Sunday, June 8, 2008

Reflections on the Puerto Rican Day Parade

Today is the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York. It is a little known fact that the rehearsal for the Puerto Rican parade is known as the Cuban Parade. Last year, I used this occasion for some reflections on our kinship with Puerto Ricans (which is greater than with any other people) and on what became of the shared dream of Martí and Betances more than a century ago:

Cuba y Puerto Rico son...


All Cubans that settled in New York before or after the Revolution have fond recollections of and undying gratitude for the Puerto Ricans who paved the way for them and helped them to acclimate to a new society which was less foreign because of them. In the "Comments" section our friend Killcastro relates his own family's experience with Puerto Ricans in New York in the 1960s. It is a very moving story, arroz con gandules for the soul; but what is most remarkable about it is that it is duplicated thousands of times and now forms yet another historical bond between our two kindred countries and peoples. You can fit 15 Puerto Ricos in one Cuba, but only one Puerto Rican heart.


Angel Garzón said...

Manuel, Lola's poem in its musical adaptation, was played by the band at my wedding back in 1978, as a musical symbol of fraternity between our three people (Cuba, Dominican Republic & Puerto Rico) and as a very effective icebreaker between our Cuban and Puerto Rican guests, it also served to build a bridge with all the guests of other national origins, it was a blast, kudos for this mastery of diplomacy go to my father-in-law, the only Puerto Rican member of the then Cuban Lions Club of Newark, NJ.

Fantomas said...

Manuel Gracias por recordarte de nuestros hermanos boricuas

Somos muy parecidos, you know

Anonymous said...

Who said Fantosmas was not the life and blod of this blog

Vana said...


Indeed el mismo pajaro, it's amazing how alike we are, how much of our heritage and theirs is entwined.

As I said last year as sung by Guillermo Portabales:

Mi Puerto Rico querido
Como sufre tu isla hermana
El pajaro a sido herido
Y hoy sangra una de sus alas.

Guillermo Portabales (for you who may not know of him) is Cuban went into exile to Puerto Rico in the 60's and married a native, if you, like I, want to feel Cuba and the love of a brethen for his island, while at the same torn in exile, I reccomend 100% Lo Mejor de Guillermo Portabales, (Son Guajiro)

Fantomas said...

tu cita conmigo es hoy a las 8pm y hasta las 11pm por radio

apretar arriba donde dice para escuchar

hector palacios en vivo a las 9pm

telefono para participar en vivo 787 758-7230

la estacion #1 de todo PR notiuno

KillCastro said...

When my family arrived in the USA , the Cuban family that was supposed to help us until we got ourselves on our feet started charging us $65 a month for a room with rights to the bathroom (we had to cook in that room) the whole apartment rent was $60 !
My mother (who had never worked a day outside being a housewife) went to work packing pickles, the vinegar in the pickles ate away at a lession she had developed in Cuba and had not been cured, the end result was that she wound up with a hole on her thigh about 1/2 inch deep. The lady who sat next to my mom on the packing line was Puerto Riqueña and noticed my mom , crying as the vinegar dripped into the wound , she told the foreman (also Puerto Riqueño) who sent my mother to a hospital and putting his neck on the line said it had happenned at work.
The lady ( the ANGEL ) was besides herself when she heard the story of the $65 dollars and without knowing ANYTHING about us told my mom . pack up (we had nothing) I am sending my son to pick you and your son up on Saturday and we will get you out of there.
They did , they gave us shelter on one of her daughters apartment for free. They looked for an apartment for us near by, they paid the first month and the security and pretty much furnished the house with help from other members of the Puerto Rican church congregation, after about a month my mother and I had our own little apt. Further more they learned of a job for my mom half a block from the house. My mother applied and the foreman also Puerto Riqueño , gave the job to my mom on the spot and got my father an emplyoment letter (he was in mexico)and these were not easy to come by. This whole thing happenned in matter of 3 weeks. My family OWES whatever success we have achieved in the USA to this Puerto Rican family , I can still taste the arros con gandules waiting for me when I came back from school. Our Angel died several years later and the daughters and son moved all over the USA, Life took us through very different paths but I will ALWAYS be grateful in a way that goes beyond mere thankfullness. So when I hear someone ANYONE speak badly of Puerto Rico or Puerto Riqueños, it is as if they were talking about Cuba and I react accordingly. Lot's of that shit in Miami.
Oh, our ANgel had a typical altar to various saints and she had pictures of people she admired around it . One day we came to visit and there was a Cuban flag crossing the Puerto Rican flag and a picture of Jose Marti. Now, tell me who can hold back the tears , *WE* did not have a picture of Marti and she found one!
I have never met people with more humility more love and less greed.
She taught me a song :
"Mi puerto Rico querido cunado yo te vuelva a ver"
She also taught me how the yanks of that era would call you "Cuban" and youd say you were Puerto Rican and they would retort with "the same shit"
Puerto Ricans taught us how to survive the NY of 1969. I will forever be grateful.

ps- there is a NY "joke" that goes
Cuba y Puerto Rico son
the un pajaro las dos alas
y (insert country here) es
el culo por donde caga.