Saturday, July 28, 2012

Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) - Review: 6/24 - 7/25 - 2012

Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) - Review: 6/24 - 7/25 - 2012

via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Alfredo Richner on 7/25/12
Enrique “Kike” Arce is known online and on walls as Aslan, one of the most innovative street artists working in Puerto Rico. His online presence has developed into a key instrument for promoting his work while actively engaging with his followers and fans. Aslan's projects mix the more traditional art tools - pencils, ink, paper, acrylics on canvas - with cutting edge social tools like Instagram, blogger platforms, as well as more playful components like toys, t-shirts, vinyl records, and tiles.
Aslan's blog is a virtual gallery of his works and ideas, which reveal a joyful, highly stylized and colorful world filled with wonder and nostalgia, and influenced in large part by American and Japanese popular culture. Enrique recognizes his art as fun for both him and his audience - and it is precisely that preoccupation which brings cohesion to his various projects.
His series of airplane photographs, #parriba [es] (upwards), is perhaps Aslan's most ambitious and engaging project yet. Using his iPhone and the popular photo application Instagram, Enrique documents airplanes flying high above - collecting hundreds of samples in the process. A selection of photographs is then printed and pasted unto tiles which are scattered throughout San Juan's buildings, walls, and streets. People are invited through his blog and Instagram to participate on a “Scavenger Hunt” [es]: the first person to find each tile and take a picture of its location wins his own copy.
Selections from the #parriba series.
The #parriba series is a powerful example of the interactions possible between artists and the public at large online. By blending technology, exploratory elements, and serialization, Aslan has arrived at something that is both rigorous and accessible, art that can be enjoyed far from the galleries that often alienate artists from potential followers - and clients.
Global Voices (GV): How would you describe your work? What do you think are its most distinctive features?
Aslan (A): My work demonstrates the passion I felt as a kid towards japanese Otaku culture and the Pop Culture of the 80's. In a very spontaneous way, I've decided to illustrate these fantastic themes that congregate in my mind, creating characters or creatures from how I see the surreal world.
GV: Do you feel as part of a wider artistic movement?
A: I think that my work has made me part of a group of emergent artists in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are known around the world for being helpful, for extending a helping hand to neighbors, friends, co-workers - and that is not an exception in the art world. The support that each of my projects receives is grand, it transcends barriers and turns into friendships. Criticism is constructive and helps us to improve.
GV: Why Instagram?
A: I decided to use the medium as a means of expression towards an artistic goal. I'm an impulsive and hyperactive person that always needs to find something to do and I found the perfect medium - social networks, which have so much happening that they are a perfect match. They represent a new lifestyle where we acquire tons of information. I decided to show my work through them in order to help in educating Puerto Ricans to appreciate art.
GV: How did you arrive at the concept for #parriba and why your fascination with airplanes?
A: If you only knew - I have no fascination with planes. It's more like an obsession with posting (photos). When I first decided to think about what to do with Instagram that was different to how it is normally used for - photos from daily life - I found planes interesting because of their abundance and the monothematic capacity that proved to be a perfect fit with my vision.
I started collecting them at first without a clear motive. It wasn't until I decided to work on the series that I realized that this exploration could lend itself to a different type of artistic creation that would attract attention. Its interesting to see how simple ideas such as looking up (or “p'arriba”) and photographing an airplane are the ones that attract more people.
GV: How many pictures of airplanes do you currently have? How many do you need?
A: Over the past six months - or more - I've been taking more and more pictures. It has become part of me, to the point I've collected over 600 photos. I think for a project like this to take flight you need at least 200 photographs or more. Although it is never enough - I've thought about expanding the project to the whole island and I would need more than a thousand photos. It's something I have been thinking about and will decide sometime. For the time being I keep preparing myself by taking photos each time I can.
Learn more about Aslan and his work by visiting his blog and following him on Twitter.
This interview is edited for length and context. The full interview was published (in Spanish) in and can be read here.
Written by Alfredo Richner · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Alan Bailey on 7/19/12
[All links lead to Spanish language pages, except when otherwise noted.]
Dozens of people gathered in front of La Fortaleza [the governor's mansion] in San Juan on July 11 to demonstrate in support of the lands of the Agricultural Research Station, which belongs to the College of Agricultural Science of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), as part of the Mayagüez campus. The demonstration, organized by the Coalition in Support of Research Stations and Agricultural Reserves (CODERA) and the Agricultural Rescue Front (FRA), was demanding that the governor, Luis Fortuño, veto the recently approved bill that orders the UPR to transfer, at no cost, around 50 acres of the Agricultural Research Station to the municipality of Gurabo, where it is located.
The lands that the UPR are ordered to transfer to the municipality of Gurabo are considered among the best agricultural lands of Puerto Rico. The first organic farm to be established in the country and certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is on the land, where much research is currently being done on the best methods of cultivation and prevention of plagues. In exchange for granting land to the municipality of Gurabo, unsuitable land located in floodplains would be transferred to the Agricultural Research Station. The mayor of Gurabo, Víctor M. Díaz, wants to use the lands of the research station for several infrastructure projects, among them a hospital, a public housing project, and a school.
The demonstration took place in Old San Juan in front of La Fortaleza, the executive mansion of Puerto Rico. Photo by Christopher Torres Lugo. Courtesy of UPR Students Reporting. Used with permission.
United behind the demands of CODERA were various civic organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the General Council of Students of the Río Piedras Campus, and the recently formed Worker's People Party.
Currently, very little of the food that is consumed in Puerto Rico is also produced in the country. More than 85% of the food is imported, which means that the island is in a position of almost total dependence for its food supply. Along with this, it must be added that between 2002 and 2005 Puerto Rico lost 20% of its already scarce agricultural lands. Some experts, like the agriculturist Ián Pagán Roig, have warned of the implications for the country:
Los precios de alimentos han alcanzado picos históricos en los últimos 2 años. Tan reciente como en abril, el Banco Mundial reportó un aumento de 8% de los precios de los alimentos. La crisis alimentaria mundial está causando hambre y estragos en el planeta. Tan solo en la región Sahel en África alrededor de 17 millones de personas están sufriendo de hambruna a causa de la crisis alimentaria desencadenada por los altos precios de los alimentos y el cambio climático, según informa el Banco Mundial. Este panorama pone en especial peligro a Puerto Rico de sufrir de los estragos de la crisis alimentaria si no actuamos y defendemos las tierras agrícolas que quedan y potenciamos la agricultura local. La posibilidad de sufrir hambre en Puerto Rico es real y más probable de lo que todos creemos cuando dependemos de más de un 85% de importaciones del extranjero para nuestro sustento alimentario. No estamos en posición de perder ni una cuerda más de terreno agrícola. Cada espacio protegido para la agricultura representa la seguridad de un plato de comida para nuestro pueblo y las futuras generaciones.
The price of food has reached historic peaks in the last 2 years. As recently as April, the World Bank reported an 8% increase in the price of food. The global food crisis is causing hunger and havoc on the planet. In the Sahara region of Africa alone around 17 million people are suffering from famine because of the food crisis triggered by the high prices of food and climate change, according to the World Bank. This outlook puts Puerto Rico in particular risk of suffering from the devastation of the food crisis if we don't work to defend the agricultural lands that remain and strengthen local agriculture. The possibility of experiencing famine in Puerto Rico is real and more probable than we all believe, when we depend on foreign imports for more than 85% of our food and sustenance. We aren't in a position to lose even an acre more of agricultural land. Each area protected for agriculture represents the security of a plate of food for our people and future generations.
In order to raise awareness about the importance of the lands of the Agricultural Research Station, the Facebook group UPR Students Reporting organized a trip last year to the research station. The magazine Diálogo Digital posted a video of the trip on YouTube:
CODERA and the FRA have started an intensive campaign to prevent the governor from signing into law the land exchange, urging citizens to express their disapproval of the exchange by calling La Fortaleza, sending messages to the Twitter account of the governor, and signing a petition on
Written by Ángel Carrión · Translated by Alan Bailey · View original post [es] · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Marianna Breytman on 7/9/12
The Puerto Rican government's announcement that starting in the new school year beginning next August, the language in which classes are taught throughout the country's public schools will gradually change from Spanish to English, has provoked strong reactions from supporters as well as critics.
The measure, driven by the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, seeks to have all of the country's public schools teaching classes in English within the next ten years, with the exception of Spanish and history, with the aim of having the population's youth being completely bilingual by the end of this time period.
Teaching classes in English in Puerto Rico's public schools is something that the country already lived through during the first half of the 20th century. The United States government, which had recently invaded the former Spanish colony in 1898, imposed a law in 1900 [es] that stated that all public schools must teach their classes in English as part of a project for the “Americanization” of the Puerto Rican population. The project failed from the start, but it was not until 1948 that Spanish was established as the official language in education.
With the memory of those years still alive throughout a large portion of the country's population, the fact that the initiative for bilingual schools has clear political motivations does not come as a surprise. On his blog, ortizfeliciano [es], Roberto “Pachi” Ortiz Feliciano says:
Fortuño, tras negarlo, busca implantar el “English only” para congraciarse con el Partido Republicano y sometemos que su propuesta es principalmente motivada por sus muy personales ambiciones.
Fortuño, after denying it, looks to institute the “English only” initiative to establish himself in good graces with the Republican Party and we submit that his proposal is motivated mainly by his very personal ambitions.
For many it seems as though public schools do not have the capacity to effectively educate people who dominate both languages, and people have talked about how they learned English without the help of any formal classes. Twitter user @ᶥᵗˢ K! highlighted, as proof of her English fluency without the help of a class, her high score on a standardized test designed to show fluency in English:
@EpicPachi: Series gringas y Videojuegos. Un TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] mejor que varios de “escuelas bilingües” lo demuestran.
@EpicPachi: American television shows and video games. A TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] demonstrate it better than various “bilingual schools.”
Nevertheless, others are of the opinion that it would be quite advantageous for all students to study in an immersion program of sorts much like the one the government proposes, as Paola Alcazar expressed on Twitter:
@palcazarh: Yo soy fruto de escuela pública y hoy en día desearía haber estudiado en colegio bilingüe.
@palcazarh: I am a product of public schooling and today I would like to have studied in a bilingual school.
On his blog [es], Kofla Olivieri is shocked at the idea that people who are not fluent in English would want to impose that on the rest of the public [es]:
…el gobernador Fortuño, decidió implementar Inglés en nuestras escuelas sin consultar con los maestros que son los responsables de educar a nuestros hijos en el contrayao idioma. A pesar que muchos de ellos, nuestros maestros, no saben hablar Inglés. Esto incluye la gran mayoría de nuestros honorables legisladores, los que quieren impulsar esta idiotez, que TAMPOCO saben hablar Inglés.
… Governor Fortuño decided to implement English in our schools without consulting the teachers [es], who are responsible for teaching our children the damned language. Despite this, many of them — our teachers — do not speak English. This includes the large majority of our honorable legislators, those who want to implement this idiocy and ALSO do not speak English [es].
Héctor Meléndez, writing for online magazine 80 grados, has a different opinion [es]:
La sugerencia de algunos independentistas y autonomistas de que los políticos del PNP [Partido Nuevo Progresista] hacen el ridículo al reclamar la imposición del inglés sin saber inglés sugiere un prejuicio clasista, tal vez insensible hacia el significado que le dan los pobres a poder acceder al inglés. Precisamente porque anexionistas de mayor edad no saben inglés es que desean que sus hijos lo aprendan. Su ignorancia no les resta autenticidad, sino que en cierto modo la expresa.
The suggestion from those in favor of independence and autonomy that the PNP [New Progressive Party-which is pro-statehood] politicians are making fools of themselves by demanding the implementation of English without speaking the language suggests a classist prejudice, perhaps insensitive to the significance that the poor give to the power of learning English. It is precisely because older annexationists cannot speak English that they want their children to learn it. Their ignorance does not take their authority away, but rather expresses it to some degree.
The consensus among critics of the so-called bilingual schools project seems to be that it is advantageous and necessary to learn English, but not at the cost of the vernacular language and not to merely better compete in markets on the global level. According to Ed Morales [es], who also writes for 80 grados, bilingualism is good if it is part of a space where cultural exchange is constantly developing:
Es un bilingüismo que nos informa que el gobierno no tiene el derecho de negar acceso a los procesos legislativos ni pegarnos en la cabeza cuando protestamos. Es una expresión de la negritud, como hablan los reggaetoneros y los pleneros sin aparentemente hablar inglés. Es un bilingüismo que acaba con el puertorriqueño dócil (que en realidad nunca existía), que convierte el vacilón en acción.
It is bilingualism that informs us that the government does not have the right to deny access to legislative processes nor hit us in the head when we protest. It is an expression of négritude, as the reggaeton and plena musicians talk without evidently speaking English. It is a bilingualism that ends with the docile Puerto Rican (which, in reality, never existed), who changes the joke to action.
The image used in this article is owned by Gage Skidmore, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY SA 2.0) License. Visit Gage Skidmore's photo collection on Flickr.
Written by Ángel Carrión · Translated by Marianna Breytman · View original post [es] · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Georgi McCarthy on 6/27/12
[All links lead to sites in Spanish.]
Puerto Rico is in a state of shock after the ruling of a judge from the Superior Court of San Juan in the case of a young woman, Francheska Duarte, who was run over and later abandoned in an emergency medical centre by her ex-boyfriend on December 19, 2011. The young mother was caught between two cars and lost both her legs due to the extent of her injuries.
Nerisvel Durán, the judge presiding over the case, found Francheska's former boyfriend Jorge Ramos guilty only of the less serious misdemeanor of negligent injury and violation of Puerto Rico's traffic laws; the charges of aggravated battery that were brought against him were dismissed. Ramos was also on probation for charges related to drug trafficking. The judge justified his decision by saying that the prosecution failed to prove that Ramos intended to hurt the young woman.
The governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, interceded on behalf of Francheska calling for the maximum sentence to be imposed upon the offender, which in this case would be three years' imprisonment. He said he found the judge's decision strange:
Desgraciadamente, tenemos que respetar el tercer poder, el poder judicial. No quiero que se malinterpreten mis comentarios… pero choca, a base de los hechos que conocemos públicamente, uno esperaría que (la decisión judicial) sea más fuerte.
Unfortunately, we must respect the third power: the judiciary. I do not want my comments to be misinterpreted… but it is shocking, based on publicly known facts. One would expect (the ruling) to be stronger.
The general sense of disbelief at the judge's decision can be seen on social networks. Several people have shared news of the judge's shortcomings, and at least two Facebook pages showing support for Francheska Duarte have been launched. Twitter user David Rivera said:
@davidrivera1285: Como la jueza tiene sus piernas pues q se joda!
@davidrivera1285: Since the judge has her two legs, she doesn't give a damn!
Kay.Emn directed her frustration at Puerto Rico's judicial system:
@karlivyris: Sistema judicial tan basura
@karlivyris: The judicial system is a load of rubbish.
Journalist Benjamín Torres Gotay made the following observation:
@TorresGotay: Miren el caso de Francheska Duarte y pregúntense por qué es que nadie cree nada en este país.
@TorresGotay: Look at Francheska Duarte's case and ask yourselves why nobody believes anything in this country.
Francheska's case is part of an alarming trend of violence against women in Puerto Rico. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of cases of violence against women. A dramatic example of this was in 2011, the year in which a four-month period saw 16 women killed by their partners, which equalled the total number of murders of women in the entire 2007. Professor Diana Valle Ferrer, in an article published last year in Prensa Comunitaria, says:
Este entramado de violencia ejercido contra las mujeres ha sido reconocido a nivel global como una epidemia o pandemia, y en Puerto Rico como una emergencia social. Tal vez algunas personas piensan que esto es una exageración o una hipérbole pero los números y los hechos no mienten.
This network of violence against women has been recognized globally as an epidemic or pandemic, and in Puerto Rico as a social emergency. Maybe some people think this is an exaggeration or hyperbole, but the facts and figures do not lie.
It is necessary to add that the Dominican community in Puerto Rico (Francheska is Dominican) has been and continues to be victimised by ethnic violence and discrimination. Puerto Rico's Consul of the Dominican Republic, Maximo Taveras, said that the judge's ruling could be a result of this discrimination:
Este fallo puede ser interpretado como una acción discriminatoria por el origen de la perjudicada, lo que consideramos como un revés y un precedente nefasto para la administración de justicia en Puerto Rico, especialmente en el procesamiento de los casos en que las víctimas son inmigrantes.
This ruling can be interpreted as a discriminatory action because of the injured woman's origins. We consider this a setback and an ominous precedent for the administration of justice in Puerto Rico, especially in the processing of cases in which victims are immigrants.
The Consul said that he has asked the Attorney General, Guillermo Somoza, to see if there is a way the case can be reviewed. Somoza has affirmed that the case cannot be reviewed because the law prohibits double jeopardy, which is known in legal terms as non bis in idem.
The Dominican community is holding a march scheduled for next July 1 in support of Francheska Duarte and all the survivors of domestic violence and their families. Luis Aguasvivas, one of the coordinators of the march and president of the Dominican Parade in Puerto Rico said:
Necesitamos darle un importante espaldarazo y apoyo como sociedad, a las víctimas y sus familiares, enviarles el mensaje claro de que no están solos, que cada ciudadano de buen corazón estamos con ellos.
We need to give a major boost and support victims and their families as a society, sending them a clear message that they are not alone, and that every good-hearted citizen is behind them.
Written by Ángel Carrión · Translated by Georgi McCarthy · View original post [es] · comments (1)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle on 6/25/12
The feminist coalition Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer has convened people to send contributions (in Spanish) for the next edition of their magazine, which will be dedicated to cyberactivism and feminism. Deadline is July 16, 2012.
Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle on 6/25/12
The music blog Puerto Rico Indie announces [es] it's next edition of the video series Archipiélago, in which the bands Las Robertas from Costa Rica and Dávila 666 from Puerto Rico will be performing. Stay tuned.
Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle on 6/24/12
The digital magazine that covers issues of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, En Punto, interviews artist Nora Maité Nieves [es], who lives in Chicago.
Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle on 6/24/12
Blogger Ed Morales comments on recently released American Civil Liberty Union's (ACLU) report (PDF) on police brutality in Puerto Rico: “The report echoes a previous, scathing one on police brutality and abuse of civil rights in Puerto Rico released last September (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which put the island commonwealth’s police department on notice, providing some hope that the situation might change. But that couldn’t be further from reality. The new report goes on to say that the use of excessive or lethal force is routine, and civil and human rights violations are rampant.”
Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle · comments (0)
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via Global Voices » Puerto Rico (U.S.) by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle on 6/24/12
The digital magazine 80 Grados dedicates [es] it's edition to scholar and professor of the University of Puerto Rico Mara Negrón, 51, who died in Paris due to a very recently diagnosed leucemia.
Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle · comments (0)
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