Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Health News

Teen Drug Treatment Jumps 65 Percent Over Decade, Federal Study Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of admissions to substance abuse treatment for adolescents ages 12 to 17 increased again in 2002, continuing a ten-year trend. These data were released today in the "Treatment Episode Data Set: National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services 1992-2002" by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The new data show that the number of adolescents ages 12 to 17 admitted to substance abuse treatment increased 65 percent between 1992 and 2002. In 1992, adolescents represented 6 percent of all treatment admissions. By 2002, this proportion had grown to 9 percent. This report expands upon data published in May in the "Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlights 2002."
The increase in substance abuse treatment admissions among 12 to 17 year olds was largely due to the increase in the number of admissions in this age group that reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. Between 1992 and 2002, the number of adolescent treatment admissions for primary marijuana abuse increased 350 percent. In 1992, 23 percent of all adolescent admissions were for primary marijuana abuse. By 2002, 63 percent of adolescent admissions reported marijuana as their primary drug.
"The youthfulness of people admitted for marijuana use shows that we need to work harder to get the message out that marijuana is a dangerous, addictive substance," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "All Americans must begin to confront drug use -- and drug users -- honestly and directly. We must discourage our youngsters from using drugs and provide those in need an opportunity for recovery by encouraging them to enter and remain in drug treatment."
Forty-eight percent of all adolescent treatment admissions in 2002 involved the use of both alcohol and marijuana. Admissions involving these two substances increased by 86 percent between 1992 and 2002.
In 2002, more than half (53 percent) of adolescent admissions were referred to treatment through the criminal justice system. Seventeen percent were self- or individual referrals, and 11 percent were referred through schools.
The TEDS report provides detailed data on admissions to substance abuse treatment for all age groups. The 2002 data show that polydrug abuse (abuse of more than one substance) was more common among TEDS admissions than was the abuse of a single substance. Polydrug abuse was reported by 55 percent of all admissions for substance abuse treatment in 2002. Alcohol, marijuana and cocaine were the most commonly reported secondary substances. For marijuana and cocaine, more admissions reported these as secondary substances than as primary substances.
This new report provides information on the demographic and substance abuse characteristics of the 1.9 million annual admissions to treatment for abuse of alcohol and drugs in facilities that report to individual state administrative data systems. The report also includes data by state and state rates.
The report is available on the web at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/.


SAMHSA, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States.


Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

CONTACT: Leah Young of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, +1-240-276-2130


Web site: http://www.samhsa.gov/
http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/



Monday, August 30, 2004

source: jointogether.org

Most Crimes in Puerto Rico Linked to Illegal Weapons
8/30/2004

Testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee of Public Integrity, Pio Rechani Lopez, the executive director of the Institute of Forensic Science, said most of the crimes in Puerto Rico are committed with illegal and stolen weapons, the Associated Press reported Aug. 27.

"There are illegal weapons arriving from other countries or the United States that enter the island as contraband that are more used for these types of crimes. The majority of the firearms used in murders and crimes are assault weapons, like the AR-15 or the AK-47," Rechani Lopez said.

Rechani Lopez said it's difficult to monitor the flow of illegal weapons into Puerto Rico because some assault weapons illegally entering the island are obtained legally in states like Kentucky and Texas.

Note: This article is online at http://www.jointogether.org/z/0,2522,574404,00.html

Visit www.jointogether.org for complete news and funding coverage, resource links and advocacy tools supporting community-based efforts to reduce and prevent substance abuse and gun violence.

Join Together Online (www.jointogether.org)
Join Together is a project of the Boston University School of Public Health.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Featured Site

Escape to Puerto Rico (there is a link to the site from the prsun.blogspot). But there is one more reason to visit.

Check out:
http://escape.topuertorico.com/postcards/new.shtml

I am pleased to report that my photos are featured at
Escape to Puerto Rico as part of its Puerto Rico e-cards collection.

My work is located under the categories:

Old San Juan
http://escape.topuertorico.com/postcards/oldsj8.shtml

Churches
http://escape.topuertorico.com/postcards/church4.shtml

Folklore
http://escape.topuertorico.com/postcards/folklore3.shtml

Thanks.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Latino/a Literature: A Resource for Standardized Testing


book
Originally uploaded by Manny.
By Manny Hernandez

Manny, who regularly contributes to Puerto Rico Sun articles on education and Latino issues, is the author of the Latino/a Literature book, a resource for young adults and standardized testing in America.
Essay

The Latino Agenda in the Upcoming Elections: Education

By Manuel Hernandez

There has been a lot of talk that Latinos are now the largest minority in the United States. According to recent projections, close to half of the population will be Latino by half of the 21st Century. Hispanic Magazine describes the phenomenon as the “Minority Nation.” The Latino population growth has surpassed all predictions and continues to baffle census specialists. There are many Latino issues on top of the electoral table, but the following seem to be the most relevant: home ownership, immigration, health insurance, economic growth, security and education. As a hard-core believer in the power of education, all of the issues served on the electoral table are appetizers of a quality education.

It was in 1967 with the publication of "Down These Mean Streets" that the legendary pioneer of Latino letters, Piri Thomas, made “El Barrio” in Manhattan a household name. The classic autobiography portrayed and depicted the issues of the late 1960's: identity, survival and racism.

But in 2004, the climactic point in the Latino drama is education. With an approximate 25 percent high school dropout rate average and merely 6 percent registration rate at the graduate level in colleges and universities across America, the numbers speak for themselves and have been thrust around at will by those who have all kinds of interests.

Despite the good intentions coming from one party and another, a sound and solid based educational plan has yet to be designed and created. How will the National Latino high school dropout rate be attended? What academic plan will be drawn to ensure that Latino teens entering high school in 2004-2005 will not drop out tomorrow? How will those young adults graduating from high school receive motivation, information and support to pursue graduate studies? The answers to these and other educational questions remain tied up in the “language of ideas” discussed by politicians at all corners of the electoral table.

Under President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Law, there is renewed accountability, enhanced flexibility and community control. At the same time, there is an emphasis on teaching strategies that have worked in the past. But there are no specific, concise and detailed suggestions on how states should tackle the desired educational outcomes. Senator Kerry’s people are talking about providing quality education and recognizing that “children need good schools” (Hispanic Magazine, page 84). The good intentions are undeniable, but the ideas do not fulfill the academic demands of a population that continues to impact, influence and redefine America.

The academic demands cannot be taken lightly and should provide immediate intervention, pre-planned prevention and long-term planning. The highest high school dropout rate amongst minorities is preventing Latinos to attain a higher education degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a college graduate will earn more over a lifetime period than a high school graduate. However, in the traditional age group, only 25 percent of foreign-born Latinos who graduated high school are enrolled in an undergraduate institution. On the other hand, 40 percent of second generation Latino high school graduates attend college.

If Latinos are less likely to graduate from high school but continue to grow in population, the United States has an economic situation that needs serious attention. Why not make it a national priority to work with states to develop a vision in tune with the necessities of the Latino teen?

Latino teens are scoring poorly in city, state and national testing requirements. Teens have difficulties reacting and responding to literature that is far away from their immigrant experience. The literary text possesses no fixed and final meaning or value; there is no one "correct" meaning. According to Louise Rosenblatt, a poem is "what the reader lives through under the guidance of the text." If Latino teens cannot make a connection with the text, there will be little possibility of an interpretation. As a consequence, the possibilities of better scores in these exams are reduced to a minimum.

Latino teens today are open to options. It is the responsibility of government, teachers, administrators, parents and educational advocates to provide them with the keys to their educational experience. I strongly believe that education should be highlighted as the core issue once and for all -- not only by Bush and Kerry but by Latino leaders and academics alike. There are so many of us, but we have not decided on the best interest of our future generations: education.

Manuel Hernández contributes education essays to Puerto Rico Sun. He is the author of Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom. If you would like to publish the article in your local newspaper, call his editor at 787-355-0099. Feel free to visit his page at www.puertoricans.com.





Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Featured site:

Association of Hispanic Arts (www.latinoarts.org)

Founded in 1975, the Association of Hispanic Arts, Inc. (AHA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of Latino arts, artists and arts organizations as an integral part of the cultural life of the nation. It facilitates projects and programs designed to foster the appreciation, growth and well being of the Latino cultural community.

Site includes listings of opportunities for Latinos interested in developing films, information about art exhibitions and culture events and a book store featuring literature on and by Latinos. Worth a visit.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Literacy Tips for Latino Families

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- It's a growing trend: more education experts are offering bilingual resources addressing the needs of Latino families. From the launch of PBS's Maya & Miguel family-themed website and television program later this fall, to online resources such as Reading Rockets' www.colorincolorado.com, the message is clear that reaching the growing Latino audience -- even with literacy advice -- demands special cultural consideration.


(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20040823/NYFNSF02 )


"Getting children and families of all backgrounds excited about reading requires more than a one-size-fits-all solution," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, the nation's oldest and largest children's and family literacy organization. "By offering resources tailored specifically to empower Latino families, we're taking an important step in reinforcing positive attitudes and behaviors toward literacy."


To encourage literacy every day, RIF offers families these tips:

* Talk with your children as you play, go shopping or work around the
house. Listen to what they say. Ask questions. When you talk to your
children, you help them learn to use words.

* Let your children see you read. Show them you think reading is important
and that you enjoy it, too.

* Ask older children to read to younger ones. Older children will be proud
of their skills and younger children will want to read like their older
brothers, sisters, or friends.

* Say rhymes, raps, and poetry and sing songs. Rhymes and songs are easy
for kids to remember, so they can say them and sing along with the rest
of the family. Rhymes also help children learn letter sounds.

* Tell stories about your family, and stories you enjoyed when you were a
child. Ask other family members to tell stories, too. Write down these
stories and those your children tell. Save them to read aloud later.


In September, RIF will launch its own special initiative aimed at promoting early childhood literacy among Latino families in the United States. Called "Un futuro brillante empieza en un libro" (A brilliant future begins with a book), the campaign emphasizes the ways families can incorporate into their lives simple, appropriate activities -- many of which families already do regularly -- that will promote literacy among their children.


The core component of the campaign is a comprehensive, Spanish website (http://www.rif.org/leer) that offers tips and advice for families. RIF will also begin distributing two Spanish language television public service announcements (PSAs), featuring television personalities Cristina Saralegui and Jorge Ramos, and a half-hour educational parent video in Spanish.


Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF) works to build a literate nation by helping young people discover the joy of reading. For more information and to access reading resources, visit http://www.rif.org/.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Friday, August 20, 2004

Poetry

CONDEMNED
By Fernando A. Zapater

In that poker game god dealt me cards
An anti-Semitic joker as a wild trump
That played me like a well-tuned guitar
To the fine tune of a mashuganov gentile
I traveled 32 hundred miles
To reach the rabbis daughter and reconcile
But imagine a balsero boricua all the while
After he had his heart circumcised
Perhaps in past incarnations I had been
A nazi luftewaggen first lieutenant air force
Maybe I was the roman soldier who gave Christ
His hideous last drink
Or perhaps had been the Jew that condemned
Him to be crucified
It is my karma I accept in mazel tov
All the while thinking in Luria’s mysticism
And when my love for Mordecai borders fanatism
You will know me also as his sidekick companion
Esther’s lover, Lilith’s cousin, a Jew beloved
Like Moses leadership amongst the waters
But when Palestinians explode like watermelons
It is time to corner Arafat with serious questions
Not only traveled a mile for a camel
But 32 hundred for a whole herd
With which we will conquer the west
And will have again Jerusalem and Bethlehem
We must not thrust aside the Palestinians
For they are a tribe that is here to stay
I have been dealt the anti-Semitic trump
It’s now my turn to twist and shout, to hum and hump
We shall live like a civilized tribe
Amongst human, spirits, and animals alike
Love and peace shall prevail amongst all the same
Shalom, Mazel-tov, Hola, Hello, Bienvenido, y Como estas.

c 2004 Fernando A. Zapater

Fernando A. Zapater contributes his poetry to Puerto Rico Sun. He is the author of "La Biblia Desnuda," and "Cuentos Cortos y Poemas de Un Balsero (Volumes I and II)." "Condemned" is published in the Cuentos Cortos y Poemas Volume II edition, which features writings in Spanish and English.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Entertainment

Celebrate Hispanic Culture on PBS

PBS offers variety of Latin-themed programs for Hispanic Heritage Month

Alexandria, VA--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--August 18, 2004--In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month — September 15-October 15, 2004 — PBS brings the vibrant talents of Latino actors, actresses and producers into viewers' homes. With broadcast premieres and encore presentations, animation, drama, history, art and music, PBS has something with a little Latin flavor for everyone.

Latino artists across the United States take center stage in a groundbreaking six-part television event VISIONES: LATINO ARTS and CULTURE, premiering Sunday, September 5 and airing Sundays through October 10, 2004, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET. Viewers experience the world of Latino artistic expression as the series journeys throughout the country, capturing rich stories about theater, music, dance, spoken word and the visual arts. From New York City's hip-hop culture to mural painters in Los Angeles and Chicago to theater in Texas, the series offers a unique cross-section of Latino artists working today. Through storytelling and vivid imagery, the fast-paced and entertaining series leads the viewer to understand the origins of Latino art and culture, and depicts the struggles and victories of the artists as part of their artistic interpretation. Additionally, the series examines the nation's diverse Latino communities and how they were able to keep their artistic expressions alive while creating new and unique visions that contribute to art in America.

Kids will find a new place to watch and learn weekday afternoons with the new daily animated series MAYA and MIGUEL. Lively and colorful, MAYA and MIGUEL chronicles the adventures, and sometimes misadventures, of 10-year-old twins Maya and Miguel Santos, and features their family, friends and a richly diverse neighborhood. The programs present culture and language learning as fun, relevant and rewarding for all children, with a special emphasis on the Latino population. This never-a-dull-moment situation comedy revolves around Maya's well-intended meddling in her family's and friends' lives, ultimately creating new quandaries to fix. Sprinkled throughout the series are values of friendship and family and a positive, culturally rich portrayal of Latino family, language and cultures. The weekday series premieres Monday, October 11, 2004 (check local listings).

Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss stars as a veteran cop working on Manhattan's Upper West Side in this new two-part offering of PBS HOLLYWOOD PRESENTS, "Cop Shop," airing Wednesday, October 6, 2004, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET. Blair Brown ("The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," The Astronaut's Wife), Oscar-winner Rita Moreno (West Side Story, Oz), Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing, White Men Can't Jump) and Jay Thomas ("The Education of Max Bickford," Mr. Holland's Opus) also star. The first part, "Fear," focuses on the heated exchange between police officers and a gathering of local residents on the verge of panic over a series of rapes in the community. The second part, "Blind Date," provides a glimpse into the lives of working women in a neighborhood brothel when their paths cross with the police.

Sure to keep everyone on their feet is the music and beats from the PUERTO RICO JAZZFEST 2003 (September, 2004, check local listings). This year's festival features performances by Berkley professor William Cepeda, Makoto Ozone, Paquito D'Rivera, Claudia Acuña and Chick Corea.

And rounding out the month is the conclusion of the encore presentation of the the Emmy(R) award-nominated miniseries AMERICAN FAMILY — JOURNEY OF DREAMS. This compelling epic interweaves the Gonzalez family's courageous escape from the Mexican Revolution to seek a better life in America with the sacrifices the family made in the 1990s to send their first-born son to medical school and the consequences of those sacrifices as seen through the war in Iraq. Edward James Olmos, Constance Marie, Yancey Arias, Jesse Borrego, Patricia Velasquez, Kate del Castillo and Raquel Welch star, with special guest stars Esai Morales, Lynn Whitfield and Rachel Ticotin and special appearances by Sonia Braga. AMERICAN FAMILY — JOURNEY OF DREAMS airs Sundays, 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET through October 23, 2004.

Throughout the months of September and October PBS offers a wide variety of encore presentations of award-winning documentaries and acclaimed specials. Please check local listings for airdates and times of the following programs:

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE "Zoot Suit Riots"
In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican American ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed that Mexican youth — known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore — were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across the city arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen zoot-suiters headed to a trial in which prosecutors had little evidence to present. Nonetheless, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to zoot-suiters being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizens' committee concluded the riots had been fueled by racial prejudice and encouraged by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department.

BEYOND THE BORDER
Over the past decade, thousands of Latinos seeking "la vida buena" (the good life) have migrated to Kentucky, finding low-paying jobs in the tobacco, manufacturing and horseracing industries. As the Latino communities have swelled, so too have xenophobia and discrimination. BEYOND THE BORDER traces the painful transition made by four sons in the Vierya family, who leave their parents and sisters in Mexico and fight cultural, class and language barriers in Kentucky.

COME AND TAKE IT DAY
Myth, history and heavy metal collide in Jim Mendiola's enticing South Texas tale of dreams, schemes and revenge. The century-old legend of the lost treasure of Tejano folk hero Gregorio Cortez changes the lives of four present-day Texans, each working in a tourist trap restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk. This Tejano film noir explores the class structure of San Antonio's multi-layered Latino community while telling a fascinating story of obsession, betrayal and death.

FLAMENCO: THE PASSION OF SPANISH DANCE
This one-hour performance program of sizzling group presentations, sultry duos and solo interpretations of the passion of Spanish dance features Maria Benitez, an internationally acclaimed performer, choreographer and director (who has appeared on EVENING AT POPS) who performs "El Amor" with her troupe, Teatro Flamenco.

INDEPENDENT LENS "Foto-Novelas: Junkyard Saints and Broken Sky"
Exploring the Latino experience through the prism of dreams, memories and reality, "Foto-Novelas" consists of two half-hour dramas: "Junkyard Saints," a spiritual thriller set in a South Texas automotive graveyard; and "Broken Sky," a fictionalized account based on the real-life 1948 plane crash that killed 28 Mexicans in Fresno, California.

P.O.V. "90 Miles"
Juan Carlos Zaldavar's "90 Miles" is a personal memoir that offers a rare glimpse into Cuba, a country as mythologized to Americans as the United States is to the rest of the world. The Cuban-born filmmaker recounts the strange fate that brought him as a teenage communist to exile in Miami in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift. Zaldavar uses news clips, family photos and home movies to depict the emotional journey of an immigrant father and son struggling to understand the historical and individual forces shaping their relationships and identities in a new country.

STEALING HOME: THE CASE OF CONTEMPORARY CUBAN BASEBALL
Set against the backdrop of the 38th Cuban National Championship Series, STEALING HOME examines the tension between baseball players who left Cuba in search of freedom and multimillion dollar contracts and the government that invests heavily in their training. This program probes a sociopolitical conflict that is fundamental to any political ideology — the interests of the individual versus those of the greater good. Should baseball players in Cuba be expected to play exclusively in the Cuban National League, forgoing American baseball, in the interests of a society that benefits from the sport both as a national pastime and in less tangible terms as the assertion of a sovereign identity?

Featured Sites:

Photo lovers. If you have a special love for photos of La Isla del Encanto, check out:

http://www.photosofpuertorico.com
http://www.puertoricophotostock.com

You will find an array of images from different parts of the island.

Photos of Puerto Rico is a website dedicated to highlighting the island and its wonders! Enjoy the beautiful professional quality images from talented and dedicated Puerto Rican photographers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

ON TV

Piri Thomas and EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET

Re: Documentary on Nuyorican poet Piri Thomas: EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET to air at 8 p.m. Aug. 18 on TUTV in Puerto Rico. This program may also be seen online (go to TUTV's site at www.tutv.puertorico.pr).

Combining poetry, documentary and drama, EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET explores the life and work of Piri Thomas, the 75-year-old Afro-Cuban-Puerto Rican poet and author of Down These Mean Streets. A landmark of modern American literature, this 1967 autobiographical novel continues to be taught in schools for its groundbreaking bilingual style and its realistic portrayal of youth, imprisonment and search for racial identity.

Like the novel, the film traces Thomas’ path from childhood to manhood in New York City’s Spanish Harlem from the 1930s to the 1960s: his home life during the Great Depression, membership in barrio youth gangs, travels as a teenage merchant marine, addiction to heroin, notorious armed robbery of a Greenwich Village nightclub, six years spent in prison and eventual emergence as a writer.

As the first writer of Puerto Rican ancestry to receive national recognition in the United States, Piri Thomas is not just a cultural icon, but also a community treasure. His poetry has inspired and influenced generations of students, artists and activists. But Thomas is not simply a writer. When he started on his own path towards self-reclamation and self-respect, he also made a commitment to help others do the same. Since his release from prison in 1956, Thomas has devoted himself to the development, health and well being of young adults. As a social worker, he pioneered violence prevention and drug treatment efforts. As an educator, he has promoted literacy and taught writing in order to stimulate artistic expression—not only as a means of human enrichment, but also as a tool of individual and community survival. And as a poet, Thomas’ rhythm and style pre-figured rap by decades.

A stylized, genre-spanning production, EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET includes a spellbinding collage of rare archival footage, still photographs and provocative mixed-media artwork, as it explores Thomas’ use of creativity as a means of overcoming violence and isolation. This coming-of-age story is counter-pointed with dramatizations, spoken word and vérité scenes of Thomas’ ongoing work as an educator and activist empowering marginalized and incarcerated youths. Pulsating with an original Latin jazz score, this is a riveting portrait of a life lived through struggle, self-discovery and transformation.

EVERY CHILD IS BORN A POET, produced and directed by Jonathan Robinson, is part of a weekly PBS series called Independent Lens.

For more information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/everychildisbornapoet.

ON TV

"Every Mother's Son"

In the late 1990s, three victims of police brutality made headlines around the country: Amadou Diallo, the young West African man whose killing sparked intense public protest; Anthony Baez, killed in an illegal choke-hold; and Gary (Gidone) Busch, a Hasidic Jew shot and killed outside his Brooklyn home. "Every Mother's Son" tells of the victims' three mothers who came together to demand justice and accountability.

"Every Mother's Son" is up next on P.O.V. on Tuesday,
August 17th at 10 P.M. (ET) on PBS.

Be sure to check your local listings for the airtime in
your area - visit http://www.pbs.org/pov/everymothersson
and click the link next to the premiere date which reads
"check local listings."

On the "Every Mother's Son" website you can also find
a film synopsis, photos and trailer, an interview with the filmmakers
and more:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/everymothersson

La Perla


La Perla
Originally uploaded by clarisel.
La Perla's scenic basketball court, Old San Juan

Monday, August 16, 2004

Commentary

Vieques’ Revenge

By Cecil Harris
Puerto Rico Sun

The final score of Puerto Rico 92, United States 73 still shocks those who cling to the outdated notion that U.S. superiority in basketball is a given, somehow part of an American’s birthright. The truth, however, is it doesn’t matter anymore that basketball was created in the mainland U.S.—albeit by a Canadian, Dr. James Naismith—because the days of other teams genuflecting before American squads are long gone.

Finally, the phrase “Dream Team,” as it relates to USA Men’s Olympic Basketball, can be retired for good. The phrase is as anachronistic today as the Soviet Union, amateur athletics and American diplomacy.

On Sunday, August 15, 2004 in Athens, Greece, a team of pampered NBA millionaires with an aversion to defense, perimeter shooting, free-throw shooting and team play was humiliated by a team from Puerto Rico before the eyes of the world. Never before had a U.S. team composed of NBA stars lost in Olympic competition.

But this was no fluke. Puerto Rico exposed the flaws of the U.S. team from start to finish. Led by point guard Carlos Arroyo, who had game-highs with 24 points and 7 assists, Puerto Rico held a 22-point lead at halftime. Despite a plethora of bigger names on Team USA—names like Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Lamar Odom, LeBron James and Stephon Marbury—Arroyo, a starter for the NBA’s Utah Jazz, was the best player on the court.

August 15 may be forever celebrated in Puerto Rico as Vieques’ Revenge. Vieques is the island bought by the U.S. Navy in the 1940s after which many families and farmers were forced to leave to make way for decades of bombing runs and military practices. The inhumane policy prompted years of protest, and an occasional tear-gassing response from the Navy. Finally, President George W. Bush announced in June 2001 that the Navy would leave the island. According the Web site viequeslibre.org, May 8, 2003 marked the first day on Vieques in more than 60 years that was free of bombing.

The U.S. Navy pushed the people of Vieques around for generations, and USA Basketball lorded over the sports world for just as long. Yet Puerto Rico brought an athletic superpower to its knees. Puerto Rico’s strategy was to force Team USA team to shoot from outside. As Iverson told NBC television after the game, “We don’t want to shoot (from) outside. We want to get easy baskets and run.”

Yet the well-schooled Puerto Rico squad packed in its defense to limit easy baskets and invite shots from the perimeter. Team USA shot a dreadful 35 percent from the field, including an obscene 3-for-24 from 3-point range. That’s 12.5 percent shooting on 3-point shots, despite a three-point semicircle that is 20 feet, 6 inches away in the Olympics as opposed to 23 feet, 9 inches away in the NBA. Quite simply, Puerto Rico forced Team USA to do what it did not want to do and could not do well—shoot from the perimeter.

Other teams will pick up on Puerto Rico’s strategy, which will make it exceedingly difficult for Team USA to win a fourth straight Olympics basketball gold medal.

Team USA first sent NBA players to the Olympics in 1992 after a squad composed of college stars finished third in the 1988 Games. The 1992 team was the only true Dream Team—Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone, John Stockton et al. Every member of that team (except Christian Laettner) is in the Basketball Hall of Fame or soon will be. From the team that Puerto Rico dominated on August 15, only Duncan and Iverson are certain to be Hall of Famers.

At least lazy broadcasters and headline writers should no longer refer to just any U.S. grouping of NBA players as a “Dream Team.” Such laziness should have ceased in 2002 when Team USA finished sixth in the World Championships in Indianapolis and the NBA’s arrogant, showboating, trash-talking style went over like lead-based paint.

Many will look at Puerto Rico 92, USA 73 and say the rest of the world has caught up. But strictly in terms of playing basketball as a five-man unit, other teams have passed the U.S.A. Puerto Rico has only two NBA players on its Olympic squad (Arroyo and forward Jose Ortiz), but it played as a team—not as a motley crew of self-indulgent individuals.

No matter what else happens at the 2004 Olympics, the Puerto Rico men’s basketball team made history, humbling the once-invincible Team USA. Only after 40 minutes of game time did Puerto Rico’s dominance end. Only then could Team USA feel a sense of relief. Now they could be left alone. Finally. The people in Vieques know the feeling.
#

Cecil Harris is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and lives in Yonkers, New York.
Harris is the author of BREAKING THE ICE The Black Experience in Professional Hockey (Insomniac Press, 2003) and the screenplays The Iceman and White Chocolate. Harris worked as a sports journalist for daily newspapers, magazines and an Internet site. Among his many accomplishments in journalism, he covered the National Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers for The Indianapolis Star and the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina and the New York Rangers and New York Islanders for Newsday.
Harris has covered such major events as the World Series, the American League Division Series, the American League Championship Series, the NBA Finals, the NBA playoffs, the NCAA men's basketball championships, the NCAA Division I football national championship game, the Stanley Cup finals, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the U.S. Open tennis championships, All Star Games in baseball and hockey, the New York City marathon, the Millrose Games and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Harris contributes to sports columns to Puerto Rico Sun.
Check out Harris' website at www.cecilharris.com.

A Letter to the Editor

Re: News -- The U.S.A. men's Olympic basketball team lost 92-73 to Puerto Rico in Athens on Aug. 15.


Shaggy Flores - New Generation Nuyorican Poeta wrote in an Aug. 15 e-mail:

Familia,
Remember that movie Miracle, that opened last year where the under dog U.S. Hockey team beats the USSR? Remember how everyone went ballistic when the U.S. won?
There's nothing better then waking up this afternoon to see a bunch of overpaid prima-donna's get their butts handed to them by some Boricuas from the island. Not just beat them but I mean, beat them from the very beginning of the game. Outplay them in every way. The Olympics are great!!!
Hey, wait a minute, aren't the players on the U.S. team getting paid a whole bunch of dinero just to dribble the ball and make shots at the NBA for a living. Now we know why the NBA doesn't want other teams in other countries to join the action.
Not too long ago T-Mac got into a confrontation with a player from P.R. named Casiano because of remarks that the NBA players were spoiled and overpaid. Fast forward to today and Casiano was schooling the higher paid and sponsorship endorsed team. Did you see the 3 pointer that Casiano shot from far away in the last seconds? Man, this was as good as seeing the Italians stomp on the U.S.
Don't get me wrong, I like watching the NBA since growing up watching Dr. J, Jordan, Spud Webb, Wilkins, Jabbar, Lakers, Celtics when real players put their heart and soul on the floor. This olympic team is a joke, how are you going to represent us nationally and play like a bunch of scrubs.
Sure, I know that might hurt some sports fans out there but truth is truth, if your only job is to play ball then you might as well be nice at what you do. This is why I like watching Street Ball where everyday cats are playing the game not just for the money, but also for respect and love.
Anyway, today was sheer poetry and a wake up call that Boricuas are in the house!!!! Might just have to write a poem about the experience!!!
Pa'lante Arroyo! Pa'lante Casiano! Puerto Rico, Ho!!!!!!
Shaggy Flores
nuyorican poeta
www.shaggyflores.com

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Sol


Sol
Originally uploaded by clarisel.
This is Sol, the Spanish name for sun.

Sol is Puerto Rico Sun's mascot. Sol lost part of her ear and tail in a car accident when she lived in the streets. We thought she was going to die, but she fought for her life. She showed me a lot about strength and lived up to her name. She is a beautiful, energetic, feisty sata and currently lives with me.

Sol was born in San Juan.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Featured site:

our culture, our history

If you are interested in quality TV programming on boricuas, a site worth visiting is www.tutv.puertorico.pr, the site of TUTV Universo Television.

One of the best features of the site is that you could watch quality cultural TV programming online. The programming is largely in Spanish.

Among the cultural shows featured include such programs as "Cultura Viva," "Asi Canta Puerto Rico," "De Pura Cepa" and "Prohibido Olvidar."

It's worth a visit.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Education Corner

Essay

A Vision in Education
By Manuel Hernández


Thanks to the National Democratic and Republic Conventions, the two major political candidates for the Presidential position outlined their proposals of a vision in education. The educational challenges experienced in the United States have usually been identified with the fluctuating political circumstances of the government of tenure. Whether it is one or the other the political party in power, the educational policies and strategies implemented take a 360-degree U-turn every four or eight years. These on-going and neverending changes have proven to be a disservice to our children who are the ones mostly affected by the everlasting transitional stages of those in power. That is why a specific, concise and definable vision in education must be established by the educational community (parents, students, teachers, counselors and administrators) with the input, feedback and support of the government but without the intrusion of sorts.
Research and statistics have supported the fact that a quality education is much more than a fixed set of norms, rules and regulations. A vision in education begins in the heart. It has to be written in the hearts of all those involved in the process. Once upon a time, there was a teacher who lived, loved and gave his life for his students. In a far and distant land, another teacher changed the course of a nation by defying violence with non-violence and peace. In the United States of America, a Southern Baptist preacher and teacher revolutionized the heartbeat of America with his struggle for liberty and justice for all. It is a profound sense of commitment that goes beyond petty social, political, cultural and religious differences and elevates objectives to stimulate critical and creative thinking. Prior knowledge and past experiences are stored in the heart. Love is the element that inspires them to come out. As a consequence, a healing stage flourishes and enables students to express themselves academically and become excellent pro-active participants in society.
Authority, grace, character, family, service, creativity and excellence are seven of the twelve values of the vision. Many of our students have fallen prey to adversity. The national high school school dropout rate, low national testing scores and teenage pregnancy are just three of the dilemmas that our children face today. A vision teaches them how to react and respond in times of testing, trials and tribulations. It is the development of character with identity and dignity. Finally, a vision recognizes that all students are a valuable resource, and it is up to educators to develop the potential that exists in them.
How do we define a vision in education? First, we must restore faith in ourselves. This is a process in itself. In many aspects, the American culture promotes negativism. From prime time gossip, to gibberish talk shows on the radio to the exploitation of young and beautiful women on television, our children have been fed with bad news, crime and rumors, but we can overcome these negatives by overwhelming ourselves with “positives”. Second, we must do it ourselves. John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what the government can do for you but what you can do for your country.” The vision is much more than institutional; it is individual. Third, we must impart it to others. Share by grace what by grace you have received. Make time to write, design, create and share; no strings attached. Last, deeply believe that you were called to carry out the vision. As you share it with others, its consequences will generate supernatural blessings for you and your loved ones.

(Manuel Hernandez is the author of Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom, Editorial Plaza Mayor, which is available for purchase. For more information, contact Hernandez.)

Hernandez contributes essays about education issues to Puerto Rico Sun. Hernandez may be reached at mannyh32@yahoo.com.
Poll question

What's your favorite place in Puerto Rico? Go to the Puerto Rico Sun Yahoo Group site and vote.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

2004 AmericArtes Festival - Espíritu De Puerto Rico


The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
presents the 2004 AmericArtes Festival
Espíritu De Puerto Rico


AmericArtes! is a multi-year Latin American festival weaving together the movement and the metaphor of the vibrant cultures of Latin America in a host of music, dance, theater, film, visual, and literary arts programs. Performances and events on the Center’s main stages, Millennium Stage, and in the Terrace Gallery showcase the eclectic mix of regional cultures in Latin America, reflecting the indigenous African, Spanish, and Portuguese influences that flavor the unique arts of the Americas.


In September, AmericArtes will highlight the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in Espíritu de Puerto Rico, featuring the best in Puerto Rican classical music with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra; popular singers such as Ednita Nazario, Olga Tañón, and Gilberto Santa Rosa; dance with performances by Andanza, theater; and literature. Literary highlights include En Voz Alta: A Performance by Nuyorican Poets and “Puerto Rico in the Female Imagination,” a discussion by scheherazades, a group of women novelists and poets. In addition, the Center will display installations by one of the most versatile artists in Puerto Rico, Antonio Martorell, and acclaimed visual artist Jaime Suárez.


The AmericArtes Festival is presented with the support of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, through funding from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and Rums of Puerto Rico. Additional support provided by Juan and Marianna Sabater, The Honorable and Mrs. Thomas F. McLarty, III, Delta, and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. International Programming at the Kennedy Center is supported by the
Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.



For more information on the supporters, visit www.gotopuertorico.com, www.rumcapital.com, and www.prfaa.com.

source: PRFAA website

Monday, August 09, 2004

Curtain to Rise on Manhattan's Only All Latin Movie Theatre - Clearview Cinemas Announces the Grand Opening of Cinema Latino

Cinema Latino To Open On Friday, August 27 with 'Vidas Privadas' (Private Lives) Starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Cecilia Ruth

NEW YORK, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/
-- Clearview Cinemas today announced that on Friday, August 27 its movie theatre at 62nd and Broadway will open as Cinema Latino -- the only all Latino movie house in Manhattan. The single-screen, 300-seat theatre will exclusively show first run Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese films with English subtitles imported from 20 different countries.


"Opening Cinema Latino as the first and only exclusive Latin film house in Manhattan clearly places Clearview Cinemas at the forefront in bringing these exceptional films to audiences here in Manhattan," Morten Gotterup, senior vice president and general manager of Clearview Cinemas, said. "In addition to appealing to the significant Latino community in the New York area -- that is over 2 million strong in Manhattan alone -- we believe this format will resonate with film lovers of all backgrounds looking for important new films by talented film makers that depict the diverse cultures, lives and stories from around the world."


Clearview Cinemas is working with Armando Guareno, founder and executive director of La CinemaFe Film Festival, to acquire films directly from studios around the world. Through this partnership Clearview Cinemas will be able to share exclusive high-end Latino films not available today at any other New York area theatre with Cinema Latino audiences.


"LaCinemaFe's mission is to promote a wider and deeper understanding of the roots, lives and diverse cultures of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities in Latin America, the United States, Spain and Portugal through our annual film festival and projects including our work with Clearview on Cinema Latino," Armando Guareno, founder and executive director of LaCinemaFe, said. "By creating a space in Manhattan to showcase these films we hope to strengthen the cultural and economic ties among these countries."


Starting Wednesday, August 11 through Sunday, August 23 the soon to be re-named Cinema Latino theatre will host the third annual LaCinemaFe Film Festival as the kick off event for opening the new all Latin film format on August 27. More information about this Film Festival and the opening of Cinema Latino can be found at http://www.clearviewcinemas.com/.


Ticket prices at the theatre remain $10.25 for adults and $6.75 for senior citizens and children under 12. For information on films and showtimes visit http://www.clearviewcinemas.com/, check local newspaper listings or call Cinema Latino at (212) 265-7466.


A subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation since 1998, Clearview Cinemas was formed in 1994 and currently operates 54 movie theatres with 266 screens in the New York metropolitan area, including the famous Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. Clearview Cinemas operates theatres in New Jersey, Manhattan, Westchester, Rockland County, Long Island and Pennsylvania.


Source: Clearview Cinemas

Commentary

Saving a Life Matters Even If It Is a Cat

By Clarisel Gonzalez
Puerto Rico Sun

SAN JUAN -- "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress may be judged according to the way its animals are treated."
That's a quote from Ghandi.
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico is simply not doing a good job at caring for its cats and dogs. That is obvious in the strays all over the San Juan metro area and everywhere on the island. The animal overpopulation is a serious problem, largely because people dump the responsibility on someone else, leaving cats and dogs to fend for themselves on the streets.
So, don't be surprised if you see a dead cat or dog on a corner as you walk on the street or drive around one on a highway as you head to your favorite tourist destination. Don't be surprised to see hungry dogs breaking garbage bags open in the middle of the day as you wait for a bus. Don't be surprised to see cats and dogs, dodging cars and buses as they try to cross busy streets. It's all part of the local attraction.
When I first arrived to the island four years ago from Massachusetts, I moved my two cats, Kris and Annie, with me. I had rescued Kris, a yellow cat I met meowing for food on a bitter cold Christmas night in the north Bronx. I drove him home with me to Springfield, MA, and a year later Annie, my Maine Coon, was given to me as a gift.
The pair was complete. Annie and Kris were sterilized. When I decided to move to the island, I brought my cats with me because they are part of my family. Even though several heartless people told me to "open the door and let them leave," I couldn't leave them behind, so I paid for their airfare and vet bills to move them. I couldn't abandon them because you don't do that to family.
What I didn't realize then was that I was going to inherit a cat problem here up close and personal. Today, I, with the help of my mother, care for five more cats. This is thanks to an irresponsible pet owner (a police officer) who adopted a female cat and then just dumped the cat to make more cats.
The pet owner was so irresponsible that she moved out the neighborhood and left her cat with kittens behind. It was not the pet owner's responsibility to make sure to get her cat a home or take her to a shelter. She just walked out.
Careless pet owners think it is OK to dump their cats and dogs on the streets because they are "animals" and survivors. The truth is that animals face many dangers on the streets, ranging from being hit by cars to heartless neighbors who poison and kill them.
Pinta, the name we gave the beautiful young Calico cat, was simply the victim of a careless pet owner. She became pregnant twice. One pregnancy after the other.
Pinta had a total of six cats. Thankfully, one of Pinta's kittens (from her second pregnancy) was adopted by a neighbor's friend.
I have since adopted or care for the other five cats, seeking loving homes for them. It isn't easy. It isn't cheap.
I also have a dog, a stray that showed up at my door on New Year's Day, running away from the sounds of fireworks and bullets.
It costs money to care for so many pets, but the joy they bring makes the sacrifices worthwhile.
Some of my friends joke, saying I am becoming a "cat lady." But I fell into this mission completely by the circumstances. Although I always wanted to adopt a boricua cat, I didn't expect to have so many.
I saw a cat who was abandoned and the things she went through: two pregnancies and an attack by a group of dogs that nearly killed her. Pinta proved to be a real fighter for her and her cats. She doesn't deserve to be killed on the streets and neither do her cats.
According to The Humane Society of Puerto Rico website, animal overpopulation is a serious problem with too many pets and not enough homes. The local shelter is receiving about 40 to 60 animals a day, and one of the most common excuses why people abandon or relinquish their pets is because they are moving, states the society's website.
While taking a cat or a dog to a shelter should be a last resort, it is preferred than dumping the cat or dog on the streets to fend for itself. Citizens are actually urged by the humane society not to abandon their pets on the streets because "this is extremely cruel and illegal."
But the truth is that shelters are overburdened with the amount of cats and dogs needing homes that outnumber the families looking to adopt them. Many of these animals are not adopted and are put to sleep.
The best way to save lives and cut down on the overpopulation problem is by helping to reduce the number of puppies and kittens actually born. The best way to do that is by neutering and spaying cats and dogs.
The good news is that I know there are people here trying to promote this message and helping to save lives.
Among them is my friend Gilda Padilla, a school teacher and an animal activist with her own "colony of cats and dogs."
Recently, Padilla was among four animal advocacy organizations who were profiled in the local Spanish newspaper "Primera Hora" for their work in rescuing and helping to find homes for cats and dogs.
Padilla, who is also studying to be a veterinarian assistant, runs "Rescate y Adopcion de Animales Realengos, Inc.," a nonprofit staffed by four volunteers who visit neighborhoods to help rescue, cure and sterilize as many stray animals as possible. The group's goal is to promote the adoption of cats and dogs. They do this work without any financial help.
Among the things they aim to do is help provide food and medical care for dogs and cats, especially cats in the San Juan metropolitan area.
But government sadly does little to support organizations like Padilla's and the three others profiled in the article.
According to the "Primera Hora" article published July 31 and written by Adela Davila Estelritz: "The good news is that in Puerto Rico there are many who defend animal rights; the bad news is that practically none of them receives government support.
"If it weren't for the volunteers, the donations...these nonprofit entities would not be able to sustain themselves," Davila wrote in the article titled "Entre angeles y verdugos" ("Between angels and tyrants").
No wonder locals treat animals the way they do! Government is not doing enough to help support people who are trying to save animals from being killed on the streets or euthanized at the shelter.
And, I know from personal experience that people like Padilla are making a real difference. Every little bit helps, as they say.
With Padilla's help, I am slowly but surely taking in the rest of my cats for sterilization. Padilla made contact with the folks at The Save a Sato Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for homeless and abused animals on the island, and then she made an appointment for Pinta at the vet. Thanks to the generosity of Save a Sato and Dr. Ernesto R. Casta, Pinta was sterilized in June at the Hospital Veterinario de San Juan.
Pinta's daughter Sol, who lost part of her ear and her tail in a car accident when she lived on the streets, is next on line to be spayed. My dog Brownie is also on line. While I have a coupon from Save a Sato to sterilize the two of them for free, I have to find a vet to do the job.
Meanwhile, my mother and I continue to care for the cats and dog as part of the family. But I am hoping to find homes for Pinta's cats, especially because I may have to relocate to New York City. And, I'd prefer not to take them to the shelter because there is no guarantee they will be adopted, especially my Sol, a pretty yellow and white cat who is playful, curious and feisty.
They all deserve to live with loving families. For now, I am blessed to have them home with me.


"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man," St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Updates to Puerto Rico Sun Store

New products and photos have been added to the Puerto Rico Sun Store. Check it out at www.cafepress.com/prsun.

Thanks.




Saturday, August 07, 2004

poetry

JUST A FEATHER

By FERNANDO A. ZAPATER

Once your feather had blown unto me
I wondered the beautiful happenings
Became restless and watched the sky
Overall our marvelous migrations above thy
The skies told me it was time to fly
As I set my eyes upon the cottoned clouds
The horizon appeared, and a goose flied
Throwing a feather upon earthly lives
As it floated towards ground under above
You smiled towards land and said to me
A feather, a feather, a feather as gift to you
Adonais my love, a gift from above
The feather, regarded, as the Indian in you
Saw the pureness in the lonesome gift
And its whiteness was bestowed upon me
Graciously to give my soul the needed lift
The Indian in you gave the poet in me
The most beautiful gift in a feather
For it will not matter day, night or weather
We shall find the universal truth together.
c 2004 Fernando A. Zapater

Fernando A. Zapater contributes his poetry to Puerto Rico Sun. Zapater is from Ponce and currently lives in Florida.

Thursday, August 05, 2004



The Reading Life

By Vivian Lake
Puerto Rico Sun Book Editor


The Noise of Infinite Longing by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa (Rayo, $24.95, 286 pp)



Moving between past and present, Torregrosa begins her recounting when she and her five siblings meet for the first time in 10 years in Texas, after the death of their mother.
As the siblings get reacquainted, old conflicts and resentments begin to reappear, old patterns emerge. Torregrosa, the oldest, casts her memory back to Puerto Rico where they were all born, where their parents met and married, where conflicts and the pain they caused originated. As the oldest, she wants to set down the family history and the story of their parents' turbulent marriage for her younger siblings, who have accused her of distancing herself from them. There are other reasons for this which become clear later.
At first glance, they seemed like the perfect family. Their mother was an attorney who had been a cheerleader, an equestrienne and stage actress, their father a chemical engineer and later a doctor. Both were charming, beautiful and ambitious, it seemed any children they had would be very lucky indeed.
Unfortunately, the marriage was a combination of academic and professional success on the outside, and alcohol, infidelity and abuse on the inside. Her mother, a privileged and intelligent young woman, always told her daughters that their father supported her in her career, but the truth was quite different. His resentment at her achievement played itself out in countless infidelities and alcohol-fueled cruelties, which were glossed over and almost obliterated by their mother's spin control.
The story is told with intimacy, anger and love. As the first and most constant witness of her parents' story, she gives her siblings a difficult but precious gift: the unadulterated truth. She is also trying to come to terms with her feelings for her brilliant but flawed parents. A mother whose talent and accomplishments made her a woman ahead of her time, but whose emotional enslavement to the wrong man made her a stereotypical deceived wife; a father whose intellectual brilliance coexisted with a careless cruelty he unleashed on those closest to him.
This is also a story of a particular time and place, upper middle class post-war Puerto Rico, with its club memberships, high teas and balls, private schools and dinner parties, maids and drivers, hats and white gloves. It is a loving glimpse inside a bygone era.
Torregrosa leaves Puerto Rico to attend boarding school in Pennsylvania, and determined never to go back, begins to forge her own way and deal with the passionate, tumultuous and painful years that formed her. She pursued a career in journalism and is currently an editor at The New York Times.
This is a very rare thing -- a painful story wrought with limitless love.

Vivian Lake, a New York City-based freelance journalist, writes book reviews on, about or by boricuas and Latinos for Puerto Rico Sun. She also runs her own blog at www.bookauthority.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

source: National Council of La Raza press release

Troubling Indicators Signal Need for Initiatives to Reduce Teenage Births and Youth Violence

San Juan -- Findings of an 18-month study on the status of children in Puerto Rico, released this week by the National Council of La Raza as part of its KIDS COUNT Puerto Rico Project, underscore the need for the island to reduce teenage births and curb violence against youth.
These findings are highlighted in a new report, 2004 KIDS COUNT Puerto Rico Data Book, which offers the first-ever and most comprehensive view to date of children in Puerto Rico and links their overall status to the island's future well-being.
"We can share both good and not-so-good news about children and youth in Puerto Rico. Indeed, the book's findings show that there are signs that key health trends are moving in the right direction," noted NCLR President Raul Yzaguirre.
Specifically, highlights of the study show that the percentage of low birth weight babies and the child mortality rate for children aged one to 14 years old have begun to decline since 1999. In particular, when compared with data for the 50 states, Puerto Rico has a child mortality rate similar to that of Maine, Maryland, and Oregon (21 per 100,000 children one to 14 years of age).
"We believe that public education efforts, programs that support children and families, and public policy that places children's issues high on the agenda will ensure that we will continue to see improvements in these areas," Yzaguirre said.
Yet, there are two specific sets of issues which are troubling for children and youth, he said.
First, while the trend since 1997 shows that the number of births to teenagers is declining, comparative data show that Puerto Rico has the highest birth rate to teenagers of all 50 states. In 2000, there were 49 births for every 1,000 15- to 17-year-old adolescent girls on the island, followed by Washington, DC and Mississippi, in which there were 48 and 44 births, respectively, for every 1,000 teenage girls in that age group. Culebra had the highest number of births to teenagers (123 per 1,000) followed by Barceloneta, with 103 per 1,000, while Camuy and Aguada were the municipalities with the lowest number of births to adolescents in this age group, 24 per 1,000 and 26 per 1,000, respectively.
"We know that children born to teenagers who are unprepared to care for them tend to face a range of health, education, and social problems. But we also know that programs like 'Proyecto Aurora in Camuy' can help provide educational and other opportunities to young people, to offer them guidance with their decisions and with their families," he said.
Second, one of the report's most alarming findings relates to youth deaths, particularly homicide, among adolescents. From 1990 to 2000, Puerto Rico lost 1,500 youth to homicide and 93% of these were male.
"These deaths represent not only a personal and tragic loss, but also a loss of talent and contributions by young people who were entering the prime of their lives, who should have been entering college and the workforce and preparing for new opportunities. We need collective efforts from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to reverse this trend and to protect children from violence," Yzaguirre said.
The analysis "which sets the groundwork for a series of data books on different issues facing children and youth on the island suggests that there is an immediate opportunity to begin to address some of these concerns.
"One of the best ways that lawmakers and others can demonstrate that children are a priority is to promote strategies that support accurate, reliable, and consistent data collection, in order to track progress, identify problems, and make timely and useful investments to strengthen the outlook for children in Puerto Rico," Yzaguirre suggested.
Availability of quality data from the Puerto Rico Department of Health facilitated the preparation of this data book and underscores how such data can be used to help Puerto Rico address pressing social and other concerns.
"Often children's issues don't get the attention they deserve, and this book demonstrates that part of the problem has to do with how well we can document what is happening. We also have an opportunity to showcase these issues and to raise their visibility, as political candidates shape elements of their policy agendas and discuss current social policy concerns," Yzaguirre concluded.
Click here to access the research report.
####
This research was funded, in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, through its support of NCLR's KIDS COUNT Puerto Rico Project, and by the UPS Foundation, through its support of the NCLR Scholar in Residence fellowship. We thank them for their support, but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this data book are those of the authors and NCLR alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these funding sources, KIDS COUNT-Puerto Rico Advisory Committee Members, or others who contributed to the data book's completion.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

our culture, our history

Interesting site to visit:

http://www.boricuazo.com/ (a site in Spanish)

It has interesting features including:
* a cool section called "Reto Borincano" which challenges your knowledge. Take the test -- let's see how good you do.
* a photo gallery called "Encantos del Paraiso" featuring different towns.
* historical information and interesting research on stuff you probably didn't know about boricuas.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Education Corner

Taking Latino Generations to a Supernatural Dimension

By Manuel Hernández

In a universal world where the “natural world” governs many of our educational outcomes, it is necessary that we Latino leaders take the present and up and coming generations to live within a supernatural dimension. For American Latinos to have a leadership role in the world of American politics, education, higher education, science, computers, cyber-space, high-tech and global enterprise, the American educational system must produce supernatural leaders who can become pro-active visionaries in all institutions in the United States. Although Latinos have gained ground in sports, fashion, music and entertainment, they continue to lag behind in education. Thus, a transition from the naturalto the supernatural dimension is essential. Only then will we obtain results and take the Latino generations into a supernatural dimension where academic results become part of our every day lives. In education,results are measured and exhibited in charts, diagrams, statistics and reports.
However, for too many Latinos, the American educational system isa hurdle to high for them to jump. The supernatural dimension demands that we go beyond statistics. The “natural world” depicts a reality, butit is up to all of us to awaken and believe in ourselves. Going beyond the natural may seem highly unlikely, but concrete and specific gains ineducation are the result of hard work, dedication, motivation and inspiration. When Jaime Escalante decided to go beyond traditional paradigms and prepare Latino teens in East Los Angeles for the Advanced Placement Exams, the system labeled him a fool. But when his redefining work transcended and obtained results, even the system became a believer,and the reality was overwhelmed by the supernatural.
The United States Census Bureau expects the number of Latinos to almost double from 35 million to 63 million by 2030. Latinos will make up 25 percent of the kindergarten–12th grade population by 2025. There is no doubt that Latinos are the fastest growing minority and represent a valuable and integral part of the United States. But Latinos are 13 percent of the population, and yet a mere 6 percent in higher education.In many states, Latinos have the highest dropout rate and the lowest test scores, and many are not prepared to enter institutions of higher learning. At the present, only 17 percent of Latino fourth-graders at the national level read at their grade level, and the percentage is even lower in mathematics. As a consequence, Latinos have become aware that the educational development of their community is intrinsically related to their struggles to achieve economic, social and political justice in the United States of America. But we Latinos must begin to cast away traditional ways of thinking and take our children to a different level where we govern ourselves by what we believe in not by what we see with the natural eye.
The assessment and causes are the same for Latinos across America.The strategies governors, mayors and school administrators are implementing are different, but the mirror of assessment does not reflect tangible, definite and transcending results. Why? The process ofimproving educational standards begins with Latino parents. Many Latinofamilies who lack the resources must be empowered to address their children’s needs. Latinos support public education, but they are seekingstrategies to improve the education of their children. For teens to make progress in higher education registration, it is imperative that they receive the educational opportunities that in the past have not been available to them. Why not take advantage of the so-called Latino vote momentum to sway the disussion towards education? Without education,the ever-growing population risks its voice in America.
Educational opportunities become available when we begin actingupon our faith. When we let trifles govern our mindsets, children suffer the consequences. Instead of an on-going and endless futile debate on who is responsible, what language should we speak or what party represents the voice of our communities, let us build and construct upon our values and strengths. The walls of Jericho seemed invincible, but an unpractical but supernatural strategy brought down what naturally seemed impossible.
Declaring the supernatural will take us not only to believe but also to do and act on behalf of our children. It is not the work of one,but one will need to reconstruct and redesign a strategy that will makethe difference and enhance educational standards for Latino children and other Americans as well. Only in the supernatural will the present educational assessment displayed in charts and statistics become part ofthe past. The transition from one level to the next is a process in itself. After anguish, pain and sorrow are buried, a whole new dimensionwhere the supernatural reigns and a new educational horizon surfaces are the outcomes of the sacrifice and efforts of all.

(Manuel Hernandez is the author of Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom, Editorial Plaza Mayor, which is available for purchase. For more information, contact Hernandez.)

Hernandez contributes essays about education issues to Puerto Rico Sun. Hernandez may be reached at mannyh32@yahoo.com.
pr politics

Want to know more about the three major political parties in Puerto Rico? Want to know more about the candidates running for governor? Take a look at the following sites:

The pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party (gubernatorial candidate is Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila): www.ppdpr.net (site features surveys and questions, videoclips, news and party information)

The pro-statehood New Progressive Party (gubernatorial candidate is former Gov. Pedro Rossello): www.rossello.com (site features a mailbox to write to Rossello, a virtual chat, photo gallery and information.)

The Puerto Rican Independence Party (gubernatorial candidate is the PIP's Ruben Berrios Martinez): www.independencia.net (site features news and columns, party information and photos. Information is available in English and Spanish at this site.

Worth visiting all the sites. The elections in Puerto Rico are in November.