialogue and open arms or continue a tradition that left the Plaza of Tlatelolco in México City stained with blood in the summer of ‘68.

by Xavier “Xavi” Luis Burgos

Photos by Alvin Cuoto

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30 Years of Resistance: NBHRN Commemorates Legacy of Political Prisoners at “Jornada 360”

Posted on 18 April 2010 by alejandro


Magdaleno Castañeda

On April 3 National Boricua Human Rights Network (NBHRN) hosted “Jornada 360: A Commemoration of 360 Months of Incarceration and a Celebration of Resistance,” which brought people of all ages from both the community and beyond to recognize the activism and resistance of the Puerto Rican political prisoners and those who have worked towards their release. The event, which was held at Batey Urbano, showcased art work by the political prisoners and literature about their case which comprised an exhibition that covered every inch of the walls inside the Batey.

The event included reflections by former prisoners Alicia Rodríguez, Luis Rosa and Ricardo Jiménez, as well as family members of the prisoners and lawyers who have dedicated themselves to defending the release of the political prisoners, including Jan Susler. This celebration also served to continue raising awareness and support for Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, who have spent 30 years in prison making them two of the longest held political prisoners in the world.

“Jornada 360” began with Michelle Morales, coordinator of NBHRN, welcoming the audience and introducing former political prisoner Alicia Rodríguez. “It’s good to be here and look at the faces of people that challenge the system,” said Rodríguez. She added, “This is a moment to reflect and give gratitude to all those years of struggle.” Rodríguez congratulated the community for “flourishing and expressing the spirit of Oscar and Alberto,” and noted that her ability to be physically present at the event was a testament to the tenacity of the campaign to free the prisoners. Before ending her reflection, Rodríguez addressed the youth in the audience. “When there is nobody to turn to, you must turn to yourself,” she said. “The ability to endure needs to be passed on to the next generation.” 

Luis Rosa was the second former prisoner onstage and in his reflection he acknowledged all the support received by family and friends. “Sometimes we get credit for a lot of things, but there are people who do not get credit and they carry the same burden and do time with us,” he said. Rosa also applauded the community for continuing the legacy of the political prisoners. “It pleases me to see young faces here. If anything guarantees that we will be here tomorrow, it’s you.”

Ricardo Jiménez was the last former political prisoner presented onstage after being “symbolically released,” as Michelle Morales stated, from a of a prison cell located in front of the Batey. Jiménez was the last of 15 individuals who spent 24 hours in the prison cell in solidarity with Carlos Alberto Torres and Oscar López Rivera. Jiménez thanked everyone for supporting the campaign, in particular the Puerto Rican Cultural Center Executive Director José López and Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School Principal Matthew Rodríguez. Following Jiménez’s reflection the audience sang happy birthday to Jiménez, who was presented with three birthday cakes.

López was next onstage and he invoked the presence of his mother and brother Oscar López Rivera in awarding original silk screens from several of the prisoners to community leaders Irma Romero, Michelle Morales, Alejandro Molina and Jaime Delgado in gratitude for their commitment to the campaign to free the political prisoners and their dedication to the Humboldt Park community. The recipients were both surprised and thankful for receiving the beautiful artwork. Regarding the campaign López said, “These 30 years have been of continuous work without a day of rest.” “Jornada 360” was a well deserved celebration of these three decades of sacrifice and resistance, and also served as motivation to keep on working for the release of Oscar and Carlos Alberto because as López said, “To be fully human, is to be fully free.”

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[lang_en]Jornada: 100x 35 One Year Later: March 3, 2008 – March 3, 2009[/lang_en]

Posted on 28 February 2009 by alejandro


On Tuesday, March 3, 2009 the Puerto Rican Cultural Center concludes a year-long celebration entitled “Jornada 100 X 35.” This title was chosen with a threefold purpose: 1) to symbolize the dimensions of Puerto Rico, 2) to raise $50,000 by identifying 100 people to pledge $325 and 35 people to pledge $500-we are near this benchmark at $40,000-and 3) to pay homage to the life and legacy of Puerto Rican patriot and National Poet Juan Antonio Corretjer on his centennial and celebrate the 35th year of the founding of the PRCC. The PRCC utilized this “Jornada” to create  markers that would inform the historical memory of Juan Antonio Corretjer for future generations to come.

The first of these “markers” began when the Jornada was launched with a showcasing of all the PRCC’s programs and the unveiling of the commemorative 100 X 35 poster on March 3, 2008. In April of 2008 the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Union for Puerto Rican Students dedicated the 14th Annual Pa’lante Conference to Juan Antonio Corretjer and along with the National Boricua Human Rights Network, celebrated his legacy as a Puerto Rican political prisoner and his commitment to the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners over the years; this included a lecture by Puerto Rican human rights activist/attorney Eduardo Villanueva and a musical rendition of Corretjer’s poetry by the Orquesta Nacional Mapeyé. In June, in conjunction with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science’s symposium “Community As Intellectual Space,” the 30th Puerto Rican People’s Day Parade was celebrated under the slogan “The Aesthetics of Resistance: The Act of Community Building.” This theme was drawn from Corretjer’s work Poesia y Revolucion.

In addition, a new mural depicting Juan Antonio was added on Paseo Boricua in back of La Casita de Don Pedro by Mexican artist Manelik Gutiérrez.  In August, on the eve of the 15th Annual Fiesta Boricua, the PRCC and El Quijote Bookstore sponsored a book signing of ”Un Boricua En La Luna” written by Carlos Quiles Rodríguez about Juan Antonio Corretjer’s influence on the PRCC’s work in Chicago. In addition, a bust of Corretjer by Puerto Rican sculptor Juan Nuñez was unveiled at La Estancia as well as a new mural at the PRCC Annex, 2700 W. Haddon, by Puerto Rican painter Pablo Marcano García. Finally, in December 2008, the PRCC published Juan Antonio Corretjer’s “La Lucha por La Independencia” translated by his daughter Consuelito (the first English translation of Corretjer’s major publications).

Furthermore, the PRCC was instrumental in helping to promote other events commemorating Juan Antonio Corretjer in Philadelphia, New York and Puerto Rico.[/lang_en]

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[lang_en]Claiming Space: PRCC Opens New Building[/lang_en]

Posted on 07 February 2009 by alejandro

[lang_en]On Sunday January 4, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center opened the doors of its new building located on 2700 W. Haddon. After several years of intense fundraising, planning and organizing, the PRCC welcomed local leaders and community residents to tour the new home of the Andres Figueroa Cordero Library and Informatics Center, which features thousands of books and historical artifacts relevant to the Puerto Rican experience. The building will also be home to the Family Learning Center, a satellite of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School. Inside are several state-of-the-art computer labs, where local youth can learn and use. All of this is located on the first floor of the building as the first part of a multi-floor project. The PRCC is still in the process of fundraising for the remaining floors, which will include a performance space and offices. All donations and support to make this dream a full reality are greatly appreciated (and encouraged). In the ongoing struggle to claim space and resist gentrification, the PRCC continue to work to preserve our “pedacito de patria” in Chicago.[/lang_en]

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Honoring a History of Struggle: Puerto Rican Cultural Center Unveils New Cultural Expressions

Posted on 28 October 2008 by alejandro

[lang_en]Days before the 15th Annual Fiesta Boricua, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) unveiled two news additions to the cultural landscape of Paseo Boricua. These cultural expressions, a mural and sculpture, add to the uniqueness of Paseo Boricua, nuestro “pedacito de patria.”

Renowned Puerto Rican artists Pablo Marcano and Rosana Vazquez Medina presented their newest mural in Humboldt Park to over 100 people. The mural is found at the new annex of the PRCC (2700 W. Haddon). The mural, which is composed of several parts, features colorful renditions of Juan Antonio Corretjer and Lolita Lebrón; two important 20th century figures in Puerto Rico. These figures represent the legacy of struggle and resistance that characterize the PRCC’s community work. This is not the first local mural created by Marcano. He is the artist responsible for the mosaic mural of Roberto Clemente that adorns the outside of Roberto Clemente High School (1147 N. Western Ave).

Along with the mural, the PRCC unveiled a five-foot tall bust of Juan Antonio Corretjer. The extremely talented Puerto Rican artist, Juan Nuñez, designed the impressive sculpture. It is an exact replica of the original work found in the entrance of the mountainous town of Ciales, the birthplace of Corretjer. In Chicago, the bust currently resides in the first floor of Bickerdike’s La Estancia Building (on the corner of Division and California).

These works were created to commemorate the Centennial of Juan Antonio Corretjer and 35th anniversary of the founding of the PRCC. In honor of a history that continues to be made, these artistic productions affirm Corretjer’s famous assertion: “Yo sería Borincano, aunque naciera en la luna.”[/lang_en]

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140 Years Later, The Struggle Continues: The Anniversary of ‘El Grito de Lares’ Celebrated on Paseo Boricua

Posted on 28 October 2008 by alejandro


Xavier “Xavi” Luis Burgos

Exactly 140 years ago, on September 23, 1868, the beginnings of a national Puerto Rican identity emerged with a sudden act of revolt in the town of Lares against the Spanish colonial authority. The date also marks the third anniversary of the FBI assassination of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, an advocate and leader of the independence movement and the 40th anniversary of a major Vietnam War act of protest in Lares. On this 140th anniversary of “El Grito de Lares,” the Puerto Rican community of Humboldt Park came together to commemorate these important historical events.

Although the revolt lasted but a few days, it changed the relationship between Puerto Rico and Spain. Slavery was abolished in 1873, one of the priorities of the revolution. El Grito also sent a dramatic message to the world that there were a unique people that lived on the island of Puerto Rico. Due to the significance of the revolt in the creation of who we are and our national symbols, (the original Puerto Rican flag, modeled after the Dominican flag, was created by Mariana Bracetti for the revolt), an event was held at the Batey Urbano community youth space on Paseo Boricua. The event included an art exhibition of the two remaining Puerto Rican political prisoners, Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, poetry from the youth of the Batey Urbano and Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School (PACHS), and a historical overview of the revolt and the Vietnam War protest presented by José E. López, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. In addition, Jan Susler from the People’s Law Office provided an update on the assassination of Ojeda Ríos, which was condemned all over the world, including by the Puerto Rican government.[/lang_en]

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Student Curators Create Monumental Exhibit on Puerto Rican History at New Library

Posted on 06 June 2008 by admin

Students from the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School have been working as curators. They are helping to plan and organize the first-ever exhibit of Puerto Rican materials at the Newberry Library, an internationally known cultural institution and research library in Chicago. In March, the students from Saul Melendez’s Puerto Rican Cultural and History class all received reader’s cards and were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the climate-controlled building where the rare and valuable materials in the library are stored. Since then, the student curators have worked to research and select the final objects to be shown, grouping the objects into themes, and crafting the final exhibit descriptions. The students had access to the library’s large collection of Puerto Rican materials including Spanish manuscripts from the 1600s, original rarely seen photographs, government documents, resources for tracing family histories, and maps from the Spanish-American War. “Few students get to handle things that are even a hundred years old, but we got to handle things that are four hundred years old,” remarked Warren Elmore, a student in Mr. Melendez’s class.

This has been a special opportunity for both the students as well as for the Newberry, as it is the first time high school students have ever curated an exhibit at the research institution. The goal of the exhibit, entitled “Puerto Rican History through the Eyes of Others,” was to allow students to learn how to do research using primary sources. It also provided students an opportunity to engage with history by speaking back to those who have tried to describe and define Puerto Rico over the centuries.
The exhibit came out of an ongoing collaboration with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Community Informatics Initiative. Some of the student curators will also be participating in this year’s “Community as Intellectual Space” conference hosted by the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in collaboration with the University of Illinois. A reception for “Puerto Rican History through the Eyes of Others” will take place on June 11, 2008 at the Newberry Library (60 W. Walton Street). All are invited to celebrate the opening of this exhibit, which will be open to the public through July 12.

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Boricua en la Luna por Juan Antonio Corretjer

Posted on 06 April 2008 by admin

Desde las ondas del mar
que son besos a su orilla,
una mujer de Aguadilla
vino a New York a cantar
pero no sólo a llorar
un largo llanto y morir.
De ese llanto yo nací
como en la lluvia una fiera.
Y vivo en la larga espera
de cobrar lo que perdí.

Por un cielo que se hacia
más feo que mas más volaba
a Nueva York se acercaba
un peón de Las Marías.
Con la esperanza, decía,
de un largo día volver.
Pero antes me hizo nacer
y de tanto trabajar
se quedó sin regresar:
reventó en un taller.

De una lágrima soy hijo
y soy hijo del sudor
y fue mi abuelo el amor
único en mi regocijo
del recuerdo siempre fijo
en aquel cristal de llanto
como quimera en el canto
de un Puerto Rico de ensueño
y yo soy puertorriqueño,
sin ná, pero sin quebranto.

Y el echón que me desmienta
que se ande muy derecho
no sea en lo más estrecho
de un zaguán pagua la afrenta.
Pues según alguien me cuenta:
dicen que la luna as una
sea del mar o sea montuna.
Y así le grito al villano:
yo sería boricano
aunque naciera en la luna.

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Learning and Leading Through the Legacy of Puerto Rican Women: International Women’s Day Celebrated on Paseo Boricua

Posted on 05 April 2008 by admin

Lourdes Lugo, Director of the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, emceeing the eventJodene Velázquez

On March 9, before a crowd of over 100, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) organized a multifaceted International Women’s Day celebration that was intergenerational, educational, and of symbolic importance for our community.

The event began with opening comments by the Director of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, Lourdes Lugo, who passionately conveyed the historical role of Puerto Rican women in the independence movement. As part of the “100×35” campaign, Lugo also spoke on the example of national poet and leader Juan Antonio Corretjer, who supported the women’s liberation struggle in Puerto Rico, which at his time was very uncommon. Her comments were followed by a brief, but informative presentation by the coordinator of the National Boricua Human Rights Network, Michelle Morales. Morales spoke on the issue of incarceration, as specifically experienced by the female Puerto Rican political prisoners during which they suffered blatant human rights violations. Some of the audience members were visibly impacted by their story of hardship, but even more so by their unbreakable love of freedom.

The program continued with a courageous presentation by the students of the Lolita Lebrón Family Learning Center describing a project they engaged in through their Women’s History course. The project, which touched on stereotypes women face on a regular basis. A member of Batey Urbano’s coordinating collective, Janeida Rivera, stressed the need to include LGBTQ realities in the discourse of feminism, which she argued must combat not only sexism, but also heterosexism and homophobia.

Along with presentations, the IWD event also featured several cultural acts, the first of which was several scenes from the new play, “Crime Against Humanity.” These scenes, preformed by young Boricua women, brought further to life the experiences described by Michelle Morales.

Another highlight was the hilarious and entertaining performance by local Puerto Rican poet, Johanny Vazquez Paz. She recited works from her new book, Old Streetwise Poems, which is a collection of poems based on her migration to the US and her experience living in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. In addition, Judy Diaz recited two poems by Juan Antonio Corretjer as homage to his centennial and commitment to the women’s struggle.

The final portion of the Sunday morning event was a walk to the Adalberto Methodist Church. At the church, Emma Lozano, president of Centro Sin Fronteras, gave a powerful account about the deep solidarity between Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, particularly as expressed by the longstanding relationship between activists from the PRCC and CSF. Following her, all present were moved by sincere words of Flor Crisostomo, who is currently living in sanctuary at the church because of the broken immigration laws of the US. Crisostomo, who has picked up the torch after Elvira Arellano was deported last August, provided a touching account of her experience as an undocumented indigenous woman and the impact of NAFTA on Mexico. She concluded her comments to a standing ovation by all present.

International Women’s Day on Paseo Boricua proved to be a historic moment for participants and the organizers who hope to continue to make this community event part of the annual events in our community.

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As part of Jornada 100 x 35: Mapeyé to perform concert of Corretjer’s Poetry

Posted on 05 April 2008 by admin

• Puerto Rican patriots Alicia Rodriguez, Luis Rosa, Tania Frontera to be honored
• featured speaker Renowned author, attorney Eduardo Villanueva

On Friday, April 4, Orquestra Mapeye comes to Chicago to celebrate the centennial of Juan Antonio Corretjer, the National Poet of Puerto Rico, as well as, to commemorate the capture of Puerto Rican Patriots on April 4, 1980 in Evanston, IL. Author and attorney Eduardo Villanueva, former Puerto Rican political prisoners Alicia Rodriguez and Luis Rosa, artist and grand jury resister Tania Frontera and SieteNueve “Boricua Hip Hop with Conscience” will join them in an extraordinary event of music, food and camaraderie.

As a result of the above arrest, Carlos Alberto Torres will mark the beginning of his 28th year of political incarceration—by year’s end will make him the Puerto Rican patriot that has served the longest sentence of any political prisoner. The other remaining Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera, arrested in May of 1981, will begin his 27th year of incarceration.

This April 4 event has a threefold purpose: to celebrate the centennial, to honor the patriots and as a call to action to bring the remaining patriots home —by writing to them, by getting involved in the campaign to free them, by hosting charlas in our churches, schools, professional circles, by sponsoring the “Not Enough Space” art exhibition, or the play based on their experiences “Crime Against Humanity”. Thus, we can all be part of making history. JOIN NATIONAL BORICUA FOR THIS CONCERT, FORUM AND DINNER ON:
Friday, April 4th, 6pm,
Casa Puertorriqueña,
1237 N. California
$25 includes dinner

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