Saturday, August 29, 2009

Featured event: La Fiesta Folklorica PR

This Puerto Rican festival is tomorrow at Central Park in Manhattan. It is the 43rd anniversary. Support our cultural events. They matter. Free admission.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Save El Maestro

In the mailbox:





TEL.: (646) 337-6775




To: All our Friends, Family and Comrades

From: Ponce Laspina

We are reaching to you to request your support in helping an important institution stay alive: El Maestro, Inc. is a 501-C 3 non profit organization founded in 2003 whose mission is to improve the quality of life of the people in the community through social activities such as; sports, cultural and educational programs.
At this time we do not have or receive any funding. We are reaching out to you to request your assistance in order to continue providing these services to the youth in our community.
El Maestro, Inc.  is a sports, cultural and educational oasis in the heart of the South Bronx named in honor Puerto Rican Patriot, Don Pedro Albizu Campos "El Maestro", where all aspects of Puerto Rican culture, history and identity are nurtured, developed and made available to the community of New York City. We focus on grassroots community activism as a means of strengthening our community.


These are the programs we offer:




















Friday, August 21, 2009

Efrain's Corner: Exclusive Interview with Writer, Producer and Director, Vagabond Beaumont on his Film 'Machetero'

Efrain's Corner: Exclusive Interview with Writer, Producer and Director, Vagabond Beaumont on his Film 'Machetero'

Check out this interview by Efrain Ortiz Jr.

Q&A with activist Vicente "Panama" Alba

The organization “For a Better Bronx,” a community-based organization in the South Bronx, which fights to achieve environmental, social and food justice through education, community organizing, and empowerment held a special event earlier this year at St. Luke’s Church in the Bronx. That day, long-time activist Vicente “Panama” Alba was honored for many years of service to the organization and his commitment to people. Vicente has done it all in his many years of activism, including being a member of the influential Young Lords Party, which this weekend celebrates its 40th anniversary, and being a member of the underground group the F.A.L.N. (Fuerzas Armadas Liberacion Nationalista). He has fought against police brutality and against the war. He is an environmentalist. He was also active in the movement to get the Navy out of the Puerto Rican town of Vieques.
With the anniversary and reunion of the Young Lords, Alba reflects on his time with the organization and says it continues to shape his work as an activist.
Q: Let’s talk about the Young Lords. It’s been close to 40 years since they to
ok over the church at 111th Street and Lexington Avenue. Why are the Young Lords still in the minds of people to this day?
A: As far as the history of my involvement, I am a proud former member of the Young Lords Party. That experience has paved the road I’ve been walking since.
Q: Should there be a memorial in this (NY) city despite their birth in Chicago, Illinois?
A: As far as should there be a memorial for the Young Lords, it needs to be clear that the great maj
ority of us never thought that we were making history. That was not our motivation. We just loved our people, hated what we were being subjected to, and dreamed of a better world. Those are the things that drive me to do what I do to this day. We, without realizing it, did make history. All the credit is deserved by Cha Cha, Sal, Omar, and the women who turned a gang into a revolutionary force and inspired young people in NY and then other parts of the country to join. I have to say, though, I believe that if the YLO had not happened in Chicago and moved people here, something else after that would have been born here because the reality we demanded it. As far as a memorial, that is not for me to say.
Q: Richie Perez was in the Lords with you. Can you tell us a little about him? He once stated t
hat being in the movement keeps you young and strong.
A: As for as Richie Perez, the fact that from amongst all the people who lived for our people, you ask me about him speaks for itself. I first met Richie as one of the fellows when I was a teenager. He was soon after a teacher at Monroe High School where I was registered, but never went. Richie along with Cleo Silvers were the two most influential people at that time in my life. They knew me as an out-of-control rebel and guided me to the path I’ve been on since I joined the YLP. Until his death, he was my brother, my friend, companero de lucha, and is today one on whose spirit I call on. Richie was one of the most caring and committed people I’ve been honored to have in my life. Probably the most brilliant person I have ever come across. He never asked others to do something he would not do himself.
The Young Lords celebrate its 40th anniversary and reunion Sunday with an event at the First Spanish Methodist Church aka "The People's Church" in East Harlem. -- Ismael Nunez

Ismael Nunez is a contributing writer to Puerto Rico Sun.

(photo by Ismael Nunez of Vicente "Panama" Alba, center, with his children at the Better Bronx event)
(Young Lords flier; click on image for larger text)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PRSUN Radio chats with the folks behind Coqui Mexicano

Coqui Mexicano is a new bodega/cafe on Brook Avenue in the South Bronx. It is also a cultural spot, featuring art and books.

It is named Coqui Mexicano representing the mix of the owners, Danisha (el Coqui) and Alfredo (el mexicano from Acalpulco). The shop features Puerto Rican and Mexican food. 
PRSUN Radio talks to the entrepreneurs at 9 p.m. tomorrow
To learn more, go to my blog at

(photo courtesy of Coqui Mexicano)

Support this Latino-owned community-minded business in the Bronx.

Update: To listen to the archived version of the show, click on the PRSUN Radio widget box in this blog or go directly to BTR. Thanks.

NCPRR NYC to meet August 27

Community calendar

Chapter meeting

6:30 p.m., Thursday, August 27

CSS BUILDING, 105 East 22nd Street, 4th Floor conference Room 4A, Manhattan

For more information on the NCPRR, go to

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Q&A with Whose Barrio's Ed Morales

Ed Morales and Laura Rivera are both journalists who were inspired to do the “Whose Barrio?" documentary, which focuses on the gentrification or the selling of NYC’s Spanish Harlem, El Barrio.
East Harlem is one of the hardest hit Latino strongholds in the city impacted. Many Latinos have fallen victim to raising rents, new buildings not suitable for the working class, and small businesses forced to close or relocate. In this documentary, you will hear from activists, artists, elected officials, and groups who are combating this sensitive issue and get a picture of the rapidly changing barrio.
Q: Why East Harlem? What was it about the community that got you into doing the movie?
A: First of all, my parents came to New York from Puerto Rico and they met while living in East Harlem. I have had several relatives who have lived there, and I still have an aunt who lives there. In 2002, I wrote a story for the New York Times about gentrification of East Harlem because I’d heard from some friends who were living there and were upset about it. I also consulted with Arlene Dávila, who was in the process of writing a book about gentrification of East Harlem. The story interested me because I had lived through gentrification of the East Village (Loisaida) in the ‘80s and ‘90s and I was frankly surprised that the same thing could happen in El Barrio. In 2007, while a Revson Fellow at Columbia University, I took a course on making a documentary and I asked Laura Rivera, who was writing a Master’s thesis on gentrification in El Barrio to be a co-director and co-producer.
Q: This documentary is it mainly about gentrification or the daily lives of people dealing with this issue?
A: The story focuses on a few different situations. One is the contrast between Jose Rivera, a long-time resident of El Barrio who feels like gentrification will price him out, and James Garcia, who is relatively new to New York and moved to the neighborhood from Battery Park City because he felt like it offered “more space for less dollar.” The film also focuses on Movement for Justice in El Barrio, Hope Community, and the debate over the East 125th Street development project, which was approved in October 2008.
Q: I noticed in the earlier previews of the film hardly didn’t get a chance to interview some of the white tenants coming into the community/buying property. Did you want to interview them or did they refuse?
A: We interviewed one white tenant briefly on camera. We felt we wanted to avoid an emphasis on race, so we focused on James Garcia to represent the point of view of the “gentrifier.” In this way, we could show that gentrification is first and foremost a class issue, even though race is clearly involved.
Q: While doing the film, did you get a chance to interview business owners and tenants about what is going on?
A: We did interview several tenants but not as many business owners. We tried to focus on dramatic situations to make the film a little more exciting. Not everyone that we interviewed wound up getting into the movie.
Q: What was the whole budget for the film?
A: We did almost all the work on the film ourselves, except for some camerawork and some sound editing, for which we brought in some outside people. Taking into account our labor and the equipment we bought, as well as tape stock, I would estimate that the budget of the film was about $35,000.
Q: Were you able to several well-known people born/raised in the area?
A: People who appear in the film include Aurora Flores and Dylcia Pagán, who grew up in El Barrio, Mariposa and Vagabond, who are artists that have done a lot of work in the neighborhood over the years, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Councilwoman who represents El Barrio. U.S. Representative José Serrano and Taller Boricua co-founder Fernando Salicrup make brief appearances. Several of James De La Vega’s murals appear.
Q: Some people who are moving in are calling the area SP-HA and many longtime residents are not happy about that. What’s do you think about this?
A: I agree that it’s an irritating name. I resented when real estate developers called Loisaida “Alphabet City” in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Names like that are created to erase the memory of communities that already existed and don’t fit into the cool, exclusive gentrified area developers want to create. It’s dismaying that so many elite types move into a neighborhood like El Barrio and say when they moved in there was “nothing” there, ignoring the thousands around them who have created a living, vibrant community that has survived years of marginalization and poverty.
"Whose Barrio?" made its World Premiere at the New York International Latino Film Festival earlier this summer. The documentary has also been screened at several colleges and other institutions.
"Whose Barrio?" is currently available for screening at universities, community organizations, and cultural institutions. The co-directors are also available for speaking engagements related to the film or on other subjects for a fee.
For more information on institutional copies for sale to any universities and other institutions, e-mail whosebarrio (at) to inquire.
“Whose Barrio” is planned for a screening at the East Harlem Café this September, but the date hasn't been confirmed. The documentary is also entered at various film festivals around the country.
To view the trailer for "Whose Barrio?," go to:
-- Ismael Nunez

Ismael Nunez is a contributing writer to Puerto Rico Sun.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy birthday to Sol

Sol, the mascot of Puerto Rico Sun Communications and the face of the PRSUN for the ASPCA campaign, turns 6. She is my beautiful feisty boricua cat. She is a rescue from the island.
To celebrate, support the PRSUN for the ASPCA campaign.
Go to

(photo by Clarisel Gonzalez of Sol's birthday 2008)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Senator reacts to city's plans to create commercial kitchen space at La Marqueta

Here are a few photos I shot inside La Marqueta during a visit earlier this summer with the NYC Collective of the Puerto Rican Photographic Society:

I recently went to La Marqueta and hope not to return until there is new life there. It is a depressing place to visit and something must be done and very soon to revitalize La Marqueta in NYC's El Barrio, which at one time was a happening place. The place feels like a ghost town. It is sadly not worth visiting.
On the day I went, there was an outdoor festival at La Marqueta, but the community festivals don't change the fact that La Marqueta is an empty place on most days of the week. It's really sad. There are a few and I mean a few vendors still there. One said he is counting the days for his lease to be up to go out of business for good.
The city now wants to create a commercial kitchen space at La Marqueta, but whatever happens there should include the needs of community residents, and it should live up to its name "La Marqueta." The place is significant in the story of Puerto Ricans in New York City and that can't be forgotten. But whatever it is, it should be done and soon. 

Here's a press release from Senator Jose M. Serrano on the latest on the plan for La Marqueta:

Senator José M. Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) today weighed in on the city's plan to create commercial kitchen space in La Marqueta, calling it a visionary idea but one that must be implemented with utmost consideration for the needs of local residents.   "Kitchen incubation can help return La Marqueta to its former glory, and at the same time create jobs and spur grassroots development," said Serrano. "You just need the right ingredients."   The city-owned space is located along Park Avenue, from East 111th to East 119th Streets, below the Metro North railroad tracks. A bustling market, created by Mayor LaGuardia in the 1930s, it now houses just a handful of food sellers.
"Any new development at La Marqueta must address the lack of healthy and affordable food in East Harlem," said Serrano, who last year mapped out the closure of supermarkets throughout the neighborhood, and has come out in support of city and state measures to stem the tide.   "Everyone loves baked goods and pastries, but we'll also need to incubate kitchens that create high-nutrition meals with fish, non-fatty meats, and fresh fruit and vegetables."   He added that healthy food and ethnic food are not mutually exclusive. "Take a look at the Manhattan Borough President Stringer's Go Green East Harlem Cookbook for some extraordinary examples of Latino and African-American dishes that are easy on the arteries."   "But healthy food means nothing if you cannot afford it," said Serrano, who noted that 30,000 East Harlem residents use food stamps. "The green markets, and even the big box stores, are accepting food stamps. Let's make sure the city's own incubator program follows suit."   Serrano said he believes the La Marqueta site can help foster immigrant-owned businesses. "Some of the best food in the city is being made by immigrants who cannot get a retail store, or even a permit to sell on the street."   He pointed to a 2007 report, "A World of Opportunity," by the Center for an Urban Future that highlighted the high costs of real estate and insurance as barriers to success for immigrant entrepreneurs in the food industry. The report noted that "immigrant-owned firms are more likely to operate with razor-thin profit margins and less apt to set up accounting and management systems to help them deal with these costs."   Serrano said he was encouraged by the potential for business services and consultation as part of the La Marqueta program.   "But these firms are not going to succeed if they never get in the door. I would like to see a comprehensive outreach plan from the city for connecting the new space with underserved and sometimes disengaged populations in our community," he said.   "Finally, we must envision the Park Avenue corridor as a whole. Much of the area under the viaduct is currently devoted to storage or parking. I believe it could be put to more effective use. Residents already utilize the open space for passive recreational activities such as playing dominoes. Why not redesign this to accommodate local needs by installing permanent domino tables, and making improvements to the lighting and landscape?"   He concluded: "If the viaduct has always been a barrier that divided East and Central Harlem, it can certainly become a dynamic bridge between these two communities in the future."   


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Puerto Rican crime film as protest


This year PRdream’s Summer Film Fest in East Harlem kicks off tonight with La Venganza de Correa Cotto.

PRdream presents two Puerto Rican crime films La Venganza de Correa Cotto, directed by Jeronimo Mitchel; and La Palomilla (tomorrow night), directed by Efrain Lopez Neris, as an exploration of crime as a form of protest. Classics in their own right, they were produced in Puerto Rico in the seventies and reflected an earlier period of transformation and transvaluation of island society brought on by U.S. investment policies known as Operation Bootstrap.

These films portray the law as an external imposition, foreign to the values of the common folk, and the outlaw as the unconscious expression of revolt. Both Correa Cotto and Jose Anibal Gerena Lafontaine (La Palomilla) were simple men, thrust by circumstances into extraordinary acts of transgression that challenged the colonial status quo. Correa and Gerena were men of their times, embodying the passions of a people experiencing the trauma of rapid urbanization and displacement. Anthony Felton who also produced Correa Cotto: Asi Me Llaman will be present for a Q&A after the film. Jaime Sanchez. A leading actor in both Puerto Rican and American cinema, who stars in La Palomilla will be present after that screening. Ritchie Velez, an actor who appears as a cell mate in La Palomilla will also be present. Some graphic scenes.

PRdream's summer films are in the 103rd Street Community Garden (103rd Street and Park Avenue). Free admission.

For the rest of the lineup for this year's outdoor film festival, go to For more information,  Judith Escalona at 212.828.0401 or judith.escalona (at)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Puerto Rican Obituary and the Meaning of Sotomayor's Accomplishment

by Angelo Falcón
Whenever there is a momentous occasion in the Puerto Rican community, like the swearing-in (Saturday) of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I always try to get some perspective by revisiting the late Pedro Pietri's epic verse, Puerto Rican Obituary. While some have commented on the historic vote confirming Judge Sotomayor this past week being on the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the also historic federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), I also like to acknowledge that this is the 40th anniversary of Pedro's first reading of Puerto Rican Obituary in El Barrio.

Puerto Rican Obituary reminds us how far we have come as a people, and how far we have yet to go. It is also a reminder of how the Puerto Rican experience, although not technically one of immigrants, parallels many of the realities that Latino and other immigrants face today.

We have acknowledged and celebrated our collective accomplishment with a Justice Sotomayor in the Supreme Court as Latinos. Now the work continues in the fight for social justice for our people and all humanity. As
Puerto Rican Obituary shows us as a historical baseline, we have made some real progress, but much still needs to be done. Keep a copy with you and refer to it next time something amazing happens.

Un abrazo.

Angelo Falcón is president of the National Institute for Latino Policy. This article was originally published in the Institute's e-newsletter.

Note: See the related blog entry below and listen to Pietri recite the Puerto Rican Obituary.

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"Puerto Rican Obituary," by Pedro Pietri (1973)

source: peaceonearthforu/YouTube

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice

Coverage of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as she is officially sworn is as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by Chief Justice John Roberts in Washington, D.C. Her mother and brother are with her. Felicidades to this boricua who hails from the Bronx.

source: PoliticsNewsPolitics, YouTube

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Salsa in the Park at Crotona

Community calendar

Salsa in the Park
Crotona Park, Claremont Avenue and Crotona Park East
noon to 6 p.m., August 8
This is an event of the Bronx Puerto Rican Parade.
For more information,

(photo of a little girl participating in the Bronx Puerto Rican Parade earlier this year by Clarisel Gonzalez)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Manny Hernandez Jr. chats with PRSUN Radio

Manuel Hernandez Jr., writer and educator, is my guest Wednesday on PRSUN Radio at Hernandez has presented workshops, coordinated symposiums, conducted television interviews and moderated panels on the literature written by United States based Latino writers in Puerto Rico, the United States and Mexico. He also writes commentary essays on education for several websites and newspapers in Puerto Rico and The United States. He published a textbook titled, Latino/a Literature in The English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003). The book was nominated for Latino Book of The Year 2004. He also published a semi-auto-bio titled, The Birth of a Rican. The self-published narrative is in the index catalogs at Latino Studies at  Michigan State University and El Centro at Hunter College, CUNY, NY. His vision is to promote Latino Literature to motivate teens to read and write. Having an encounter with Latino Literature will help teens (especially Latino teens) to improve their scores on city, national and statewide exams and will prepare them for further literary analysis. He is currently in professional staff development in the English department at the DE in Puerto Rico. 
Manny will speak on English teaching in Puerto Rico, his writings and more.
(photo courtesy of Manuel Hernandez Jr.)
UPDATE: To listen to my interview with Manny, go to the PRSUN Radio widget box right here in this blog or go directly to

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bronx News Network: Protest Over Controversial Art Piece Fizzles

Bronx News Network: Protest Over Controversial Art Piece Fizzles

While the so-called protest fizzles, the Bronx News Network wants to know what are your thoughts in the use of the word "Spic" in art. Check out this entry.