Culture

From the Past To Today, Puerto Rico’s Courageous Spirit Continues To Lift The Island Up

If there’s one word to describe Puerto Rico and the people that have cultivated the land for thousands of years it is resilient. They’ve endured colonization — like most Latin and Carribean lands — natural catastrophes, economic plight, but through it all, they have persevered. Let’s dive into the turbulent history and astonishing way that Puerto Rico continues to thrive no matter what.

The first people of Puerto Rico.

Wikipedia: Arawak Indians

The indigenous group, known as the Arawak Indians (part of the Taíno population), inhabited not only Puerto Rico but also Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other islands. They are the first to have encountered Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus colonizes Puerto Rico.

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In 1493, Columbus claimed Puerto Rico for Spain — as he also did with Cuba. The Roman Catholic Church also had a part in colonizing the island of Puerto Rico. In 1521, the island went from being referred to as Boricua (which the Natives called their land) to officially Puerto Rico.

Slavery in Puerto Rico.

Wikipedia

In the 16th century, the Spanish began importing slaves from Africa to Puerto Rico to cultivate their only economic resources including sugar, tobacco, and coffee. The Spanish also captured native Puerto Ricans as slaves as well.

On September 23, 1868, between 600 to 1,000 men attempted to revolt against the Spanish for their independence. This moment is remembered as the “Grito de Lares.” That call for freedom is still celebrated in Puerto Rico today.

The Spanish-American War

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During the Spanish-American war of 1898, the U.S. successfully occupied Puerto Rico at Guánica. The Spanish conceded and under the Treaty of Paris handed Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and Cuba to the United States.

The Foraker Act

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In 1900, the U.S. president and other lawmakers signed the Foraker Act, which gave the U.S. more control over the island but also allowed Puerto Rico to have its government.

The Jones Act

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On March 2, 1917, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act which automatically granted all people born in Puerto Rico U.S. citizens. The Act also allowed Puerto Ricans to live under the same Bill of Rights and constitution as those living in the U.S. The Jones Act also came with some tax regulations that made it more expensive to import goods from Puerto Rico to the U.S.

Puerto Rico and America, united but not.

After World War II, Puerto Rico experienced several economic and governmental changes. In 1952, Puerto Ricans voted to become a commonwealth of the U.S., which established its own governing constitution. Their new commonwealth status meant that they were still U.S. citizens but were not allowed to vote in U.S. elections.

People flee the island.

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It was also around this time (between 1950 and 1970) that half a million people left the island of Puerto Rico and migrated to the U.S. People have left the island once again, after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. CNN reports that more than 130,000 Puerto Ricans relocated to the U.S. after the hurricane.

Exploring the tourism in Puerto Rico.

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Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for tourists. At the end of 2016, more than 10 million passengers arrived on the island. Typically, the island generates $4 billion from tourism to its economy. Despite having setbacks including the Zika outbreak and Hurricane Maria, the island has is back in business.

Catastrophes and Tragedies

Wikipedia: Mameyes

The island has been hit hard by natural catastrophes including in 1985 when a landslide in Ponce killed 129 people. While Puerto Rico has experienced multiple hurricanes— the island has had only one Category 5 hurricane and that was the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928. Three hundred people died during that hurricane. In 1899, a smaller hurricane killed more than 3,000 people.

Dual Languages

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In 1993, Puerto Rico declared that the official language of the island would be Spanish and English.

The Economy

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Puerto Rico’s economy has been volatile since Columbus first colonized the island. The tax laws that the U.S. has instilled onto the island resources has made the economy there unstable, ultimately hurting lower class Puerto Ricans. It is because of these laws that Puerto Rico generated billions of dollars in debt. Currently, the island owes the U.S. $70 billion, most of which was caused by a recession and laws that the U.S. implemented.

“Nasty” Politics

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan (the capital of Puerto Rico), is one of the island’s most prominent advocates. Ever since Hurricane Maria struck the island, she has been taking to social media to show the devastation, what people needed (and still need), and has not backed down even while being intimidated by President Trump.

Obama visits the island.

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You would think that because Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. more U.S. presidents would visit the island. They do go on tours worldwide, but not to Puerto Rico for one reason or another. However, in 2011, President Barack Obama made an official visit to the island, making it the first since John F. Kennedy.

Hurricane Maria

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Just weeks after Hurricane Irma grazed Puerto Rico, leaving millions without power, Hurricane Maria landed on Sept. 20 as a Category 4. The island has been in recovery mode since, and while the island is open for business, many people are still trying to rebuild their lives. An estimated 3,057 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Trump vs. Puerto Rico

Instagram/@fernandoraulastrology

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, U.S. President Donald Trump did not serve the people of Puerto Rico. He downplayed the deaths, threw paper towels at survivors during his brief visit to the island, and balked at the severity of the hurricane. Relations between Trump and the island remain strained.

Famous Puerto Ricans

Instagram/@jlo

There’s no way in hell that we could list all of the famous Puerto Ricans that have contributed to our society past and present. Since we have to list a few famous Puerto Ricans, we can start with Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Roberto Clemente, José Ferrer, Ricky Martin, Esmeralda Santiago, and so many more.

The Best Puerto Rican Foods

Instagram/@puertoricogram

Mofongo, tostones (fried plantains) with garlic, olive oil, and chicharrones or bacon, has to be our top favorite Puerto Rican dish although we can take arroz con pollo, chicken asopao, or roasted pork any day of the week.

A Slow Recovery

Instagram/@67dewey

Puerto Rico has made great strides over the past year and a half, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans in the U.S. — both famous and unknown — have contributed to the success and perseverance of the island. While there’s still lots of work to be done, Puerto Rico continues to rise above tragedy.

Puerto Rico Today

Instagram/@maryv_rojas

One of the most amazing things in Puerto Rico that occurred recently, as the island is still in recovery mode, is that people —mainly Lin-Manuel Miranda — has brought arts and culture back to the island. Through his production of “Hamilton” in Puerto Rico, he will be generating millions of dollars toward arts education for children in Puerto Rico. It’s only another sign that the island will go on as it always has.


READ: Some Puerto Ricans Plan On Leaving The Island To Give Their Family A Better Life, While Others Tell Us They Feel Guilty Leaving

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Legendary Astrologer Walter Mercado’s Home In Puerto Rico Is For Sale And At A Discount

Entertainment

Legendary Astrologer Walter Mercado’s Home In Puerto Rico Is For Sale And At A Discount

Prediction: You will want to check out Walter Mercado’s house in Puerto Rico, and maybe even buy it up and call it home. And what perfect timing, because the stars have aligned to bring you his Puerto Rico pad at an unbeatable price.

That’s right! Walter Mercado’s home in San Juan is up for sale!

Located in an “exclusive area” of San Juan, according to the property listing, the six-bedroom, five-bathroom estate is on sale for just $395,000.

Since you likely won’t fly to San Juan right now (thanks, COVID), you can check out the flamboyant cape aficionados sweet, two story tropical oasis on Realtor.com.

The listing photos show the home’s vibrant interior, which appears in the documentary, with yellow, red and green walls. The first floor boasts a large living room, kitchen and dining room. Tile-work leads up the stairs to the second level, where there’s yet another living room, dining room and a smaller kitchen — plus two balconies.

Outside, there’s a pool area with a gazebo and a patio, as well as a covered carport for at least four cars.

The home seems to be having trouble finding a buyer.

The estate originally hit the market for $495,000 in September 2020 but with no buyer in the cards, it then had its price slashed to $430,000 in December, according to Realtor.com. It’s now asking just $395,000.

Mercado already sold his Miami property in 2017 to cover financial difficulties.

While in Miami, Mercado maintained an apartment at The Grand in downtown for many years until 2017 when he decamped part time to New York.

Many in his family had hoped to turn his Puerto Rico home into a museum to the late icon, but due to zoning issues the family decided the best step forward was to list the home for sale. Regarding Mercado’s belongings that were contained within the home (so many of which we came to see in the Netflix documentary), one of his nieces told Pledge Times, that though family members have each kept some items, many were given to the Miami History Museum, and some items will go to Mexico. However, his cape with the Puerto Rican flag is being sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

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Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

Entertainment

Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

As you probably know by now, a new season of the never-ending reality series “The Bachelor” has just started.

And this season is destined to be especially exciting–not just because of the promise of non-stop drama, but because the franchise has finally hired its first Black male lead, Matt James, after 18 years on the air.

And with the first Black “Bachelor” comes the most diverse group of contestants competing for the lead’s heart that they’ve ever had.

And one of the contestants that is capturing the hearts of both fans and Matt James alike is 24-year-old Puerto Rican-born pageant queen Mariela “Mari” Pepin.

On this season’s premiere episode of “The Bachelor”, Mari was immediately clocked by viewers as one of the front runners by the way that Matt reacted to meeting her. The former Wake Forest wide receiver was struck speechless by her beauty and couldn’t keep his eyes off her when she parted ways with him. It was obvious that Mari had made quite the first impression on him.

And because we love to see #representation on screen (and especially on reality TV), we decided to do our due diligence and find out as much as we could about this gorgeous and accomplished Latina. Here’s everything you need to know about Mari Pepin.

She’s Boricua–and proud of it!

Something that immediately endeared Mari to fans was the fact that she is so vocally proud of being Puerto Rican. In her first sit-down conversation with Matt, she opened up about how hard its been for her family to live through the relentless natural disasters that the island is going through.

She’s a military brat.

According to Mari’s personal blog, she spent the first few years of her life in PR before relocating to Germany because of her father’s military career. According to Mari, her unique childhood contributed to her love of traveling as an adult.

She was 2019’s Miss Maryland USA.

According to Mari’s official “Bachelor” bio, she began competing in pageants when she moved to Maryland as a teenager. She won Miss Teen Maryland and then went on to win the title of Miss Maryland. After that, she placed in the Top 10 of the Miss USA competition.

She’s wicked smart.

According to Mari’s LinkedIn page, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Towson University and she’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Marketing Intelligence from the same institution. It’s safe to say she values education.

She’s multilingual.

Not only does Mari speak both Spanish and English flawlessly, but she’s also fluent in French and American Sign Language.

Based on all this info alone, we can’t wait to see Mari Pepin crush this season of “The Bachelor”. Hopefully, this Boricua beauty will be popping up a lot on our screens for years to come!

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