Latin America: An Institutional and Cultural Survey

Asynchronous Blog Post on Ground Zero

Asynchronous Blog Post


1. Read the essay “Ground Zero” by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio.

2. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is 12/02 before the class. 200-words minimum.


Think back to Cornejo Villavicencio’s text. Why do you think is important to center these discussions around the experiences of undocumented Latin Americans?  Reflect and share your interpretation of one of the topics from the essay that resonated with you.

.migration and its health cost

.mental health and migration

.gender-based violence

.denial of health services/ debt

.reproduction of plantation economies (Latinx overseer)

.invizibilized labor

.surviving through tip economies



Have you or your family experienced any of the experiences and/or struggles indicated above? How do they resemble and how do they differentiate from the accounts presented by Cornejo Villavicencio?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their points and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about “Ground Zero” do you want to bring into the discussion?

Raza Interrupted: New Hybrid Nationalism (Pages 100-116)- Ed Morales

Entry Question
When you think of Nuyorican culture what art forms, artists, thinkers, activists, community organizations, political organizations come to mind and why?


Nuyorican Identity
In the chapter “Raza Interrupted: New Hybrid Nationalism” poet, journalist, and critic Ed Morales argues that Nuyorican identity developed out of three spheres: salsa, radical cultural nationalism, and Nuyorican literature (Page 104)
Oral/slide presentations



Wu,Can Fu



Salsa reached back to Caribbean musical forms and insisted on Spanish as a lingua franca to preserve a sense of origin. It was a modernist re-contextualization of the mulatez aesthetic of Afro-Cuban music, redrawn to fit the 70s crisis of capitalism and the collapse of industrialization in cities like New York. (Morales, 104-107)

What do you think of Ed Morales’ claim that salseros created a “stripped-down package of from-below musicians playing for a from-below audience (106).”?

Radical Politics

The Young Lords’ core membership was motivated by local community concerns, such as the infrequency of garbage collection, the lack of access to tuberculosis testing, and the impact of lead-based paint used in tenements that housed the children of the urban poor. Like the Black Panthers, it functioned as a national liberation movement with a strong focus on culture and identity. (Pages 108-110)

In your opinion what were the greatest achievements of the Young Lords and how do you think these direct actions and political strategies promoted a Nuyorican identity?

Nuyorican Poetry

Bilingual poetry and letters disrupted linear thinking, engaged in multivocal discourse, and restore call and response as the central logic of internal dialogue… It uses the modified language of two colonizers to express the conscience of a conquered race, a raza, by prioritizing its main raíz: the mestizo/mulato/black body. Nuyorican poetry expressed Latin American cultural tradition as refracted through Puerto Rico’s unincorporated territory status.  (Page 113)

Pietri’s poem memorialized the sacrifice of countless laborers with dignity, but he sounded the death knell for a generation that lacked self-awareness. (Page 110)

Luciano describes the transformation of the jíbaro from an idealized white peasant of the countryside to the modern-day black, urban Puerto Rican whose racial identification was a major part of a political radicalization project. (Page 107)

How do these poems, poets, and performances illustrate the ideas about Nuyorican identity presented by Ed Morales?

Asynchronous Blog Post on Raza Interrupted (Pages 123-132)

Ed Morales argues that Nuyoricans were/are equipped to engage in a project of multiculturalism while preserving their local, human, and urban culture and traditions. These traditions come mostly from the Taino, African and Spanish heritage as well as the many hybridizations of US society. Morales defends that more than assimilating to Hispanic (in its original European sense) or US American culture, Nuyoricans responded and at times contested and added complexity to these identity formations. (Pages 131-132)

The questions that follow address some instances in which Nuyoricans have become central influencers in the development of NYC’s arts and communities at the end of the twentieth century.



In the comment section down below, write a (200-word minimum) response based on ONE of the following prompts (Deadline 11/18 before the class):


Discuss the involvement of Nuyoricans in the creation of Hip Hop.


Morales argues that Benjy Meléndez’s story illustrates the multicultural intersections at the core of Hip Hop. Why? Expand.


Describe the input of Puerto Rican artists to avant-garde visual arts scenes in New York.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their points and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about “Raza Interrupted” do you want to bring into the discussion?

The Uprising of Dignity: The Zapatista Movement

Entry Discussion

In breakout rooms, pick ONE of the following Zapatistas mottos and discuss your understanding of it based on the documentary and the Zapatista declaration:

.”Another world is possible.”

.”We are making a world that gives space to other worlds.”

.“We learn as we walk, side by side with our education. To educate is to learn.”

.”They could cut all the flowers but the true words… never.”

.“Everything for everyone, nothing for us.”

Zapatista Central Concepts

Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona

.Rebel dignity

Everywhere there are more compañeros and compañeras who are learning to relate to persons from other parts of Mexico and of the world. They are learning to respect and to demand respect. They are learning that there are many worlds and that everyone has their place, their time, and their way, and therefore there must be mutual respect between everyone.

We are also going to go about raising a struggle in order to demand that we make a new Constitution, new laws that take into account the demands of the Mexican people.


.Mal gobierno (bad government)

We saw quite clearly that there was no point in dialogue and negotiation with the bad governments of Mexico. That it was a waste of time for us to be talking with the politicians because neither their hearts nor their words were honest. They were crooked, and they told lies that they would keep their word, but they did not. The politicians from the PRI, the PAN, and the PRD reached an agreement among themselves, and they simply did not recognize indigenous rights and culture. We saw that blood did not matter to them, nor did death, suffering, mobilizations, consultas, efforts, national and international statements, encuentros, accords, signatures, commitments. And so the political class not o­nly closed, o­ne more time, the door to the Indian peoples, they also delivered a mortal blow to the peaceful resolution – through dialogue and negotiation – of the war.

.Neoliberal globalization

Neoliberal globalization wants to destroy the nations of the world so that only o­ne Nation or country remains, the country of money, of capital. And capitalism wants everything to be as it wants, in its own way, and it doesn’t like what is different, and it persecutes it and attacks it, or puts it off in a corner and acts as if it doesn’t exist.

Then, in short, the capitalism of global neoliberalism is based o­n exploitation, plunder, contempt, and repression of those who refuse. The same as before, but now globalized, worldwide.

*See interview with Subcomandante Marcos 7:00-8:15

.Juntas del buen gobierno (autonomous municipal governments)

This method of autonomous government was not simply invented by the EZLN, but rather it comes from several centuries of indigenous resistance and from the zapatistas’ own experience. It is the self-governance of the communities. In other words, no o­ne from outside comes to govern, but the peoples themselves decide, among themselves, who governs and how, and, if they do not obey, they are removed. If the o­ne who governs does not obey the people, they pursue them, they are removed from authority, and another comes in.

All the juntas work toward equitable housing, land, work, food, health, education, information, culture, independence, democracy, justice, liberty, and peace.

Oral/Slide Presentations

Santin,Logan A





Zapatistas call their educational practice “otra educación,” another education, based on the video, why do you think they call it that way? How their approaches to pedagogy are different from mainstream educational methods?

Women’s Rights and Leadership

In the chatbox, complete ONE of these sentences.

Zapatista women took conscience of_______.

Zapatista women are organizing for ________.

In conclusion

Ongoing Zapatista Principles 

1 – We are going to continue fighting for the Indian peoples of Mexico, but now not just for them and not with o­nly them, but for all the exploited and dispossessed of Mexico, with all of them and all over the country. And when we say all the exploited of Mexico, we are also talking about the brothers and sisters who have had to go to the United States in search of work in order to survive.

2 – We are going to go to listen to, and talk directly with, without intermediaries or mediation, the simple and humble of the Mexican people, and, according to what we hear and learn, we are going to go about building, along with those people who, like us, are humble and simple, a national program of struggle for justice, democracy, and liberty for the Mexican people.

3 – We are going to try to build, or rebuild, another way of doing politics, one which o­nce again has the spirit of serving others, without material interests, with sacrifice, with dedication, with honesty, which keeps its word, whose o­nly payment is the satisfaction of duty performed.

Asynchronous Blog Post on The Uprising of Dignity

Asynchronous Blog Post


1. Watch the documentary The Uprising of Dignity

2. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is 11/11 before the class.


Pick ONE of the topics down below and discuss:

How do the Zapatistas create alternative practices to improve the living conditions and sovereignty of the indigenous people in Chiapas? Which of the approaches and ideas interested you the most and why? Do you think these ideas and models could help marginalized communities in the U.S.?


.respect for the land and ecological consciousness

.community self-rule structure




.collective work

.women’s rights

.global solidarity network


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about The Uprising of Dignity do you want to bring into the discussion?

Cocolos Modernos- Petra Rivera-Rideau

Entry Question

Thinking on our previous sources, discussions, and their relationship to today’s reading, what do you understand by cultural politics of blackness?

Cocolos Modernos

Professor and scholar of race and Caribbean music Petra Rivera-Rideau argues “that a cultural politics of blackness links salsa and reggaetón. This cultural politics of blackness denotes a particular positioning that not only calls attention to the processes of racial exclusion embedded within Puerto Rico’s so-called racial democracy but also situates the island within the broader African diaspora. Salsa and reggaetón are [many times] connected through diasporic cultural politics that centers on blackness. ” (1)

Socio-cultural context

Hegemonic constructions of Puerto Rican and US Latina/o identities tend to uphold race mixture as their foundation; however, in the process, they also frequently diminish the importance of blackness, privileging a whitened ‘Hispanicity’ instead. (2)

What current or day-to-day examples can you give of cultural whitewashing?

Afro-Diasporic Musical Genres

Salsa and reggaetón are linked together via a cultural politics of blackness that foregrounds broader connections to the African diaspora. Alternatively, it denotes a strategic positioning in relation to racial politics that denounces the problematic and essentializing tropes of blackness that are intrinsic to the discourses of western modernity within which Puerto Rican and Latina/o identities have been defined. (2)

In general, salsa musicians composed songs that contested the structures of power that adversely affected their communities, including colonialism, classism, and racism… salsa nourished an appreciation of African style evident in its musical aesthetics, dance forms, and the hairdos and fashions adopted by many salsa artists and fans. (3)

In Puerto Rico, reggaetón developed in part as a response to the neoliberal and racist policies that adversely affected working-class, predominantly non-white communities living in the island’s urban housing projects and barrios. (4)

Oral/Slide Presentations



Santamaria,Patrick Loui

Case Studies

I. “El negro bembón”

“‘El negro bembón’ can be read as a denouncement of racial violence and an account of the everyday strategies that black Puerto Ricans must use to avoid such incidents. This directly refutes one of the fundamental premises of racial democracy discourses, pointing out the persistence of racism despite rhetoric to the contrary.” (7)

Someone killed el negro bembón,
Someone killed el negro bembón
People are crying night and day

Because Everybody loved
al negrito bembón

And the police came and they arrested the killer
and one of the policemen who was also a bembón/ a black man got bad luck and was assigned the case
And you know what question he asked the killer?
Why you killed him?
And you know what the assassin answered? I killed him because he has big lips.
The policeman bit his lips and said:

That is not justifiable.

II. “Las caras lindas”

‘Las caras lindas,’ or ‘Beautiful Faces,’ describes the resilience and beauty of black communities throughout the diaspora, and especially in Latin America, and it has been embraced by many as an anthem celebrating Afro-Latina/o identities. Like his recordings with Cortijo, Rivera’s performance of ‘Las caras lindas’ represents a stark contrast to the privileging of whiteness in Puerto Rico and much of Latin America. (7)

The beautiful faces of my black people are a parade of molasses in bloom. When they pass in front of me my heart is happy with its blackness. The beautiful faces of my brown race have crying, grief, and pain they are the truth, survivors of life’s challenges and they have a lot of love inside. We are the molasses that laughs, the molasses that cry, we are the molasses that love. It is touching. That’s why I’m proud of our color. We are welcoming clear poetry. They have their rhythm, they have a melody, the beautiful faces of my black people.

III. “Loíza”

Located in the northeastern corner of Puerto Rico, Loíza is a town that is often described as the epicenter of Afro-Puerto Rican life and culture, sometimes in problematic ways that reiterate the ‘folkloricization’ of blackness. However, Calderón departs from this dominant image of Loíza by frequently describing socioeconomic conditions in the town as the product of perpetual institutional racism (P. Rivera, 2010, pp. 137–138). In this regard, Loíza serves as a metonym not of a folkoricized blackness, but rather of black communities that are consistently subject to racism on the island. (10)

This is for my people/pueblo!
With love, el abayarde!
With DJ Adam!
And Cachete, the big man of the drums!
For my people, that I love so much!
From Calderon, pa’ Loiza!
I’m in no hurry
But your slowness angers me
And the one who doesn’t deals/brega with Loiza
(No, don’t cry!)
He wants me to think
That I’m part of a racial trilogy
Where everybody is equal, no special treatment
I know how to forgive 
It’s you who doesn’t know how to excuse yourself
So, how do you justify all this bad treatment?
It’s just that your history/story is embarrassing.
Among other things
You traded chains for handcuffs.
We are not all the same in legal terms
And that has been proven in court
In the clear justice is obtained only by fighting 
That’s why we are as we are (Fuck it!)
If there’s no money for the lawyer, the state will provide one 
But brother
The one who takes you is the one who brought you
They kill you and don’t draw their guns
The cage is flooding
A legal sentence is a lame defense
There will never be justice without equality
Damn evil that destroys humanity
Because he’s protesting, he’s going to take away my freedom.
If I don’t recognize your authority
There will never be justice without equality
Damn evil that destroys humanity
If I protest, he’s going to take away my freedom.
I know that I don’t belong to your society
Of hypocrites
Vanity, plenty of falsehood 
There’s a lot of everything [consumerism] but no happiness
I have nothing
Just these fed up lyrics
And the ability not to believe in your truth
Who else
would think of 
saturate the mind of innocent children
With inconsistent education
Viciously manipulated
for the convenience of the wealthy
In the past they got away with it, they abused and they refuse to let me know of their wrongdoings
It is said that things have changed
but don’t go to sleep, they walk with sticks
And I’ve heard Ruben Berrios advocate for me.
I don’t trust anyone.
All with Vieques
My black people suffer
Little by little, mi negrito
Be smart
Be proud and honor god
For those niches
that believe themselves better by their professions
Or for having factions of their oppressors
Bastards, suckers
España go fuck yourself (Ja!)
I’m niche
Proud of my roots
Of having a lot of bemba and a big nose
We don’t stop being happy not even when suffering
That’s why our father God blesses us
There will never be justice without equality
Damn evil that destroys humanity
If I protest, he’s going to take away my freedom.
I don’t recognize your authority
This is el Abayarde!
Bringing it as it is!
I’m pushing them hard, to wake up my people!
Hey, how nice is my Loiza!
Look how pretty it is!

Group Discussion

Discuss the similarities and different perspectives of blackness between “El negro bembón” by Cortijo y su Combo, “Las caras lindas” by Ismael Rivera, and “Loíza” by Tego Calderón.