Archive for February, 2012

Vega- 430

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

If Boricuas could leave for other lands, other Latin American countries, for example, they would surely not come to the North. Willingly, they would emigrate to our fellow countries on the continent, but since this seems impossible, they leave their hell of hunger and misery in order to arrive to this other hell of mistreatment and dispair. This is what colonialism has made of us.

 

In this passage Vega sums up the effects of colonialism on Latinos. Because of the influence of Spain over Latin America a camaraderie between the nations that were colonized developed, this is what evolved into what is the modern day definition of a Latino. This passage suggests that the fate of a Latino person in their home country is so grim that the only option is to risk going directly into a world where they again are second class citizens in pursuit of a better future. It also appears that the conditions of poverty and sentiment of lack of opportunity are rampant in all Latino nations because if the case was different an alternative pattern of immigration would have emerged. This overlying feeling of discontent with the quality of life in Latin America is a direct result of the decimation that occurred because of colonialism.

Vega- P439

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

One day I woke up with that jibaro spirit boiling in my blood. When we got there, the agency was full of innocent new victims. I went straight up to the man in charge and raised holy hell. I yelled at him-partly in English but mostly in Spanish- and demanded my money back immediately. A few spaniards heard the noise and joined me in a loud chorus, demanding the return of their money too. Two employees of the agency grabbed me by the arms and tried to throw me down the stairs. But the Spaniards jumped to my defense.

It is interesting how in this passage there is a group of people referred to as the Spaniards. Are these people “Latino” or is the distinction that they are Spaniards something that should be taken into account when viewing a Puerto Rican juxtaposed upon the identity of Latino. It appears that even though Spaniards are encountered here they are not Latino because of the obvious marker that Vega focuses on here. He makes an effort to show us that the Latino identity is related to the Spanish language but there are still differences between what he calls a “Spaniard” and a “Puerto Rican”. This passage is important because it is similar to the one where sephardic Jews are categorized in their own group because of the distinct communities Vega experiences with them. Though some of them speak the same language it seems that they do not share the Latino identity in the same way that Vega does.

Vega- P439

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Despite all my efforts, after more than a month in New York I was still unemployed. If I didn’t find something soon  I knew I’d be in serious straits.  How much longer could I stretch the little money I had? The bills I had sewn into the lining of my jacket were of course sacred, so I had decided to resort to an employment agency to “buy” a job. Yes, sure, I had already been warned of all the traps set to catch the innocent. I knew how mercilessly they would swindle foreigners by “selling” them imaginary jobs. But I had to turn somewhere, and even the slightest hope was better than none.

 

This passage represents a turning point where he knowingly acknowledges his desperation here in the United States. Unemployed, he goes searching in a marked where many before him have been swindled in order to maintain his sanity by falsifying his own hopes. His emergency fund for his return home is still with him but he has enough faith that there is still hope for him because he has not yet resorted to returning home as a failure. It is peculiar that he pays a party that he knows will probably take advantage of him just so he can have the satisfaction of knowing he has not given up.

Vega-P433

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

All of us new arrivals were well dressed. I mean we had on our Sunday best. I myself was wearing a navy blue woolen suit ( or flus, as they would say back home), a borsalino hat made of Italian straw, black shoes with pointy toes, a white vest, and a red tie. I would have been sporting a shiny new wristwatch too, if a traveling companion hadn’t warned me that in New York it was considered effeminate to wear things like that. So as soon as the city was in sight, and the boat was entering the harbor, I tossed my watch into the sea…And to think that it wasn’t long before those wristwatches came into fashion and ended up being the rage!

Bernal’s description of the Puerto Ricans arriving in New York as being dressed in their ” Sunday best” suggests that these people took pride in themselves even when they didn’t know what future they had ahead of them in America. He is described as being dressed in a suit, special shoes and a hat, a pretty extravagant way to dress oneself upon surviving the arduous length of the trip. Perhaps the attire was a way to feign confidence in order to emulate a sense of control in a situation of unknowns. It is evidenced by his actions that his goal is to do whatever it takes to make it in America when he gives into the peer pressure of one of his co-passangers and takes his advice to get rid of his “effeminate” wrist watch. Also the idea that one would give up their watch because they are a man who would not like to be effeminate suggests the presence of the concept of machismo and what repercussions any signs of weakness a man may emulate may have on his success especially in a new country.

Jose Marti- P284

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

In America the natural man has triumphed over the imported book. Natural men have triumphed over the imported book. Natural men have triumphed over an artificial intelligentsia. The native mestizo has triumphed over the alien, pure-blooded criollo. The battle is not between civilization and barbarity, but between false erudition and nature. The natural man is good and esteems and rewards a superior intelligence as long as that intelligence  does not use his submission against him or offend him by ignoring him- for that natural man deems unforgivable, and he is prepared to use force to regain the respect of anyone who wounds his sensibilities or harms his interests.

 

Marti is suggesting that though Spain may have colonized the Americas and left its mark by pillaging the existing civilizations and raping the local people the product of this is a new natural people that because of emerging from such horror has more potential than the creole people. He suggests that they have “triumphed over the imported book” which can be seen as a triumph over the barbarity by which the bible and Christianity was forced upon them. The creoles were always alien to the Americas but now as the mestizaje emerge in the Americas class struggles become more obvious and the conflict between creoles and natives intensifies. The Creoles who believe they are entitled to superiority over the native people will no longer be tolerated by the “Natural men”. These self proclaimed “natural men” seem to be preparing to empower themselves in a way that his struggle going forward will combat any actions of the creoles that jeapordize his existence as a person who has enough capacity to rule himself.

Jose Marti- P268

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Nothing in the history of mankind has ever equalled the marvelous prosperity of the United States. Time will tell whether deep roots are lacking here; whether the ties of sacrifice and common sorrow that bind some people together are stronger than those of common interests; whether this colossal nation carries in its entrails ferocious, tremendous elements; whether  a lack of that femininity which is the origin of the artistic sense and the complement of nationality hardens and corrupts the heart of this wonderful country.

This passage starts out by praising the power and established economic credibility that people of the time have in the United States. It goes on to criticize the flaws and potential weaknesses that may ultimately be the downfall of the nation. Marti suggests that the nation being young and not having a rich history as other nations did may be prone to a disintegration of the nation. He suggest that the nation has ferocious elements suggesting crosscutting cleavages amongst the people who inhabit the nation. These divides separate the individuals on the lines of  what could cause tremendous despair. It is ironic that he suggests that the country lacks femininity because history can attest to the treatment of women as second class citizens for many years. It seems as if Marti’s outlook for the country is bleak because he ends the passage with the idea that the heart of the nation is corrupted.

Bernardo Vega- P436

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

At the end of our visit to this neighborhood, Ambrosio and I stopped off for dinner at a restaurant called La Luz. We were attracted by the Spanish name though the owner was actually a Sephardic Jew. The food was not prepared in the style that was familiar to us, but we did notice that the sauces were of Spanish origin. The customers who frequented the place spoke Castilian Spanish. Their heated discussions centered on the war raging in Europe.

It is interesting how two Puerto Ricans are enticed to go into a restaurant because of its Spanish sounding name. This further supports the idea of Latino as an identity because by sharing the commonality of language they were able to find comfort in a space that culturally was quite different from what they were familiar with. Luz which translates to the english word light may have been read as an inspirational name for two men desperate for work in a foreign city. The differentiation between the way that the food was served even though the sauces were of Spanish origin solidify the cultural diffusion and the remnants of Spanish imperialism. The passage then transitions into the distinction of the language of the people in the restaurant. Spain’s influence is so heavy upon these Puerto Rican men that they are able to distinguish the language of the restaurant goers as Castillian. The passage then transitions into the modern forms of imperialism and current world conflict when the topic of conversation in the restaurant is said to be that of the war in europe.

Latino Heritage & Horizons

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipZIK4NxyvU

 

Here is an interesting video that aims to define what the term “Latino” means based on the history of Spanish colonization. It then goes into the current statistics of the Latino population today. To me the video seems very topical and doesn’t really go into real depth about the problems that Latino’s face on a daily basis as  a part of the remnants of colonialism. It has a positive outlook about how Latinos are a growing politcal force but doesn’t explain anything about how the unity that the Latino identity provides is the catalyst for this growing force.

Spanish American War Song

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

 

The significance of this song is that the Spanish American war is a turning point in imperialism from one imperial power to another. Latino’s had no choice to be colonized by the Spanish because they were in a situation where they did not have the means to fight back against an enemy who came to fight them with guns. Not to mention that the Spaniards brought diseases that were unknown to the people native of the Americas. Under the facade of Christianizing tribal peoples the Spanish were able to justify brutality that is contradictory to the main belief’s of Christianity itself. Ironically it seems like cyclic oppression occurs when the United States emerges as a world power and aims to take what it can harvest off an already colonialized oppressed people.