Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

US Puerto Ricans


During the primary battles and on through the GE, I realized that there is a lack of understanding among many progressives across the blogosphere about Puerto Ricans; those here on the mainland and those on the island.  

Lumped into the demographic category of “Hispanics” or “Latinos”, Puerto Ricans here in the States tend to be a solidly Democratic voting block, but contrary to most assumptions that the entire community is clustered in the Northeast (New York, New Jersey, PA, MA, CT) the Puerto Rican diaspora has expanded over the years, and there are now growing communities in other locations.  Florida is a case in point – contrary to the belief that the Spanish-speaking community of FL is solidly Cuban-American, Puerto Ricans are becoming a major force there, and helped win the state for Barack.

I would like to call attention to a new project – just launched last week, which will provide insights, news, analysis and information by and about Puerto Ricans.  

The name of the site is .

The brainchild of Iris Morales, the site is not only a nascent online community, but will be a resource for educators who want to teach Puerto Rican history, and it has been tested with school kids – whose favorite place on the site is Puerto Ricans on the Map.  I suggest that it might provide an eye-opener as well for those of you planning targeted political campaigns, or those doing community organizing. Take a look and you may be surprised to find out how many Puerto Ricans there are in your state. I had to smile when I discovered 2,649 Boricuas in Alaska.

Iris Morales, one of my oldest friends and my dear sister-in-struggle has been working on this project for many long months and it has finally come to fruition.  

Iris Morales is an educator, activist and media maker with a life-long commitment to the struggle for human rights. She is the producer/writer/director of the documentary Palante, Siempre Palante! broadcast on public television, which continues to be screened at schools and other venues.  Ms. Morales works with community groups on social justice issues, is the producer of and lives in New York City

I’ll add that she is also an attorney, and Executive Director of the Union Square Awards .

The Union Square Awards program was established in 1998 by an anonymous donor to support innovative grassroots organizations responding to New York City’s most pressing social issues and making vital contributions through their efforts to the educational, economic and cultural life of the City. The Award is made to small organizations that have not yet received substantial funding or recognition.

Many grassroots groups in the NY area have received both badly needed financial support and recognition due to the efforts of Iris and her staff.

Other featured authors on the site are:

Madalena Gomez, performance artist and activist from MA, Frank Andre Guridy, Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Rafael Merino Cortes, media arts, Lenina Nadal,  multimedia artist, and Jose Santiago News Director, WBAI-FM, Pacifica NY, and last but not least (I hope) yours truly, Denise Oliver-Velez.

Kudos to Iris for making this happen, and I hope many of you will drop in, and pay us many visits in the future.  

Pa’lante Siempre Pa’lante

Cross-posted at Daily Kos


  1. spacemanspiff

    Puerto Rico Pictures, Images and Photos

    I live (d) in NYC for years as more than 75% of my family lives in the Bronx.

    My great grandmother celebrated her 101st birthday a couple of months ago!

    A cool things about PRicans is that our extended family is very close.

    So when I say we’re having a family gathering it includes cousins, neighbors, childhood friends, ect.

    Yeah, more than 2 boricuas in 1 place and a party breaks out (it’s true).

    From personal experience I can tell you “boricuas” are migrating and settling down in Florida in huge numbers.

    Specifically in Orlando and the towns and burbs around it. I voted in Miami during the G.E.

    As a physician I am torn between returning to the island fulltime or going to the mainland to practice medicine.

    Puerto Rico is losing a lot of the medical field workforce because of the need for bilingual physicians in the States. Hospitals are having to employ translators  which has a pricetag attached to it. The patriot act has had negative repercussions as well b/c well trained professionals from middle eastern countries are seeing how doors are being shut in their face. This then leads to a physician shortage at the same time the population is growing at such a rapid pace. It really is ridiculous! This is one of the few times you will see me commenting on anything healthcare related. I prefer to shy away from the topic because it frustrates me. I work with what I have and I don’t like to think about “what if”.

    I rambled and went OT a bit.

    I’m very proud about the work you do Denise and I’m especially honored and feel blessed to have you here.

    I’ll be back later to share a bit more.

    I had to smile when I discovered 2,649 Boricuas in Alaska.

    My best friend’s aunt lives in Alaska!

    Even on the Moose you can’t get away from the Island Invasion.

    We’re taking over baby! ;~)

  2. is abysmally small. I have always favored either granting statehood or independence. This comes from my distaste for a democracy owning territories. In a democracy, all people should have equal rights when it comes to electing representatives. If they don’t have the same rights then they are second-class citizens. This should be anathema to anyone who supports democracy.

  3. PissedoffLatino

    How bout this for an icebreaker…

    Puerto Rican on aisle 4

    This was the first puertorican joke I heard. I felt ashamed, nevertheless that didn’t stop me from laughing at it…  it says a lot about who “we” are or at least what they think about “us”.

    Let me be more specific, what they think of “their” puertoricans, or US-ricans.  Over here (in PR) we might’ve said…wait… I don’t think we have a race that we call thieves or scavengers like americans do to us.   Must be that we do take the cake, still in any case it’s demeaning.

    Personally, I think its society’s way of letting everybody know the damage or pain that they’ve felt because of some misguided individual in the past without thinking about that very very old cliche which says “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.  These perceptions are what the world sees about us with the exceptions of many fine individuals who make a name for themselves and work responsibly and respectfully during their lives.  But what more can we expect when our own island is in such decay, like for example:

    A recently released report titled World Development Indicators 2008, which measures various nations’ economies during 2007, placed Puerto Rico in the 211th position out of 215 nations in terms of economic growth, making Puerto Rico’s economic decline roughly equivalent to that of war-torn, politically unstable nations.

    oh, I can go on for hours bout this s*%t, but mainly I feel we have work to do on bettering our own reputation as a community of progressive and morally guided people to the rest of the world.  Let me end by congratulating all those struggling fathers/mothers, brothers/sisters, who have paved their own way, its people like you that make people like the puertorican on aisle 4 feel  disgusted… thankyou.

  4. alyssa chaos

    great layout and I read your article .

    Puerto Ricans are not Cubans, Mexicans, Dominicans, or Central Americans

    I definitely agree that we all have different cultural influences and aspects.

    Its important to recognize the differences between the cultures but I think it may be even more important that we realize the strength in our solidarity.

    The thing that makes Hispanics/Latinos unique is the heterogeneous nature of us as a group. In some ways it makes it harder to predict how we will act and harder to pin down issues that we ‘lobby’ for.

    The second major bone of contention I addressed was the “what politicians can offer the Hispanics” meme.  There was much heated discussion on Obama, Clinton and McCain’s positions on “immigration” as the primary motivating carrot to capture the “Hispanic vote”.  

    yes, even as a Chicana, this was a real pet peeve of mine during the election. Most just assumed that Hispanics=immigration, in some ways it was a bit insulting.

    i’ll make sure to visit the site in the future…


    but only if that’s what they want.  I remembered how great it was when AK and HI became states.  Everyone on the mainland was so excited.  We would change the flag and add a 51st star for our newest island state.  

    I wonder if anyone has done a poll to see how people in the current 50 feel about having PR as our newest member.  And I also wonder if public opinion in PR would be swayed if the poll showed an overwhelming support for the idea.

  6. PissedoffLatino

    Ok, I liked this:

    You don’t have to be born in America in order to be American.

    let me ask why?

    who or what is an american? are we all americans, is it our way of thinking,  or our way of dominating another land, or our supreme way of knowing the right path to take, and if so, how?  is it the fact that we’re all on the same side of the world, or the fact that progressive mentality is kind of contagious…?  

    Sometimes American mentality exploits too much, its the down side of progress… its what makes the world go round.  I don’t approve or will practice this, but I do have a capitalist mentality and I do believe in progress… So, I feel somewhat, kinda, sorta guilty everytime I see a war struggle in Iraq in part because of some Texan wanting to expand his assets… (Stupid bastard)

    I believe PR status is a consequence of its struggle towards progress, I mean you gotta admit that we’re somewhat ahead in Central America, considering… including that the ELA was supposed to last only a few decades at most, as a transition phase.  I’m sure the founder wouldn’t want it to be the dominating status quo, unless he had some kind of hidden interest behind the power of the ELA.  (hmmm… just like today)

    This will go undecided as long as the popular “democratic” party still exists on our island… but I will say that having competition is the best thing that can happen in politics… thankyou

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