Three Month Extension of Current Puerto Rico Birth Certificates Enacted to Provide Transition to New, More Secure Documents

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Government of Puerto Rico has approved an amendment that extends the validity of current Puerto Rico birth certificates for three months, through Sept. 30, 2010, to provide a transition period as the Island gears up to begin issuing new, more secure certificates starting July 1, 2010, announced Nicole Guillemard, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA).

The purpose of the extension is to provide those Puerto Rico-born -- who may need a birth certificate for an upcoming transaction -- a three-month window to apply for and receive the new document during which time their current birth certificate will still be valid, Guillemard explained.

"Puerto Rico is issuing new birth certificates starting July 1 to combat fraud and protect the identity and credit of all people born on the Island. Our goal with the three-month extension is to provide a smooth transition, especially to assist Puerto Ricans born in the Island who currently reside stateside, as they apply for the new, more secure birth certificates," Guillemard said.

Guillemard said PRFAA has been working with federal, state and community partners to provide information about Puerto Rico's birth certificate law.

The Government of Puerto Rico has taken a number of steps to be ready for those applying for the new certificates, she said. Earlier this year, PRFAA launched an information outreach campaign aimed at states with large Puerto Rican populations. In May, the Government launched an on-line application process through the E-Government website - www.pr.gov - to provide convenience and ease-of-use for those applying for the new certificate.

In addition, Puerto Rico's Demographic Registry recently hired 47 temporary workers to join the agency's personnel to work on new birth certificate applications, and the agency is extending work week hours, and adding Saturday hours, to speed processing of applications.

Last year, Puerto Rico enacted the new law which calls for issuing new, security-enhanced certificates beginning July 1, 2010 to address the unlawful use of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates to commit identity theft and fraud.

The law was based on collaborations with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and addresses a concern specific to Puerto Rico, where in the past, many common official and unofficial transactions unnecessarily required the submission, retention, and storage of birth certificates.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of original birth certificates were stored without adequate protection, making them easy targets for theft. This left Puerto Rico-born citizens vulnerable to identity theft, ruined credit, stolen Social Security benefits, and increased "random" security checks at airports, among others. In addition to issuing new birth certificates, the new law expressly prohibits any public or private entity in Puerto Rico from retaining an original birth certificate to end this practice.

Guillemard underscored that only those who need a birth certificate for a transaction or official purpose need apply right away. Those who want to obtain a copy for their records can do so at a later date to avoid an unnecessary rush of applications.

Instructions on how to apply, as well as information on Puerto Rico's birth certificate law, can be found at: www.prfaa.com/birthcertificates/ and www.prfaa.com/certificadosdenacimiento/.

The new birth certificates will be issued through the Puerto Rico Health Department's Vital Statistics office.

Source: Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA)


15% of Dominicans have Taíno DNA

A monument to the Taino Kasike (Chieftain) Guarokuia or Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic. Guarokuia led a successful rebellion against the Spanish forces resulting in the first treaty between Indigenous Peoples and colonizers in the western hemisphere.

Santo Domingo (UCTP Taíno News) –
A recently concluded DNA study indicates that 15% of Dominicans have indigenous Taíno genes not found anywhere else. The research which began in 2006 also determined that another 15% conserve Euro-Asian genetic characteristics, whereas 70% of the population of the Dominican Republic has mitochondrial DNA of African origin.

The research team leader Dr. Juan Carlos Martinez-Cruzado noted that “The study demonstrates that indigenous mitochondrial DNA exists in Dominican society today, that DNA is unique.” Martinez-Cruzado is the head of the Biology Department of Puerto Rico University in Mayaguez and he is well-known for conducting similar studies in Borikén (Puerto Rico).

Puerto Ricans show an approximate 61% contribution of Taíno mitochondrial DNA. Comparisons between the two countries however must take into consideration the difference in population sizes.

Jorge Estevez
, a Taíno from Kiskeia (Dominican Republic) considers the study impressive considering that “we are not supposed to have any Native descent.” Estevez is on staff at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

The study is entitled “Continental origins of the first populations of the Caribbean islands and the migratory movements which formed them. DNA in Dominican Republic.”

UCTPTN 06.24.2010


Landmark Four-Volume Encyclopedia of Latin America Released

UCTP Taino News – Facts On File/Infobase Publishing has released a new four-volume Encyclopedia of Latin America, which covers the history and culture of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean from early settlements to the present day. Each volume focuses on a specific time period in the region’s development.

The first volume entitled “Amerindians through Foreign Colonization” explores pre-colonial history through the achievements of the Incas in the 16th century. Enthusiasts of Caribbean history in particular should find the entries “The Caribbean before 1492” and “Puerto Rico to 1560” by Roberto Borrero authoritative, yet accessible.

Other volumes explore themes of colonization and independence movements until the 1820s, Latin America’s ‘search for its own identity’ from the middle of the 19th century to the start of the 20th, and Latin America from the 20th century through the present day. A collection of primary source documents at the end of each volume gives a firsthand account of the major developments of the era. A glossary, bibliography, and index in each volume, a cumulative index in Volume IV, and 250 black-and-white images and maps round out this very attractive and reliable resource on Latin America.

Available on Amazon.com and other sources, the general editor of the Encyclopedia of Latin America is Thomas M. Leonard, Ph.D, and volume editors include J. Michael Francis, Ph.D., Mark A. Burkholder, Ph.D., and Monica A. Rankin, Ph.D.

UCTPTN 06.23.2010


Puerto Rican food adds zest to Taino solstice celebration

Youngstown, Ohio - To the untrained eye, a Puerto Rican pastelillo looks like a close relative of the Mexican chimichanga, but make no mistake — Mexican and Puerto Rican food are not the same.

Nancy Crespo knows. Half Puerto Rican and half Mexican, the Columbus woman gets to have it all — though she confesses liking Puerto Rican food best for its authenticity.

“When you get food from people like this,” she added.

Around Crespo and her family, including her parents, Tony and Maria Crespo of Youngstown, people at the Taino Summer Solstice and Puerto Rican Food Fest munched on arroz con gandules, or red rice with pigeon peas, arroz blanco y habichuelas, or white rice and beans, and pernil, or pork.

The event, at the OCCHA Hall on Shirley Road on Saturday, was paired with the Hispanic social-service agency’s celebration of a new wing on the building. The wing, which used to be an old warehouse, was remodeled with $142,500 that U.S. Rep Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, helped secure. It will be a senior and youth center, with 65 children starting a summer program there Monday, said Mary Isa Garayua, OCCHA’s executive director.

It’s all about education, said Ryan, who attended the ribbon-cutting.

“That’s what this room is all about,” he said.

Garayua said the room will be used for after-school tutoring, as well as the summer program, and also for senior citizens’ meetings.

People who attended the celebration were educated, too, about a part of their heritage — the Taino Indians.

They are indigenous to the Carribean, and it’s estimated that half of the Hispanic community in the Youngstown area are Taino, said David Jorge of Austintown. Jorge, a member of the United Confederation of Taino People, participated in a Taino ceremony to honor the summer solstice, led by Miguel Sague of Pittsburgh.

“We want to raise awareness that this is their indigenous soul,” said Sague, who is a Beike, or medicine man, affiliated with the Cane Indigenous Spiritual Circle.

Also participating in the ceremony was Inarunika Pastrana of New York, N.Y., who is the head of a women’s group, Bohio Atabei.

“The first people Christopher Columbus met were our people, because he landed in the Caribbean,” said Sague.

The ceremony included a dance that began outside and continued inside when it began to rain, with Pastrana leading the way.

“Every time you touch the earth, you are giving Mother Earth love,” she told the circle of dancers as they stomped their feet to the beat of Jorge’s drum.

Pastrana also established a chapter of her women’s group at the celebration.

Author: Jeanne Starmack, starmack@vindy.com


A Tribute to Pura Belpré

El Barrio, New York (UCTP Taino News) – PRdream/MediaNoche will host a marathon reading of the short stories of Pura Belpré from 2-4pm on Saturday, June 26, 2010 in East Harlem, New York. Born in Cidra, Puerto Rico, Belpré was a community activist as well as a talented author and storyteller who wrote and re-interpreted Puerto Rican folk tales. As the first Puerto Rican and Latina librarian in the New York Public Library system she pioneered the library's work with the Puerto Rican community.

In the late 1920s, Belpré wrote her first folk tale using a story she had heard as a child from her grandmother in Puerto Rico. This story, Pérez and Martina, a love story between a cockroach and a mouse, became the first Puerto Rican tale to be shared with children at a story hour in the public library.

Pura Belpré died on July 1, 1982 leaving a rich literary legacy. Several of her books, long out-of- print, have been re-issued, giving a new generation of children the opportunity to enjoy them.

Readers of diverse backgrounds will take part in the marathon tribute including members of Taino Iukaieke Guainia who will read selected Taino stories compiled by Belpre.

PRdream/MediaNoche is located at 1355 Park Avenue with the entrance on 102nd Street.

UCTPTN 06.20.2010


Indigenous Women: Our Rights, Our Lands, Our Future Generations

Oakland, California (UCTP Taino News) – On June 30 an international group of indigenous women will gather at the Eastside Arts Alliance in Oakland, California to discuss reproductive and environmental health issues in their diverse communities. This event is held in conjunction with a two-day symposium where indigenous delegates from throughout the U.S., Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua as the Caribbean and Pacific islands will develop strategies and strengthen networking to better understand and confront environmental threats to life-giving capacity and the health of present and future generations. Some of the participating organizations include California Indians for a Clean Environment; Los Angeles Indigenous Peoples Alliance; Jittoa – Bat – Nataka-Weria (Rio Yaqui, Sonora Mexico); Te Rau Aroha (Aoteroa/New Zealand); Alaska Community Action on Toxics; United Confederation of Taino People; and Native Women Association of Canada among others. Sponsored by the International Indian Treaty Council, admittance is free of charge but donations are accepted. For more information contact morningstar@treatycouncil.org.

UCTPTN 06.16.2010


United States Reviewing Position on UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Washington, D.C. (UCTP Taino News) - The U.S. Department of State has created a new website to enable public input during the U.S. review of its position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). On April 20, 2010, United States Ambassador Susan E. Rice announced the decision of the U.S. to review the Declaration at the 9th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

In a recent press release the Obama Administration recognized that the UNDRIP provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues. During President Obama's first year in office, tribal leaders and interested non-governmental organizations (NGOs) encouraged the United States to reexamine its position on the Declaration.

Roberto Mukaro Agueibana Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People welcomed the news.

“This decision is important not only for Indigenous Peoples living in the mainland United States but for other Indigenous Peoples like the Taíno who reside in non-self-governing territories controlled by the U.S. Government” stated Borrero.

He continued noting that “unlike mainland American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, the Taíno of Borikén (Puerto Rico) for example do not benefit from U.S. Federal laws designed to protect indigenous cultural and spiritual properties.”

The United Confederation of Taíno People promoted and organized Caribbean regional support toward the Declaration’s final adoption in 2007.

“Legal application of this Declaration does not require a States’ formal recogntition of Indigenous Peoples and the UCTP is committed to engaging the U.S. government on this issue with our future generations in mind” said Borrero.

As part of the U.S. government’s review process, the U.S. Department of State, together with other Federal agencies, will be hosting consultations with federally-recognized tribes and dialogues with interested NGOs and other stakeholders.

UCTPTN 06.08.2010


Available now: THE VOICE OF THE TAINO PEOPLE NEWS JOURNAL, April – June 2010

The Voice of the Taíno People is the Official News Journal of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) and is distributed by the UCTP Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination. Volume 13, Issue 2, April – June 2010, All Rights Reserved ; ISSN 1553-9350. In this issue: Census 2010 Celebrates Taino Heritage in Borikén ; Taino Prepare for Sacred Run ; Caribbean Indigenous Peoples at UN Forum ; Community News Flash ; Thousands call for Nuclear Disarmament ; Announcements and Events.

Review and download this edition at the NEWS section of the UCTP Web Portal at www.uctp.org or you can visit here: http://www.uctp.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=46&&Itemid=38 (Scroll down page).

The Voice of the Taino People News Journal is designed to be and functions as a different entity than our online news services located at www.uctp.org and beyond. There are stories and features included in the print edition that are not always included online. Likewise, there are features online that are not always included in the print editions. The United Confederation of Taino People strives to provide many media options that will serve the different needs of our diverse community. We hope that our readers find utility in several of our products, and we appreciate your continued support.