A tribute to Julia de Burgos
por Joseph A. Burgos Jr.
Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:05 AM
AGNER@webtv.net n/a New York
Nephew of Julia de Burgos at Princeton University for Latino Heritage Month.
Location: Carl. A. Fields Center. Date: Oct. 7 (Main Gala) to Oct. 17, 2009. Time: 8 PM (Main Gala) Jenny Aguilar, President of Accion Latina, Princeton University, New Jersey.
Essay Reading by Joseph A. Burgos Jr.
In the 14th century and the ones that followed, Spain explored, colonized, fortified, and prospered in the New World. The Spanish language was learned by the native inhabitants, and the exchange of cultures and religions spread through the region, including the Caribbean. It became impossible from afar for the Spanish rulers to prevent the settlers and reformers from expanding freely in the Americas and spread their ideals. In time, the Kingdom had to let destiny judge the outcome of its historical journey. While the Spanish monarchy hold confidence in their subjects to always provide their wealth and to eternally honor their kingdom, the American territories hoped for freedom. Battles of bow and arrow preceded swords and guns; and blood and destruction led to instability.
In North America, the armadas of Englishmen appeared waging war against the settlers. The British were coming, making declarations, passing tax laws on land owners and leaving them with nothing to prosper or gain. When taxes were not paid, properties were condemned, burnt or taken away. Then, the frontiersmen arrived to challenge the forces and the British had to retreat. With differences between the North and South, the blue coats and gray coats immerged to inflame the Revolutionary War. In bloody battles, Lee surrendered to Grant, and the Declaration of Independence was written and signed with the commencement of American democratic values replacing old dogmatic creeds. The United States of America was born.
After the Spanish-American War, a majority of the population of Puerto Rico called for liberation from colonial rule and asked the United States for intervention. With help from American infantries who landed in San Juan and Guanica, a short battle against debilitated Spanish forces took place until the shout "Grito de Lares" was heard. When the Americans placed their flag on structures once built by the Spaniards, Puerto Ricans were presented with another form of colonialism, and they strived to shape their own destiny. They placed good reformers and politicians in place and their voices began to be heard. For instance Eugenio Maria de Hostos, personally traveled to Washington to present his agenda concerning the status of Puerto Rico. Political parties organized and debated issues about the United States' military presence on the island. Boricuas working in the coffee and sugar fields were being underpaid, and the natural resources of the land exploited and exported to the United States with Puerto Ricans profiting nothing from the American-owned companies. This is when political parties raised for the independence of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans that were educated in the history and politics of the United States, for instance Pedro Albizu Campos, desperately strived to transmit a strong sense of national identity and keep people spiritually strong. This and other incidents like El Masacre de Ponce made the Independence Party revolt in Puerto Rico against the United States. Others like Lolita Lebron followed in more radical ways, which caused them to be incarcerated in the United States. This environment was conducive to the emergence of inspired writers and poets like Julia de Burgos. With her writings and speeches like "The woman before the pain of the country", Julia de Burgos gave hope behind despair in the hearts of the Puerto Rican people. When Luis Muñoz Marin was elected governor of Puerto Rico, he promised prosperity for every Puerto Rican. Convinced by his ideas, the population voted for the free associated state with the United States. Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship. The Government of Puerto Rico decreed its own Democratic Constitution and instituted the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
For many years, groups of Puerto Ricans have protested the United States' military presence and exercises on the island of Vieques. Because of mass demonstrations in the United States and Puerto Rico concerning health hazards to its citizens and environmental contamination of land and sea, the U.S. Navy closed its base in Vieques in 2003. This doesn't mean that Puerto Rico has disassociated itself from the United States, on the contrary, shared common values go a long way.
Still today, the Puerto Rico coat of arms bears the crown and initials of King Fernando and Queen Isabel of Spain. Historically, Puerto Ricans are today the living endurance of the native Tainos, the Spanish settlers and African immigrants with their culture mixed in their blood. Being that Puerto Ricans speak Spanish and English, they never abandon their true heritage. "Que viva Puerto Rico."
JULIA DE BURGOS was an educator, writer, poet, and speaker. She wrote three volumes of poetry and published many other poems in magazines and newspapers. She wrote about nature, life, and the universal spirit. Julia de Burgos was invited to give speeches about her political view of the Caribbean islands at radio stations in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Santo Domingo, and New York. She spoke about women's rights and dark skin racism, which played a big part in the discomfort and deprivation of human rights in the United States. Today, schools, parks and cultural places have been named after her, like recently the Julia de Burgos Boulevard in New York City.
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