Santa Rosa Carib Queen Medina dies

Arima, Trinidad (UCTP Taíno News) – Elder Valentina Medina, the Carib Queen of the Santa Rosa Carib Community of Trinidad passed away on April 23, 2011. Queen Medina succumbed to complications arising from breast cancer. She was 78 years old.

Medina was the fifth Carib Queen since the introduction of the title in 1875. She served the community in this capacity for 11 years.

Chief of the Santa Rosa Carib Community Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath, who visited Medina just before her passing, stated “she had served her community well.”

Commenting to local news sources Hernandez-Bharath noted that "there will definitely be an indigenous service on the day of the funeral."

The Santa Rosa Carib Council will meet to discuss the appointment of a new Queen in one month.

UCTPTN 04.25.2011


New York Peace and Dignity Run

Flushing, Queens (UCTP Taino News) - This Earth Day weekend, a spiritual run will take place in Flushing Meadow Park on Sunday, April 24th. An Indigenous Peoples initiative, the New York Peace and Dignity Run is being held in honor of Mother Earth and in preparation for the upcoming continental Peace and Dignity Journey beginning in May of 2012.

Organized by Raphael Landron and Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrana, the day will begin with a sunrise ceremony at the Unisphere (large globe) at 6am -7:30am. Miguel Sague, a Siboney Taino from Cuba will lead the opening ceremony and blessing of the sacred staffs the runners will carrying. Native Elders and community leaders are invited to share words and blessings during the opening ceremony.

Following the sunrise ceremony at 8am, a community walk led by elders and community leaders will begin to the lake. At 9am, designated runners will then run the sacred community staffs for approximately 6 miles around the lake.

Mexica (Aztec) dance and native drumming will close the run beginning at 12noon. Organizers are requesting that persons interested in supporting the run, please bring food to share for a communal meal. This is an alcohol, drug, and weapon free event.

For more information contact Raphael Landron at 646-730-5940 or visit http://boriken2010peaceanddignityjourney.blogspot.com/ .

UCTPTN 04.19.2011


Río Cayrabón- It’s time to fix a historic mistake

Borikén (Puerto Rico) - A group of San Lorenzo citizens of Ciudad Samaritana have requested that the bicentenary celebration of San Lorenzo, be the ideal moment for renaming the most famous river existing in Puerto Rico. This river is well known as “El Río Grande de Loíza” which emerged in a famous poem written by the Julia de Burgos; however by not designating the correct name constitutes an historic mistake, which is “Río Cayrabón”- already well known by its given name long before it was renamed after the famous poem.

“We understand that poems should not have the power to change our land’s history. This river commences to stream in “Barrio Espino” in San Lorenzo and it’s called “Río Cayrabón”, as it’s well mentioned in songs by Ismael González and Rafaelito Muñoz because the brook begins at the San Lorenzo Barrio and not in Loíza”. Appealing before the San Lorenzo Bicentenary Committee (Comité del Bicentenario de San Lorenzo) and Mayor Hon. José R. Román Abreu, this element of history should be correctly used to educate people from San Lorenzo and Puerto Rico.

The appeals committee position has ample historic fundaments, for which while they were doing theses researches about Loíza they found that the “conquistadors came to the territory known today as Loíza, governed by a “cacica” named “Loíza” or “Yuisa” in a territory known as “Jaymanio” in the Cayrabón’s channel.

This reveals that the river’s name existed even before that the foundation of Loíza’s County. Calling it “Río Grande de Loíza” is an ignominy to San Lorenzo’s citizens and to the indigenous legacy that named it as “Cayrabón”.

This river is born at the top of the mountains at “La Sierra de Cayey” at 3,500 ft over sea level. It passes through the municipalities of San Lorenzo, Caguas, Gurabo, Trujillo Alto, Carolina, Canóvanas and Loíza. It is forty miles long until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

In the “US Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System”, the “Río Grande de Loíza” appears with this name and includes variations of its name, all related to Loíza, but it does not mention “El Río Cayrabán”. This information was compiled by the Federal Agency in 1983, for which the citizens of San Lorenzo are requesting to the Bicentenary Committee to make the necessary procedures intended to rectify this embarrassing blunder in official, federal and local documents.

And, a number of poets have written songs using the correct name of the river, like Rafael Marcano Blanco in “Río Grande Cayrabón”; “ Great Lord of the waters, dear older brother, of my early childhood – Gran Señor de las Aguas, querido hermano mayor, de mi temprana infancia”. And Elliot Dávila Galarza; “Río Cayrabón, Río Cayrabón, where your heartbeat starts, at Barrio Espino” - “Río Cayrabón, Río Cayrabón, que comienza a latir tu corazón, en el Barrio Espino.

Autor: Salvador Lasanta
Source: www.elperiodicopr.com
Translated by Nichole Bodin


Rep. Gutierrez's Remarks on Puerto Rico Natural Gas Pipeline Project

"It’s time they stop doing things the 'Via Verde' way and start doing things the right way"

(Washington, DC) – Continuing a series of speeches the Congressman has delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the civil and human rights crisis in Puerto Rico, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) today addressed a proposed natural gas pipeline project that is being pushed by the Governor of Puerto Rico and his party.

The so-called "Via Verde" -- or "Green Way" -- is a 92 mile cross island project that has not received sufficient study or public scrutiny because it is being promoted as a response to an "energy emergency."

Rep. Gutierrez announced he has filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for information from all federal agencies that have addressed the project and asked the Army Corps of Engineers to

" o deny the permit request for the pipeline until experts testify, permits are applied for, community meetings are held, and environmental impact studies are done."

The following are the Congressman's remarks, delivered at approximately 10:00 a.m. ET, as prepared for delivery, REP. GUTIERREZ:

Mr. Speaker I rise today to talk once again about Puerto Rico, but this time it's a little different.

I rise to note that Governor Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico has actually said something that I can agree with.

Speaking about a proposed gas pipeline, the Republican Governor said, “We can’t continue to depend on fossil fuels. Gasoducto is fossil fuels.”

He went on to say that “tying us down to natural gas for 30 years would be a grave mistake.”

He was referring to the construction of a natural gas pipeline on an island where the beautiful beaches, mountains and rain forests are both irreplaceable natural resources and part of the economic engine that drives tourism

-- a gas pipeline that sounds like a dubious proposition.

And I agree.

Mr. Fortuño spoke these words two years ago, as a candidate, criticizing his opponent.

Sadly, now that he is safely in office, Governor Fortuño has changed his mind.

Now, he enthusiastically supports not just gas pipelines, but a much bigger, more environmentally disruptive and more expensive pipeline.

And how the construction of this gigantic, super-sized pipeline is being handled is another reason I must speak out

-- again -- on the civil rights crisis in Puerto Rico.

The ruling party would rather people not notice that Mister Fortuño and Governor Fortuño have opposite positions on gas pipelines.

So they are working hard to move this project forward under the cover of night.

Every day – the ruling party answers this question:

If you wanted to undertake a potentially dangerous, economically dubious, environmentally disastrous and extremely unpopular project – how would you go about it?

Here’s the ruling party's answer:

You circumvent feasibility studies.

You avoid environmental impact studies.

You ignore the standard permitting and licensing procedures.

And you take every step possible to eliminate public hearings and public scrutiny.

But how do you proceed without these necessary safeguards and information?

If you are the government of Puerto Rico, and you want to build a 92 mile natural gas pipeline over the mountains; through forests, lakes and rivers; and across critical groundwater systems in Puerto Rico, you would amend a law designed to deal with natural disasters so you can bypass the normal permitting and public process.

What this ruling party does is declare an "energy emergency.”

This government’s “energy emergency” allows the pipeline to proceed

-- despite warnings from the Sierra Club, the environmental group Casa Pueblo, and even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.

--- Despite residents’ concerns that it will be constructed near schools, churches and residential areas.

--- Despite geologists noting it is near earthquake faults and that there have been 2,500 seismic events in the last 3 years and one felt all over the island just 2 days ago.

The self-declared “energy emergency” also helps hide the fact that you’ve given a ten million dollar contract to a pal of the Governor’s who has no experience at all in constructing gas pipelines. He does, however, have experience skiing with the governor.

And maybe that’s why you run a slick, taxpayer funded PR campaign that renames the project "The Via Verde" -- "the green way."

So, instead of speaking to the huge financial, human and environmental costs -- this Orwellian ad campaign calls a gas pipeline over the mountains and through the woods a "green way." Like a lot of people, I think it would be better to name it “Green away"... a magical cleanser you apply to your forests, rivers and lakes, to make them go away...along with millions of green tax dollars.

Here’s an even more honest name for the project: the “wrong way.” Because it’s wrong to spend the people's money on a project they don’t want and hasn’t been appropriately studied, as the newspaper El Nuevo Día has shown in a series of reports. Candidate Fortuño was right. Governor Fortuño is wrong.

To shine some light on this matter, I have sent Freedom of Information Act requests to every and all federal agencies that have addressed the pipeline project.

I will release the results so that the people know who their government is meeting with, what documents exist, and what studies have been done to show the need for this project.

Furthermore, I have already urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the permit request for the pipeline until experts testify, permits are applied for, community meetings are held, and environmental impact studies are done.

Maybe the government can make the case for this project in the light of day.

But they shouldn’t be asking for a verdict without presenting their facts to the people first.

It’s time they stop doing things the "Via Verde" way and start doing things the right way.

Source: Douglas Rivlin (douglas.rivlin@mail.house.gov)


PRico sees increase in blacks, American Indians

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The number of Puerto Ricans identifying themselves solely as black or American Indian jumped about 50 percent in the last decade, according to new census figures that have surprised experts and islanders alike.

The increase suggests a sense of racial identity may be growing among the various ethnic groups that have long been viewed as a blurred racial mosaic on the U.S. territory, although experts say it is too soon to say what caused the shift.

"It truly breaks with a historic pattern," said Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at the University of Puerto Rico.

The growth in those calling themselves black or American Indian reduced the population share of Puerto Ricans who identify themselves solely as white. That group dropped nearly 8 percentage points to about 76 percent of the island's 3.7 million people.

More than 461,000 islanders identified themselves solely as black, a 52 percent increase, while nearly 20,000 said they were solely American Indian, an almost 49 percent increase.

Experts said several factors could have influenced the rise in the number of people who identify themselves as black.

Duany said the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president might have influenced some to call themselves black as the high-profile leader dispelled negative stereotypes about their race.

The jump in numbers of blacks also coincided with a push to highlight Puerto Rico's black population, with the Department of Education offering for the first time a high school book that deals solely with their history.

In addition, there was a grassroots effort to target dark-skinned Puerto Ricans through social media websites including Facebook that urged them to identify themselves as "Afro-Puerto Rican" in the 2010 census.

It was an option that appealed to Barbara Abadia-Rexach, a 30-year-old sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Puerto Rico.

On the 2000 census form, she and several relatives had reluctantly identified themselves as black or African-American.

"I don't identify with that although we are black Puerto Ricans," she said. "But it is a formal structure, and we have to live with it."

The island's population is a fusion of races where phrases such as "coffee with milk" abound to identify various varieties of skin color.

"There is no authentic or pure race," Abadia-Rexach said. "We are all mixed."

Puerto Ricans are known as "boricuas," a name derived from the Taino Indian word for the island's indigenous people who were colonized by the Spaniards.

One possible reason for the increase in Puerto Ricans who identify themselves as American Indian is that the U.S. Census Bureau allowed responders to write down their tribe.

That was enough to get Naniki Reyes Ocasio to check the American Indian designation.

In previous censuses, the 63-year-old member of the United Confederation of Taino People refrained from picking that category. She didn't identify with being an American Indian since it did not include the word "Caribbean" in its description.

With the change, she traveled around with other Taino confederation members to show people how to complete the form and teach them about the new option.

"We can rewrite ourselves within history," she said. "I used to check 'Other' because there was nowhere else I could place myself."

Author: Danica Coto
Source: Associated Press