Cultura y conciencia

Juan Luis Guerra: Unparalleled Ingenuity

Nelson Santana

Biography of Juan Luis Guerra

By Vivian Guerrero

June 21, 2010

Considered to be the most prolific person in his trade by musicologists, Juan Luis Guerra is a multifaceted Dominican composer, producer, vocalist and leader of an orchestra. Guerra was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on June 7, 195[_].  He is one of the most successful musicians of Latino descent[1] and an accomplished interpreter of bachata and merengue music, two genres native to his homeland. He uses his music to keep his audience abreast about the social and political situation in his native land and Latin America.

 Guerra studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and afterward studied guitar and music theory at El Conservatorio Nacional de Música de Santo Domingo. He then traveled to the United States where he continued his music studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, undertaking courses in jazz, his preferred genre at the time.[2] Guerra began to interpret merengue in 1985 once he and his group, 440, signed with Karen Records. Though he was more interested in jazz, he began to compose and interpret merengue as it was the more marketable and proved to be the more profitable of the two.

Guerra’s music knowledge allows him to compose a merengue that is more refined and compounded than other artists / interpreters of that genre. The themes of his songs also differentiate him from other interpreters. His songs include themes such as the current societal status of Dominican citizens. In “Visa para un sueño” Guerra recounts a story that rings true for many Dominicans, in which he explains how many Dominicans struggle to obtain an American visa to allow them to travel to the United States.[3]

Guerra had a promising career from the moment he began recording, however it was not until the successful smash hit “Ojala que llueva café” that he became a reputable artist by having reached international stardom.  At the same time “Ojala que llueva café” ‘refined’ merengue. [4]

In addition to merengue, Guerra also interprets bachata, another popular Dominican music genre. Bachata’s popularity began its rise in the 1970s. Bachata is associated with the barrio and the rural culture, and is also considered by some to be related to other Cuban genres.

In 1989 Guerra composed a jingle for a commercial commissioned by Barceló Company which became an instant hit. When he realized the public’s positive response and liking to his composition, he decided to compose a full song – one of his biggest hits to date – titled “Como Abeja Al Panal”(“As a Bee to the Hive.)

Juan Luis Guerra is proud of the genres he interprets. He is proud to be Dominican and also acknowledges his African, European and Taíno roots. In fact, when the origins of merengue were challenged to the point where many neglected the African influence, Guerra took a stand and stressed the importance of Africa in the development of merengue and ensured that all understood the African influence.  He manifested: ‘Unequivocally, you can’t take merengue out of Africa. No matter how much you may want to, you can’t take merengue out of Africa. Forget it-the rhythms are African, period. Of course there are these influences, which are melodic: the melodies are European, the harmony, just like in jazz.’  Even though his music did not include authentic African instruments, nonetheless today’s Dominican instruments like the tambora and congas have their roots in Africa and Guerra’s music and lyrics are heavily influenced by Afro-Dominicans. This is best exemplified in the songs, “A Pedir Su Mano” and “Guavaberry.”[5]

Juan Luis Guerra is a composer, artist, musician, interpreter, arranger, poet, producer who always sends a positive message to his public. He is a role-model who inspires others around him. The impact Juan Luis Guerra has left on Dominican music is unparalleled any other. For Dominicans worldwide it is a privilege and honor to have him represent them internationally.


[1]  Waxer, Lise . "Grove Music Online." (accessed october 8, 2009).


[2]  Waxer, Lise . "Grove Music Online." (accessed october 8, 2009).

[3] Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 204.

[4]  Deborah Pacini Hernandez, Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 204.


[5]  Paul Austerlitz, Merengue:  Dominican Music and Dominican Identity(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 110.




Pacini Hernandez, Deborah. Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular.

                         Music. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.

Austerlitz, Paul. Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity. Philadelphia:

                          Temple University Press, 1995.

Waxer, Lise . "Grove Music Online."


                      luis+guerra&se arch=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit (accessed october 8,     


Dominican Journalist Marino Zapete Accuses the Police Chief of Plotting His Assassination

Nelson Santana

A Dominican Journalist Fears for His Life

In recent months, a number of journalists in the Dominican Republic have become victims of both drug-related violence and political persecution.

Marino Zapete accuses the police chief of plotting his assassination

By José Efraín Estrella

June 17, 2010

This year alone several journalists in Dominican Republic have suffered deadly attacks while others have received death threats from sicarios (hit men) in an attempt to intimidate journalists who investigate military and government officials who are implicated in drug scandals and cover ups such as the Paya massacre in 2008 which linked top military personnel to the drug trade.

On June 4th, Marino Zapete, a well known independent journalist, denounced the existence of a police plan to assassinate him. In 2007, Zapete published a book denouncing government corruption during the administration of former president Hipólito Mejia.

The book also revealed corruption practices during of past governments of the current President Leonel Fernández.

Zapete, who has become a target of criticism by politicians, told the website Clave Digital that he received an envelope containing a CD which revealed a well-orchestrated plan to assassinate him led by Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín, the chief of police.

Under Guzmán Fermín’s reign, extrajudicial killings against poor youth and alleged criminals have increased considerably. According to the 2009 annual report of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, for its Spanish initials), in the first eight months of 2009, 400 people were murdered by police in what the police labels “bullets exchanges.”

However, it has been well documented that many of those killed by police were disarmed at the time of the event.

In March, media reports revealed that Guzmán Fermín’s father owned an apartment in Torre Atiemar, a luxurious condominium complex linked to Spanish drug dealers deported to Spain when the scandal broke this year. But further questioning arose as Dominican media outlets revealed that Arturo Del Tiempo, the ringleader of the drug operation, was granted the title of honorary police during his stay in the country.

NSA Scholarships 2010: Investing in our Future

Nelson Santana

Written by: Emmanuel Espinal

June 10th 2010, Flushing Meadows -- Under a dreary sky and the threat of rain, the handing out of scholarships by the National Supermarkets Association took place in the city of New York. The event took place in the grand ballroom of the grandiose Terrace on the Park. The evening kicked off with cocktail hour and dinner. Then all of the recipients of scholarships would be gathered on the terrace to have their picture taken with the actual president of the NSA, William Rodríguez.

Immediately after the photo the ceremony started. Nelson Eusebio would be the initial speaker and after an introduction he announced ex-councilman Guillermo Linares.  Linares offered a few words for reflection to the scholarship winners. Assemblyman José Peralta and Assemblyman Nelson Castro, from the Bronx, would later follow; both gave anecdotes and spoke on the importance of education in our community.

William Rodríguez, the actual but parting president, gave a small discourse on how to achieve the "American Dream" and the role education plays in achieving it. He started by giving his personal story of how his parents came to the United States in '61 after the death of the dictator Trujillo; this transition opened the doors to a higher education that has been key to his successes and his achieving his personal "American Dream."

A brief moment was dedicated to present the new board of directors and to thank and commend the parting board for the job they did. New president, David Corona, took a couple of minutes to give a brief speech. The ceremony continued with the naming of all the scholarship winners and the taking of their pictures. As night fell, the ceremony finished with music by the DJ.


for photo gallery – click here

The Scholarships given by the NSA are an Investment in our Future

We have to highlight the job that the National Supermarkets Association is doing, in regard to the promoting the growth of our own with the assistance in funding of education. For years the NSA has been giving scholarships to university students as an incentive to pay for their education. These scholarships are an indispensable resource for any student, as everyday it is more expensive to get a college education, and paying for it is the biggest headache a college student faces.

          Education is fundamental in our community and for this reason the scholarships given by the NSA are an investment into the future of our own. This is something we must support and applaud, since every scholarship granted assures the eradication of ignorance and that our future be brighter each and everyday.

Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Nelson Santana
Written by Carmen Santana-Restituyo
June 15, 2010

High arterial (blood) pressure or hypertension is a very common medical condition also known as the silent killer because its symptoms are very difficult to detect and its difficulty in detection can lead to serious medical problems. High blood pressure can cause permanent injury to the blood vessels and the heart.

High blood pressure is the amount of force emitted by the blood when it moves against the blood vessels. High blood pressure depends on the volume of the blood of the patient, the hardening and or the elasticity of the blood vessels. The acceptable parameters for high blood pressure are 90/60 up to 140/90.


Family history of high blood pressure is perhaps one of the most notable risks when evaluating a patient                                                                                                     

Being overweight                                                                                                                               

Not maintaining a healthy diet, eating salty and greasy foods often, as well as junk food                                  

No exercises                                                                                                                                

Other medical conditions can trigger and serve as a secondary cause of high blood pressure: Uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol in the blood, cardiac problems, kidney problems                                                                                                                                       

Heavy alcohol drinking                                                                                                                       

Age increases the risk of high blood pressure                                                                                         

Certain medicines can affect the blood pressure


Control one’s weight, exercise moderately                                                                                  

Eat healthy: reduce the intake of salt, fats                                                                                   

Avoid alcohol consumption                                                                                                         

And mainly take medication even though there may be no symptoms                                                       

Respect the Doctor’s recommendations to treat other medical conditions that may be the cause of the arterial high (blood) pressure.


Without doubt one must never forget to fear the silent killer. Precautions are to be taken seriously to prevent severe harm to the body. Those who happen to take this health issue as a joke should be wary that complications can vary from a slight headache to a heart attack, a stroke or even death. Be sure to speak to your doctor for more information.

Dominican Republic's Top Academic Nerd Penetrates Prestigious Committee: Junot Díaz Named Among 20-Member Pulitzer Board & the Envy Brought Upon

Nelson Santana

This article is a prelude to a comprehensive paper that analyzes Junot Díaz’s writings and the attitude of his peers toward him.

Written by Nelson Santana
June 7th, 2010

New York -- Some love him while others detest him, but no one can deny Junot Díaz 's talent as he continues his forthright path toward intellectual immortality.

In 2008 Junot Díaz became the 2nd Latino since Cuban-American writer Oscar Hijuelos to capture the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

On the 20th of May the Pulitzer announced Díaz would serve on the Pulitzer Board, thus becoming the first Latino / Hispanic elected to the prestigious board, a three year commitment.

Unparalleled in his writing, the eminent Díaz is a rare species of admirably infrequent writers to have ever graced the earth.


Academic Circles

Oftentimes despised by those within academic circles, Díaz has had to endure the falsity that unfolds inside academia. On the surface, Dominican and American academic elite alike acknowledge Díaz’s accomplishments, since it is impossible for his uncanny talent as a writer to go about unnoticed.

Nevertheless, no prodigy ever goes without criticism. Among Dominican historians and academics the general consensus is that Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao provides readership with erroneous information pertinent to Dominican history. Many of these academics and historians consider him a failed revisionist.

By the same token there exists a group of American academics who scrutinize over Díaz’s vernacular, dissecting what he says word-for-word, thus deeming him a ticking time bomb. On occasion certain people and groups – who shall remain nameless – have regretted inviting him to their lectures, conferences or other speaking engagements due to the sincerity of his dialect, which embraces the English language, very much in the same manner William Shakespeare did during his time.

Interestingly enough, the same group of Dominican academics who consider Díaz a failed revisionist writer – some do not even regard him an author– are the first to state the reason his fiction – comprised of Dominicans and Dominican-Americans – has been recognized is due to the fact that he exploits his compatriots.

It is not in Dominican academics’ best interest to downplay the worth of Díaz’s aptitude; at least not an author, writer, novelist, editor, columnist who has surpassed the counterparts of his time and all Dominican and Dominican-Americans who have grasped the English language, as his accomplishments will breathe forever etched in stone.                                                                                     

Wondrous Díaz’s Remnants of Greatness

For more than a decade Díaz has captivated audiences with his writing. He is best known for his Pulitzer-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and also for his collection of short stories Drown. In like manner, Díaz's writing also has been featured in numerous journals and magazines including The New Yorker, African Voices, Gourmet, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories and The O’Henry Prize Stories 2009 among other reputable publications.

In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz’s fiction has garnered him numerous honors including the Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace Readers Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Other achievements include The New Yorker naming Díaz as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century and the Bogota Book Capital of World and the hay Festival selected him as one of the 39 most important Latin American writers under the age of 39.

Born in Villa Juana, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Díaz emigrated to the United States prior to reaching the age of ten.

From his humble beginnings in Dominican Republic, Díaz is an author who refuses to forget his past, contrary to other successful U.S. academic immigrants.

Trujillo’s Machinery of Terror

Nelson Santana

To mark the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, Esendom looks at the machinery of terror built by Trujillo

Trujillo’s Machinery of Terror

By Maria Encarnación

June 2, 2010

From the 1930s onward, the Dominican people and their allies abroad organized a resistance movement against the bloody Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) that challenged the regime until the final day. Trujillo created a machinery of terror to keep the population in check, and silence any opposition to his rule by relaying on a vast network of well paid informers and thugs known as “calieses.” Another group of informers hailed from Cuba where they had served as torturers for General Machado’s dictatorial reign. However, the Machado torturers fell out of luck when General Machado was ousted by a general strike led by sugar workers in 1933. The revolution against Machado instilled fears in Trujillo and the small elite that backed him.  From then on, the use of physical and psychological repression to crack down on political dissidents and the small labor movement became more systematic.

Trujillo’s machinery of terror also included members of the powerful National Guard, the army built by the United States marines during the military occupation.  In fact, General Trujillo was trained by the U.S. occupying forces, and ascended to the rank of general after he helped the U.S. soldiers repress peasants whose lands had been appropriated by U.S. investors in the Sugar industry.

But Trujillo was not alone.

Actually, Trujillo’s reign of terror was possible with the aid of General Ludovino Fernández, a close ally who murdered and maimed many opponents of the regime. But those inside the army who opposed Trujillo’s violent crackdown on the opposition were singled out as traitors and given prison sentences. Others were banished to neighboring Haiti or forced to seek exile in other countries.

In 1937, Trujillo’s reign of terror spread to Haiti as tens of thousands of Haitian nationals and Dominicans of Haitian descent were murdered by his regime in the border regions. The 1937 massacre was not well known in the country until a few years later, and in fact the little knowledge the people had about the matter they learned through political exiles that spread news about the Haitian massacre in the hopes that the world would express condemnation for the horrendous genocide as well as the many crimes of the Trujillo regime against native Dominicans and Haitian immigrants.

Dominicans Fought Trujillo's Regime From Day One

Nelson Santana

The Poor Planted the Revolutionary Seeds that Toppled Trujillo 

Written by Maria Encarnación

May 30, 2010

On the 49th anniversary of Trujillo’s assassination Esendom looks at the resistance against the bloody Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) during the early days of the regime


The coup that placed General Rafael LeónidasTrujillo in power on February 23rd, 1930 received unconditional support from the entrepreneurial establishment. On the other side of the spectrum, a small but vocal middle class that mobilized against dictatorial rule during the U.S. military occupation (1916-1924) showed adamant opposition against a new regime.

The middle class was influenced by a new kind of nationalist ideology that opposed imperialism or United States interventionism in Central America and the Caribbean triggered by the military occupations of Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic during early 20th century. According to Emilio Cordero Michel, Dominicans of middle class extraction led several assassination attempts directed at Trujillo. However, the conspirators failed and many were arrested, ending up in Nigua, a prison for political prisoners. Few survived to tell their stories of their time spent in this hellish prison.

In addition, opposition also came from the much smaller working class while the peasants, who were the majority, remained aloof to the political upheavals taking place in the urban centers. While not as large in size as the middle class intellectuals that opposed Trujillo, the working class showed no fear during the early stages of the regime. In fact, Sugar workers, cigar makers and bakers organized a series of protests against the Trujillo regime during the 1930s.

As a result of the growing opposition, Trujillo launched a repressive campaign against both the middle class and the emerging working class. In spite of this, the seeds of the resistance were already planted.

Steroids Tarnish Our Own

Nelson Santana

Written by: Emmanuel Esencia

May 28, 2010

A few weeks ago we posted an article about Edison Volquéz, pitcher of the Cincinnati Reds who tested positive for steroids.  At a mere 26 years of age, Volquéz is already a Major League Baseball All-star and two year veteran. Being so young one would ask: What need would he have to use steroids? The reason, supposedly, was a fertilization treatment he was undergoing since he and his wife yearn to have a child, something that at his age one wouldn't think is necessary. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, if this were the case, he would have had to inform the league of the hormonal treatment by asking for a therapeutic use exemption or (TUE.) Nonetheless, the positive diagnosis marks him permanently like a bad tattoo.

On December 13th, 2007, the Mitchell Report was made public. This report is an investigation into the use of steroids and human growth hormones in Major League Baseball. The report opened a Pandora's box as it stated these substances were profusely used by baseball players. The initial report unmasked 89 players that were pointed out as buyers of steroids and/or human growth hormones.

Instances of steroid use have been well documented and made public since 2008 when the league started testing for anabolic substances. Aside from the initial list of 104 players, including Alex Rodriguez and David Oritz, not much information has been divulged with regard to the topic. This was a low blow for Dominicans since these players who were once placed on the pedestal of the national pastime for their achievements, now found themselves with a tarnished career. This would only be the beginning as in 2009 Manny Ramirez, another hall of fame candidate, became the most famous ballplayer to date to be suspended for the use of steroids; yet another slap to the face of the Dominican people. Now most recently, Edison Volquéz, who was hailed as the future of the Major Leagues, continued this cheating trend.

What does this mean for the Dominican players and the community?

In the world of sports athletes always seek an edge over competitors. It is no secret that in the past there existed a problem with amphetamines, which help athletes with physical fatigue. Steroids and human growth hormones are a totally different scheme since they help cellular repair, in other words they help muscle restoration, causing less injury down time and increasing strength. For this reason we were able to witness more homeruns in the "Steroid Era."

The only immediate effect the positive results have, among Dominican players, is planting the seed of doubt as to who used them and who didn't as well as what are the real stats of the ones who we speculate used performance enhancing drugs. This simply gives reason to increase the discrimination which Dominican players have already endured as they have overtaken Major League Baseball. For example, right away there were speculations that Albert Pujols -- considered the best baseball player in the Majors right now -- was using steroids. Over Manny Ramirez the shadow of doubt was cast as to what were his real stats since his numbers were Hall of Fame worthy.

In the long run, due to no regulations in Dominican facilities and the easy access to attaining any pharmaceutical will ultimately make the signing of Dominican players harder. It's already happening in terms of age verification problems when it comes to signing Dominican prospects. Simply put our Dominican players are falling into the hands of the people who want to scrutinize them and are giving them reasons to call them cheaters.

This is exactly what will fall upon the Dominican community as it will be seen as a reflection of our society as baseball players are Dominican Republic's biggest export. On top of the fact that we are viewed as corrupt people in politics due to incidents here in New York and on the island, which has been the norm. So the problem of performance enhancing drugs has a negative impact on our society and that American baseball players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have used them is no excuse. The fact that these players are testing positive after knowing these are banned substances is what makes it more embarrassing as this makes the players look like stupid idiots! A change is urgently needed to stop the usage of performance enhancing drugs among our own, but also in the sense of culprits because the revenues were shared but not the blame. The players carry the tattoos of being cheaters while the owners and the rest of the accomplices just wash their hands like Poncious Pilate.

Finally, I would like to state that despite not condoning the use of these substances, since it is a way to cheat the game we love so much, the ones that tested positive initially didn't really do anything wrong in the sense that it was not illegal at the time they did it. I don't exonerate the act but realistically speaking they did what many players did at the time. What I can say is that the ones that have been caught after these substances were banned, are jackasses disguised as baseball players. These same jackasses make us look bad to the world as they carry our flag not only in the best moments but also when they dirty it with mud.

The Lion and the PLD Paint the Nation Purple

Nelson Santana

Written by Nelson Santana
May 26, 2010

After last week’s nationwide elections the Dominican Republic is now a purple nation controlled by one political party. The Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) has buried its red counterpart and all other opposing political parties. This brings back memories of when one party was in full control of the nation during the era of Trujillo.

How did this phenomenon unfold? Perhaps there are many reasons for the defeat of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD).  All to the contrary, there is one reason in particular for the PLD’s success. Neither the Dominican Revolutionary Party nor the Social Christian Reformist Party has leadership as well-defined as that of the Dominican Liberation Party. There is no question that the PLD’s leader is Dr. Leonel Fernandez, constitutional president of the Dominican Republic. Contrary to the PRD and PRSC no PLD member dares to question President Fernandez’s leadership.

A crucial factor in the great PRD defeat was the constant back and forth bickering between Hipólito Mejía and Miguel Vargas Maldonado.  It is not possible for a political party to be victorious when it is unclear as to whom its leader is. On paper, Miguel Vargas Maldonado is the president of the PRD. On the other hand, former president Hipólito Mejía strongly believes he is the chosen one who will lead his party to victory. Prior to the elections Vargas Maldonado had the backing of the PRD and not Mejía, since many in the party view Mejía -- popularly known as the “donkey” for his infamous “hipolitadas” -- as a clown with no right to the presidential candidacy, consequence of his vulgarities.

As a result of the elections, Vargas Maldonado has lost a great deal of support from the PRD to the point that several key members have pleaded with him to withdraw his presidential candidacy; they also advised him to relinquish his post as presidentof the PRD.

The PLD benefited most from the results of their colossal defeat of their opponents. In adverse circumstances the transfer of such power to one political party dismantles any kind of equilibrium that existed prior to the elections.

According to the Junta Central Electoral, the PLD was triumphant in 30 of the 31 Dominican provinces; the exemption being the province of Altagracia, in which the PRD remains in control. In addition, one cannot fail to mention that the PLD was also victorious in the National District.

The PLD’s margin of victory is unprecedented. With regard to municipalities, the PLD was victorious in 92 municipalities, whereas the PRD was victorious in 57, PRSC in 4, PPC in 1 and UDC in 1.

In terms of councilors the PLD captured 573 seats and 105 deputies and the PRD captured 520 and 73 seats respectfully.

The results of these elections are indicative that the Dominican Liberation Party is the most powerful political party in Dominican society today.

The 5 Ws and perhaps the HOW...

Nelson Santana

Written by Pamela Ortiz 

May 24, 2010

(the 5 W's)

Q. WHO does that?

A. someone who felt like doing something without caring what you thought!

Q. WHO's perfect?

A. imperfect individuals who know this and accept it, embrace it, and enjoy it. (hint hint...not everyone feels this way but there is a small percentage, i include myself in that small percentage)

Q. WHAT's the worst that can possibly happen?

A. take life way too serious, you won't enjoy it, you are most likely to develop cardiac problems catch a heart attack and die without achieving anything or fixing the problems that you were so concerned with to begin with.

Q. WHAT was the point of that?

A. if you can't make a point out of anything then you might as well shoot yourself, there's an underlying reason for everything.

Q. WHY can't we just all get along?

A. some individuals are extremely annoying, they talk out of context, they try way too hard to be someone they are not and truth be told life would be extremely boring if everyone got along and shared the same ideas and operated in the same ways.

Q. WHY me?

A. because if its not you it will be someone else and then they will be asking themselves the same exact effin questions, that's why YOU! guess what next time it might be me!

Q. WHEN is it the best time to just stfu? AkA WHEN is enough enough?

A. whenever you feel like it, don’t let anyone dictate when you should speak your mind. Now, you should definitely know when to stfu as there's always that moment of “oh ok this is just redundant and unnecessary” and your conscious lets you know (some people however may not have the ability to acknowledge it).

Q. WHEN is it “the right moment”?

A. “the infamous right moment” needs to be broken down, this “right moment” phrase is just an over used, over simplified, cliché, front for whenever I feel like it OR whenever you decide to commit to me (negotiation) it can be oddly pathetic in most circumstances in others it may be understandable.

Q. WHERE is that damn remote control?

A. it's right next to you, yet just like everyone else you had to look for it all over the place when it was there all along, when you find it you laugh to yourself because you are there all alone and no one saw was there to see it, but come on it happens to all of us

Q. WHERE is waldo?

A. seriously? as opposed to asking where he is, how about what about waldo makes it easy to find him?

And now the…..


Q. HOW on Earth is this constructive learning?

A. He stands out from the crowd or from the rest...well that would not be the case if the question was not WHERE IS WALDO AND if that was not the title of the "book."

"EDUCATION" IN AMERICA, dealing with this in my K thru 5th grade classes was both frustrating and insulting! 

Lima Time Ends for Jose Lima

Nelson Santana

Lima Time Ends for Jose Lima

Written by Nelson Santana

May 23, 2010

Santiago - May 23rd, 2010 will forever be remembered as a day of mourning in the world of baseball as a bright star of the City of Santiago fades into obscurity. Santiago, the “city of love” loses a loyal Aguilucho who always brought joy along with him wherever he went.  At merely 37 years of age, All-star right-handed pitcher Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima passed away in his Los Angeles home. According to his widow, Dorca Astacio, the cause of Lima’s death was a heart attack. Lima leaves behind his wife and five children.

During his tenure in Major League Baseball Lima played for the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He signed his first major league contract in 1989 with the Detroit Tigers and made his major league debut on April 20, 1994. He threw his last pitch on a major league mound on July 7, 2006.

His performance during the 1999 season with the Houston Astros garnered him a fourth place finish for the Cy-young award. He finished the season with 21 victories and a 3.58 earned-run-average in 35 starts.  Lima’s crafty pitching played a key role in the Astros’ National League Central Division title. That same year Lima was selected to participate in the All-Star Game.

The charismatic Lima was loved by his peers because he never ceased to smile. His way of being won him the affection of his colleagues.

The true cibaeño that he was, Lima loved merengue, but he savored more merengue tipico. In fact, when he was not pitching on the mound, one could find him onstage, singing alongside great Dominican musicians of the stature of Boca Chula and Memin among other musicians.

Lima’s love for his native land was unquestionable. He played 13 seasons in the Dominican Baseball League. In 2009 he played for the Aguilas Ciabeñas and had plans to do so once more this Fall.  

Without question Lima had more success in the Dominican Baseball League than in Major League Baseball. Career-wise, in the Majors he won 89 games, lost 102 with a 5.26 ERA in 348 games, the equivalent of 1,567 innings pitched. In the Dominican League he won 31 games and lost 22 with an ERA of 2.92 in his 13 seasons with the Aguilas Cibaeñas and Leones del Escogido.

At the time of his death Lima was in the process of opening a baseball academy in Los Angeles.

Several players including Jose Reyes, David Ortiz and Jose Guillen among others, reflected on the charismatic Jose Lima. According to ESPN Mets shortstop Jose Reyes said, "I could always reach out to him when I needed guidance and advice. "

Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez is Arrested for Defending Immigrant Rights

Nelson Santana

Written by Nelson Santana

May 20, 2010

New York -- This past Monday, May 17th Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez who represents the 10th district in Washington Heights – a predominantly Dominican community – was arrested for participating in a protest outside the principal immigration offices in New York City. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez joined thousands of fellow immigrants who voiced their concerns over Arizona’s SB 1070 Law. This law gives Arizona officials the right to randomly stop and question any person who they may believe to be an undocumented immigrant. Essentially, SB 1070 criminalizes people who do not have resident status in the United States.

This is not Rodríguez’s first arrest, as he has been taken into custody on previous occasions in human rights protests, which includes the time he marched for the welfare of residents in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

At the rally approximately sixteen people were arrested including Council Member Jumani Williams and Estela Vasquez, vice-president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a union that advocates for the welfare of its members to protect them in their respective workplace.

Those arrested were released two hours later. According to NY1, Rodríguez warned that from that day onward every Monday at least one council member shall be arrested until they are victorious and SB 1070 is withdrawn by the lawmakers of Arizona.

His first year in the council has been rather memorable for Rodríguez. Within a few weeks in office he was appointed Chairman of the Higher Education Committee. Fast forward to the present day and he is one among many others leading the fight against a law deemed “unconstitutional” by President Barrack Obama.

Rodríguez graduated from the City College of the City University of New York. As a student he demonstrated leadership prowess by organizing various university groups including Dominicans 2000 and the Dominican Youth Union among other groups. These groups achieved major accomplishments including the great student conference that took place in 1999 and attended by distinguished personalities including Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant, founding Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute; the legendary merenguero and Mayor of Santo Domingo Johnny Ventura; and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Along with his university colleagues Rodríguez made significant contributions to the community. One of his most successful projects was an after-school program that he and his classmates established where they helped high school students with their English grammar and tutored them in other subjects.


Analyzing the Dominican Diaspora: Memory, Culture and Geography

Nelson Santana

Written by Nelson Santana
May 19, 2010

Waterbury - The conference “Dominicans in the United States: Memory, Culture and Geography,” took place at the University of Naugatuck Valley Community College from Thursday, May 13 through Friday, May 14. During the conference the audience learned about Dominicans in the Dominican Republic, but still left with greater knowledge about Dominicans in the United States. The conference addressed matters and issues which had never before been discussed, including the historical presentation of Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, where it was revealed that the first resident of the state of New York was the Dominican-born Juan Rodriguez.  The panels and the audience included some of the most dynamic Dominican trendsetters including the award-winning author Rhina Espaillat; perhaps the most prolific historian with regard to Dominican history, Dr. Frank Moya Pons; and Mr. Luis Canela, one of the most benevolent Dominican entrepreneurs to contribute to the welfare of the Dominican community in and outside the Dominican Republic.

This collection of Dominican intellectuals was made possible by the perseverance of Dominicans who years ago formed the Dominican Studies Association, the organizers of this conference. This collective group of leaders includes Dr. Daisy Cocco Defilippis, President of Naugatauck Valley Community College; Dr. Ramona Hernandez, Director of the City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute; Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant, Director of the Latino-Latin American Studies Program at Syracuse University; Prof. Anthony Stevens Acevedo, Assistant Director of the Dominican Studies Institute; Prof. Sarah Aponte, Head Librarian of the Dominican Studies Institute; Dr. Franklin Gutierrez, professor of literature at York College at the City University of New York City; and Ms. Ana Garcia Reyes, Director of International Programs at The City University of New York Hostos Community College.

All members of the Dominican Studies Association have fought diligently for the wellbeing of Dominicans in general. All have won single battles such as Dr. De Filippis and Dr. Gutierrez, whom in part have rescued Dominican literature via their publications. Together, the association has had its share of victories. In fact, some members form the core of academics who founded the City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute – the first university-based research institute devoted to the study of people of Dominican descent in the United States. The Institute is divided into three branches – a research unit devoted entirely to the study of the Dominican population in the United States; the Dominican Library preserves the history of the Dominican Republic and its people with more than 700 Master thesis and PhD dissertations, countless books, thousands of articles, newspapers and magazines, overall a gold mine with an abundance of information about the Dominican people; and the last component of the Dominican Studies Institute is the Dominican Archives, the only archives dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Dominican population that resides in the United States.
Upon entering the university the audience was serenaded by what at first sounded like a merengue. Nonetheless upon approaching the Playbox Theater one could see that it was not a merengue, but the Beach Boys classic 'Kokomo,' thus giving the conference a Caribbean feel.

There were several panels during the conference. After the musical introduction, which was directed by Richard Gard, director of the Department of Music at Naugatuck Valley Community College, those present were welcomed by university president, Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis. De Filippis spoke about the importance of this conference for Dominicans in the United States.
In addition to Dr. De Filippis, Naugatuck Valley Community College has two other Dominican women in prominent positions. These two gems are Marianela Medrano-Marra, director of the counseling department and lecturer Juleyka Lantigua-Williams.
The first panel consisted of four poets who read their works. The poets were Dió-genes Abreu, José M. De la Rosa, Bessy Reyna, and Rhina Espaillat. 

Dominican Diaspora

One of the most informative presentations was that of Dr. Ramona Hernandez, who revealed important figures with regard to Dominicans in the United States. As usual, Hernandez informed the audience that 1.4 million Dominicans make the U.S. their home. Interestingly enough in the city of New York Dominicans are the largest immigrant group. According to Hernandez, Dominicans no longer reside in Upper Manhattan only, but due to economic reasons are moving to other states including Pennsylvania, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut among other states. Always one to provide trailblazing statistics, Hernandez revealed that the City of Waterbury houses 46 percent of Connecticut’s Dominican residents.

Historical presentation
Professor Anthony Stevens-Acevedo presented on a subject matter that left the crowd in awe. Those with details about the conference beforehand knew this was the presentation that would steal the show. It is no secret that the first inhabitants of the United States were not European explorers, as there were people living there already. On the other hand, until the conference, not much had been mentioned about, nor much publicity given to the first resident of New York State. For decades history books have set aside a paragraph or two about New York’s first resident who happened to have been born in Santo Domingo, however this information was never given great importance until the Dominican Studies Institute assembled a team of researchers to investigate. As has been proven by Professor Anthony Stevens Acevedo, in 1613 Juan Rodriguez officially became the first immigrant resident of the State of New York. What makes this even more intriguing is the fact that the majority of Dominicans who leave their birth country end up in New York.
Navigating Through American Land
The second panel was composed of three different panelists: Sarah Aponte, Rhina Espaillat and Pepe Coronado, moderated by historian Dr. Edward Paulino. Prof. Aponte spoke about her experience as Head Librarian of the Dominican Library at the Dominican Studies Institute. Though modest in her presentation, this multifaceted librarian singlehandedly created this library – her mentors Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant and Dr. Frank Moya Pons were present to assure the public of this. Rhina Espaillat spoke about her upbringing as a child in the United States and the importance of managing two languages in the nation. Artist Pepe Coronado recounted his life experience as an artist and gave a few pointers on how to become successful in the field.

There were several activities during the conference to keep the audience entertained. In addition to panels there also was a book sale, organized by Dr. Franklin Gutierrez. Melissa, daughter of Dr. Gutierrez, did an outstanding job selling books written by Dominican authors or written about the Dominican population. Some of the books sold included Rehearsing Absence by Rhina Espaillat, Otra Latitud by Jose Miguel de la Rosa, and 9 Iris y Otros Madlidtos Cuentos by Kianny Antigua.

The Dominican population in the United States is on the rise. Therefore, one cannot doubt the importance of this conference, “Dominicans in the United States: Memory, Culture and Geography.” Even the mayor of the City of Waterbury, Michael J. Jarjura was present for this momentous event. It would seem as though the Dominican population in the United States is on track to become a formidable force to be reckoned with as there are significant numbers of Dominican politicians in the various branches of the government including local, state and federal levels. The Dominican population has also shown entrepreneurial ambition and this group’s purchasing power as a people cannot be ignored. However, this gathering of intellectuals in Waterbury served as therapeutic inspiration for the young future leaders of the Dominican diaspora in the United States.

Unionized Workers Confront the Economic Crisis in the Dominican Republic

Nelson Santana

By A. Rodríguez

April 17, 2010

Struggles are heating up in the Dominican Republic.

Social conflicts in the Dominican Republic have become more acute due to the world economic crisis which puts into question the optimistic forecast made by President Leonel Fernandez who a few months ago said that the Dominican economy would not be affected because the country was “shielded.”

But contrary to this lie put forward by the Dominican president and his economic team, the crisis is already here: it arrived to the country long ago with the collapse of remittances from the U.S. and a drop in the tourist sector, one of the most important sources of revenues for the economy.

Most recent social conflicts can be traced back to the intransigent attitude of the government which refuses to address the crisis by increasing the minimum wage on par with inflation while food prices are on the rise. In addition, many people in the textile industry (zonas francas) in the Cibao region have lost their jobs, affecting the local economy in the process. There have also been mass layoffs in the state-owned Dominican Electricity Corporation as well as in public schools.

Meanwhile, the government does not invest enough in public education and the health care system. The aim of this policy is to dismantle the public sector and privatize both health services and public schools.

So far, the Dominican government has not bothered to undertake an overreaching social plan that could benefit the poor, working people and sectors of the middle class affected by the financial crisis. In that sense, the government has only distributed subsidies to families with children and low income single women through a government-issued card known as Solidarity. (As a matter of fact, the program is modeled after a similar system launched in Brazil by President Lula).
In the Dominican Republic, this paternalistic system has not translated into substantial results in terms of raising the living standards of the poor majority but rather, it is forging a dependency relationship between Solidarity card beneficiaries and the government. This will benefit the government in the upcoming elections.
In addition, state resources are being used for the construction of megaprojects such as the Santo Domingo Metro which ultimately, benefits construction companies. Meanwhile, the theft of public funds by government officials is more prevalent these days. At the end, embezzlement drains the state of needed funds needed to implement social projects.

The President’s Luck
The economic crisis in the Dominican Republic has as a backdrop the inability of the main opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (Dominican Revolutionary Party-PRD), to put forward a serious opposition against the government. In fact, the PRD does not make coherent political pronouncements that present alternatives to current government policies. But while it is true that some political statements have been made, these have been sporadic or worse yet, based on personal attacks as was the recent case of former President Hipolito Mejia who, from time to time, comes out of hibernation to defend his reputation against accusations of corruption during his administration. In one of those informal quarrels between government officials and Mejia, the former president turned to the aid of the "Hipolitadas" or his trademark clownish language that made him the laughingstock of Dominican politics.  He did this by reminding government officials such as Vincho Castillo, of their connections with the Trujillo dictatorship while at the same time, accusing other officials of being gay. However, the latter accusation hurt him badly because homosexuality is accepted in this Caribbean country.
On top of all this, there is the secret pact signed between former PRD presidential candidate Vargas Maldonado and President Fernández with the aim of approving the new constitution in the legislative branch.
After all, the fact that there is a clear absence of a coherent opposition serves as a gift to President Fernandez, who is proving to have more luck than a cat with seven lives.

Social Protest
Among some of the working sectors who have revived their demands are teachers in the public education system as well as nurses. For example, in the Santo Domingo Autonomous University (UASD), professors from the Federation of Associations of the Santo Domingo Autonomous University (FAPROUASD) were preparing actions in order to go on strike to demand wage increases and better working conditions. However, university authorities aborted the strike at a meeting that lasted four hours. Afterwards, the professors were granted a salary increase.

Prior to Easter Week, unionized nurses threatened to go on strike after the end of the Catholic holidays if health care officials did not include their union in the negotiations over a salary increase between public sector doctors from the Colegio Medico Dominicano (Medical Dominican Association-CMD) and the government.
The doctors have been waging a two years old struggle over a salary increase. In the Dominican Republic, public sector doctors are not well paid. This forces many health professionals to work in the informal sector of the economy as street vendors. And other doctors leave the country to work oversees in places like Spain among others.
Public school teachers are also organizing to confront the crisis. In March, teachers picketed the premises of the National Teachers Insurance (ARS-SEMMA) to demand a wage increase. Doctors also demanded that the government allocate payments to the teacher’s health insurance plan. As a result, members of the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP) staged protests in different parts of the country.

At the end, their militant actions were successful in that it forced the government to start making payments to their health insurance coverage.

But teachers who were laid off have not been reinstated as of this writing.

In fact, the situation for teachers is further aggravated because the government lacks both the physical infrastructure and the workforce that is crucial in order to impart a high quality education. The reality is that the public educational system in the island reveals serious needs that range from lack of seats and didactic materials; to the poor quality of school breakfast. As a matter of fact, the school breakfast is facing a crisis as recent cases of poisoning with school milk revealed.
In that order, the lack of investment in education and health services are affecting the living standards of the poor and the working class.
Furthermore, the previous president of the teacher’s union demanded that the government allocates 4% of the national budget to public education. The newly elected president of the ADP has not pressed for more investment in education.

The recent labor protests augur further struggles in response to the economic crisis that is wreaking havoc in the Caribbean nation.


This is a revised version of an article originally published in Spanish. It was translated by the author.