Sunday, March 30, 2008

Full text of Indictment against Gov. Acevedo Vila of Puerto Rico

Click here for the PDF file of the FBI / US Justice Department indictment against Governor Acevedo Vila of Puerto Rico

US Justice Department Press Release of indictment against Gov. Acevedo Vila of Puerto Rico

(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Governor of Puerto Rico and Twelve Others Indicted for Election Related Crimes

WASHINGTON – Puerto Rico Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and 12 associates in Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and the Philadelphia-area have been charged in a 27-count indictment unsealed today and returned by a grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 24, 2008, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today.

The defendants face charges ranging from conspiracy, false statements, wire fraud, federal program fraud and tax crimes related to campaign financing for the governor’s 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 campaign for Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and subsequent 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to defraud the United States and violate various Federal Election Campaign Act provisions by having Puerto Rico businessmen make illegal and unreported contributions to pay off large and unreported debts stemming from Acevedo Vilá’s 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 campaigns for Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Payments were made principally to the public relations and media company for the campaigns. The illegal actions continued into 2003, due to the significant debt accumulated by the campaigns, some of which was also concealed from the FEC and the public.

Acevedo Vilá and legal advisor, defendant Inclán Bird, solicited, accepted, and then reimbursed illegal conduit contributions from Acevedo Vilá’s family members and staff. Conduit contributions are illegal campaign contributions made by one person in the name of another person. In addition, a group of Philadelphia-area businessmen solicited, accepted, and then reimbursed illegal conduit contributions from their own Philadelphia-area family members and staff for defendant Acevedo Vilá. Acevedo Vilá, in his official capacity, then personally assisted the businessmen in their attempts to obtain contracts from Puerto Rico government agencies for themselves or their clients.

The indictment also alleges a scheme to defraud the Puerto Rico Treasury Department of $7 million by fraudulently pledging to abide by a voluntary public funding law in defendant Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 successful campaign for governor of Puerto Rico. The funding law required a cap on campaign spending and required full reporting of all contributions and expenditures. In exchange, the Treasury Department provided up to $7 million of public funds to the candidate’s campaign.

The indictment alleges that defendant Acevedo Vilá and his associates conducted unreported fund-raising and made unrecorded vendor payments for the 2004 campaign in order to raise and spend far more than the limited amount to which they had agreed. According to the indictment, one significant aspect of this fraud was to have Puerto Rico businessmen (described as collaborators) use large amounts of money from their personal or corporate funds to pay for large and unreported debts to the campaign’s public relations and media company. Large sums of cash were also used to keep contributions and vendor payments concealed from the Treasury Department and the public.

As further alleged in the indictment, for many of the collaborator payments the media company created fake invoices to make the payments appear to be legitimate business expenses of the contributors’ companies. The indictment charges Jose González Freyre, one of these contributors, with falsely claiming that a $50,000 invoice was real and that bona fide services had been provided to his company in exchange for the payment, when in fact, the invoice was fake and the $50,000 payment was part of the unrecorded fundraising and expenditure scheme.

In related illegal actions alleged in the indictment, Acevedo Vilá, aided by Inclán Bird, accepted numerous forms of personal income from funds related to his campaigns or official position, which he failed to report as required on his income tax returns.

“This indictment demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. Candidates for office and elected officials will be held accountable for corrupting the electoral process by disregarding campaign financing laws. Electoral fraud undermines the essence of our representative form of government, and operates to the detriment of every Puerto Rican,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

“The Department of Justice will continue to enforce public corruption laws which are designed to protect citizens' right to honest and fair government representation,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher.

“Our democratic system cannot function when public officials act as though they are above the law. Public officials must comply with the law and those who do not comply will be held accountable,” said Luis Fraticelli, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office.

“Today’s indictment is a reminder that the tax laws apply equally to everyone. No one is above the law. It is the responsibility of every taxpayer to file correct and accurate income tax returns,” said Michael E. Yasofsky, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Miami Field Office.

The defendants and their individual charges are as follows:

(1) Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, 48, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is charged with conspiracy, false statements, wire fraud, federal program fraud, and tax crimes. Defendant Acevedo Vilá was Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 through 2005, and has been the Governor of Puerto Rico since 2005;

(2) Cándido Negrón Mella, 41, of Glenn Mills, Penn., is charged with conspiracy and false statements. Negrón Mella is a Philadelphia businessman and was designated by defendant Acevedo Vilá as his U.S. deputy campaign finance chairman (Resident Commissioner campaign) in 2002;

(3) Salvatore Avanzato, 69, of Boothwyn, Penn., is charged with conspiracy. Avanzato is a Philadelphia-area businessman;

(4) Jorge Velasco Mella, 38, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is charged with conspiracy and false statements. Velasco Mella, a cousin of Negrón Mella, received a job in defendant Acevedo Vilá’s San Juan Resident Commissioner office and assisted in the handling of campaign contributions;

(5) Robert M. Feldman, 60, of Gladwyne, Penn., is charged with conspiracy. Feldman is a Philadelphia-area political and business consultant and was designated by defendant Acevedo Vilá as his U.S. campaign finance chairman (Resident Commissioner campaign) in 2002;

(6) Marvin I. Block, 74, of Philadelphia is charged with conspiracy. Block is a Philadelphia-area businessman and lawyer;

(7) Ramón Velasco Escardille, 49, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is charged with conspiracy, false statements and wire fraud. Velasco Escardille was defendant Acevedo Vilá’s Resident Commissioner campaign treasurer;

(8) Edwin Colón Rodríguez, 35, of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is charged with conspiracy and false statements. He is also charged with embezzlement in a separate indictment unsealed today. Colón Rodríguez was defendant Acevedo Vilá’s Resident Commissioner campaign assistant treasurer;

(9) Eneidy Coreano Salgado, 40, of Rockville, Md., is charged with conspiracy. Coreano Salgado was defendant Acevedo Vilá’s administrative director in his Washington, D.C. Resident Commissioner office;

(10) Luisa Inclán Bird, 47, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and federal program fraud. Inclán Bird was a legal advisor for defendant Acevedo Vilá’s San Juan office and volunteered in his 2004 gubernatorial campaign’s finance department. Currently, she is a senior advisor for Governor Acevedo Vilá;

(11) Miguel Nazario Franco, 60, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is charged with wire fraud and federal program fraud. Nazario Franco volunteered in defendant Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign finance department, and is currently a businessman in Puerto Rico.

(12) Ricardo Colón Padilla, 39, of Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, is charged with wire fraud, federal program fraud and false statements. Colon Padilla was the finance director for defendant Acevedo Vilá’s political party during his 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

(13) José González Freyre, 56, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is charged with wire fraud and false statements. González Freyre is the owner of Pan American Grain, a Puerto Rico agricultural company, which contributed at least $50,000 to defendant Acevedo Vilá’s 2004 gubernatorial campaign.

Each count carries the following maximum prison terms and fines, along with terms of supervised release:

Count one (conspiracy): five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Counts two through nine (false statements to the FEC and federal agents): five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; Counts 10 through 21 (wire fraud): 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine;

Count 22 (program fraud – obtaining money by fraud): 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine;

Counts 23 and 24 (false statements to the FBI and IRS: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine;

Count 25 (conspiracy to defraud the IRS): five years in prison and a $250,000 fine;

Counts 26 and 27 (filing false tax return): three years in prison and a $100,000 fine;

This case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney María A. Domínguez of the District of Puerto Rico and Trial Attorney Daniel A. Schwager of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The Public Integrity Section is headed by Chief William M. Welch, II. The case is being investigated by the FBI and IRS, with assistance and cooperation from the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico.

The investigation into related corruption and other crimes is ongoing in the District of Puerto Rico. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

Lou Dobbs' Freudian Slip: Confirms suspicions of his racial attitude [video]

Veracifier's constant eye on the news just turned up another interesting nugget of Wisdom from Lou Dobbs, CNN's self-appointed immigration czar. Watch his Freudian slip as he almost blurts out the words "Cotton Picking" to describe Barack Obama and Condoleezza Rice who have both been speaking about race in the United States. Watch the video below:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blogging from the darkness... Earth Hour in full effect

Sitting in my living room with only my laptop running, lighting the room with the glow from my screen. The laptop is running on its battery, is that cheating?

On my street it seems that about a third of the houses are turned off. Earth Hour, El Gran Apagon, is in full effect, even if its not exactly being embraced here in Orlando, Florida. Hope other cities are doing better.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puerto Rico's Governor Acevedo Charged in Sealed Indictment by the Justice Department

Here is the AP/Times Tribune Report:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila is among several people named in a sealed indictment, officials said Thursday, as U.S. authorities made the first arrests in a long-running probe into his party's finances.

An Associated Press reporter saw at least five officials from the Popular Democratic Party as they were led in handcuffs into the U.S. federal building in San Juan.

An FBI spokesman declined to provide any details, saying there would be news conference later.

Acevedo has said previously that he was a focus of the grand jury probe but he was not among those seen in custody. His spokeswoman said he was still home sleeping at the time of the early morning arrests as far as she knew.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the indictment was still sealed, told The Associated Press that Acevedo was among several people named in the indictment.

A government official also said Acevedo would be charged in the indictment and that the governor's attorneys were expected to appear in court later Thursday. The official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

A Harvard-educated attorney and career politician, Acevedo, 45, served in Washington as the island's nonvoting delegate to Congress, and was elected governor in 2004 after campaigning on an anti-corruption platform. He is running for re-election this year.

Acevedo's party favors maintaining the island's semiautonomous relationship with the U.S. mainland. His leading opponent in the governor's race favors making Puerto Rico the 51st state.

There is no love lost here between the island and the embattled governor, but it will definitely make matters really interesting in November's general election in Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who is Bill Richardson? Only the most qualified former candidate for President

After endorsing Barack Obama, most American's asked themselves "Who the hell is Bill Richardson?". The answer is that he is the man (person) most qualified to be President of the United States, if only he were still running. For those still in a fog, here's Bill Richardson's resume/biography provided for your education and enlightenment. I have left the positives and negatives intact.

Lifted unedited from Wikipedia -

Bill Richardson (born William Blaine Richardson III on November 15, 1947) is the current Governor of New Mexico and was a candidate for the 2008 Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. He has previously served as a U.S. Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, and as the U.S. Secretary of Energy. He was chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention as well as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 2005 and 2006, overseeing the Democrats' re-capturing of a majority of the country's governorships. Richardson has been recognized for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen, and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba.

Bill Richardson as Congressman:

Richardson spent a little more than 14 years in Congress. As a congressman, he kept his interest in foreign relations. He visited Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, India, North Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sudan to represent U.S. interests.

Richardson served as Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the 98th Congress (1983–1985) and as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs in the 103rd Congress (1993–1994). While in the House, Richardson sponsored bills such as the Indian Tribal Justice Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act, the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act, the Indian Dams Safety Act, the Tribal Self-Governance Act, the Indian Tribal Jurisdiction Bill (commonly known as the “Duro Fix”) and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act.

In 1996, he traveled to Baghdad with Peter Bourne and engaged in lengthy one-on-one negotiations with Saddam Hussein to secure the release of two American aerospace workers who had been captured by the Iraqis after wandering over the Kuwaiti border. He became a member of the Democratic leadership, where he worked closely with Bill Clinton on several issues.

Bill Richardson as US Ambassador:

In 1997, Clinton appointed Richardson as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. As ambassador, he represented the United States in UN proceedings regarding the Palestinian National Authority and the State of Israel, the completion of negotiations that strengthened the role and mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme regarding ecologically sustainable development, as well as other duties of an ambassador to the UN. Richardson served there until 1998, when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Energy, a post that he held for the remainder of the Clinton administration. According to his autobiography, Richardson was asked by the White House in 1997 to interview Monica Lewinsky for a job on his staff at the UN. Richardson did so, and offered her a position, which she declined.

Bill Richardson as Secretary of Energy:

The Senate confirmed Richardson to be Clinton's Secretary of Energy on July 31, 1998. His tenure at the Department of Energy was marred by the Wen Ho Lee nuclear espionage scandal. Richardson was also criticized by the Senate for his handling of the espionage inquiry by not testifying in front of Congress sooner. Richardson justified his response by saying that he was waiting to uncover more information before speaking to Congress.

Richardson created the Director for Native American Affairs position in the Department in 1998, and in January 2000 oversaw the largest return of federal lands, 84,000 acres (340 km²) to an Indian Tribe (the Northern Ute Tribe of Utah) in more than 100 years. Richardson also directed the overhaul of the Department's consultation policy with Native American tribes and established the Tribal Energy Program.

Bill Richardson as Citizen:

With the end of the Clinton administration in January 2001, Richardson took on a number of different positions. He was an adjunct professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West. In 2000, Bill Richardson was awarded a United States Institute of Peace Senior Fellowship. He spent the next year researching and writing on the negotiations with North Korea and the energy dimensions of U.S. relations.

Richardson also joined Kissinger McLarty Associates, a "strategic advisory firm" headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty, as Senior Managing Director. He also served on the corporate boards of several energy companies, including Valero Energy Corporation and Diamond Offshore Drilling. He withdrew from these boards after being nominated by the Democratic Party for governor of New Mexico, but retained considerable stock holdings in Valero and Diamond Offshore. He would later sell these stocks during his campaign for President in 2007, saying he was "getting questions" about the propriety of these holdings, especially given his past as energy secretary, and that it had become a "distraction".

Bill Richardson as Governor:

Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in November 2002, having defeated the Republican candidate, John Sanchez, 56–39 percent. He succeeded a two-term Republican governor, Gary E. Johnson. He took office in January 2003 as the only Hispanic Governor in the United States, other than then-Governor Sila María Calderón of Puerto Rico. In his first year, Richardson proposed "tax cuts to promote growth and investment" and passed a broad personal income tax cut and won a statewide special election to transfer money from the state's Permanent Fund to meet current expenses and projects. In early 2005, Richardson made New Mexico the first state in the nation to provide $400,000 in life insurance coverage for New Mexico National Guardsmen who serve on active duty. Thirty-five states have since followed suit.

Working with the legislature, he formed Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership (GRIP) in 2003. The partnership has been used to fund large-scale public infrastructure projects throughout New Mexico, including, through the use of highway funds, a brand new commuter rail line (the Railrunner) that runs between Belen, Albuquerque, and Bernalillo. He supported LGBT rights in his career as governor; he added sexual orientation and gender identity to New Mexico's list of civil rights categories. During the summer of 2003, he met with a delegation from North Korea at their request to discuss concerns over that country's use of nuclear energy. At the request of the White House, he also flew to North Korea in 2005, and met with another North Korean delegation in 2006. On December 7, 2006, Richardson was named as the "Special Envoy for Hemispheric Affairs" for the Secretary General of the Organization of American States with the mandate to "promote dialogue on issues of importance to the region, such as immigration and free trade".

He was named Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and announced a desire to increase the role of Democratic governors in deciding the future of their party.

In 2003, Richardson backed and signed legislation creating a permit system for New Mexicans to carry concealed handguns. He applied for and received a concealed weapons permit, though by his own admission he seldom carries a gun.

In 2006, Forbes credited Richardson's reforms in naming Albuquerque, New Mexico the best city in the U.S. for business and careers. The Cato Institute, meanwhile, has consistently rated Richardson as one of the most fiscally responsible Democratic governors in the nation.

In December 2005, Richardson announced the intention of New Mexico to partner with billionaire Richard Branson to bring space tourism to the proposed Spaceport America located near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

In March 2006, Richardson vetoed legislation that would ban the use of eminent domain to transfer property to private developers, as allowed by the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London. He promised to work with the legislature to draft new legislation addressing the issue in the 2007 legislative session.

On September 7, 2006, Richardson flew to Sudan to meet Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and successfully negotiated the release of imprisoned journalist Paul Salopek. Salopek had been charged by the Sudanese with espionage on August 26, 2006, while on a National Geographic assignment.

Richardson won his second term as Governor of New Mexico on November 7, 2006, 68–32 percent against former New Mexico Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl. Richardson received the highest percentage of votes in any gubernatorial election in the state's history.

In December 2006, Richardson announced that he would support a ban on cockfighting in New Mexico. On March 12, 2007, Richardson signed into law a bill that would ban cockfighting in New Mexico. Puerto Rico is now the only part of the United States where cockfighting is legal.

In January 2007, at the request of the Save Darfur Coalition, he brokered a 60-day cease fire between al-Bashir and leaders of several rebel factions in Darfur, the western Sudanese region. The cease-fire never became effective, however, with allegations of breaches on all sides.

During New Mexico's most recent legislative session, Richardson signed a bill into law that made New Mexico the 12th state to legalize marijuana for medical reasons. When asked if this would hurt him in a Presidential election, he stated that it did not matter, as it was "the right thing to do."

Richardson told March 23, 2008 he still considers himself loyal to the family of Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton that helped make his political career. Richardson endorsed the Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008 on March 21, 2008 as the Democratic nominee. He called the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, 2008 March 20, 2008 to tell her of his decision.

Richardson's current term in office ends in 2011 and he is term-limited from a third term as governor.


After eight months of living in San Juan, I was forced to leave once again. This decision did not come lightly and I stayed as long as I could, though I probably should have left earlier. Now I am back in Orlando, Florida, and I miss mi Viejo San Juan.

For those who have never left the island, and for those who have never returned after leaving, you may not be able to relate, but every word of so many songs now make so much more sense.

I believe we Puerto Ricans are the only ones in the world who sing about their country like we are singing to a lover, and leaving is nothing less than a heartbreak. So many have song about it, only now does it really make sense in my heart.

Here is a video made with pictures I took during the my last 8 months there, with music by Jose Feliciano.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Greatest Message: In case you missed it

Barack Obama Speaking in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008

In Solidarity with Emilio Navaira's family, friends, and fans

This past weekend we almost lost another of our shinning stars. Tejano singer and Grammy Award winner Emilio Navaira lies in a coma today awaiting brain surgery after his tour bus crashed. In 2003, Navaira won the Grammy for best Tejano album, for Acuerdate.

What Happened?

On Sunday morning Emilio Navaira and his band drove towards San Antonio from a saturday night gig in Houston, Texas. It was around 5:00 a.m. when the tour bus being driven by Navaira and carrying his band members and agent ran into the highway barriers dividing the east and west bound lanes.

Navaira's bass player Rick Vega is also still in the hospital suffering from abdominal injuries. All other passengers have been discharged from the hospital.


Navaira will have to undergo brain surgery and while his doctors have expressed optimism, they warn that he may never fully recover and possibly suffer from severe memory loss.

We can only hope that his family, friends, and fans hold tight to each other and know that we are all awaiting his full recovery.


Anyone unfamiliar with Emilio Navaira's work should watch this video:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Parking for Mitsubishi Monteros Only

Few people believed me when I told them that in some parts of San Juan there were parking spots reserved for Mitsubishi Montero SUVs. So I took a picture. This photo came from the parking garage at the Muñoz International Airport, it reads:

Area Reserved for
Monteros [model year] '92 to '97
Violators will be fined

The explanation seems to be that given the popularity of the Montero (in Puerto Rico and in Latin America) a black market for parts developed, targeting specifically the Montero's computer box found easily under the passenger side dashboard. In an effort to stop these robberies "Montero-Only" parking, with surveillance cameras, became small trend in big San Juan parking garages.

(NOTE: Before anyone mentions it, yes I am aware the Muñoz International Airport is located in Carolina and not in San Juan, but its a distinction only people from Carolina seem to care about.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Things I have learned in my 29 years on this planet

Last Tuesday I celebrated my 29th birthday. With most of my friends scattered across the U.S., I found myself fielding calls from lots of places from Florida to Massachusetts to California. One particular caller made it a point to remind me how close I am to the big three-oh and how close that was to the even bigger four-oh! After our parting insults ( I get to call her a bitch and she calls me a bastard ) I gave what she was saying some thought.

Of course, from her traditional-old-country-Mexican point of view, I should be married by now with 5 kids and a pregnant dog, but it's just not my style. Despite her disapproval of my bohemian lifestyle, I have led a pretty good 29 years considering it all and thought it good for memory's sake to take inventory of that and the lessons I have learned.

So here are 29 lessons I have learned in my 29 years of life:

Lesson #1 - Be passionate.
Above all else be passionate about everything you do. If you are not passionate about something your time and energy could be better spent elsewhere. In times of crisis and doubt follow your most passionate instincts and you'll live without regret.

Lesson #2 - Listen.
People always tell you more than you need to know. Listen carefully to their words, listen to their emotions, and you'll learn to understand them.

Lesson #3 - Think.
Never be lazy with your thoughts. Explore your wants and needs in your own head. Debrief your day. Think about you and think about your effect on others.

Lesson #4 - Be political.
Create your own political point of view, do not let others define your politics.

Lesson #5 - Strive for respect, from those who you respect
Figure out whom you respect the most, figure out why, and live to earn their respect.

Lesson #6 - Do not imitate.
If you are acting like someone else at any point in your life, stop yourself and return to last place you knew who you were.

Lesson #7 - Know your family history.
The world is a lot more interesting when you know who is/was in your family and where they came from.

Lesson #8 - Ask questions.
Never shy away from your ignorance and never accept it. If you don't know something this is the time to learn.

Lesson #9 - Don't loose touch with others.
While it is hard to keep connected with everyone you've met, make the effort.

Lesson #10 - Everyone is interesting.
In many ways the people you've met show you how your life would have been had you made some different choices. Learn from them.

Lesson #11 - Make a decision.
You should never become paralyzed by indecision, if you can't decide between the options it means your choices are equally good/bad and you just need to pick one.

Lesson #12 - Making Money is not a goal.
Making money is a means not a goal. Remember that.

Lesson #13 - Be honest.
If you fail at anything in life, do not fail at honesty. Your word will only be accepted on trust once.

Lesson #14 - Find an expert.
An expert is someone that knows more about something than you. Always keep a lookout for other experts. Learn from them.

Lesson #15 - Everyone is an expert on something.
Find out what that is.

Lesson #16 - Accept defeat when defeated.
Never allow yourself to be called a sore-loser.

Lesson #17 - Never boast.
Other than at job interviews.

Lesson #18 - Never oversell yourself.
Know your limits and never accept a responsibility you know you can't handle.

Lesson #19 - Try something new.
No two days should be the same in your life.

Lesson #20 - Be Helpful.
If something is within your power to fix, fix it.

Lesson #21 - Don't expect a thank you.
No matter how much you deserve it, never expect it.

Lesson #22 - Find Help.
Never be too proud to ask for help, when you need it.

Lesson #23 - Do not become dependent on help.
Your neediness should be brief and unusual.

Lesson #24 - Seek Wisdom

Lesson #25 - Travel
You don't know till you've been there.

Lesson #26 - Knowledge is freedom.
He/she who knows more is less vulnerable.

Lesson #27 - Oppression must be fought.
You are always in the right when you defend those who can't defend themselves.

Lesson #28 - Be mindful of your faults.
Someone has surely pointed them out, work on them.

Lesson #29 - Love hurts.
It just does. If you can't accept that, it'll hurt more.

Hope these lesson are found useful by someone.

An interesting sign in San Juan

The sign reads "We sell belly dancing dresses in bulk"... I admit to not knowing much about belly dancing, but is there some huge demand for belly dancing dresses that I'm unaware of? Who is buying these in bulk? Should I stock up just in case they run out?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hispanics and Barack Obama: Racism without shame

Much has been made about the lack of support for Barack Obama among U.S. Latinos and much has been left unsaid. Among the mainstream media, and the mainstream Hispanic media, the issue is barely debated and simply lumped into a generalized pro-Clinton attitude among Hispanics. This is bullshit and everyone within the Hispanic community knows this. Barack Obama is black. That's the issue. That has been the issue, but no one will say it.

For the uninitiated it may come as a surprise that there is a great amount of racism within the Hispanic community. Not only does it exist, it is rampant, blatant, and without shame. Hispanics are the last bastion of pure unadulterated racism and it is high time we were called out about it.

Let me break it down:

If we are to greatly generalize, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans tend to have better relations with black Americans than do Mexicans and Cubans, and typically the more traditional or oldest members especially if they are recent immigrants tend to hold more anti-black sentiments than others.

That however is a generalization. I know black Dominicans who swear they are of pure European racial stock, or that their skin color is due to their Indian heritage. Many Puerto Ricans suffer from this delusion as well. And I've had friends laugh at me for dating an African American girl.

The issue is not a simple one and not one I expect any of the news channels to tackle in one of their so-in-depth 30 second interviews. In fact it is an issue that most Hispanics turn a blind eye to and go as far as arguing that in Latin America there is no racism.

The reasons for this racism are due to two main factors: 1) the racism practiced in Latin America and 2) the racism practiced in the United States. The message from both societies has been that it is better to be white above all else.

Americans should be aware that in Latin America it is still considered funny for comedians to go on stage with blackface on and that Latin America has never had a movement for black civil rights.

This is due to different sets of circumstances surrounding the histories of both the Anglo-American and Latin American societies. Slavery was never as institutionalized in Latin America as it was in the U.S. and discrimination was also less of an act supported by Latin American governments, unlike what we find in U.S. history. In fact while most Latin American countries had slavery, only Cuba and Brazil could be considered slave societies like the Southern States. And the transition to integrations while slower has also been smoother.

Still, we have a situation where most Latino immigrants to the U.S. come from places where the darker your skin is the less desirable you are and where the local equivalents to the word "nigger" are still in use even if it is not perceived as having the same negative connotation. Even black Latinos are often encourage to marry white or “whiter” Latinos "para mejorar la raza" or "to better the race".

So here is Barack Obama, a perfectly qualified person for the Presidency of the United States and to whose campaign I have donated, and much of the Hispanic population is unable to see him for anything else than a black man. Why?

Because in the Hispanic community the Republican Party for years has been characterizing the Democrats as the "Party of Blacks" and if you vote Democrat you must then be either black or a "nigger-lover". This is discourse that has been unsavory in most white American communities for a couple of decades. But for the throngs of Hispanic immigrants who come every year into the U.S. the message is new and it is a threat.

If someone is trying to start a new life in the U.S. free from discrimination or oppression the last thing they want is to be associated with the racial group considered most undesirable in the US, African Americans.

Due to political considerations, the Hispanic vote is still mostly Democratic, but the socially progressive message of the party is often lost when Republicans scare Hispanics with the message that black candidates will only serve black constituents often at the loss of Hispanic political influence and government services.

Latinos everywhere must enlighten themselves and see the system for what it is and recognize that African Americans and Hispanic Americans sit in the same boat, and if we stop rowing simply because the other is rowing, we'll just go around in circles.

I support Barack Obama, because I do believe in his message, because I believe in his politics, and because we should want to be more than just tokens as we were under the Clinton & Bush administrations and as we would be under McCain. I believe him to be a person of considerate thought, a person of responsibility, and a person who learns from his mistakes, and that's who I want watching over our country and our future, and to deal fairly with our brothers in Latin America and Africa.

And to my Latino brothers and sisters who cannot stand the thought of voting for a black man, I hope you find your shame before it is publicly found for you.