Saturday, January 23, 2010

"El Rincón Borinqueña": Mi Patria (1)

Hello, and Welcome to "El Rincón Borinqueña" which is a new addition to my blog for the benefit of the Puerto Rican people and their descendants.There will be articles in both languages, music and other interesting topics that will be published from time to time.

The Official Anthem of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico established in 1952

La Borinqueña
Lyrics: Manuel Fernández Juncos (1846-1928)

La tierra de Borinquén
donde he nacido yo,
es un jardín florido
de mágico fulgor.

Un cielo siempre nítido
le sirve de dosel
y dan arrullos plácidos
las olas a sus pies.

Cuando a sus playas llegó Colón;
Exclamó lleno de admiración;
"Oh!, oh!, oh!, esta es la linda
tierra que busco yo".

Es Borinquén la hija,
la hija del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol,
del mar y el sol.

Puerto Ricans have lived in the mainland, United States, since at least the 1830s. During the 1890s, a first small group of Puerto Ricans arrived in East Harlem. The United States took possession of Puerto Rico at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and has retained sovereignty ever since. In 1917 the Jones-Shafroth Act gave the islanders U.S. citizenship along with the obligation of serving in the American armed forces . This newly acquired citizenship allowed them to work and live in the United States as well as travel without the need of a passport between the island and the United States mainland....They did not have to go through the Ellis Island Immigration processing which Europeans and other Latin Americans had to endure.

" Large, corporate-financed sugar plantations transformed Puerto Rico’s agricultural economy and displaced thousands of subsistence farmers from their own land, forcing them into the rural wage labor force. "The unemployment level in Puerto Rico began to rise to crisis proportions. American entry into World War I created labor shortages in many industries on the mainland. The Department of Labor made plans for bringing more than 10,000 Puerto Rican laborers to the U.S. to work on war-related projects. A total of 75,000 unemployed laborers were available for work in the U.S. The War Department agreed to transport workers to labor camps in the United States where they would be housed and fed while working on government construction contracts at defense plants and military bases.

The men who could not find jobs had the option of joining the United States Military. One of the most noted military units at that time was New York's 369th Infantry to which many Puerto Ricans and African-Americans belonged to. Puerto Ricans, in search of a better existence than what they had in Puerto Rico, continued to migrate to the United States, after both World Wars. Not aware that they would be facing a highly racialized labor market which would deny them the opportunities to move into the American mainstream, a large number of Puerto Rican families made New York City's East Harlem, their first mainland destination. Though they lived in dilapidated neighborhoods and old broken-down houses left behind by the previous immigrant residents, they still managed to establish a cultural life of great vitality and gregariousness. The people of "El Barrio "always banned together as a group united in their common interests.

Assimilation to the American culture was not their priority. As long as they lived here, they were going to preserve their heritage through the Spanish language, music, and cultural activities and never completely cut their ties with their homeland. Their only and major anxiety at that time was to find the means of surviving economically. Puerto Ricans by the thousands found employment in the factories as unskilled operators and even as seamstresses in the garment industry. They competed with other ethnic groups for the positions of unskilled labor such as , maids, maintenance, dishwashers, janitors, doormen and laundry workers. Some of the Puerto Rican women would take in boarders or provide childcare for the working mothers in order to supplement their income. Here and there throughout East Harlem religious shops, bodegas, restaurants and other businesses were beginning to sprout.

In New York, the Puerto Ricans also suffered the same hardships and racial discrimination that earlier immigrants such as the Irish, the Italians and the Jewish Community had to endure . Good paying jobs were not available to them due to the lack of the English language and special working skills. They were labeled as minorities suffering widespread discrimination by the hiring practices of businesses.

Though many Puerto Ricans have endured great injustices, inhumanities, and severe hardships they were able to overcome all barriers which crossed their path , becoming respected members of their communities, contributing their talents and knowledge to the city of New York and the United States as a whole in the fields of arts, entertainment, politics, and much more. Their lifestyles have improved as economic opportunities and patterns of development have emerged. It has been an extremely slow uphill climb, for the Puerto Rican community to make their voices heard and their rights respected though attempts to intimidate and stifle that voice are still being made.

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