Cultura y conciencia

Two Subway Riders Save Man Who Fell on the Tracks

Nelson Santana

Senior citizen saved from an imminent death by upcoming train

By Amaury Rodríguez

April 13, 2011

Photo: AR/Esendom

New York – An unidentified man of approximately 60 years of age fell onto the subway tracks this morning around 9:40am.

The accident occurred on the uptown side of 96TH street subway station in the Upper West side.

Luck was on his side.  In fact, the number 1 train had just left when he fell onto the trash infested metal tracks. Immediately, two well-built men jumped to the rescue. Esendom was there when Angel Martínez and James Almes struggled to lift the man up and eventually dragged him to the subway platform.


Photo: AR/Esendom

Once on the platform, the two men called for assistance. Soon, frantic subway workers rushed to get help. A female police officer appeared on the scene and thanked the two heroes. 

The man who fell did not appear to have serious injuries. However, he remained on the floor asking onlookers in Spanish to help him get up.

An upcoming train arrived five minutes later. Meanwhile, the two rescuers shook hands and proceeded to enter the train. The scene looked familiar as these two tough New Yorkers showed that people here are not afraid to risk their lives to save a stranger.

Isis Duarte, Pioneering Dominican Sociologist, Dies at 69

Nelson Santana

By Amaury Rodríguez

May 19, 2011

Isis Duarte, a Dominican author who was a pioneer in the field of sociology in the Dominican Republic died May 15 in Mexico after battling a terminal illness. She was 69.

Born Isis Generosa Duarte Tavárez on May 12 of 1942 in Duarte Province, Duarte laid the groundwork for a whole generation of historians, sociologists and political scientists. In fact, she contributed to the development of sociology as a scientific and rigorous tool to be used in the influential emerging social sciences departments in the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), the state university and others.

In 1967, she received an undergraduate sociology degree from UASD. A year later, she became an adjunct professor at her Alma Mater where she would teach for more than four decades.

In the early 70s, she lived in Chile where she graduated from the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO) with a Master’s in Social Science and a minor on political science.

From 1974 to 1979, Duarte headed the sociology department at UASD, becoming the first woman to do so. Years earlier, an earth-shaking event in the country opened the way for her and many other women to enter the small but growing field of academia. That was, in fact, the much anticipated collapse of the Trujillo dictatorship which inaugurated a new era of democratic and cultural freedom in the Dominican Republic.

Duarte and her generation experienced a turbulent time that transformed international politics and intensified Cold-War era antagonism throughout the planet. Some of the key events representative of that era were the growing influence of the Cuban revolution around the world, the War in Vietnam and the anti-war and Civil Rights movements in the U.S; the Sexual revolution and further experimentations in the arts, music and literature that surpassed anything that was done before in both quality and quantity.

In the mid-60s, a radical student movement in UASD, which took inspiration from the 1965 revolution to restore Juan Bosch to power, formed the Movimiento Renovador to fight for a more inclusionary educational system. It demanded political and economic autonomy from the state. At the end, the movement won all its demands. Afterward, the UASD opened its doors to thousands of low income students, founded a history department under the guidance of a number of progressive professors and conducted research on the social sciences which suffered greatly during Trujillo. Over the years, the UASD became one of the leading higher learning institutions in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean region.

An exceptional and gifted writer, Duarte penned several books and articles on disparate topics ranging from economic, gender, immigration and electoral politics in the Dominican Republic. Duarte was also editor of a number of compilation book essays.

Some of her most important works are “Capitalism and Over-Population in Santo Domingo,” (1980) for which she was awarded the Pedro Henríquez Ureña Award for best essay; “Urban Workers” (1986); “Dominican Families, The Myth of the Ideal Family and the Head of the Household” as well as the seminal “Sugar and Haitian Migration” which she co-authored with André Corten among others.

Duarte’s articles have been disseminated throughout Latin America and some have even been translated into English. She did not shy away from the public view as she debated some of the most important political events of the day during frequent TV and radio news show appearances.

She did not hide her politics no matter the outcome. In the 70s, her work reflected both a liberal and democratic outlook that challenged the authoritarian government of Joaquín Balaguer who put in motion a plan to destroy the autonomy of the state-owned university by first de-funding it, and second, cracking down on any form of organized dissent.

By the 1980s, and as the Balaguer years receded into the past, she became increasingly involved in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that focused on family planning, an anachronism for population control. For a number of years she was the director of Institute of Population and Development Studies, a branch of PROFAMILIA.

During that time, sterilization as a method of birth control among working class and poor women became a common practice thanks to a state sponsored campaign that promoted it as an alternative to abortion and other methods of birth control. (The campaign was funded by the United Nations and United States among others.)

Duarte continued her NGO work well throughout the 90s when in 1993 she was among the founders of the Dominican chapter of Participación Ciudadana, an internationally funded civil society organization that focuses in part, on electoral reforms.

At the time of her death, she was a member of the Academy of Sciences. Her departure was a shock to many students, professors and colleagues. The president of UASD, the institution she helped build from the ground up through her expertise, released a statement expressing condolences to the family:

“We, UASD family lament the passing of one of our academics and we join in the pain that her family is going through; Isis Duarte is a great researcher who leaves behind her legacy in the books, articles and conferences that gave us prestige as an institution.”

Duarte is survived by a daughter, Hilda Díaz Duarte.

Sources for this obituary came mainly from Dominican media including the newspapers EL NACIONAL, LISTÍN DIARIO, DIARIO LIBRE and ACENTO.

A Goat, a Nobel, a Novel and a Snake

Nelson Santana

By Amaury Rodríguez

October 13, 2010

Mario Vargas Lllosa, the Peruvian-born Spanish citizen just received the Nobel Prize for literature. The event does not call for rejoicing —so save those fireworks for now—even though the award in some way honors Latin American and Spanish -speaking Literature. In some ways, that is. The prestigious award will also impact his book sales. This year’s choice is strange since Vargas Llosa has not written any good fiction in years. Or a good, interesting and entertaining word –a single word, a lonely single word—to be more exact. Take for example The Feast of the Goat (La Fiesta del Chivo), which takes place during the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. So while it is true that the novel sparked a renew interest in that dark historical period, it remained a badly written novel for generations to come, amen.  The Goat was so bad, so tasteless, that a friend who stole it regretted ever doing so on the first place; my friend, a voracious and serious reader of Latin American and Caribbean lit, couldn’t get to the end. In my case, I borrowed it from a public library in New York. However, I ended up regretting it even more because I had to commute 45 minutes in order to return it. In NYC, time is everything. That is why I threw the book to a snake so I wouldn’t have to waste a minute more contemplating that awful book. 

Junot Diaz Visits Bronx Community College

Nelson Santana

By Nelson Santana

September 27, 2010

A Ghetto Phenomenon Inspires New York Youth


The Bronx, New York – Some despise him for the same reasons others love and hold admiration for him. His vulgar mouth spews poetic expressions adorned with today’s English.

The week of the 20th started with a bang courtesy of a book reading offered by the imminent down-to-earth English Professor Junot Diaz. The reading, which took place on Monday, September 20, was the end product of the effort of the Dominican Club at The City University of New York Bronx Community College.

One of the first things Professor Diaz stated was: “I wasn’t asked to come here as a professor. They asked me to come because I am an artist. They asked me to talk about my art.” And art he has, as his 2007 novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao garnered him a Pulitzer for his fiction masterpiece.

All behold: Junot the Artist is in the house.

  Junot Díaz reads his short story "Alma"

Muffled whispers of shock toward Junot’s colloquial tongue would resonate within the audience, yet not with enough force to actually pierce through his stage.

During the Q & A (questions and answers) segment however, one member of the audience could not contain his torment and obliged others like himself by questioning literature’s genius about the use of “bad words” in his fiction – and onstage – and also pondered about the cursing in the classes Junot has taught, to which Junot responded: “When my students can command the English language as well as me, then will I allow them to curse in my class.”

Part of Junot’s aura is his uncanny ability to connect with the youth. Most in the audience overwhelmingly consented to his usage of colloquial English – and his colloquial Spanish cannot be disregarded either.

Much to the audience’s delight, Diaz read his short story “Alma,” about a couple whose relationship ends due to the male’s infidelity.

Through Junot’s discourse the young intellectuals in attendance did have the opportunity to learn a little about their history.

The breeding experiment

Junot’s lecture touched briefly on the 400 years of slavery the Dominican people endured. According to Junot, Dominicans are a “raped people” who happen to be the byproduct of the “breeding experiment.”

Everything that is Dominican is a consequence of the breeding experiment which in actuality was unwanted rape brought upon capitalism’s lucrative and most heinous invention – slavery.

It is through this repeated rape that Dominicans come in all shapes and sizes – black, white, yellow, voluptuous, petite, round and brown among other characteristics that identify this population.


It is Junot’s realness that attracts his audience to him: “All of you know that you spend your life with a stack of masks on your face. You have the person you are when you talk to your boss. You have the person you are when you talk to your teacher. You have the person you are when you talk to your boys and girls. You have the person you are when you talk to your absolute, most trustful best friend.”

It is human nature to wear different masks. Humans are trained to act a certain way when in the presence of a person or persons. One speaks to his/her boss differently than from one’s parents. That is the beauty of being human, but by the same token one can also take it as curse.

This particular message from Junot is important because many minority students struggle with the masks they wear, and he stressed to his audience that it is fine to wear different masks, as those masks will help them get through in life – obtaining a college degree while at the same time remaining true to one’s boys and girls.


Junot Díaz shares some thoughts at a reception following his lecture 

Writers are artists

Junot Diaz is the voice of many people. He advocates for oppressed groups including students and fellow writers among others. According to Junot, “Most people get very little art education” in the United States. He goes on to argue that the school system would rather pit students to compete against one another rather than cultivate them. “There is no culture on the Earth that doesn’t recognize its literature as art,” and Junot argues the U.S. does the opposite and by neglecting this part of one’s education, the U.S. does more harm than good to its prospective college graduates.

The Brief Wondrous…

Certain audience members – to the dismay of insecure Dominican historians – admitted to being fond of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as it allows them to learn Dominican history.

At the private by-invitation-only reception Junot stated he considers his Pulitzer masterpiece an "Encyclopedia novel": a novel that attempts to compile as much information as possible relevant to history; in this case, Dominican history.

Though some of the historical notes in the novel may be considered inaccurate due to history’s inconsistencies, Junot excels in educating his audience about Dominican history.

One notable example historians cite to discredit the history portion in the novel is when Junot takes a stand and states former Dominican President Joaquin Balaguer never fathered children. Historically, Balaguer never fathered children. On the other hand, it was not until after his death in 2002 that previous rumors about him fathering children gained momentum.

Unlike historians who drain the life out of the history books they write, Junot livens the pages on which his words appear on, and in turn stimulates the youth by arousing the history they were taught to despise.

Junot Diaz is not simply a writer or English professor – he is a ghetto phenomenon who takes time to nurture America’s youth, barring race or nationality.

Something Not Right with School Breakfast Milk in Dominican Republic

Nelson Santana

By Peralta Mejia

September 26, 2010

School breakfast milk continues to make students sick

This week Dominican media revealed new cases of food poisoning from drinking milk in public schools. According to, in Jarabacoa (Cibao region) fourteen primary school students were hospitalized shortly after drinking milk.

Last year, there were several cases of food poisoning from drinking milk across the country. In fact, approximately one hundredth students showed signs of food poisoning after drinking the milk supplied by Lácteos Dominicanos (Ladom). In 2008, Ladom became a target of criticism from parents, students and civil society after independent journalist Nuria Piera revealed that the milk it supplied to the government funded breakfast lacked nutritional values.

However, the government and the milk company vehemently denied the allegations. This led to protests by parents and grassroots organizations.

As a result, the Dominican government removed Alejandrina German from the Ministry of Education and placed her as head of Women’s affairs. Additionally, the government promised to end the contract with Ladom, the milk supplier.

The recent events prompt the following question: Is the government telling the truth about the milk intoxication?

Once again, the latest events cast doubt on the Dominican government. On September 23, Listin Diario newspaper reported on its website that the milk that made the students sick this week was supplied by Ladom, the milk supplier company responsible for making poor students sick since 2008.

Father Coughlin’s Ghost

Nelson Santana

By María Encarnación

September 22, 2010

A specter is haunting the U.S.—the specter of hate

For many people in the United States and abroad, the election of Barack Obama augured a new era of racial harmony in a country where people of African descent lacked citizenship rights a few decades back. Others, meanwhile, expressed skepticism at the prospects for a more tolerant society that has just elected a black man as commander in chief.

At the end, the latter turned out to be right.

In fact, this post-election era has seen a revival of racism fuelled by hysteria that is reminiscent of Father Coughlin’s anti-Semitic speeches in the 1930s. Coughlin was a Catholic priest who used Jewish immigrants as scapegoats for the economic crisis facing the U.S. at that time. His popular radio show was a predecessor of today’s hate radio and TV luminaries such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glen Beck among others. Their target: immigrants of color who they blame for unemployment, disease, crime and terrorism. Their political and financial backers: the Republican Party and the far right organized in the Tea Party movement that claims to represent working people when in reality it is a vehicle to rally up racists and xenophobes across the nation.

The Tea partiers and Republican politicians are also attacking Muslims and Arabs who are portrayed as a threat to “American values.” The announcement t to build a Mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, has provoked hysteria among racist politicians who feel offended by it. However, many of those offended politicians-such as Peter King, Republican congressman from New York, voted “no” to provide compensation and health benefits to 9-11 rescue workers and families of those killed during the attack. Meanwhile, the mainstream media and the U.S. government do not defend Muslim and Arabs.

In fact, Islam phobia serves as a justification for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. government also carries out deportations of undocumented immigrants, propping up hate and xenophobia. Actually, the Obama administration further criminalizes immigrants by militarizing the border as though the country needs to be protected against hard working immigrants who are the backbone of the economy. Furthermore, immigrants are kept in detention centers for years in the most inhumane conditions.


Father Coughlin’s ghost serves a purpose: to scare people off and create the conditions for more xenophobic and anti-immigrants sentiment and laws in the United States. One example of that is the recent enactment of anti-immigrant and racist laws in Arizona.

In the meantime, immigrants and their allies are organizing to contain the seeds of hate and destruction that is sweeping the country.

Nueva York’s Latinos: 1613-1945

Nelson Santana

By Nelson Santana

September 20, 2010

-- EL BARRIO, NEW YORK. On Thursday, September 16, El Museo del Barrio was the scene of the opening reception of an historic exhibit that documents the history of the Hispanic and Latino population in the capital of the world, New York City.

Presented by the New-York Historical Society in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio, the exhibit “Nueva York (1613-1945),” highlights the role that Latinos and Spanish-speakers have played since the 17th century to help shape New York into the culturally vibrant city it is today.

Political figures, renowned scholars and some of the most prominent luminaries of the City were present for an evening of Latino cultural enrichment.

Those in attendance for the exclusive by-invitation-only opening of this finely detailed exhibit included Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez; Bronx Borough President Ruben Díaz Jr.;State Senator Bill Perkins; Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat; state senator candidate Gustavo Rivera; former Governor of Puerto Rico Sila Maria Calderon; and former Commissioner of the New York City Records and Information Services Idilio Gracia-Peña, among some of the noteworthy political figures in attendance.

Other prominent figures present were the scholars Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant and Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, founding members of the City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute.

Moreover, to accent the importance of this event one should go no further than its keynote speaker: the Honorable Sonia Maria Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; the Bronx native is the third female and first person of Hispanic ancestry with this distinction.

Among the evening’s speakers were Roger Hertog, Chariman of the Board of Trustees of the New-York Historical Society; Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society; and Julian Zugazagoitia, former Director of El Museo del Barrio.

In his speech, Hertog stressed the importance of the Hispanic community in New York. Proud of his immigrant roots, Hertog’s family immigrated from Germany during the 1940s.

The Honorable Justice Sonia Sotomayor revealed “I never lived in Puerto Rico,” but when she spoke of her Hispanic roots one could not but absorb the fondness she has in her heart for her Latino ancestry. Born and bred in the Bronx, the Honorable Sotomayor connected with society’s elite and regular folks alike in attendance.

As noted by the Justice, “the history of Latino immigrants begins in 1613 with Jan Rodriguez,” a man born in Santo Domingo – capital of present-day Dominican Republic – who became New York’s first official immigrant resident. This information in particular was made possible through the investigative research conducted by Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, Assistant Director at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

The exhibition pays homage to Latin-American immigrants, children of immigrants, Spaniards and Puerto Rican migrants.

Documents, art works books and artifacts such as clothing and a miniature boat comprise this intriguing exhibition. “Nueva York (1613-1945)” also tells the New York story of noteworthy figures including Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (Puerto Rico) and Jose Marti (Cuba).

In addition to the “Nueva York (1613-1945)” exhibition, the New-York Historical Society in collaboration with other institutions including the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, Graduate Center of CUNY, El Museo del Barrio and The Hispanic Society of America will sponsor numerous programs and exhibitions that honor and document Latino and Hispanic heritage in New York.

For information about the exhibition “Nueva York (1613-1945)” you may visit El Museo del Barrio’s website at:

You can read more about the New-York Historical Society at:

The Importance of Being Junot

Nelson Santana

Stamps from Santo Domingo to New York

By Rafael de la Cruz

September 15, 2010

Junot Diaz continues to stick it to the establishment while the sacred cows no longer give milk: on September 20th Junot will give a lecture in Bronx Community College in the city of New York

In the U.S., Junot Díaz's narrative leaves many readers dumbfounded, whether they are English or Spanish speakers. Moreover, in the subway it is not rare to find female and male readers alike submerged in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the book which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Esendom has been to several public speaking events of the acclaimed author and has witnessed the love and respect young people have for Junot.

It should not be neglected to point out that Junot, like the great Argentine writer Julio Cortazar decades ago, is like a sweet flower that attracts bees: A younger fan base hungry for new narrative forms and avant-garde experimentation. And as in the decade of the 60s, the younger generation rebelled against the sacred cows who intended to impose their dogma on the literary and cultural world.

In the Dominican Republic, many of the sacred cows that have lost ground to new generation of writers and artists refuse or resist to recognize Junot's talents. Clearly, this is due to the fact that Junot represents an alternative to the conservative and ageing intellectuals who receive largess of political power from time to time as many of these are linked to traditional parties responsible for the lack of impunity against the crimes of the Trujillo dictatorship and the Balaguerist regime from the 1970s. Actually, this is group of intellectuals composed of "whites" who view Junot as an affront since he is a person of color who has captivated the Dominican community abroad.

But Junot is also a loudmouth, a bocagrande, in the best sense of the word, who speaks out and denounces the abuses against Dominicans of Haitian descent alongside Haitian-American writer Edwidge Dandicat.

The loudmouth Junot is seen as a threat to the alleged "hispanic heritage” of Dominicans by writing in English and for his fierce defense of the rights of Dominico-Haitians and immigrants from the neighboring country. The Sacred Cows who no longer produce milk despise him for this and much more.

Finally, these dried cows in both Santo Domingo and the U.S. have a grudge against Junot because the literary talent that is Junot Diaz takes readership away from them. In short, they cannot accept – not even in their wildest dreams – that the young Dominican-American intellectual and writer deserves the recognition and a certain financial success that as a writer, he has rightfully earned.

Dermatitis: Skin Inflammation

Nelson Santana

By Carmen Santana-Restituyo

September 14, 2010

Dermatitis means skin inflammation. In most cases the early stages are characterized by red, itchy skin, although acute attacks may result in crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid. Although treatment is very similar, the doctor will try to narrow the type in order to determine the cause.

The types of dermatitis include:

  Contact dermatitis causes the skin to develop a pink or red rash, which usually itches. Pinpointing the exact cause of contact dermatitis can be difficult. Among plants, the leading culprits are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, although contact with certain flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables can cause dermatitis in some people. Common chemical irritants include detergents, soaps, some synthetic fibers, nail polish remover, antiperspirants, and formaldehyde. Wearing rubber gloves, unwashed new clothes, or plated jewelry can also cause contact dermatitis if the person is allergic to these substances. The inflammation is occasionally caused by cosmetics, perfumes, hair dyes, and skin-care products.

  Nummular dermatitis consists of distinctive coin-shaped red plaques that are most commonly seen on the legs, hands, arms, and torso. It is more common in men than women and the peak age of onset is between 55 and 65. Living in a dry environment or taking frequent very hot showers can cause this condition.

  Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, causes the skin to itch, scale, swell, and sometimes blister. This type of eczema usually runs in families and is often associated with allergies, asthma, and stress.

  Seborrheic dermatitis consists of greasy, yellowish, or reddish scaling on the scalp and other hairy areas, as well as on the face or genitals, and in skin creases along the nose, under the breasts, and elsewhere. This condition is called cradle cap in infants. It may be aggravated by stress.

  Stasis dermatitis is caused by poor circulation and can happen in people with varicose veins, congestive heart failure, or other conditions which result in chronic leg swelling. Veins in the lower legs fail to return blood efficiently, causing pooling of blood and fluid buildup and edema. This leads to irritation, especially around the ankles.

No matter the type or cause of dermatitis, the symptoms can vary from moderate to severe. For some, dermatitis can simply cause dry skin; for others it can result in such a severe reaction leading to loss of sleep, appetite and even depression. In order to avoid complications the recommendation is to obtain medical assistance immediately. It is recommended that the patient be evaluated by a dermatologist. The earlier it is diagnosed the faster the patient will recover.

Varying from acute to chronic dermatitis affects thousands of people. There does not have to be a history of allergies or family tendency for someone to be diagnosed with dermatitis. It is important to recognize triggers and avoid them. An acute exacerbation can cause lasting effects such as scarring to the skin. So, keep in mind the best treatment is early detection, early diagnosis and certainly lots of awareness to avoid all those things that can cause an exacerbation.

Written by Carmen Santana-Restituyo, RN, BSN, nurse by profession. Manager and program director of Health House of Hamilton Park in Bklyn, NY

The Great Dominican Ignorance Toward Alex Rodriguez

Nelson Santana

For my father

By Nelson Santana

August 4, 2010

Alex Rodriguez is an exquisite specimen of a baseball player who has rubbed Dominicans and Americans alike the wrong way. Interestingly enough, these individuals have no logical reason to hate Rodriguez.

For example, when a group of Dominicans carryon a conversation among themselves with Rodriguez as the protagonist, phrases such as “disgusting traitor” are integrated into the conversation. Words of hate and ignorant statements spew out of the mouths of such individuals. The root of this ignorant way of thinking is simply envy.

This shows the great ignorance of the Dominican people in regard to the best Dominican baseball player of all time.


There once was a time in history when Dominicans in and outside of the Dominican Republic admired Alex Rodriguez. From the moment that Alex Rodriguez entered Major League Baseball, Alex became the face of all Dominicans in the Majors. To be more precise, Rodriguez's face appeared on milk cartons, books and other merchandise in the Dominican Republic.

The question to ask is:

When did the Dominican people turn their backs on Rodriguez?

Only a fool or one who does not follow baseball would not know the answer.

Dominicans turned backs on their idol Alex Rodriguez when the gentleman of the future half billion-dollar contract signed with the New York Yankees. Both fans of the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox - many of whom are Dominican - were so distraught that from one moment to the other they began to hate the Golden Boy they once praised. In fact, some Dominicans have even gone as far as to wish death upon Rodriguez. Felix Cabral said: "I hope that thief’s bags (scrotum) rot."

Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and a host of other Dominican players left their respective teams and abandoned their fans who worshiped them in search of more money. Then, why so much hatred toward Rodriguez and not these players? The answer: Simply because the New York Yankees, also known in baseball as the “Evil Empire,” was the team to win the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes by signing the best baseball player and unfortunately the ignorant Boston and Mets fans have not been able to get over this.


Traditionally the team of preference among the Dominicans, in and out of the Dominican Republic has always been the New York Yankees.

The team of choice for most Dominican players who aspire to someday play in Major League Baseball is the New York Yankees.

Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez are two baseball players who have had such a preference of playing for the Yankees, a team in which many of their fellow countrymen have played in including Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Tony Fernandez, Mariano Duncan, Luis Polonia, Raul Mondesi and a host of Dominican players.


Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal are multimillionaires who have never forgotten their Dominican roots and oftentimes can be found socializing with Dominicans when they travel to Dominican Republic. They partake in activities with the rich and poor alike, and take time to socialize with the common folk.

Major leaguers are praised by Dominican society. This is evident in Dominican music, especially merengue tipico songs, where players are often mentioned.

For those who do not know, the players most often mentioned in Dominican music are Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal, and not necessarily because they are the most humble, but because they have invested money to keep alive and relevant in today's society merengue tipico.

Before the defection of Tormenta, Cristian, Dario and other musicians from the first Kerubanda, that group in particular was sponsored by Peligro Records, a company owned by Manny Ramirez.

During the group’s reincarnation and prior to the second breakup, the new Kerubanda was sponsored by Rafael Furcal. If one listens carefully to the song, “El Pichoncito,” the most played merengue tipico of 2009, one would hear the many times that Furcal’s name is mentioned throughout the song.


One of the most interesting things is when a psychologist attempts to analyze the psychological psyche of an individual. New York’s darling was abandoned by his father at the age of seven and Rodriguez has a brother who he just met not too long ago.

No matter how much they try to reason, those individuals speak negatively about Rodriguez principally because they are envious of him.

In the press conference that ensued after the Yankees eliminated the Minnesota Twins from contention in 2009’s postseason, the first thing Rodriguez did was thank all Dominicans for the support they had given throughout his career, especially for the support they gave him in a season in which the American and Dominican press portrayed him negatively after he honed up to the use of steroids. Again, following New York’s second victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Rodriguez mentioned the Dominican people in the press conference. After watching and listening to Rodriguez, only an ignorant person could argue that Rodriguez does not mention his land or his people.

2009 was a memorable year for Rodriguez since for the first time in his storied career he demonstrated his prowess and shined during the postseason, leading the Yankees to his first World Series title.

People should not be so ignorant to not recognize when one of their own calls.


There is absolutely no doubt that the two best players of Dominican descent

to have played in the Majors are Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

There are many Dominicans who insist that Pujols is a more complete baseball player than Rodriguez, but these folks usually argue without having concrete evidence before their eyes, and thus make ignorant comments.

Alex Rodriguez's career is more extensive than Albert Pujols, then it is logical that Rodriguez has produced more than Pujols in terms of RBI, runs scored, hits and home runs among other categories. However, when comparing the career of Rodriguez with that of Pujols is clear that the statistics of both players are almost identical.

Alex Rodriguez

Seasonal Averages (per 162 games played)




 Albert Pujols

Seasonal Averages (per 162 games played)



As the evidence suggests, taking into account the average of 162 lifetime games of both players, Rodriguez has outperformed Pujols in runs scored and home runs, while both are tied in RBIs and Pujols has been a more complete player in relation to hits and batting average among other categories.


Alex Rodriguez


• 1996 American League Silver Slugger

• 1999 American League Silver Slugger

• 2001: American League Hank Aaron Award

•1998 American League Silver Slugger

• 2000 American League Silver Slugger

• 2002: American League Gold Glove at SS

• 2002: American League Hank Aaron Award• 2003: American League Gold Glove at SS

• 2003: American League Most Valuable Player• 2003: American League Hank Aaron Award

• 2005: American League Silver Slugger• 2005: American League Most Valuable Player

• 2007: American League Silver Slugger• 2007: American League Most Valuable Player

• 2007: American League Hank Aaron Award• 2008: American League Silver Slugger



Albert Pujols


• 2001: National League Rookie of the Year• 2001: National League Silver Slugger

• 2003: National League Silver Slugger• 2003: National League Hank Aaron Award

• 2004: National League Silver Slugger• 2004: NLCS Most Valuable Player

• 2005: National League Most Valuable Player• 2006: National League Gold Glove at 1B

• 2008: National League Silver Slugger• 2008: National League Most Valuable Player

• 2008: Roberto Clemente Award• 2009: National League Silver Slugger

• 2009: National League Most Valuable Player• 2009: National League Hank Aaron Awar

The evidence indicates that each has had an illustrious career.  Without discrediting Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez's career as a player has been brighter than Pujols' career.

To those critics who still do not give up and rationalize that Albert Pujols has had a more prolific career that Rodriguez should note that Pujols is younger and has many years to play to finish his illustrious career. Because Pujols is younger, he is a better player than Rodriguez, since Alex is 34 years old and Pujols is 30.

Others argue that Pujols would have had five Most Valuable Player trophies had it not been for the existence of Barry Bonds and Ryan Howard. However, the only trophies that count are the three that were awarded to him. By the same token there are baseball analysts who believe that Rodriguez deserved the award in 1996 when Juan Gonzalez won it.

When the statistics of both men are compared, one must take into account all data beginning with the stats from each player’s first season. That is to say, though Rodriguez has played five seasons more than Pujols, those numbers cannot be ignored, and when taking these numbers into consideration, Rodriguez has earned his spot in Baseball's Hall of Fame – of course, notwithstanding the steroids use, yet that is a topic for another day.

In the 2009 postseason hit six homers and drove in 15 runs
His six homeruns are tied with Bernie Williams for the all-time record
His 15 RBIs are tied with Bernie Williams (1996) and Scott Brosius (1998) for the all-time Yankees record.
He is the youngest player to reach 500 homers
Signed the two biggest contracts in baseball history:
$ 252 million (2001)
$ 272 million for 10 years (2007)
Other statistics:
7 time All-Star at shortstop
3 time All-Star at third base
7 times Silver Slugger at shortstop
3 times Silver Slugger as a third baseman

Major League Records


Most runs in a season (SS)1411996

Most extra base hits in a season (SS)911996

Highest slugging percentage in a season (SS).6311996

Most total bases in a season (SS)3932001

Most home runs in a season (SS)572002

Most home runs in the month of April (tied)142007

Fastest to 12 home runs in a season (tied)15 Gms2007

Fastest to 13 and 14 home runs in a season18 Gms2007

Most home runs by a New York-born player599since 1994

Youngest ever to hit 500 home runs32y, 8d2007

Most home runs by a third baseman (season)52†2007

Most stolen bases in a 50-home run season24 (tied with Willie Mays)2007


American League Records


Most home runs in consecutive seasons (RH)1092001-2002

Most home runs in the month of April142007

Fastest to 10 home runs in a season14 Gms2007

Fastest to 12 home runs in a season15 Gms2007

New York Yankees Records


Most home runs in a season at home (RH)262005, 2007

Most home runs in a season (RH)542007

Most RBIs in a postseason182009

Most home runs in a postseason6†2009

Major League Baseball has never had a baseball player with the talent of Alex Rodriguez. Rather than judging him over every minor thing he does, Dominicans should celebrate the storied career of this prolific Dominican athlete.

Police Lash Out Against Peaceful Protest

Nelson Santana

By Jose Efrain Estrella

July 29, 2010

Uniformed Thugs Suppress Protest


On Friday July 23rd the Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo became the scene of barbarism when members of the National Police (PN) attacked hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest the continuing acts of police brutality.

The protest was organized by the Committee Against Police Abuse, a coalition of several grassroots organizations and youth who have decided to launch a campaign to protest the bloodshed of innocent people that has been taking place since the Police Chief, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín, took office in 2007.

The latest cases of police abuse have rocked the Dominican population.
Among the most shocking acts of bloodshed committed by the thugs of the PN include the murder in cold blood of the 23 year-old Abraham Ramos Morel and the elder Elio Reyes Severino, 81 years of age.

During the protest several young activists were injured including the prominent left activist and writer Narciso Isa Conde, who suffered a broken rib at the hands of a police lieutenant who obeyed the orders of the feared Colonel Eusebio Aquino aka "The Pepper."

The recent police repression reveals the animalistic instinct and repression of the military and its leaders in government.

But fear will not prevail in a country that would not tolerate a repeat of the bloody Twelve Years of Balaguer (1966-1978) that wiped out much of the Dominican youth.

Meanwhile, protest organizers said they will continue their struggle and prepare a separate protest on 12 August.

Police Repression in Dominican Republic:

Nelson Santana

Is it time for the bloodthirsty chief of Dominican police to resign?

By José Efraín Estrella

July 19, 2010

The most recent police brutality cases in the Dominican Republic have led to a backlash against Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín, the chief of police. Guzmán Fermín has been accused of the death of hundreds of people since he became chief of police in 2007.

In the meantime, lawyer associations, popular organizations and relatives of victims of police brutality have found common ground to launch a campaign to put an end to the brutal tactics used by the notoriously criminal gangs inside the police.

For too long, Guzmán Fermín has been justifying the use of force to fight crime, a bankrupt stance that has done nothing to lower crime. To this date, innocent people have paid a very high price at the hands of police.

President Leonel Fernandez has also denounced the police’s tactics. But more must be done to ensure that police implicated in crimes and human rights abuses be brought to justice. The first step would be to sack Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín to send a message to those low ranking members of the National Police who have been following his command to shoot at innocent civilians.

Lebron James: A Humble Man on the Wrong Side of Cleveland and Dan Gilbert’s Backlash

Nelson Santana

Waited Seven Years and Management Never Gave Him Key Players

Written by Nelson Santana

July 12, 2010

Lebron James wanted to win NBA championships. Cleveland Cavaliers’ management would not provide him key players to capture those championships. Whether or not the latter is true, one cannot deny that James was tired of not having a ring, therefore he opted to sign with the Miami Heat, where his quest for a championship seemed most attainable.

Sports fans pay the salaries of the athletes they dish lots of money to see, and are entitled to voice their concerns and or opinions. In addition, they also have the right to purchase merchandise and destroy it if they so willingly wish to do so, so long as they cause no physical harm to anyone else. After all, it is in a fan’s nature to be fanatical.

Immediately after ‘King’ James made his announcement – something many have labeled narcissistic for leaving everyone in suspense until making the public aware of his decision live on ESPN and not informing Cleveland Cavaliers management beforehand – basketball fans around the world and the media alike began an unprecedented barrage of negativity toward James, attacking him every imaginable way possible. He was called a coward, egotistical and media hungry among other terms. Fans in Cleveland destroyed James merchandise which included the burning of his number 23 jersey.

Fans of cities with teams in the bid for James, like New York where James was booed during Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, showed disappointment, but were not as spurned as the fans in Cleveland. On the other hand, those in Miami were ecstatic with the addition of James, where Heat great Dwayne Wade and former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh signed and together the three will make an unstoppable three-man force to be reckoned with, as members of the Miami Heat.

The reaction of the Cleveland fans was something to expect. However, no one would ever expect a tasteless reaction from a team owner.

Unprofessional Reaction from Cavaliers’ Ownership

Soon after learning of James’ decision to leave Cleveland, Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert issued a very direct statement to James in which he referred to the superstar’s act as cowardly. He wrote: “It’s not about leaving. It’s about the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.”

"If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our motivation to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels."

Gilbert went as far as saying that James “Quit” on his teammates in this year’s playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Prior to the email, James was viewed as the ultimate villain for keeping the Cavaliers in the dark with regard to his decision. There has been much speculation over James’ reasoning to decide not to resume in Cleveland.

Gilbert’s childishness has no limits. Immediately after the announcement the Cavaliers put on sale Lebron James memorabilia for $17.41 – some items originally retailed at $99.99. The significant change in price symbolizes the date American traitor Benedict Arnold was born, 1741. Benedict was a general during the American Revolutionary War who defected to the British Army, and Gilbert has equaled James to an American traitor.

In the midst of the aftermath, perhaps James was never the real villain, but rather the Cavaliers’ management team. Prior to and after ‘the decision,’ James has only praised his former teammates, management and the fans. It is possible that James was no longer comfortable in Cleveland. For the owner of a franchise to state that one of his players quit on the team is a serious allegation in sports, and one never to be forgotten.

In the final 12 minutes of game 6 James scored 10 points with six rebounds and two assists. James had a triple double in the game comprised of 27 points, made two out of four three-point shots, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and one block. To state that James “quit” at any given time during the game is far from the truth. His performance during the final 12 minutes was brilliant.

Had James remained in Cleveland Gilbert would not have written that James quit. Therefore, it is safe to assume that James made a wise decision in divorcing himself from Cleveland’s management. How many superstars take a cut in pay to win a championship? Only Lebron James and management know why the King really left.

In his rant Gilbert also proclaimed: “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former ‘King’ wins one.”

Two things:

1.     James never proclaimed himself “King,” but rather the media did, and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ management team took it upon themselves to market Lebron James as the “King” of basketball.


2.     Gilbert could have been under the influence for pompously stating that Cleveland will win a championship before James, as of the moment he signed with the Heat, Miami became the clear favorite to win the NBA title.

Gilbert and others with a similar attitude toward James are also mistaken by calling James “selfish.” For those unaware, James actually left about $ 15 million on the table in pursuit of an NBA championship, a rather commendable act.

Another noteworthy fact most forget is that Dwayne Wade is Miami’s leader. James traded being the almighty superstar in Cleveland for playing second fiddle to Wade, yet another commendable act.

James has excelled as an individual player as reigning two-time Most Valuable Player, scoring champion and his overall performance on the court presently deems him the best player in the National Basketball Association. Though as an individual he is worthy of being placed in the same category as Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, the one reason he cannot be compared to those legends is because he does not have what they have – each has won at least five NBA championships whereas James has not captured his first.

Unlike Dan Gilbert’s management team which apparently was unwilling to surround James with other talented basketball players, Pat Riley’s crew ensured James would have a superb supporting cast in assembling Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, two present-day elite players, for Erik Celino Spoelstra to coach to a championship.

Another athlete, boxing great Muhammad Ali, was known for predicting the round in which his opponent would succumb to his punches.

Referring to the amount of championships the Heat will win, Lebron stated: “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…” but left it to the imagination that the Heat will win at least eight titles so long as the three remain together on the same team.

At the mere age of 25, the King has played a masterful chess game that has placed him in position to lead basketball’s next great dynasty. Now, the King has a supporting cast and no excuse for not winning the one title that has eluded him throughout his career.


Stamps: Folk Medicine

Nelson Santana

Stamps from Santo Domingo to New York

Folk Medicine by Rafael de la Cruz

July 7, 2010

Upon leaving the island, rural and urban Dominicans who work for meager wages take with them few possessions on their journey to the Big Apple. Some carry no more than a toothbrush and damaged photographs of relatives and friends. The immigrants also bring with them memories of the neighborhood or place to which they yearn to return to one day if “things turnout well” for them.

Among other memories that Dominicans bring to New York, which are part of their cultural and spiritual identity, are popular knowledge about curing diseases and ailments or "Penitas" (minor pains) as part of the African legacy on the island and throughout the Caribbean.

The vast and unimaginable variety in the natural world is the core of folk medicine in Africa and other regions. It is this legacy that feeds the Dominican folk medicine that can cure "Penitas" such as menstrual problems, colds, muscle aches, asthma, stomach problems and hundreds of hundreds of ailments.

Dominican immigrant folk medicine practitioners do not practice "witchcraft" or “brujeria” as we are led to believe by the authoritative officials of the Catholic Church and certain Protestant sects. Actually, Christianity is losing followers in our country and what better way to keep a hold on followers than to disqualify the popular practices of our ancestors. (Note that the hierarchy is composed mostly of white European descent).

Folk medicine does not suit the health merchants that charge an arm and a leg for a mere consultation.

If folk medicine is continued to be practiced in and outside the island, it is because it serves its purposes. Through folk medicine, the Antillean identity is kept alive in this city where getting sick is very expensive.

Dominican Republic Will Be Well Represented At the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

Nelson Santana

The American League is the 'Cradle' for Dominican Stars

By Nelson Santana

July 6, 2010

This past Sunday Major League Baseball revealed the names of players who will participate in this year’s All-Star Game – a spectacular event that brings together the best baseball players in North American baseball.

As such, the current list is actually preliminary since one week remains until the Midsummer Classic. During that week several of the players selected to participate will not attend the series of events – including the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game – either because they will decide to stay home and relax or heal from an injury.

Hence, it is important to note that not all players elected to participate will be in Anaheim, the city that will host the 2010 All-Star series of events on the 12 and 13 of July.

13 Dominicans Make the All-Star Team

The preliminary list of names includes 13 Dominicans who were selected to represent their respective teams in Anaheim.


The support of the fans is always important to the morale of any athlete. In the American League the fans elected as starters Robinson Cano, second baseman of the New York Yankees and Vladimir Guerrero, designated hitter of the Texas Rangers. Guerrero and Cano are the only two Dominican starters for the American League. The two Dominican National League starters voted by the fans are first baseman Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Though it has not been confirmed, there is speculation that Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies will be the National League starting pitcher for the All-Star Game.

American League:                                                                               

Robinson Cano – Second Baseman, New York Yankees                            

[BATTING AVERAGE=.343] [HITS=181] [RUNS=59] [HOMERUNS=16]   


Vladimir Guerrero – Designated Hitter, Texas Rangers




Alex Rodríguez – Third Baseman, New York Yankees




David Ortiz – Designated Hitter, Boston Red Sox




Fausto Carmona – Starting Pitcher, Cleveland Indians





Neftalí Feliz – Relief Pitcher, Texas Rangers


[SAVES=22] [WINS=1] [LOSES=2]



José Valverde – Relief Pitcher, Detroit Tigers

[EARNED RUNS AVERAGE=1.00] [EARNED RUNS =4]                            

[SAVES=18] [WINS=1] [LOSES=1]                                                 



José Bautista – Outfielder, Toronto Blue Jays




Adrián Beltre – Third Baseman, Boston Red Sox




National League:                                                                                         

Albert Pujols – First Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals




Hanley Ramírez – Short Stop, Florida Marlins




Ubaldo Jiménez – Starting Pitcher, Colorado Rockies


[WINS=14] [LOSES=1] [STIKEOUTS=107]     



José Reyes – Short Stop, New York Mets





Albert Pujols received the most votes in the National League. American League catcher Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins was the top vote getter.

The most contested race was for the starting third baseman in the National League. David Wright overcame the Dominican Placido Polanco.

The only Puerto Rican representative is Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.

José Reyes was elected by fans to start the game. Unfortunately he will be unable to partake in the game due to an injury.

Vladimir Guerrero played six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. At the All-Star Game he will represent his new team, the Texas Rangers, at his previous home.

Including this season, Alex Rodriguez has been selected 13 times to participate in the All-Star Game.

Each league has five players of which the fans will have the opportunity to vote for one to complete the 32-man roster for each league.

Traditionally, the American League takes more Dominican players to the All-Star Game than the National League. This year is no exception.


Complete List of 2010 All-Star Game Rosers

American League:


Position / Name / Team

C Joe Mauer, MIN

2B Robinson Cano, NYY

SS Derek Jeter, NYY

3B Evan Longoria, TB

OF Josh Hamilton, TEX

OF Ichiro Suzuki, SEA

OF Carl Crawford, TB

DH Vladimir Guerrero, TEX



P Clay Buchholz, BOS

P Trevor Cahill, OAK

P Fausto Carmona, CLE

P Neftali Feliz, TEX

P Phil Hughes, NYY

P Cliff Lee, SEA

P Jon Lester, BOS

P David Price, TB

P Mariano Rivera, NYY

P CC Sabathia, NYY

P Joakim Soria, KC

P Matt Thornton, CWS

P Jose Valverde, DET

C John Buck, TOR

C Victor Martinez, BOS

1B Miguel Cabrera, DET

2B Dustin Pedroia, BOS

2B Ian Kinsler, TEX

2B Ty Wigginton, BAL

SS Elvis Andrus, TEX

3B Adrian Beltre, BOS

3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY

OF Jose Bautista, TOR

OF Torii Hunter, LAA

OF Vernon Wells, TOR

DH David Ortiz, BOS


National League:


Position / Name / Team

C Yadier Molina, STL

1B Albert Pujols, STL

2B Chase Utley, PHI

SS Hanley Ramirez, FLA

3B David Wright, NYM

OF Ryan Braun, MIL

OF Andre Ethier, LAD

OF Jason Heyward, ATL



P Jonathan Broxton, LAD

P Matt Capps, WAS

P Chris Carpenter, STL

P Yovani Gallardo, MIL

P Roy Halladay, PHI

P Tim Hudson, ATL

P Ubaldo Jimenez, COL

P Josh Johnson, FLA

P Tim Lincecum, SF

P Evan Meek, PIT

P Arthur Rhodes, CIN

P Adam Wainwright, STL

P Brian Wilson, SF

C Brian McCann, ATL

1B Adrian Gonzalez, SD

1B Ryan Howard, PHI

2B Brandon Phillips, CIN

2B Martin Prado, ATL

SS Jose Reyes, NYM

SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL

3B Omar Infante, ATL

3B Scott Rolen, CIN

OF Michael Bourn, HOU

OF Marlon Byrd, CHC

OF Corey Hart, MIL

OF Matt Holliday, STL

OF Chris Young, ARI

The Bronx Democratic Political Machine Does Not Endorse Assemblyman Nelson Castro

Nelson Santana

By Nelson Santana

July 5, 2010

Politicking in NY:

In this case the political machine in the Bronx does not support Assemblyman Nelson Castro, the first politician of Dominican descent to be elected to political office in the Bronx.

Traditionally, the political party in power in New York City has been the Democratic Party.

The size of the Dominican population in New York makes it impossible for this relatively new group to be ignored, thus becoming a force to be reckoned with to such extent that other groups are taking notice. Specifically in the Bronx, the Political Machine knows all too well that Dominicans comprise the largest population group in the borough. Sadly enough the Political Machine in the Bronx is part of the Democratic Party, the same political party that Nelson Castro is a member of, representing the 86th district of the Bronx Assembly.

Too Intelligent and a Legitimate Threat to the Throne of the Old Guard and Their Disciples

The Bronx Political Machine decided not to endorse Assemblyman Nelson Castro, the first person of Dominican ancestry to be elected to political office in the Bronx. This young politician is a threat to the many politicians who have spent years in power and he also poses a threat to the young politicians who rose to power through the backing of the politicians from the old guard.

According to the voter Jonathan Diaz, “Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. believes Castro to be a legitimate threat to his post as Bronx Borough President.”

The Democrat Hector Ramirez, who is half Dominican and half Puerto Rican, is running for Castro’s seat in the assembly. Members of the Bronx Political Machine have not supported Nelson Castro. Therefore, it is safe to hypothesize that the Bronx Political Machine, which includes the powerful Diaz family, is endorsing Ramirez.


Photo: Assemblyman Nelson Castro at center


Parents and Children in Power

The older politicians seldom want to step down, but when they do – to acquire a more prestigious seat – they ensure to leave their children or other puppets in their seat.

Currently, the Reverend Ruben Diaz represents the 32nd district of the Bronx as a state senator. His son, Ruben Diaz Jr. is the current president of the Bronx.

Congressman Jose Serrano represents one of the most densely populated Hispanic districts in the southwestern region of the Bronx. His son, José Marco Serrano, is a state senator in New York.

Considered a political figure of authority in the Bronx, Assemblyman Jose Rivera represents the 78th district. Rivera rose to power in 1982 and in 1987 left his post as assemblyman to run and win the election as councilman for the 15th district. Afterward, he left his post in the city council and in 2000 his son, Joel Rivera, became the district’s new councilmember. In 2004, Naomi Rivera, daughter of Jose Rivera, was voted into the assembly’s 80th district in the Bronx. At present time, Jose Rivera represents the 78th district in the assembly.

Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo represents district 84. Her daughter, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, is the councilmember of the 17th district in the Bronx.

The Espada family is another family that has integrated into politics, however, this family’s honor has been tainted by corruption. State Senator Pedro Espada has been the most successful of all. His son, Pedro Gautier Espada, is a former councilmember. Jose Espada, brother of the state senator, was at one point district leader, a volunteer position. Unlike other political families in the Bronx, Espada family members have been forced to leave office due to corruption.

Political Corruption

According to sources Castro has strayed away from several of his fellow politicians because he understands that he is master of his own destiny and will not open the door to any unfavorable circumstance that may smear his name as other politicians in recent months.

State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. represents the 33rd district in the Bronx. In June 2009 he was involved in a river of controversy when he was at the center of a coup in the Senate when he left the Democratic Party to join the Republican. He returned to the Democratic Party the following month in July after he was elected Majority Leader of the Senate of the State of New York. But the controversy does not end there. In April 2010 the Attorney General of the State of New York Mario Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against Espada because in the past five years Espada has stolen more than $14 million with the assistance of family, friends and employees of the Senate.

Another Bronx politician, Efrain Gonzalez, was sentenced to 84 months in prison after pleading guilty to two conspiracy counts and two wire fraud counts as he used funds from nonprofit charities for his own personal use.

Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, grandson of Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, was sentenced to one year in prison for embezzling $115,000 of federal funds to a nonprofit organization.

The Lone wolf

Castro has spent his short political career as a lone wolf. Unlike others who seek the spotlight for the opportunity to shine at public events, Castro does the complete opposite to the point where at times those in attendance have no knowledge that this young man is a politician, let alone be aware of his presence.

First, Castro does not demand a seat at public events and oftentimes chooses to stand for hours to interact with the public, and not only with his constituents. Contrary to other politicians, Castro does not request the microphone, something admirable considering the fact that most politicians do so abruptly and to the point where they can put down the organizers of the event if they do not allocate time for unexpected politicians to speak.

Thus far Castro has no regrets. The assemblyman acknowledges that he does not have the backing of the Bronx Political Machine. He also acknowledges that he is guilty of this as he has always tried to maintain a distance from other politicians to keep his image free of corruption and equally important, not to serve as a puppet for others.

The Abandoned Borough

In comparison to the other New York boroughs, the Bronx is considered the poorest.

According to the sociologist Dr. Ramona Hernandez, Dominicans who reside in New York are the poorest group in the city [1].

Dominicans in New York by the Numbers

1. Largest Latino group enrolled in the City University of New York (CUNY), New York’s public university and least expensive. More than twenty five thousand people of Dominican descent have graduated from this institution [2]

2. Lowest household income of all groups in New York [3]

3. Highest unemployment rate among all groups in New York [4]

Traditionally, Dominicans in the United States have had the greatest political achievements in the city of New York, specifically in Manhattan, but even more specific in the neighborhood of Washington Heights. Former councilmembers Miguel Martinez and Guillermo Linares, current councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat are some of the Dominican politicians that have left their mark in Manhattan.

Matters have been different in the Bronx, however. Few Dominicans have run for office and only Assemblyman Nelson Castro has been able to pull off a victory.

On the other hand, the times are changing, especially now with the change in demographics in which people of Dominican descent comprise the largest group of residents in the Bronx. It is only a matter of time before there is adequate representation in the city and state legislatures. 2009 saw Yudelka Tapia, Carlos Sierra and other Dominican candidates lose to their opponents in their political battles, though those were hard-fought battles.

Politicians in Bronx regions where Dominicans comprise the majority are not representative of the Dominican population.

There is speculation that veterans and new entrants to politics alike such as Yudelka Tapia and James Duarte will run for office in the upcoming elections scheduled to take place in September and November.


Currently, the Bronx Political Machine is going through a difficult time since various politicians from the old-guard will lose their political post as they are embroiled in corruption. Efrain Gonzalez lost his chair and Assemblyman Pedro Espada is well aware that within a few months he will be sentenced for his crimes. Interestingly enough, according to a trustworthy source, Espada and the Political Machine have chosen an apparent heir to his throne – and for the first time recognize the importance and power of the Dominican vote.

[1] Hernandez, Ramona and Francisco Rivera-Batiz. Dominicans in the United States: A Socioeconomic Profile, 2000. New York: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, 2000.

[2] The City University of New York (CUNY) has two offices in neighborhoods populated by Dominicans: Washington Heights; and between East Concourse Avenue and Fordham Avenue in the Bronx.

[3] & [4] U.S. Census Bureau. United States Census 2000.

Manuel Zelaya’s Prison

Nelson Santana

How President Leonel Fernández aids the Honduran opposition and legitimizes the June 28 military coup that overthrew democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya.

Manuel Zelaya’s Prison by José Efraín Estrella

July 1, 2010

June 28th marked the first anniversary of the military coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya. The bloody coup was the first of its kind of this century.

Zelaya attracted popular support after raising the minimum wage in one of the poorest countries in the region. 

After several attempts to enter Honduras failed, Zelaya was offered to live in the Dominican Republic by President Leonel Fernández who in one hand opposed the coup from the start; and on the other hand, helped the coup makers consolidate themselves in power and stage a fraudulent presidential election marred by government attacks on the opposition. As a result, Porfirio Lobo, a conservative politician, became president. At the moment, Hondurans who support Zelaya’s return face state sponsored executions carried out by the military and paramilitaries gangs.

Furthermore, independent journalists face violent attacks for speaking out. According to Amnesty International, seven journalists have been killed since March of this year.

Meanwhile, Zelaya remains in exile in the Caribbean island of Dominican Republic which brings to mind Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who in the February 2004 coup d’étatwas forcibly flown to South Africa away from his constituents.

In one way, Zelaya is physically closer to his supporters than Aristide has ever been due to the geographical proximity with Honduras. However, Zelaya cannot meet with them and leave the island without anyone noticing. In fact, Zelaya is more like a prisoner who has lost his freedom of movement thanks to Dominican president Fernández.

To read about the latest Amnesty International report on human rights abuses click below:

Dominican Culture in the Lower East Side

Nelson Santana

Dominican Arts Festival: Educating the Youths Through Music and Cultural Activities

Written by Nelson Santana

June 29, 2010

In the United States the summer kicked off on June 21st. The beginning of summer means the arrival of numerous parades and carnivals in which the richness of Dominican culture is celebrated. Between July and August the cities of Perth Amboy, Haverstraw, Miami, Allentown, Lawrence, and Providence among others, and the boroughs of the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in New York, will celebrate ecstatically Dominican heritage.

This past Friday, June 25th through Saturday, the Dominican Arts Festival took place, an event held to honor the culture and traditions of the Dominican Republic.

Most Dominicans who make New York their home are concentrated in the Bronx and the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. This event broke the standard protocol as for the first time it took place in the Lower East Side in Manhattan at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center, and was sponsored by the New York Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the Dominican Consulate in New York. Fabiola Goris was the principle organizer and Jan Hanvik, director of the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Education Center, was instrumental in the event taking place.

Different aspects of Dominican culture were brought to light and celebrated including the music and craftsmanship among other things, and through the documentary ¡A golpe de güiro y tambora! audience members familiarized themselves with some of the most trendsetting Dominicans who at one time or another lived in the United States, specifically New York City. Some of the personalities in the documentary are the painter Scheherazade Garcia, designer Oscar de la Renta, jazz pianist Michel Camilo and author Junot Diaz among many other trailblazers.

Those present had the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest tunes in merengue típico courtesy of Berto Reyes’ trio of accordion, güira and tambora. For many in attendance the most nostalgic moment of the festival was the astonishing performance given by the group. As is customary in Dominican Republic, from the countryside to the tourist areas of Santo Domingo, the perico ripiao of Reyes serenaded all who passed by the entrance of the building, very much like in Dominican airports when merengue tipico groups welcome airplane passengers once they exit the airplane and grace Dominican land.

The festival was an event for children, adults and the whole family as there were workshops and more or less a little bit of everything for everyone.

Mercedes Peralta Polanco showcased her artistry of Taino creations. Her masterpieces are not all Taino but also include other pieces such as the Dominican island. Of course, the collection does not consist of real Taino artifacts as such practice is illegal and those artifacts belong to the country since legally it cannot be owned by an individual, but her creations are replicas of Taino artifacts made from newspapers.

Joel Brujan and his colleagues spent most of their time teaching those in attendance how to make carnival masks. But for many children and even adults, the most memorable moment of the festival was the Dominican carnival performance by the Unión Carnavalesca de Nueva York, led by Brujan.

For the teenagers, the most memorable exhibit was the artwork of the comic artists. Two entrepreneurial brothers of Dominican descent, Christian and Tony Montalvo, along with their colleague Wilson Ramos Jr., showcased sketches and an oversize mural of images they drew for their comic ¡Fwácata! ¡Fwácata! tells the story of the early inhabitants of Latin America be it Tainos, Aztecs or Incas; the Africans who were subjected to slavery; and the Spaniards. The story then cuts to the present-day. Nevertheless, the message at the end is about hope and how the youths can grasp the world with their hands and have the power to change it.

Some people are under the impression that cultural events in New York City are overly saturated. All to the contrary, the exact opposite is true. Many youths are forgetting their culture and others will never be fully exposed to their culture. Parents, mentors, and educators must take it upon themselves to keep alive Dominican culture and support each other to preserve the culture and history of Quisqueya. Events like the Dominican Arts Festival are events that must not be left to “next time,” because all too often “next time” never comes.

Health Care Aid at Home

Nelson Santana

Written by Carmen Santana-Restituyo
June 28, 2010

The elderly and people with a physical disability can receive treatment at home. This help can be sponsored by the government. These services may be covered by Medicaid, Medicare, secondary insurance, and or private insurance. Being older is no reason to qualify for these benefits. In New York, customers who wish to apply for such benefits must have a medical condition, be it temporary or chronic.

Several of the programs available provide Immediate Assistance for brief illness that estimates the customer will recover within eight weeks or less. This program is known as services of Certified Home Health Aide (CHHA). For these clients the services are paid for by Medicare. Services available include a nurse to assess the client, therapy services such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, social worker, and a home aide to help clients with personal and domestic chores. The services provided by nurses include physical assessment, dressing of the client, injections, administering medication, intermittent catheterization and any other service that is authorized by the bylaws of the medical and nursing profession. If there is a change in the physical condition of the client, and it is determined that these services are to continue, there must be a reevaluation and permission must be granted from the client's physician.

After completion of the specified time for this type of service and if the customer is a recipient of Medicaid benefits, there are several options. The first is long-term service (Long Term Home Health Care Program). This program is for clients who suffer from a chronic disease and will never recover completely. The client will also need assistance at home for personal and domestic chores. The services are identical to the CHHA except that these services are offered to the client until his/her physical condition deteriorates, the client dies or no longer desires the services. The second option is to receive support services from the city’s Home Attendant Program. This service does not provide a continuous assessment nurse or any of the support services mentioned. On the other hand, it does provide an attendant to assist with daily household chores, though this does not include assistance with the personal care of the client. The nurse in charge or the client’s personal physician determines the continuation of service. The right program can be chosen once assessment of the client has taken place.

Knowing the services at one’s disposal is the first step in obtaining them. Clients should not be afraid to ask for help they really need it. If you are not sure, check with your doctor to find out what is the best option for you.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to call me at 718-567-2614, Monday through Friday 8:30am-4:00pm.

 Written by Carmen Santana-Restituyo, RN, BSN, nurse by profession. Manager and program director of Health House of Hamilton Park in Bklyn, NY.

Jaime David Fernández Mirabal: A Bully at the Service of the Powerful

Nelson Santana

The Dominican government is carrying out evictions against poor families through the Ministry of the Environment

A Bully at the Service of the Powerful

Written by Maria Encarnación

June 22, 2010

Arbitrary evictions against poor and working families in the Dominican Republic take place on a regular basis in both rural and urban areas throughout the country. This is due in part to a lack of housing and proper living conditions that have forced rural migrants and the poor to occupy land belonging to the government.

Meanwhile, the government refuses to grant land tittles to families that have built their houses and lives around abandoned land for decades.

In addition, housing developments rarely benefit the poor, and instead go to well-connected activists involved with the political party in power.

The latest evictions, carried out by the Ministry of the Environment, are affecting residents of Hoyo de Chulin, a poor neighborhood in the province of Santo Domingo.



According to the web site AccionVerde, those evicted did not receive any compensation from the Ministry of the Environment, leading residents to take matters into their own hands by staging a protest in early June.

The Ministry of the Environment is headed by former vice-president Jaime David Fernández Mirabal (1996-2000), a close political ally of President Leonel Fernández and member of the governing Dominican Liberation Party.

Mirabal was mired in controversy last year after he approved the construction of a cement factory in Los Haitises National Park by the Dominican Mining Consortium, a local mining company. However, the government halted the construction license due to mass protests by grassroots organizations that opposed the cement factory as it would be hazardous to the environment.

During the protests against the cement factory, Mirabal acted like a bully who sided with the powerful mining group. Thus, the Dominican Ministry of the Environment is becoming a tool to destroy the ecological system it claims to protect, as well as people’s livelihoods.

But the bully in him did not die with the defeat of the cement factory project.

According to, Mirabal brought a contingent of soldiers carrying M-16 weapons to Borojol and El Martillo, two poor neighborhoods in Santo Domingo. Mirabal threatened residents with mass evictions if they do not leave.

In some occasions, Mirabal’s bullies have uprooted trees and agricultural goods to evict peasants who occupy abandoned land. According to the Spanish news agency EFE, in 2009, soldiers at the service of the Ministry of the Environment destroyed agricultural plots belonging to Haitian immigrants who enter the country to work. This prompted an angry protest by Haitian peasants in the area.



At the end, a Haitian peasant resulted wounded by soldiers. And in more than one occasion, Dominican peasants have been evicted as well. The Ministry of the Environment claims to protect government land but at the same time destroys food and income which feeds both Dominican and Haitian peasants.

In the meantime, resistance against evictions continues.

On June 17, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, for its Spanish initials) filed a formal complaint before the Supreme Court against Jaime David Fernández Mirabal for the recent evictions of 40 families in Hoyo de Chulín.