VIDEO: What Americans Really Think of Puerto Rico


So, this interview from Fox Business' Varney and Co. with Puerto Rico Secretary of Commerce José Pérez-Riera is quite telling. The level of ignorance from the American media is sad. Let's get this straight: you can disagree with Pérez-Riera, but the interviewers should at least respect the guy. When will Puerto Ricans wake up and demand that the US media be more respectful to Puerto Ricans? This has gone beyond politics, this should now be about Puerto Ricans banding together and saying that they will no longer be treated like the little colony that the US media has portrayed them to be.

Now, people laughed at me when I wrote the following piece last year called Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State. My main argument is that there are many Americans (especially those in the conservative media) who have no clue about Puerto Rico and actually don't want Puerto Rico to become a state.

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it

Americans will never accept a flag with 51 stars in it Well, this latest clip from Fox News Business just confirms my original thesis. Wake up, Puerto Rico, the United States media does not care about the status question. And Pérez-Riera is a pro-statehooder whose leader is a Republican governor. It is bizarre, but it does not surprise me any more.

By the way, the news has been spreading around the island.



Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog,, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. This year, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the NationNPR,  UnivisionForbesand The New York Times.

Puerto Rican GOP Delegate Tells NBC Latino: “USA! USA!” Chants Not Directed at Her

This morning NBC Latino's Sandra Lilley and Adrian Carrasquillo published on-the-record comments from Puerto Rico's Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the GOP’s permanent organization committee, who said that yesterday's bizarre scene where chants of "USA! USA!" drowned her out as she stepped up to the podium at the Republican National Convention were not directed at her.

Here is an excerpt from the NBC Latino piece:

…contrary to reports, [Fonalledas] was not the object of “USA, USA!” chants when she stepped up to the podium to announce the RNC committee during the convention’s opening statements, and assured she was caught in the “Ron Paul” convention flap.

“There was a group who wanted Ron Paul delegates to be counted; they were protesting the way it worked out,” says Fonalledas, who was about to start making her statement when “USA! USA!” chants can be seen coming from a group of Ron Paul delegates.

“They were not happy with the rules, but we are in a democracy; we had a meeting, they did not have the votes, and we have to unite,” she said. Fonalledas says she also said “USA!” as the chants grew louder.

“We’re here to defend the U.S. and to make sure we are united as a party.”

The incident has become a YouTube viral sensation, getting over 146,000 views in less than 12 hours.

Fonalledas also told NBC Latino the following:

Fonalledas as well as other RNC delegates insist she was caught in the Ron Paul “crossfire” and that is the extent of it.

“It’s time to unite behind Romney and Ryan, and move ahead with our message,” says Fonalledas.

Nonetheless, the scene was still awkward and weird, and we are pretty sure that it is not the type of moment the GOP wants publicized. 146,000 views on YouTube so far. There is a reason why it issued the following statement yesterday:

During today's Republican Convention Committee Reports, the Ron Paul followers exercised their right to free speech and protested the report by the Committee on Credentials. The Report by the Chairwoman of the Permanent Organization Committee followed. The protesters continued their boisterous protest of the Credentials Report which spilled over to the rest of the proceedings. To be clear, the attempt to disrupt the proceedings had to do with the report, not the Puerto Rico National Committeewoman. Puerto Rico and its delegation play a very important role in this Convention, and are an integral partner in the National Committee.

As for Fonalledas? Considering that she can't even vote for president (Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but those who live on the island do not have a vote in national presidential elections), this whole issue has become the irony of ironies. Our Facebook community has had a lively debate about it, and most agree that even though the initial chants were a product of what happened before Fonalledas appeared on the stage, the moment was still very awkward and the "optics" (h/t to Lilley and Carrasquillo) don't help in the GOP's quest to gain more support with US Latino voters. We are also guessing that you won't be seeing many RNC officials in San Juan any time soon.

Our Interview with Top NFL Draft Prospect Evan “ERod” Rodriguez

By Efrain Nieves and Victoria Cepeda

We are pleased to introduce you to Evan "ERod" Rodriguez, a two-time all Mid American Conference tight end/fullback for Temple University who ended his 2011 season with 35 catches, 479 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He has the ability to play different positions, making him a versatile player and a 2012 NFL draft prospect. He is expected to be picked on the third to fifth round of the NFL draft that starts this upcoming Thursday, April 26th.

We met Evan at the North Bergen Bruins Stadium on a windy but exceptionally sunny day. Evan, who is a tall and very approachable young man, greeted us with an honest handshake. You immediately get the sense that he is pumped but cautious. It is not by luck that Evan has been picked as a draft prospect for the NFL. A natural athlete and overachiever who has won countless of awards at county, state and national levels. Currently he is a senior at Temple University and a few courses away from earning his Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. This multifaceted young man was born in the Bronx and grew up in North Bergen, NJ. But, in our opinion, what makes Evan exceptional is his humility, involvement in his community and his desire to share with the Latino community his success in a show of gratitude and pride of his roots.

VC: Evan thank you for granting us an opportunity to introduce you to our fans and congratulations on your NFL draft prospect status. I hear that the  NY Giants, SF 49ers and the SD Chargers, among others have expressed an interest in you. How excited are you?

ER: It's a long process and overwhelming to know that a lot teams are interested in me given that I am a tight end, coming out in this year's draft and I am versatile.

Sports motivated me, my mother motivates me. I was raised by a single mother her name is Frances Rodriguez. Growing up I did not have a  father figure but my mom got me into the Big Brother/Big Sister program. That's where I met my mentor Tom Schoenewald who sat me down and told me "you don't want to become a statistic of "Should have/Could have been" type of person in life. He is still very much someone that I look up to and is still involved in my life." I just gave the local BB/BS  tickets to come to my Temple Owls vs. Army game this past season game, hang out with kids and give autographs.

VC: What keeps you motivated and inspired?

ER: My mother to be honest being that she was a single mother who raised two kids on her own. It is inspiring to see how strong she is. My job is to take care of her and my little brother as well. I don't want to let them down but my daily routine when I get up is to work out although it is hard at times but that is life. You just got to keep pushing for it. Every little effort pays off in the long run.

VC: How hard is it to combine sports such as football with studies? What message do you have for young athletes?

ER: It  is not easy, it's not easy. But, you just got to keep pushing…can't quit. If you need help ask for help, don't be scared. Everyone needs help.

VC: Was playing football breaking the stereotypes about the sports? Especially with Latinos comprising only 1% of NFL players and preferring to play baseball or basketball?

ER: I have been playing football since I was, you know, seven years old. It's not easy you know, guys would say "oh,you're Spanish you should play baseball" or something like that.

VC: But you can play right? How good of a baseball player are you?

ER: Baseball? Baseball? I can play. (Smiles.)

VC: Why do you identify yourself as Latino?

ER: Being in the community that I come from,  Hudson County, you're surrounded by so many Latinos and I just try to give back, especially to the younger kids. I actually did a presentation at Lincoln School where my younger brother, Louis Rodriguez's attends school.  I told them about life and to set goals but to understand that you have to take baby steps to get to your goals. And do not give up regardless of what people tell you. As long as you believe in yourself do not give up.

VC: What is your background?

ER: I am half Puerto Rican and African American. I am a Boricua although I am not fluent in Spanish, I can still understand it. If you speak to me in Spanish, I would most likely speak to you in Spanglish.

VC: That is alright, we are fluent in Spanglish besides Latinos come in all colors and shapes.

VC: Ok, tell us what is your favorite meal?

ER: My mom would make us rice and beans "arroz con habichuelas", empanadas and her killer coquito during the Christmas season.

EN: What NFL players do you look up to?

ER: First my favorite NFL players, I have to say, are Sean Taylor and  Deion Sanders but my friends in the league are Steve Maneri who is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs because while going to Temple he helped me out a lot. Muhammed Wilkinson who plays for the Jets and these are all a bunch of Temple guys they played a big factor in my life. They have told me that If I have any questions or doubts to give them a call. Especially coming from Temple, we don't get a lot of respect as it is, but the guys that are in the NFL have made a name for themselves and Temple is  now starting to get on the mat and have moved to the Big East and are getting more attention. Guys in the NFL respect Temple players but you want the whole country to respect Temple players. We're getting there, we're getting there.

EN:  I read an article the other day, while doing my research on you, where Brian Griese has spoken highly of you and compared you to Tony Gonzalez and other articles also comparing you to Aaron Hernandez. How does it feel to be compared to these guys that are icons not only within the NFL but to the Latino community as well?

ER: Gonzalez, wow. He's a Hall of Famer in my book and he's definitely going to be a Hall of Famer. He's been playing the game for over ten years and is someone that I would like to meet at some point to ask him how do you manage your career to be so long.

And Hernandez, he is a guy that I look up to. I patterned my game after  him. I kind of play like him you know. We got the same style of play, being that my head coach was Steven Adazzio. Steven was the offensive coach at Florida when Hernandez was there and then came to Temple, and took the head coach job, he would call me "baby Hernandez". So I respect that and I have looked at films and say I play like this guy.

EN: Last year, at Temple if I am correct, you started twelve games, you got 35 catches and 479 yards? 35 catches is a lot for twelve games. What do you think you can bring to the NFL with seventeen games?

ER: Being that at Temple we basically were a running team, I lead the team in receptions but once I get to the NFL, a team can fit me in the right system and use me real well. I bring a lot of versatility since I play more than one position, tight end, fullback, slot receiver. I look at myself as very versatile.

EN: Any last words before we go?

ER: I would like to give a shout out to North Bergen, my entertainment team New League Nation, my lifelong friends from North Bergen Chris Macias (aka "Chris Major") and Robin Castro (aka DJ Rob Cast). Thank you and God bless.

We wish Evan Rodriguez the best at the 2012 NFL draft and will be supporting him. Off the record, we know which team Evan would like to play for, but that is for us to know and for you to find out.

Follow Evan "ERod" Rodriguez on Facebook and Twitter:, @ERod_Inc

And check out what the major sports outlets are saying: 2012 Top NFL Draft Prospects and Evan Rodriguez, Temple, NFL Draft – –

Santorum Defends His English Only Position on Puerto Rico and Digs Himself Into a Deeper Hole

Before we share Rick Santorum's Thursday comments he made to CNN that defended the position he made to EL VOCERO about how English should be a requirement if Puerto Rico were to become the 51st state of the United States, we wanted to share a meme that we created to give Santorum a history lesson:

With that out of the way, here is the video clip from CNN where Santorum defends what he said:

It appears that Santorum's informant comments about Puerto Rico, constitutional requirements and vague generalizations about Puerto Ricans has struck home. Several of the island's key leaders have commented. First off, pro-statehood and Republican governor Luis Fortuño, who is endorsing Mitt Romney but also met privately with Santorum on Wednesday and is a friend of Santorum's (yes, we know it is confusing, but stick with us). This is what Fortuño told National Review Online:

But Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño tells National Review Online that Santorum’s stipulation “shouldn’t be an issue.” He notes that Santorum clarified his remarks earlier today, saying he wanted island to be bilingual, not solely English-speaking. Fortuño also points out that English is already one of the island’s two official languages, the other being Spanish.

And Fortuño shares Santorum’s sentiment. “As a parent, I can tell you that most of us want our children to be totally fluent in both languages,” he says. “Given all the free-trade agreements [being negotiated] in the region, it makes sense to be at the very least bilingual.” In his most recent State of the State address, he announced an initiative to ensure that no child graduated from Puerto Rico’s public schools without being “fully, truly bilingual.” “And this initiative is supported by more than 90 percent of parents in polls,” he observes.

Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who is a Democrat but a member of the same pro-statehood party as Fortuño (we told you this was confusing), told CNN's Soledad O'Brien the following:

"Santorum's view is narrow and a limiting view of what America is all about," Pedro Pierluisi, a Democrat, said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien" "English is the predominant language in the U.S. and will continue to be so, whether Puerto Rico becomes a state or not."

The Latino Rebels Are Proud to Present “Words and Music for Miguel Algarín” in New York City

Today, the Latino Rebels are proud to present a charity event for #LatinoLit icon Miguel Algarín, the co-founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café. The event, which will feature over 30 performers, will start today July 24 at the Phoenix Bar in the East Village.

You can donate online here.

The iconic Miguel Algarín is a man deserving of various accolades, among his most noteworthy being founder of the Nuyorican Poets Café in the Lower East Side in the early 1970s—a place where marginalized voices founded a movement and created a home that Allen Ginsberg once described as “the most integrated place on the planet.” Out of the Nuyorican Poets Café were born books and legends—too many to report here.

So what’s the point?

The man responsible for carving a space for literary and counter-cultural expression in the urban war-zone of the 1970s Lower East Side/Loisaida is in need of our help. Miguel is being forced to vacate his Lower East Side apartment this summer. As a 70-year-old disabled man this is proving to be quite a challenge. So to help offset the cost of his legal fees and other expenses we are throwing a party to raise money for him.

Así mismo.

As a living icon who has given a platform to thousands of marginalized voices in his lifetime, we feel that this is the least we can do for Miguel and hope that you can join us in our celebration in honor of him. Yes, the goal is to raise money, but the way in which we’ll do that is by having fun. Come join us as we revel in the Lower East Side/East Village poetry and performance legacy he helped create.

You can donate online here.

(Note: All money raised will go to Miguel Algarín. Neither The Phoenix, Latino Rebels, nor the performers will receive any funds raised—we are all volunteering our time.)

Coors Light Ad in the Bronx Offends Puerto Rican Community

Leave it to the sensitive folks at Coors to miss the mark on Latino marketing. A new ad campaign by Coors for the upcoming Puerto Rican Parade has ignited a controversy that has offended many Puerto Ricans living in the Yankee Stadium section of The Bronx.

As reported by WPIX:

There is a new controversy being served up on the corner of Grand Concourse and East 161st.  At a bus stop in the shadows of the Bronx Supreme Court, a Coors Light ad is brewing questions from the Puerto Rican community with its “Emborícuate” ads — Spanish for “become Puerto Rican.”

Coors Light is a sponsor of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the inspiration for the message.  The ads, however, show large bottles of beer with the “Emboricuate” message below, and the only mention of the parade in tiny print.

“That is really wrong. I can’t believe that they would allow that or even put that on there like that.  That doesn’t look right at all,” says Eva De La Cruz.

There are approximately three million Puerto Ricans in New York, and a handful that PIX11 spoke to — along with others from various backgrounds — were offended when they came across the ad.  ”I was looking at that sign and Boricua means a breed of people, I don’t think that drinking represents our culture that way, I think that is not good advertisement,” says David Madera.

A few feet away from him, a Puerto Rican man sitting on the steps of the Courthouse drinking a Pepsi, who would only identify himself as Juan, added, “That is like saying that us Puerto Ricans, that, ‘Hey we just get drunk!’. . . it’s not like that you know.”


The following link shows the WPIX report: PRican.