The Puerto Rican community in the United States is an example of strength , vigor and the transcendental of the Puerto Rican nationality. The Puerto Rican parade in New York next June 11th even if it surprises some and shocks others, is the best testimony.
For those who believe that the only water in the sea is the one at the surface, the parade is a mix of amorphous puertorican flags, floats, salsa, bands, "trios", beauty queens, police officers, mayors, recently arrived Puerto Ricans and others who barely speak spanish, civic and religious leaders, grandparents, kids, honorable and not so honorable politicians, in all, a multicolored and inconsistent multitude only distinguishable by the "mancha de platano", parade that is dedicated to Barbosa and Munoz, as well as don Pedro Albizu Campos.
But the accidental, the short-lived moment must be put aside and go to the essence. The parade is a resolute and overwhelming claim for one’s self respect, to be recognized as a unique and distinct people, united by something undefinable that few articulate and everybody recognizes, that what constitutes a nationality.
As a Puerto Rican from the island, only during my studies in the United States, by way of our party’s committee in New York, by friends and books do I know the Puerto Rican communities in the United States. I confess that from here my respect and affection are sometimes mixed in an incomprehensible confusion, what happens to brothers who haven’t seen each other in years. Now, from this lonely beach in Vieques, where for almost a year I'm as far away from San Juan as I am from New York, the affection grows and the incomprehension disappears through the optic of distance, without which, many times, the ones from here can’t distinguish the important from the insignificant.
The Puerto Ricans from over there (better yet, the Puerto Ricans that are over there), from the distance, know how to distinguish the essence from the form. They know, as a good friend wrote to me, that " with the heroic deed in Vieques we hav made a leap that is only comparable with Lares." That is why the testimony is by dedicating their parade jointly to Vieques and the symbol of national dignity : don Pedro Albizu Campos. The ones that have suffered the most the tragedy of our people, some, like the Irish patriots, without their maternal language, the ones that can have motives to conceal what they are, refuse to be ashamed and claim in a loud voice that they are Puerto Ricans, that they feel proud of don Pedro Albizu Campos and that Vieques is ours and not the Americans. That is the importance; it is the essence.
To survive and strive forward in an inhospitable and hostile environment, the Puerto Ricans over there have had to demonstrate that they are equal if not better than the Americans. They have had to learn, before many here, the lesson from Quijote: "freedom…is one of the most precious gifts that the heavens has given man; it can not be compared with the treasures that the world holds…that the obligations of the…gifts received are restrictions that do not allow the free soul to rise. Fortunate is he who the heavens gave a piece of bread without the obligation of thanking any other but the same heavens!".
No wonder the dedication of the parade to don Pedro and to Vieques shocks and gives leeway to an unforgivable and two headed vile colonial wretchedness perpetrated by Carlos Romero and the Mrs. Sila Calderon: on one side the gross assault, the blasphemous and violent slander of don Pedro and on the other the shabby opportunist , puny and callous of calling an "error in judgement" the acknowledgement of the Patriot and Vieques. I, on my part, am thankful to all the Puerto Ricans that are over there, the just and generous recognition that is given to don Pedro and Vieques. In addition, in the most intimate of my spirit, as a Puerto Rican from over here, I know that I have a debt with those over there.
The ones from over here know that for every Puerto Rican that emigrated to the cold, another enjoyed the warmth of his native land; for each one that slept in a tenement infected with rats, another over here had a more confortable home; for each one that had to pick tomatoes or wash dishes, another over here periodically received some money to make life a little better; that for each brilliant and barefooted child that, in the 1940’s, without finishing high school in the old spanish precinct in Aibonito, went North, another here in Puerto Rico received a better education. For each tear, a smile. That is our exile, some sacrificing for others. The sorrow and pain of the diaspora do not separate us, it unites us and expands the dimension and transcendency of our nationality.