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Puerto Rico, Latin America & Calle 13

Posted on 09 December 2011 by alejandro

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“You can not buy the wind / You can not buy the sun…
You can not buy my joys / You can not buy my sorrows…
The juice of my struggle is not artificial /
For the fertilizer of my land is natural…
You can’t buy my life / My land isn’t for sale…
I’m what my father taught me/
If you do not love your country, you do not love your mother…
I’m Latin America / A people without legs yet walks …”

Under the pouring rain and the sounds of Venezuela’s youth orchestra, the lyrics of Calle 13’s Grammy award winning song “Latinoamerica” were chanted by thousands present for the closing ceremony of the first summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Held in Caracas, Venezuela on December 2 and 3, the CELAC represents the formation of a new political and economic regional bloc that unites thirty-three countries from across Latin America and the Caribbean, but which does not include the United States and Canada. This song, one of Calle 13’s most recent, has become the international anthem throughout the Spanish-speaking Americas. Not only does it poetically describe experiences of historical injustice, poverty and the ruthless operations carried in Latin America by the United States and its allies, but also it has reinserted Puerto Rico and its colonial situation on the Latin American and international stage.

Prior to CELAC summit, Bolivian President Evo Morales made an acknowledgement of Calle 13, stating that “their songs, their interpretations, represent the people of, not only Bolivia, but of Latin America as well.” Historically, Calle 13 has distinguished itself from other performers by giving voice to the voiceless, just as they did on the last day of the summit. Among the 33 nations invited to CELAC, Puerto Rico’s absence was the most felt. The absence of Puerto Rico is due to the fact that Puerto Rico is a colonial possession of the United States. Since the signing of the “Treaty of Paris” on December 10, 1898, which concluded the so-called Spanish American War, the fate of Puerto Rico and its people have been determined by the U.S. Congress.

Calle 13 is composed of stepbrothers René Pérez, Residente (lead singer), Eduardo Cabra, Visitante (producer), and their sister Ileana aka PG-13 (choirs). The group has created a bridge that connects Puerto Rico to the rest of Latin America. In addition to their ability to incorporate sounds and slang from throughout the Americas, the lyrics of Calle 13 have courageously denounced the contradictions of capitalism, the brutality of colonialism and right to free education. In doing so, they have assumed the mantle of visionary musicians like the likes of Silverio Rodríguez, Bob Marley, Femi Kuti, and the late Facundo Cabral. Through their music, they have reminded their fellow Puerto Ricans about the ills of U.S. colonialism and the importance of independence. For this reason, they have been consistently criticized and attacked by Puerto Rico’s upper middle class and conservative sectors. Through rhymes and beats, Calle 13 has advanced the patriotic work of Puerto Rican revolutionaries, such as Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Juan Mari Bras and Juan Antonio Corretjer.

It is in this spirit that Calle 13 doesn’t forget their ancestors who have given their lives to free Puerto Rico. If we look back at Calle 13’s first political song, “Querido FBI,” it was angry denunciation of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos’ assassination by the FBI in 2005. Ojeda’s death, in fact, marked a major turning point for the group, as they soon after embarked on a journey to better understand the social injustices that have and continue to occur on our continent.

On the last day of the summit, René Perez (Residente) became the most important popular voice that Puerto Rico has thus far in 21st century. Its significant contribution to Puerto Rico is so relevant that it invites the question: Who, in the absence of Calle 13, would popularly connect Puerto Rico to the rest of Latin America? Their presence in Venezuela not only gave voice to all the Puerto Ricans who believe in a sovereign Puerto Rico, but also made the point that the CELAC summit was incomplete without Puerto Rico. This important point was powerfully reiterated during the summit by the Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who noted: “We are thirty-three, but are still missing Puerto Rico; sooner rather than later, Puerto Rico will incorporate itself.”

by Jonathan Rivera Lizardi

For more on CELAC visit: http://www.telesurtv.net/secciones/afondo/especiales/CELAC_2011/ or Facebook/TeleSur

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The Power of Indignation

Posted on 09 December 2011 by alejandro

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“I have only the power of my indignation,
the power of my convictions.”
Danielle Mitterrand

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is stirring and awakening the people’s righteous indignation throughout the nation.  Its call to action is germinating and sprouting like wild flowers (hopefully perennial ones) from Wall Street to the universities and from the ghettoes all the way to the suburbs.  It’s this response of the people that clearly demonstrates the potential it has to radicalize the masses and to find solutions to the prevailing crisis created by Wall Street and the politicians who control the reins of government.

The people are responding because OWS has clearly identified the problems affecting them and the culprits responsible for the crisis and the prevailing pernicious conditions. According to OWS, what are the main problems and who has caused them?  They are: 1). the inequality in the distribution of wealth – one percent controls it and 99 percent has none; 2).  the concentration of capital in fewer and fewer hands; 3). the skulduggery of Wall St.; 4). the corruption of the politicians who control the reins of the government; 5). the government’s inability and refusal to resolve the economic crisis; and 6). the workers, the elderly, parts of the middle class, the minority communities and  the young people who find their dreams deferred and sabotaged.

There’s an organic relationship between Wall Street and the politicians who are in control of the government.  The former controls the finances the politicians need to be elected, and thus determines who’s going to win.  The politician who gets elected owes his seat to Wall St.  or is a big money person whose interest is the same as the others honchos on Wall St.  For the politicians, their most important task is to defend the interest of Wall St.  A good example of the relationship is how the government dealt with the demands of the corporations that were “too big to fail.”  Wall St. claimed there was an economic melt down and that the government had to bail out the corporations that were too big to fail.  The government’s response was immediate.  Billions of dollars were dispensed and the politicians had no qualms or hesitation in answering Wall St. demands.

One of the corporations that the government bailed out was General Motors.  At no moment did the politicians mention the fact that while GM in the U.S. was going broke in China it was one of the most profitable U.S. corporations.  If that was the case, then why not use the money it was generating in China to bail itself out? What’s most interesting about the bail out is that the bulk of the billions of dollars sent to Wall St. ended up in the pockets of the bankers and of the CEO’s of the big corporations.

While the politicians were bailing out the big corporations, the problems of the millions of families who were facing foreclosure, the millions of workers who were unemployed, the students who owed almost a trillion dollars in student loans and couldn’t pay  were totally ignored by them.
The politicians seats were safe because Wall St. was doing what it had to do to protect them.  It had the finances, the lobbying groups, the think tanks, the media and such nepharious entities like the Tea Party and ALEC -American Legislative Exchange Council to make sure the status quo would not be changed at all.  For example, ALEC made sure the neo-liberal legislations needed would be enacted at all levels of government.  That’s how anti-immigration, union busting, and anti-public funding laws were being passed at the state and federal levels.

Fortunately, the OWS movement responded and has seized the moment.  It is challenging the status quo and mobilizing the people.  Instead of idleness, there is movement.  And the movement has the potential to create the necessary changes in the political structure and to find solutions that will lead to a better distribution of wealth and for there to be a more just and better system.  If you aren’t a supporter of OWS or a righteously indignated person, become an occupier.  If you want a better and more just world dare to struggle for it.  Dare to struggle, dare to win. En resistencia y lucha, OLR.

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Navi-Arts Fest A Complete Success!

Posted on 09 December 2011 by alejandro

 

On the weekend of December 3-4, 2011, the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture celebrated its first holiday arts sale event Navi Arts Fest. The event featured arts and crafts from Puerto Rican artists that included Galería Cuca (mixed media), Edgar “El Pintor” (ceramics), Leo Negrón (coconut art) Miguel Arroyo (photography and graphic design), Elias Carmona (photography), Lebster Pabón (paintings), Between Rags and Dolls (hand made rag dolls), Zoraida Rivera Tañón (artisanal coquito), Mr. Myke (urban art) and El Quijote Bookstore.

On Saturday, December 3rd, Navi Arts Fest, kick off with the musical flavor of La Trova del 31 at noon. The presentation of Adolfo Colón’s book Pasto y Maleza and the musical presentation of the up and coming bomba group Buya.  Later on, IPRAC hosted two amazing parrandas, received with one of the López family’s sweetest recipes of ‘leche con jengibre’. The first traditional parranda sponsored by ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! and the second one by the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center’s traveling parranda led by los pleneros of Nuestro Tambó.

The event concluded with an amazing children’s workshop led by Happy Kids Chicago on Sunday afternoon. This joyful celebration brought many Puerto Ricans together, like back home, enjoying excellent music, arts, delicious holiday treats, gifts and good memories.

by Brenda Figueroa

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DSBDA Welcomes New Business to Paseo Boricua

Posted on 09 December 2011 by alejandro

Great news for Paseo Boricua as we end the year on a plus with the opening of two new businesses. La Cosecha (2701 W Division St.), which opened in September for Fiesta Boricua is now fully loaded with fresh produce. They have fine Puerto Rican coffee like café Don Pello from Ciales, Puerto Rico. They also have ahí dulce, fresh plantains (green or maduros), as well as other favorites from la cocina criolla. La Cosecha also has fresh fruit and a juicer where you can get amazing freshly squeezed orange juice to go.

La Cosecha’s reopening brought in lots of support from community residents and workers, as well as several restaurant owners like Victor García from Papa’s Cache, Pablo Espinoza, owner of Nellie’s Restaurant, Roberto Tañón, owner of La Bruquena Restaurant, and Jaime Cruz, owner of Latin American Restaurant. All were there to take advantage of the fresh produce that La Cosecha has to offer.

La Cosecha wants to provide fresh produce at affordable prices to an area considered a food desert. It also seeks to provide an alternative diet to those residents who suffer from diabetes and asthma.
DSBDA also welcomes Architechs Inc. that officially opened last week and is located at 2541 W. Division, on the site of a long-standing blighted building which has been refurbished to include rod-iron balconet, French doors, lamps and a wood colored storefront. President Eswin Guerra says that Architechs Inc. is a design and build company or one-stop-shop for planning and building projects. Eswin Guerra is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and attended the UIC School of Architecture as well as the National School of Superior Architecture of Versailles. For more information on Architects Inc. visit their website at: www.architechs-inc.com.

by Eduardo Arocho

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