Freedom Comes at a Cost in Puerto Rico: An interview with Jon Marcantoni on Cerro Maravilla

In Puerto Rico, Freedom has been fought for and lost. And the losses are not just in the actual battles that occurred in places like Lares and Ponce, but also in the minds of some Puerto Ricans.

This week we take a close look at those who have been so colonized, that they feel statehood is the right option for an oppressed society, and murdered two young men to enforce it.


Historically, statehood supporters in Puerto Rico have waged a war on the Puerto Rican Nation, essentially acting as an extension of the United States, who has kept the island colonized. The Statehood supporters submitted to the racist theories that Puerto Ricans cannot lead and are not capable of having their own nation. Their premise is that we have always been Americans… but unfortunately history tells a different story, and they cannot white-wash the identity we carry with pride.

Although they lost their identity to a country that has denied them freedom for 120 years, the rest of us who are committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom, and the understanding that all men are created equal….  believe it is essential to any Society, and no less a Puerto Rican Society.

“We hold these truths be self-evident”… Puerto Rico is a Nation that deserves it’s pursuit of Freedom.

The Cerro Maravilla Incident

This week we go way back to 1978, to a mountain-side in Puerto Rico where two young men lost their lives in pursuit of freedom and justice.

Their names were Carlos Enrique Soto Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado Torres.

In order to tell the story of the Cerro Maravilla Murders, I had the help of a Puerto Rican Playwright called Jon Marcantoni. He wrote a play called Puerto Rican Nocturne that tells the story of these two murders from the point of view of the detective that master-minded the entire thing, and worked with local law enforcement to cover it up. This story also tells the story from the perspective of a family that never recovered from the brutal murders of their children.

About Jon Marcantoni: 

A Novelist, Playwright, and Founder of LCG Press: Unconventional literature by Latin American authors. He has been featured in the Huffington Post, LA Times, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, NBCLatino, Fronteras on NPR. His work has been featured in Across the Margin, PANK Magazine, Minor Literatures, Numero Cinq, The New Engagement, Latino Rebels, Enclave, and others. He works out the humanity behind the labels that separate us, and what keeps us from fighting capitalist exploitation. You can get in touch with Jon at jon.marcantoni@gmail.com.

Don’t miss this riveting look at how colonized minds react to the dreams of two young activists who are simply seeking to have what many Americans take for granted: Freedom.

As an American, we need to do better. We need to ask ourselves how we can be comfortable in knowing that we colonize others, when we fought and won our own independence from the English.

I ask every American: don’t let the American values we hold dear mean nothing in Puerto Rico. Let’s learn together, fight together, and be part of the change that liberates this Island Nation.

Thank you for listening this week and be sure to share and follow/subscribe.

You may also find these links interesting:

  • Latino Rebels Article on the Murders and an interview with iLe, a Puerto Rican Singer:

Today in History: The Tragedy of Cerro Maravilla (VIDEO)

iLe Discusses New Video ‘Odio’ and Its Poignant Message During Live Interview

  • “Odio” Music video by the artist iLe, about the Murders:





I am Taíno. Dak’toká Taíno: An interview with Alba Garcia Rivas

The Taíno Lives… El Taíno Vive….

In Puerto Rico Taíno, African and Spanish blood runs through us. It’s a reminder that we are a beautiful mix of cultures. History, however, has sought to erase that identity or mold it to the calculations of those with power and influence. This week’s episode is insanely important because… we share the truth they wanted to hide.

Our Taino ancestors live on in us. We carry the DNA of Warriors.

For a long time many on the island and in the #diaspora were falsely taught that the Taíno had been erased, decimated… that none of them remained. But today those who would not give up on finding the truth, have shown us that in our #PuertoRican Nation… The Taíno Lives… El Taíno Vive.

This week Alba Garcia Rivas shares her work on a puppet film for children but also for all of us, that seeks to raise awareness on the issues affecting Puerto Rico, and also place it in the context of the first people to suffer colonization: The Taíno

History is important and through her art Alba draws us into the beauty our heritage, of those who came before… who still call out to us because they are not lost to history, they live within us… in our traditions and culture.

This week we honor the Taíno, we honor our island, and we continue to say proudly… we are #Boricuas and we do not forget.


From Alba’s Indiegogo:

“Experts and leaders on Taíno Community

I am working closely with Antropologist Dr. Yarey Melendez founder of the Naguake schools in Puerto Rico, she currently teaches a restored  version of the Taíno language in the school curriculum, and Luis Ramos a Taíno Community leader, a Bohike (Taíno Healer) and Activist of Naguake community.

Also more leaders of our Taíno community have been interested and gave us advise, here they are: Bert Correa, Bobby Gonzalez, and Ramon Rivera. I thank you all for your input and kindness.”

For more information on the Taino Indians:

This year there was an exhibit in NYC at the National Museum of the American Indian. I had the opportunity to take pictures and you can see them here on 10/3/18.

Also check out the museum’s page for more information and below also some links to content mentioned in the Podcast:


CNN Latino Article

Alba is also featured in CNN Latino this week! Check it out below:

“Yo soy boricua y me van a escuchar con mi arte”: la respuesta de una artista puertorriqueña a Donald Trump



The Puerto Rican Diaspora Mourns: Jacquie Acosta shares her family’s loss

This was a tough week – and it took monumental effort to keep my head high and my will strong. But as we mourn the deaths of thousands on our beloved island, I’m reminded that the Diaspora and Puerto Rico are more united than we’ve ever been. I know that through our tragedy, we can build a better future for our Puerto Rican Nation.

This week I interviewed Rosa Clemente, and got to meet her in NYC for the 1 Year anniversary. It was an impactful conversation because we discussed what it means to free Puerto Rico from colonization.

And it does not involve a vote – it involves acknowledging that as a colonized Nation – Puerto Rico deserves to lead their own country on their own terms, and for their own people.

A couple of weeks ago I came to NYC to speak with Jacquie Acosta who said she would be willing to share her family’s loss after Hurricane Maria. There are no words that I can say to comfort those who lost someone. I can only say I see you, and I feel your pain.

We have our memories but it’s only in the act of sharing these stories and raising awareness for Puerto Rico, that we can find some sort of peace.

Thank you to all that shared their pain, and to all that are willing to stand up for a Free Puerto Rico, a Free Boriken.



Rosa Clemente – A Puerto Rican Activist, Scholar and the fight for Puerto Rico’s Freedom

“They said… ‘and now Puerto Rico has to be Free’ ….” – Rosa Clemente on the people she spoke with when she went to the island after Hurricane Maria.

This week I’m pretty excited to share the voice of Rosa Clemente, a community leader and activist who was in Puerto Rico for 10 days after Maria hit. She took some time to chat with me about how she became an activist and she also recommended some readings for us.  I was particularly captured by the psychology of colonialism that she said is covered really well by Franz Franon.

One thing that really had me thinking was the fact that colonialism inflicts lasting damage on a culture and it’s people and trying to organize any vote to pick the best option for Puerto Rico does not actually address that. Instead everyone should be fighting for the right of Puerto Rico for self-determination, liberty and self-governance. It’s clear that the exploitation of the People of Puerto Rico has affected the health of the island. Being affiliated with the United States has not given Puerto Rico any advantage, because when history and facts are on the table… it is clearly only the United States that benefits. They impose the austerity, they drain the Puerto Rican economy (since 1900 when they took 50% of revenue) and continue to pull resources off the island while children and students go hungry and our elders are left without their basic needs.

She started PR on the Map after the Hurricane and visited the island for 10 days after Maria hit to cover the issues in Puerto Rico from the colonial context, which was not being done by mainstream media. She stated “FEMA has a bad record for a reason”… and tells us about what she saw FEMA doing in Puerto Rico. The image of FEMA officials partying while people were waiting for aid will always stay with me, when I think of my mom and stepdad waiting for water.

We also cover race and she explains how important it is to understand that engaging the political system is – and not just highlighting hair and skin in the fight against Racism and racist structures.

Listen in to the incredible stories and this thought-provoking conversation on what we can do to move forward.

Rosa’s Website can be found here: http://rosaclemente.net/

PR on the Map can be found here: http://pronthemap.com/




Toldos Pa’ Mi Gente – Tarps for the People

Toldos Pa’ Mi Gente is a Puerto Rican organization that provided tarps to their neighbors without roofs when they noticed that a month after Maria – many were still waiting on FEMA and the local government to provide them. They pointed to the fact that a year later a space was found with abandoned tarps that never made it to those that needed it most.

As the anniversary of Hurricane Maria quickly approaches, many of us can reflect on those first efforts the Diaspora and Puerto Ricans on the island made to help the people. Especially when it became horrifyingly clear that we were not going to be receiving the same treatment as other Americans who suffered a natural disaster. With the almost 3 thousand deaths and climbing… this week I wanted to share the work one group did to show their neighbors that they were not alone. That’s what makes me proud to be #Boricua. For all those that provided meals, water, abrazos/hugs, and the blue tarps that their neighbors needed for shelter…. You have my deepest admiration and respect. Your work saved lives, and your commitment gave us a vision for a Puerto Rico made by Puerto Ricans. Thank you for giving us this important reminder of who we really are.


I interviewed Amarilis from Toldos Pa’ Mi Gente and she provided a much needed look into what it was like after the Hurricane and still today.

Amarilis started off by saying that the hurricane uncovered the poverty that was there, that they were only able to see after the trees were laid bare. She said it was so frustrating to see people living in fragile conditions. Seeing older people take out their clothes every day to dry.

So she decided to put up a facebook post that she wished she had tarps to help put them and they received their first tarp from Australia. And 2 months later they had almost 100 tarps. She was worried she would receive more than she could put up.

She and the neighbors got together to organize and at least 30 volunteers showed up the first day.

They did a needs assessment because someone had skills is social work. And from there they grew but she pointed something out that was very important.

Tarps are temporary – they are not meant to be on there for more than 3 months. So they decided to move on to the next phase of actually putting up roofs instead of tarps for long term solutions.

She mentions that soon they will have a donate button on their page but what they are most in need of at the moment is a Truck or large vehicle to transport materials and people around.

But in terms of the fragile conditions in PR she speaks about one woman they are helping who has gotten so tired of scooping out the water that gets into her house that she just lives with it up to her knees. She refuses to leave and refuses to do any more work pushing water out.

It’s a clear example of the extremely frustrating and mentally draining day to day that happens among those caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

She also pointed out the fact that even if someone receives electricity in their home, it does not resolve the most important issue – that they don’t have a roof. What good is electricity if you are living in those conditions?

I hope you will donate to this important organization and will consider volunteering as well, next time you are in Puerto Rico.

This is their facebook Page:


Reach out to them to donate! They are currently looking for a vehicle to help transport materials for building roofs for those without one!