Family is very important to the Latinidad. It isn’t just our immediate blood connections that hold powerful meaning to us, it’s also our family that has become close to us through shared experiences. Besides friends and found family, our primas can definitely be put into this group. Whether they’re related by blood or just by proximity, our primas mean so much to us. Our co-conspiritors, our best friends and the women who will always have our backs, the bond we have with our primas makes us stronger. It’s worth celebrating that.
We asked our FIERCE readers to tell us what their primas mean to them and what we got was a comments section full of a whole lot of love and heart emojis. Combined with some of our favorite internet posts, these comments remind us just how precious that bond with our primas our. This is sure to make you want to send a text to the family group chat to tell your primas how much you love them.
1. Primas equal sisterhood
Instagram / @coisasdemaaria
“In Mexico we call primas Primas-Hermanas (sister-cousin) to the ones who’s parents are siblings with our parents . In a sense an extension of sisterhood. We grew up closer than most.” — @killacarm
2. That one person who will always have your back.
Instagram / @luz_altamirano_18
“My primas were my sisters growing up and still are. We may not see each other every day or see eye to eye on everything but we have each others’ backs. ❤️” — @its__peaches
3. The one you can always vent to.
Instagram / @carlamariacarreiro
“Our at home therapy session. I miss those.” — @lizvaldillez
4. Primas eventually become tias.
Instagram / @priscila_henriique
“I’m an only child…not by choice. My parents were hit by a drunk driver while my mom was pregnant with my brother. My parents were saved but had complications. Like you, I am so blessed to have many cousins and Tias who added me to the pack of kids. Now as a mom myself ( 2 children) we still reach out to one another. My primas have kids in college and they are at out place all the time.Im officially mom when mom is miles away. I know they would they too would be there for my kids! The love and support continue. ❤️❤️” — @ryonmichelle
5. Your prosperity is their prosperity.
Twitter / @mayasouhaid
“My prima always helped me get jobs when I needed money to get stuff for my daughter. ❤️❤️❤️ ” — @nerdalous.13
6. They’re there for the good times and the bad.
Instagram / @babyqueilane
“Some of my cousins have been my best friends for sure! They were ride or die!” — @pryz
7. Your personal secret keeper.
Instagram / @stedejesus
“Over the years it was like having that one sis you can confide in.” — @la.dayysii
8. The ultimate Squad Goals.
Twitter / @Jufroees
Before Squad goals was a thing, our first clique was our primas. They’re always be live-long members of the crew.
9. Our permanent dance partner.
Instagram / @latinaapproved
It’s not a party without our primas. Whether it’s a quince or just a family BBQ, the party doesn’t start until we are reunited with these girls.
10. The only one who can joke with us like this.
Instagram / @wearemitu
Coming from anyone else, these would be fighting words but our primas know us that way so it’s all good.
Ultimately, our primas are everything to us.
Instagram / @biancafoliveiral
“My prima is my fuckin’ everything. Mi hermana, my best friend, my advisor, my shoulder to cry on…TODO.” — @oriettareadmai
As many of us map out, work toward, and realize our dreams in this new year, a Latina mom literally gave her children a new lease on life when she showed them the new apartment they would be living in. Up until then, the family of three lived in a garage. On Jan. 1, 2020, Ana Manzo gave her children a tour of their new, empty apartment, not knowing her daughter Meydi was recording the entire reaction. Meydi’s brother walked around excitedly, smiled when he saw the bedroom and immediately started sobbing. Now, Latino Twitter is taking it upon themselves to relate to the lows and highs and ensure the Manzo family will struggle just a little bit less.
Meydi decided to film the momentous moment that their family had been saving for over the last 7 years.
CREDIT: @MEYDII_ / TWITTER
“After more then 7 years living in a small garage that was the only thing my mom could afford, we finally got a small apartment, this was my little brothers reaction,” Meydi Manzo captioned the viral video that now has over 4 million views. It seems like both Meydi and her mom expected to see a happy reaction from her brother, but didn’t expect the tears. When her brother walks into what looks like a one-bedroom apartment, a big grin swallows up his face. Then, he starts to cry, taking a sleeve to his face to dry his tears as Mama Ana gives him a big hug and asks why he’s crying. Anyone who has been there already knows why he’s crying. “It’s okay to cry papi 💕,” offers one Twitter user.
Another offers her experience, tweeting, “This is so beautiful to see! It’s an incredible feeling. When I was younger I lived in a small room with 3 of my other siblings and my parents. It makes you humble… but keep grinding for that better life!!”
After the video went viral, Meydi took the opportunity to offer a lesson in gratitude.
CREDIT: @MEYDII_ / TWITTER
“Hi we didn’t expect this to blow up the way that it did, but thank you so much to everyone for your kind words,” she tweeted, adding that her brother has read all the comments and “is beyond happy that this blew up.” For the Manzo family, this moment is all about gratitude. “Those seven years in the garage have taught us to be thankful and to appreciate everything and anything we have,” she said in a follow-up tweet. “The simplest things, we may not have much but we have each others’ love no matter how much me and my brother fight lol,” Meydi added.
If you’re not crying yet, just wait.
Meydi has a message for those of you who are in similar situations.
CREDIT: ANA MANZO / FACEBOOK
“For those of you in similar situations, it gets better, and god is good,” Meydi tweeted. She says that her mom “is overwhelmed with feelings” because Meydi has been reading everyone’s comments to her and vows to continue to read every message of support and pass it on to her mother. “She promised us she would keep us moving forward no matter what and she has done nothing but keep that promise true,” Meydi said. “Hug your parents and remind them how thankful you are for everything they do for you and everything they have given you no matter how little it is,” Meydi offers in her final message of hope and gratitude. “Sending love and blessings to you all, thank you once again.”
So many people asked Meydi for ways they could help that she started a GoFundMe that has raised over $3k for the Manzo family.
CREDIT: ANA MANZO / FACEBOOK
“A lot of people were asking how they could help and I couldn’t think of another way,” Meydi said in the GoFundMe, adding, “my mom is a little tight on money and I hate asking others for stuff like money, but I think this would lift a weight off her chest with the upcoming bills.” In less than 24 hours, Twitter has raised at least two month’s rent for the Manzo family, with folks donating from all over the world.
So many folks felt the tears that Meydi’s brother shed because they had been there too and were in a place to donate. “I grew up not having a lot and I know what It feels like. I cried when I saw your little brother cry. I hope this help a lot, one donor who gave $100 said in a GoFundMe comment.
May Mama Ana Manzo’s besitos give you all the bendiciones you need to reach your goals this new year.
My mother was six when she fled to the United States from Cuba with my abuela and her two siblings. After reuniting with my abuelo who fought against Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs War, they moved to Chicago, where they built a life for themselves completely from scratch, still gripping tenderly onto the heritage and cultures that connected them to families and friends back at home. In their efforts to keep and sustain our family’s Cuban heritage, my abuelos and my mother taught me and my siblings to love and cherish the many different and beautiful contributions that their island country has given to the world: cuisine, cafecito, Bacardí, music, and José Marti.
Naturally, as any proud Cuban-American, I have benevolently held onto all of these as my own personal tokens from an island I have never visited or known. I’m quick to boast about each of them as if they were conjured up by my own mother’s hard work in the kitchen. Still, none have Cuba’s treasures have made me feel quite so intimately linked to my family’s first home like the beloved Cuban song “Guantanamera.”
Like my abuelos and my mother’s stories of Cuba, “Guantanamera” is a song that has grown and adapted through its journey. I have heard the story of my abuelos’ wedding day more than a hundred times; the tale of how my mother cried when kids at her school called my abuelo —a Bay of Pigs prisoner who singlehandedly saved hundreds of lives after being captured by Castro — a criminal; the account of my abuela wringing her hands as she debated enrolling her children in Operation Peter Pan and how she later boarded a cargo ship holding onto only her children and memories of her life to meet my abuelo in the United States. Each anecdote is the same but is always slightly altered in some way depending on the storyteller’s mood and time that I plead for their retelling. Some days they’re drawn out, told with prideful smiles, but often they’re said quickly with an ache to forget the portal of bittersweet memories my questions have sent them through. So similarly goes the many different versions of “Guantanamera.”
It is widely accepted that the original lyrics of the song, considered to be Cuba’s unofficial anthem, were romantic in nature, but over time, the song has been interpreted as a political ode. Brought from the rural regions of the island and to airwaves by Cuban radio host Joseíto Fernández in the 1920s, the song quickly caught on among fans. Fernández performed it regularly on his show and, in the tradition of most folk music, improvised and changed verses based on the week’s events. Some days he sang about politics, and other days he purred lyrics that harped about azucar and its rising costs. Still, the song’s opening lines and chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera / Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,” always remained the same.
Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted the “official” lyrics to the song using verses from Cuban freedom fighter José Martí’s poetry collection “Versos Sencillos.” Orbón’s version, the one most commonly recorded by music artists, used Marti’s lines about a “sincere man” who was from “where the palm trees grow (Yo soy un hombre sincero/ De donde crece la palma).“
This adaptation, combined with other lyrics from Martí’s poems that express compassion for Cuba’s poor, is ultimately what turned “Guantanamera” into the country’s most recognized patriotic anthem. In the U.S. and internationally, the song has been interpreted and adopted as a rally for peace (in 2004, for instance, the Swedish government flipped it into an offbeat rap song to promote recycling) and performed by a wide range of artists. In 1966, the Sandpipers did a version that became an international hit, and in the years that followed, singers like Jimmy Buffett, Pitbull and even the Fugees recorded their own editions. My personal favorite is the one sung by Cuban-born singer Celía Cruz on her album “Bravo” in 1967.
My Spanish has never quite allowed me to communicate with my abuelo in his native language fluently, but “Guantanamera” has let me do so.
Most conversations with my abuelo come with a melding of his so-so English and my mediocre Spanish. Together, we’re able to find a common ground that allows us to make each other laugh, exchange “te quiero mucho muchos” and grants me the ability to learn about the family and life he was forced to leave behind. In worse case scenarios, my abuela, a retired Spanish teacher, or my mother will intervene to translate. But when it comes to “Guantanamera,” abuelo and I have never needed assistance. Together, we’ve sung the song, our separately known variants, not always familiar with the lines each other sings but always well aware that in those moments they fill us with a deep love for each other and the versions of Cuba we both know.
Recently, during a visit with my abuelos, we sat together in their snug living room listening to Celía Cruz’s illustrious take of “Guantanamera” as her throaty voice sang over flute trills and drums. Old pictures of primos and tias looked down at us from the walls as we first listened carefully to the lyrics.
There’s no knowing what will prompt one of the Cubans in my family to break out into song. My most playful tía will chorus a line to tell stories; my brother does it at the dinner table even though he knows he’ll be told it’s rude, and my mother does it when she wants you to be in a better mood. Like them, my abuelos and I couldn’t help ourselves as Celía’s lively low-range voice started the chorus. Not against the charms of “Guantanamera.” Soon enough, abuela, abuelo and I were all singing the different Spanish versions of the song we hold dear.
Truthfully, if ever there was a moment that I thought I could burst from feeling so whole, it was sitting there in their living room, watching as the burden of my abuelo’s struggles of exile, always easy to decipher in his quietly distracted stares, seemed almost completely forgotten as he sang with pure delight.
“Guantanamera” is a song that has had a rhythmic presence in my life for as long as I can remember.
Like the smell of aftershave on my abuelo’s worn blue guayabera and the cheekiness of my abuela’s wily grin, I could make out that song anywhere, even despite the many versions it holds. Including the one I’ve heard my abuelo hum while brushing his teeth and the one my mother tries to keep in tune to while singing along to Cruz as she drives in the car. Like the different impressions of the song, Cuba is a country that has been strongly woven into our different narratives. Still, while my relationship and experience with Cuba will never tug on the strings of my heart with the same pang as it does on my abuelos or my mother, “Guantanamera” reminds me that the island is much more of a home than a foreign place that my family’s exile might try to make me believe.
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