culture

True Trash To Treasure Tinkerers

CREDIT: CULTURA ARGENTINA / YOUTUBE

“The world sends us garbage, we send back music.”

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This couldn’t be more true in Cateura, Paraguay, a slum built on a landfill where the locals recycle the trash…but this isn’t your average recycling…

“A community like Cateura is not a place to have a violin, in fact, a violin here is worth more than a house here,” said Favio Chavez the director of the recycled orchestra.

The recycled orchestra is precisely that, an orchestra where the members perform with instruments made completely out of trash. “I never imagined myself building an instrument like this and I feel very happy when I see a kid playing a recycled violin,” said one of the residents.

The kids in the community are so enamored with their craft, that the can’t imagine it any other way. “My life would be worthless without music,” said one of the members of the orchestra. “When I listen to the sound of the violin, I feel butterflies in my stomach,” said another member. “It’s a feeling that I don’t know how to explain.”

Watch the video above to listen to the amazing orchestra.

READ: Are These the Mexican “Criminals” Trump Warned You About?

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The Coolest Character in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Is Now Latino

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The Coolest Character in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Is Now Latino

In a world full of Captain Americas and Supergirls, it is refreshing that Latinos are finally showing up in Marvel and DC’s superhero universes. Miles Morales and Miss America (America Chavez) are just two of the new Latino superheroes taking over alternate universes and realities. Now, Latinos can add the huggable, adorable tree we all know as Groot.

Groot rose to untold popularity after the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” became a huge hit.

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Credit: Marvel / Guardians of the Galaxy / @WindexBucky / Twitter

Mainly because he is such a cutie!

Like, seriously. The world found a place in their collective hearts for the emotional tree.

Who wouldn’t want this swing?

And his catchphrase, “I am Groot,” was brought to life by none other than Vin Diesel.

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Recently, Marvel created “Guardians of Infinity,” a spin-off of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series.

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Credit: Marvel

In a story featured in issue #3, Ben Grimm and Groot pay a visit to New York’s Lower East Side and run into a little trouble. Wondering why Ben Grimm is dressed like a member of Run-DMC? That’s because the story was co-written by Run-DMC’s own Darryl McDaniels (aka DMC).

Issue #3 also brings us one incredible revelation. Groot is Puerto Rican!

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Credit: Marvel / Guardians of Infinity / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Darryl DMC McDaniels

Well, sort of. His roots (ha!) are tied to a Puerto Rican legend. The Ceiba Tree is a legend that stretches from Puerto Rico and Guatemala all the way to West Africa. Mayans believed it to be a portal between worlds and Aztecs thought they held up the sky. Puerto Ricans and other modern civilizations believe the Ceiba tree is where the souls of loved ones live on long after death.

And yes, Groot says “I am Groot” in Español.

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Credit: Marvel / Guardians of Infinity / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Darryl DMC McDaniels

So, who is behind Groot’s Puertorriqueño heritage? Boricua writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.

EdgardoMirandaRodriguez_PhotoByDannyHastings
Credit: Danny Hastings / Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

“As a storyteller, I feel a responsibility to try to tell a story that can resonate with a universal audience. I oftentimes draw from my own life as an activist and art director,” Miranda-Rodriguez told we are mitú about making Groot Puerto Rican. “In the Lower East Side, or Loisada of Nueva York, the community has a rich history from Puerto Ricans. Cultural institutions like the Nuyorican’s Poet’s Café, Loisaida, Inc and the Clemente Soto Veléz Cultural and Educational Center were founded by Puerto Ricans in the 1970s. Given that many Marvel characters are from New York City, it only felt right to celebrate the Puerto Rican community of Loisaida.”

Miranda-Rodriguez says he was inspired to make Groot a proud Latino after hearing the calls to add diverse characters and stories to comics.

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Credit: Marvel / Guardians of Infinity / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Darryl DMC McDaniels

“Many Latinos here in the United States and internationally (just click on the hastag #YoSoyGroot) read and enjoy comic books,” Miranda-Rodriguez told we are mitú. “When I was writing the script for this story, I asked my editor Nick Lowe for permission to have Groot speak Spanish and say ‘Yo Soy Groot!’ Having those three words for me written into this comic book validated me as a Latino and every Latino that already picks up these books.”

His biggest inspiration for a Puerto Rican Groot came from Marta Moreno Vega, president of Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.

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She not only introduced the Puerto Rican writer to the legend of Ceiba, but she had such an impact in his life and career that he has immortalized her as Abuela Estela.

In the comic, Abuela Estela is the only person brave enough to soothe Groot after he falls under the control of the enemy.

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Credit: Marvel / Guardians of Infinity / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Darryl DMC McDaniels

In this issue, Groot and Grimm enter into an epic battle with a villain named Plantman. Before you know it, Groot is under the villain’s control and begins fighting Grimm – and destroying the Lower East Side. Abuela Estela sees the fight and runs out to calm Groot, bringing him back to the good side.

“¡Sacúdete y levantate!” Three words was all it took was for Abuela Estela to remind Groot of his Latino background.

Credit: Marvel / Guardians of Infinity / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Darryl DMC McDaniels

Miranda-Rodriguez: “In this story, Abuela Estela is the true hero. She doesn’t have super powers, but she is driven by great feelings of love. Most of us as Latinos, come to the United States for a better life for our familes. Many of our parents sacrifice by working long hours. Many of our abuelas are the ones that raise us. Therefore many of them are the caretakers of our language, history and heritage. I wanted Abuela Estela to represent that. I also wanted to show that as Latinos we all have a diverse family. We can have a dark-complexioned grandmother and a light-complexioned grandson because that’s just what makes us Latinos. It’s our superpower.”

Are you excited to have another Latino superhero? Share this story with all your friends by tapping that share button below and show everyone that Latinos exist in all universes!

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