Broken Promises and Broken Systems: Interview with Karen Rossi, documentary filmmaker from Puerto Rico

The Update

It’s been a month of tough conversations with my family, protests, and press conferences.

The anniversary of my stepdads death was also this month – so it’s been an incredibly difficult time for me and my family.

The Return to Boriken, Interrupted:

I had to deliver really heartbreaking news to my family over Thanksgiving about my move to PR. For those following this journey, I shared on Instagram that in fact, I can’t move back to Puerto Rico due to a colonial policy that continues affecting our communities. It is just one of many barriers that prevent Puerto Ricans from coming home…

After initially approving a remote move to Puerto Rico, my work found that tax laws are considered international in Puerto Rico, so moving would lead to loss of benefits, health insurance. They were only able to approve a move to another state. So I chose New York City, the place where Puerto Rican activists have been at it for decades, and historically where many Boricuas displaced by colonialism have chosen to make their home. Meanwhile the tax system benefits those outside the island, as a tax haven for the wealthy, but keeps families apart. In many ways, moving to NYC felt like I was breaking a promise not only to my mom but also to the Island as well. So it was a tough to tell her, knowing what had happened just a year ago…

And grief is a powerful thing… it breaks you, it overwhelms you in unexpected ways.

So I took some time from podcasting to focus on my family and simply enjoy being on the island. However, recent events in Puerto Rico led me out onto the streets. In this episode I cover my experiences at the protests in Old San Juan on gender-based violence and a Press Conference on toxic-ash dumping that is causing cancer and other illnesses in the population. Read more about the Protests at the end and also please support Colectiva Feminista En Construcción here, as well as the Coalition against Ash dumping here.

The goal of this podcast is not just to help raise awareness on our struggle but connect us to the solutions.

This Puerto Rican Movement is ours to lead.

I hope you will also listen in and share this week’s Interview with a Puerto Rican filmmaker whose voice is a powerful reminder that WOMEN will lead the next social revolution.

Thank you Karen – you spoke from the heart and you shed a light on the work we still need to do.

A Puerto Rican Documentary

Karen Rossi is a Puerto Rican woman and documentary filmmaker who just completed documentary called “Ser Grande/When I grow Up” about 3 young kids growing up in the Luis Llorens housing project in Puerto Rico.

She stated that she did this documentary when she started asking which organizations in Puerto Rico are tackling social issues from a preventative point of view. That’s when she found “Jovenes De Puerto Rico.” https://www.jovenesdepuertoricoenriesgo.org

From that question, “Ser Grande” came to be. You can check out the trailer here:  https://youtu.be/VOPR-uJbSpE

Karen also shares her work with AdocPR – a non-profit organization that brings together documentary filmmakers. And AdocPR has just released a web-based store that sells films by Puerto Rican filmmakers.

The Web-Based lease share this link and support their movement to create a platform for more diverse voices in Film:


In the News:

Documental boricua “Ser grande” es recibido con entusiasmo en La Habana @ElNuevoDia http://fw.to/uLOfptj

More about AdocPR:

AdocPR is a non-profit organization that brings together several generations of documentary filmmakers in the country with the aim of promoting the development of documentary film, and improve our working conditions. .

Protests, Press Conferences and the Illegal debt

The Protest was covered in multiple mediums but this article is a great start if you want to learn more and how to support the movement to address Gender-based Violence:

To learn more about the Toxic ash dumping you can review these 2 sources that cover the issue very well:

You can also follow a few coalitions that organize on the island to protest the legislation and trucks that dump toxic ash:




Judge Swain and the COFINA Agreement has been in the news recently and the links below show how you can take direct action to help stop legislation that will adversely impact the lives of Puerto Ricans. You can learn more in the links below:


Community Health and the Young Lords: Ivelyse Andino Interview

This week – I’m excited to share a conversation about focused on what it means to engage with your community. I chat with someone from a Social Impact organization about health in communities, as well as the history and work of the Young Lords/Black Panthers in public health.

Ivelyse Andino was a wonderful guest and provided some interesting insight into how we can use the power of the community to better the health of our people. She is the founder and CEO of Radical Health – the first #Latina-owned B-Corporation in NYC.

What struck me as we chatted was that she is part of a radical movement that has been around for some time, and the more we discuss these radical solutions, it will revolutionize the health of our neighbors and ourselves.

I was also really happy to hear that Ivelyse was so excited to meet another Boricua involved in #Healthcare #technology and who also explores the #SocialDeterminants of Health. Her advice to the rest of us in the Diaspora: Don’t stop learning about the Puerto Rican history and how you can keep building up the Puerto Rican community and connecting to the networks near you.


As Ivelyse says: “The beauty when we can come together” and take part in building up our people.

Don’t miss out on this important chat and share it. We love hearing from you and learning what you enjoyed about the podcast and what we can do to make it even better. [borikenpodcast@gmail.com]

Ivelyse Andino Bio: http://www.radical-health.com/ivelyse/

Radical Health Social Media:

PBS Article on the Young Lords:



“Radical Health is a minority – women owned, social impact organization.

We started with a crazy idea – What if people – doctors, nurses, neighbors, family caretakers, got together without an agenda or any pretense and began talking about a way we can change health as we know it? Through these conversations Radical Health was formed. Radical Health turns the paradigm of top-down medical treatment on its head by activating  community members to become engaged partners in health care and to become change agents in addressing disparities in their neighborhoods.

The US healthcare system is broken. We spend $3T annually in clinical care to solely provide “sick care”.  Minorities and other historically marginalized populations, are disproportionately affected by health disparities, resulting in higher hospitalization rates,  lower life expectancy and over $60B in lost productivity annually.  Radical Health mobilizes  those from marginalized demographics such as LGBTQI, formerly incarcerated, undocumented immigrants,  and disabled populations to leverage their lived experience to impact health disparities, build community and generate supplemental income.

Radical Health mobilizes those suffering from health disparities to become agents of change in promoting health, thereby shifting knowledge, power, and resources to those who are most in need.

Radical Health is leading the transformation from a paternalistic, “systems know best” paradigm, to a community-driven approach where engaged and motivated community members influence the delivery of health care.  These are network of people not just invested in their own wellbeing, but in that of the community. Through our community-based approach we build out the networks and relationships that impact health outcomes which allows for enhanced provider – patient experiences and reductions in unnecessary ER visits. As a result, we see related impacts in education and public safety, and ultimately a flourishing economy. Our radical approach redefines the status quo and creates pathways to meaningful employment, community strengthening, and re-investment of funding to the people through health and technology.

We know that the task ahead of us is not an easy one, but we believe in the power of community – collaborating to create change. We invite you to share with us your thoughts on what Radical Health means to you. Sign up to be a part of the movement. Share with a friend. Partner with Radical Health to start a project in your community. Together, we can make a difference.”


Why we vote: #PuertoRicans and the #November6 #Elections

This week I invited my friend Stephanie Belk Prats to have a conversation with me about the upcoming elections.

Stephanie is a writer and strategist who completed her MFA at The New School in New York City. We met up and recorded our thoughts on the way Puerto Ricans are portrayed in the Media around these Elections, and specifically the narrative about those displaced by Hurricane Maria.

We want to give a shout out to Vamos4PR and BoricuActivated, two Puerto Rican Organizations in Florida who are working hard to ensure that those who can, actually  do vote on Tuesday. We hope all that were displaced can go vote… but though we are a community that suffered this Trauma together, it does merit mentioning that those displaced by Maria deserve dignity in the way they are addressed and the way they are mentioned in the Media. We hope you enjoy this conversation and I will certainly post a follow up episode with reactions on the results.

For those who are still wondering – “Why Vote?” – just let me say this:

It’s easy to feel defeated, but lets do the other thing instead. Let’s send a strong message to the powers who normally ignore us. In our vote – we send a message that we are present and we’re not going to negotiate on our Colonial status anymore. That we are united.

SO vote.

Vote even if you hate the options, vote even if you think neither party will give us anything. Vote because they shouldn’t be allowed to forget. Vote because you are owed an answer to the thousands of lives that DIED on Puerto Rican soil, en nuestra isla…. On our island.

Vote because my stepdad didn’t live, and I’m still here picking up the pieces, hoping that someday our collective efforts will give us back our dignity. Do this for the many Puerto Ricans on the island who are looking to us in the Diaspora for strength and hope and solidarity.

We won’t forget you Puerto Rico. We will defend you.



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