Thursday, June 30, 2016

BORICUA, first and foremost.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Diaspora growth

I put this together myself from data publicly available here:

Follow this link for background on the history of Puerto Rican migration:

This quote stood out for me: Almost 8 per cent of the Island’s inhabitants relocated to the US mainland during the 1990s. Between the years 2000 and 2007, even more Puerto Ricans (some 415,000) emigrated than in the previous decade (326,000). More than two million people have moved from the Island to the US mainland since the mid-twentieth century. The proportions of this exodus are even more staggering when one recalls that Puerto Rico’s population had not reached four million in the year 2007. Aside from nineteenth-century Ireland and twentieth-century Suriname, the magnitude of the Puerto Rican diaspora has few historical precedents or contemporary parallels.

The Honoree

The Graduate


I have a kid who just graduated high school. I have a kid about to start middle school. I have a mother who is losing her memories. I have family members quarreling with each other. I have other people in the hospital, and people who are a pressure cooker ready to pop. Things are stressful; my body is telling me so every single day. And yet, I know I am better off than a significant number of people, so suck it up buttercup.

Recently I traveled to Puerto Rico, after a four-year absence. I spent time with my brother and my nieces. I miss them. I saw my mom, and it pained me that her Alzheimer's is advancing so quickly. I am staring at my possible future, and it is hard to watch. She is still herself, losing her memories does not change who she is. If anything, the loss of some social filters had rendered her a truer version of herself: sometimes tender and generous, but often her usual emotionally detached self.

I am always a different person on the island, in no small part because I am on vacation. This time felt a little different, though. I was an emotional tourist, a visitor in a rush to trigger remembrances from a distant life. It felt disjointed at times. Maybe it's the fact that it had been four years since my last trip and I am disconnected from the local cultural current (who the hell is that babbling on TV and singing on the radio?). Maybe it's because I have not been a direct victim of the disastrous economic debacle that has unfolded over the last ten years. Maybe I am getting old, maybe my almost 20-year tenure at a big corporation dealing with elevator pitches has caused me bypass flair and emotion in favor of bluntness and pragmatism. Maybe life in the diaspora for almost a third of my life has turned me into a different person. For whatever reason, I felt like an outsider, and I did not like it.

Sometimes I wish I could split myself in two and live in two places at once.