Amilcar Cabral, MACHETERO: National Liberation And Culture

Amilcar Cabrial And MACHETERO
Amilcar Cabrial And MACHETERO

“In fact, as a nation colonized for over half a millennium, we might well argue that our only sovereign territory is our cultural production, and this may be why our music, our poetry, our film, our plastic arts, and our orature are so richly textured and perpetually reworked. Generation after generation, we Boricuas work out the complications of our own cultural identity in our own uniquely inclusive and exclusive ways. Those performances, like our existence, also covertly and quite carefully confuse, straddle, and trespass generic and essentialist boundaries at will, by whatever means necessary. Our clandestine presence—the deliberate occupation of sovereign and creatively politicized spaces otherwise denied to us—is the way we make sense of ourselves, for ourselves, often secretly, beyond the eyes of outsiders who have the power to disturb our aesthetic process by projecting the colonists’ fears and neuroses onto us. ”
– Lisa Sánchez González – from her book
The Stories I Read To The Children: The Life And Writing of Pura Belpré, The Legendary Storyteller, Children’s Author and New York Public Librarian

While doing research for MACHETERO i came across this brilliant African brother Amilcar Cabral from Guinea-Bissau. He was a leader in the movement to de-colonize Guinea-Bissau from Portugal. He was a supporter of not only his own countries struggle for independence but also active in the struggles of neighboring Guinea and Cape Verde and of course a staunch opponent of South African apartheid. A true outspoken Pan-Africanist thinker.

Amilcar Cabrial was a agronomic engineer (the science of using plants for food, fuel, feed, and fiber) and passed on his expertise to both his guerrilla troops and local farmers. Even requiring his troops to work in the fields along side the people. He managed to help lead his people to freedom but like Moses  in the Old Testament never got to see the promised land. He was assassinated in 1973 a few months before Guinea-Bissau gained its independence.

He was an amazing thinker. In this essay National Liberation And Culture he outlines the intertwined importance of culture in national liberation movements. This speech was given on February 20th, 1970 at Syracuse University in Syracuse New York as part of a lecture series in memory of Eduardo Mondlane who was the first President of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and assassinated by the Portuguese on February 3rd of 1960.

When i came across this essay i was immediately struck by how relevant it was to work that i was doing with MACHETERO. In a way i have a mixed bag of emotions about this essay. Not in terms of its content but in terms of its continued relevance. In many ways it speaks directly to the Puerto Rican independence struggle because so much of the sovereignty that is undisputed is the culture of Puerto Ricans. The speech references the decolonization of Africa but could easily be applied to  the situation of Puerto Ricans as i mentioned before, Africa-Americans and Native peoples here in the United States.

On one level it saddens me that something written 40 years ago about imperialist domination and its ills has such relevance today and at the same time its good that someone has laid down a firm foundation from which we can build upon. For me (and perhaps many others) MACHETERO is salvo against this cultural imperialist domination. When i was making MACHETERO i was trying to think Puerto Rican. Trying to make a Puerto Rican film and asking myself what does that mean and how does one go about expressing that. i tried to incorporate the culture of my people in the film and tried to create a piece of cultural resistance. Reading Amilcar Cabral’s speech now, some 40 years later helped me to understand what it was that i was struggling with.

– vagabond

by Amilcar Cabral

When Goebbels, the brain behind Nazi propaganda, heard culture being discussed, he brought out his revolver. That shows that the Nazis, who were and are the most tragic expression of imperialism and of its thirst for domination–even if they were all degenerates like Hitler, had a clear idea of the value of culture as a factor of resistance to foreign domination.

History teaches us that, in certain circumstances, it is very easy for the foreigner to impose his domination on a people. But it also teaches us that, whatever may be the material aspects of this domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned. Implantation of foreign domination can be assured definitively only by physical liquidation of a significant part of the dominated population.

In fact, to take up arms to dominate a people is, above all, to take up arms to destroy, or at least to neutralize, to paralyze, its cultural life. For, with a strong indigenous cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation. At any moment, depending on internal and external factors determining the evolution of the society in question, cultural resistance (indestructible) may take on new forms (political, economic, armed) in order fully to contest foreign domination.

The ideal for foreign domination, whether imperialist or not, would be to choose:

• either to liquidate practically all the population of the dominated country, thereby eliminating the possibilities for cultural resistance;

• or to succeed in imposing itself without damage to the culture of the dominated people–that is, to harmonize economic and political domination of these people with their cultural personality.

The first hypothesis implies genocide of the indigenous population and creates a void which empties foreign domination of its content and its object: the dominated people. The second hypothesis has not, until now, been confirmed by history. The broad experience of mankind allows us to postulate that it has no practical viability: it is not possible to harmonize the economic and political domination of a people, whatever may be the degree of their social development, with the preservation of their cultural personality.

In order to escape this choice — which may be called the dilemma of cultural resistance –imperialist colonial domination has tried to create theories which, in fact, are only gross formulations of racism, and which, in practice, are translated into a permanent state of siege of the indigenous populations on the basis of racist dictatorship (or democracy).

This, for example, is the case with the so-called theory of progressive assimilation of native populations, which turns out to be only a more or less violent attempt to deny the culture of the people in question. The utter failure of this “theory,” implemented in practice by several colonial powers, including Portugal, is the most obvious proof of its lack of viability, if not of its inhuman character. It attains the highest degree of absurdity in the Portuguese case, where Salazar affirmed that Africa does not exist.

This is also the case with the so-called theory of apartheid, created, applied and developed on the basis of the economic and political domination of the people of Southern Africa by a racist minority, with all the outrageous crimes against humanity which that involves. The practice of apartheid takes the form of unrestrained exploitation of the labor force of the African masses, incarcerated and repressed in the largest concentration camp mankind has ever known.

These practical examples give a measure of the drama of foreign imperialist domination as it confronts the cultural reality of the dominated people. They also suggest the strong, dependent and reciprocal relationships existing between the cultural situation and the economic (and political) situation in the behavior of human societies. In fact, culture is always in the life of a society (open or closed), the more or less conscious result of the economic and political activities of that society, the more or less dynamic expression of the kinds of relationships which prevail in that society, on the one hand between man (considered individually or collectively) and nature, and, on the other hand, among individuals, groups of individuals, social strata or classes.

The value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination lies in the fact that culture is the vigorous manifestation on the ideological or idealist plane of the physical and historical reality of the society that is dominated or to be dominated. Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history, by the positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of relationships between man and his environment, among men or groups of men within a society, as well as among different societies. Ignorance of this fact may explain the failure of several attempts at foreign domination–as well as the failure of some international liberation movements.

Let us examine the nature of national liberation. We shall consider this historical phenomenon in its contemporary context, that is, national liberation in opposition to imperialist domination. The latter is, as we know, distinct both in form and in content from preceding types of foreign domination (tribal, military-aristocratic, feudal, and capitalist domination in time free competition era).

The principal characteristic, common to every kind of imperialist  domination, is the negation of the historical process of the dominated people by means of violently usurping the free operation of the process of development of the productive forces. Now, in any given society, the level of development of the productive forces and the system for social utilization of these forces (the ownership system) determine the mode of production. In our opinion, the mode of production whose contradictions are manifested with more or less intensity through the class struggle, is the principal factor in the history of any human group, the level of the productive forces being the true and permanent driving power of history.

For every society, for every group of people, considered as an evolving entity, the level of the productive forces indicates the stage of development of the society and of each of its components in relation to nature, its capacity to act or to react consciously in relation to nature. It indicates and conditions the type of material relationships (expressed objectively or subjectively) which exists among the various elements or groups constituting the society in question. Relationships and types of relationships between man and nature, between man and his environment. Relationships and type of relationships among the individual or collective components of a society. To speak of these is to speak of history, but it is also to speak of culture.

Whatever may be the ideological or idealistic characteristics of cultural expression, culture is an essential element of the history of a people. Culture is, perhaps, the product of this history just as the flower is the product of a plant. Like history, or because it is history, culture has as its material base the level of the productive forces and the mode of production. Culture plunges its roots into the physical reality of the environmental humus in which it develops, and it reflects the organic nature of the society, which may be more or less influenced by external factors. History allows us to know the nature and extent of the imbalance  and conflicts (economic, political and social) which characterize the evolution of a society; culture allows us to know the dynamic syntheses which have been developed and established by social conscience to resolve these conflicts at each stage of its evolution, in the search for survival and progress.

Just as happens with the flower in a plant, in culture there lies the capacity (or the responsibility) for forming and fertilizing the seedling which will assure the continuity of history, at the same time assuring the prospects for evolution and progress of the society in question. Thus it is understood that imperialist domination by denying the historical development of the dominated people, necessarily also denies their cultural development. It is also understood why imperialist domination, like all other foreign domination for its own security, requires cultural oppression and the attempt at direct or indirect liquidation of the essential elements of the culture of the dominated people.

The study of the history of national liberation struggles shows that generally these struggles are preceded by an increase in expression of culture, consolidated progressively into a successful or unsuccessful attempt to affirm the cultural personality of the dominated people, as a means of negating the oppressor culture. Whatever may be the conditions of a people’s political and social factors in practicing this domination, it is generally within the culture that we find the seed of opposition, which leads to the structuring and development of the liberation movement.

In our opinion, the foundation for national liberation rests in the inalienable right of every people to have their own history whatever formulations may be adopted at the level of international law. The objective of national liberation, is therefore, to reclaim the right, usurped by imperialist domination, namely: the liberation of the process of development of national productive forces. Therefore, national liberation takes place when, and only when, national productive forces are completely free of all kinds of foreign domination. The liberation of productive forces and consequently the ability to determine the mode of production most appropriate to the evolution of the liberated people, necessarily opens up new prospects for the cultural development of the society in question, by returning to that society all its capacity to create progress.

A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if, without complexes and without underestimating the importance of positive accretions from the oppressor and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture, which is nourished by the living reality of its environment, and which negates both harmful influences and any kind of subjection to foreign culture. Thus, it may be seen that if imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression, national liberation is necessarily an act of culture.

On the basis of what has just been said, we may consider the national liberation movement as the organized political expression of the culture of the people who are undertaking the struggle. For this reason, those who lead the movement must have a clear idea of the value of the culture in the framework of the struggle and must have a thorough knowledge of the people’s culture, whatever may be their level of economic development.

In our time it is common to affirm that all peoples have a culture. The time is past when, in an effort to perpetuate the domination of a people, culture was considered an attribute of privileged peoples or nations, and when, out of either ignorance or malice, culture was confused with technical power, if not with skin color or the shape of one’s eyes. The liberation movement, as representative and defender of the culture of the people, must be conscious of the fact that, whatever may be the material conditions of the society it represents, the society is the bearer and creator of culture. The liberation movement must furthermore embody the mass character, the popular character of the culture–which is not and never could be the privilege of one or of some sectors of the society.

In the thorough analysis of social structure which every liberation movement should be capable of making in relation to the imperative of the struggle, the cultural characteristics of each group in society have a place of prime importance. For, while the culture has a mass character, it is not uniform, it is not equally developed in all sectors of society. The attitude of each social group toward the liberation struggle is dictated by its social group toward the liberation struggle is dictated by its economic interests, but is also influenced profoundly by its culture. It may even be admitted that these differences in cultural level explain differences in behavior toward the liberation movement on the part of individuals who belong to the same socio-economic group. It is at the point that culture reaches its full significance for each individual: understanding and integration in to his environment, identification with fundamental problems and aspirations of the society, acceptance of the possibility of change in the direction of progress.

In the specific conditions of our country–and we would say, of Africa–the horizontal and vertical distribution of levels of culture is somewhat complex. In fact, from villages to towns, from one ethnic group to another, from one age group to another, from the peasant to the workman or to the indigenous intellectual who is more or less assimilated, and, as we have said, even from individual to individual within the same social group, the quantitative and qualitative level of culture varies significantly. It is of prime importance for the liberation movement to take these facts into consideration.

In societies with a horizontal social structure, such as the Balante, for example, the distribution of cultural levels is more or less uniform, variations being linked uniquely to characteristics of individuals or of age groups. On the other hand, in societies with a vertical structure, such as the Fula, there are important variations from the top to the bottom of the social pyramid. These differences in social structure illustrate once more the close relationship between culture and economy, and also explain differences in the general or sectoral behavior of these two ethnic groups in relation to the liberation movement.

It is true that the multiplicity of social and ethnic groups complicates the effort to determine the role of culture in the liberation movement. But it is vital not to lose sight of the decisive importance of the liberation struggle, even when class structure is to appear to be in embryonic stages of development

The experience of colonial domination shows that, in the effort to perpetuate exploitation, the colonizers not only creates a system to repress the cultural life of the colonized people; he also provokes and develops the cultural alienation of a part of the population, either by so-called assimilation of indigenous people, or by creating a social gap between the indigenous elites and the popular masses. As a result of this process of dividing or of deepening the divisions in the society, it happens that a considerable part of the population, notably the urban or peasant petite bourgeoisie, assimilates the colonizer’s mentality, considers itself culturally superior to its own people and ignores or looks down upon their cultural values. This situation, characteristic of the majority of colonized intellectuals, is consolidated by increases in the social privileges of the assimilated or alienated group with direct implications for the behavior of individuals in this group in relation to the liberation movement. A reconversion of minds–of mental set–is thus indispensable to the true integration of people into the liberation movement. Such reconversion — re-Africanization, in our case — may take place before the struggle, but it is completed only during the course of the struggle, through daily contact with the popular masses in the communion of sacrifice required by the struggle.

However, we must take into account the fact that, faced with the prospect of political independence, the ambition and opportunism from which the liberation movement generally suffers may bring into the struggle unconverted individuals. The latter, on the basis of their level of schooling, their scientific or technical knowledge, but without losing any of their social class biases, may attain the highest positions in the liberation movement. Vigilance is thus indispensable on the cultural as well as the political plane. For, in the liberation movement as elsewhere, all that glitters is not necessarily gold: political leaders–even the most famous–may be culturally alienated people. But the social class characteristics of the culture are even more discernible in the behavior of privileged groups in rural areas, especially in the case of ethnic groups with a vertical social structure, where, nevertheless, assimilation or cultural alienation influences are non-existent or practically non-existent. This is the case, for example, with the Fula ruling class. Under colonial domination, the political authority of this class (traditional chiefs, noble families, religious leaders) is purely nominal, and the popular masses know that true authority lies with and is acted upon by colonial administrators. However, the ruling class preserves in essence its basic cultural authority over the masses and this has very important political implications.

Recognizing this reality, the colonizer who represses or inhibits significant cultural activity on the part of the masses at the base of the social pyramid, strengthens and protects the prestige and the cultural influence of the ruling class at the summit. The colonizer installs chiefs who support him and who are to some degree accepted by the masses; he gives these chiefs material privileges such as education for their eldest children, creates chiefdoms where they did not exist before, develops cordial relations with religious leaders, builds mosques, organizes journeys to Mecca, etc. And above all, by means of the repressive organs of colonial administration, he guarantees economic and social privileges to the ruling class in their relations with the masses. All this does not make it impossible that, among these ruling classes, there may be individuals or groups of individuals who join the liberation movement, although less frequently than in the case of the assimilated “petite bourgeoisie.” Several traditional and religious leaders join the struggle at the very beginning or during its development, making an enthusiastic contribution to the cause of liberation.

But here again vigilance is indispensable: preserving deep down the cultural prejudices of their class, individuals in this category generally see in the liberation movement the only valid means, using the sacrifices of the masses, to eliminate colonial oppression of their own class and to re-establish in this way their complete political and cultural domination of the people.

In the general framework of contesting colonial imperialist domination and in the actual situation to which we refer, among the oppressor’s most loyal allies are found some high officials and intellectuals of the liberal professions, assimilated people, and also a significant number of representatives of the ruling class from rural areas. This fact gives some measure of the influence (positive or negative) of culture and cultural prejudices in the problem of political choice when one is confronted with the liberation movement. It also illustrates the limits of this influence and the supremacy of the class factor in the behavior of the different social groups. The high official or the assimilated intellectual, characterized by total cultural alienation, identifies himself by political choice with the traditional or religious leader who has experienced no significant foreign cultural influences.

For these two categories of people place above all principles our demands of a cultural nature — and against the aspirations of the people — their own economic and social privileges, their own class interests. That is a truth which the liberation movement cannot afford to ignore without risking betrayal of the economic, political, social and cultural objectives of the struggle.

Without minimizing the positive contribution which privileged classes may bring to the struggle, the liberation movement must, on the cultural level just as on the political level, base its action in popular culture, whatever may be the diversity of levels of cultures in the country. The cultural combat against colonial domination–the first phase of the liberation movement–can be planned efficiently only on the basis of the culture of the rural and urban working masses, including the nationalist (revolutionary) “petite bourgeoisie” who have been re-Africanized  or who are ready for cultural reconversion. Whatever may be the complexity of this basic cultural panorama, the liberation movement must be capable of distinguishing within it the essential from the secondary, the positive from the negative, the progressive from the reactionary in order to characterize the master line which defines progressively a national culture.

In order for culture to play the important role which falls to it in the framework of the liberation movement, the movement must be able to preserve the positive cultural values of every well-defined social group, of every category, and to achieve the confluence of these values in the service of the struggle, giving it a new dimension — the national dimension. Confronted with such a necessity, the liberation struggle is, above all, a struggle both for the preservation and survival of the cultural values of the people and for the harmonization and development of these values within a national framework.




inverse of justice
12 year old black boy
who shot & killed white cop
because he feared for his life
(and rightfully so)
found not guilty by grand jury
cops protest in the streets
to insist that their lives matter
and to demand justice
now the shoe is on the other foot
is it too tight like the noose?
or to big to fill like the void?
– vagabond




BUk and vagabond

So the rumors of my death or near death have been only slightly exaggerated – but not without cause… Had a traffic jam in my heart and you all know how much i hate traffic… The blockage in my heart gave a me a heart attack… A combo of inheritance (genetics), good eats (but bad for your health) and filmmaker artist blues (stress)…

So Friday December 18th shoulda been on my tombstone but i have cheated death again… temporarily… at least for now… And now Friday December 18th of 2015 is kind of a 2nd birthday… It’s nice having a 2nd birthday but i wouldn’t recommend it… One is enough for all of us…

i’m in the good and very capable hands in the BX at Montefiore and the nurses and docs here are top notch… Whatever they pay these people it’s not enough… The Filipino, Ghanaian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Italian, Gambian, Indian, Monserratian, Iranian, Korean, Chinese, Dominican, Puerto Rican hospital crew got my back… All smart and compassionate and tough and on message… i can’t tell you how many of them have told me about how much i have to change my eating habits and lifestyle – they don’t want me coming back – at least not under these conditions

i’ll try my best to make changes… no salt, no sugar, no red meat, no fat… my taste palate just went beige, no flavor, no color, no taste… Not a complete ban on that stuff but everything in moderation – very small moderation… Big changes must come and must come soon… It’ll be hard but i’m a do it… There are too many films asking to be made and asking me to make them and too many places i’ve never been on this big blue marble… And way too many people that would be upset if i don’t make some positive health changes…

But the docs say i’m lucky… Dodged a bullet like Neo in The Matrix… They say my echo is good and miniscule damage to the heart because i got in early… Props to the ambulance driver, she can wheel… (must find her and giver her, her propers)… So i’m good… Was Chillin’ in hospital while they made sure i’m good… They say i should be back on the streets soon…

Home now and chillin’ like the villain that i am… thinking about how to balance the idea of getting more done with my renewed lease on life without being consumed by the stress that broke my heart in the first place… i think the artist has the advantage of having the outlet of art but it also comes with the life long constant and ever imposing reality that you will never be free of art… It’s impossible for the artist to turn off their mind, to stop working, to stop being creative… The artist’s mind is constantly working, constantly scrutinizing the world and trying to make sense of what a life that for the most part has no logic…

Artist’s don’t take daze off… They don’t take vacations… Don’t go on holidaze… Don’t know what it is to leave work behind… The artist mind is always racing and between the pressures of making some kind of living (either with or without your art), family, friends, etc… it can be rough to be stress free… The only time we become stress free is when we finish a project… There’s that momentary satisfaction, that peace, that tranquility of purging the idea… And we enjoy it… It’s a rush that purges the stress… But it’s temporary…

The next idea is creepin’ around and rearing up it’s head and asking what about me…? When are you gonna realize me…? And so it begins again… The fever, the anxiety, the stress, the restriction, the pull, the tightening…

Before my heart attack i would often kill many of these ideas in my head in order to shut them up… How many ideas have been killed…? How much blood is on my hands…? i imagine that there is a room in my head  where i keep the dead bodies of ideas… i only open the door to that room to toss the corpses of artistic ideas in… i never look to see how the dead bodies are piled up or how many there are…

For the past year i have been trying to do two documentaries at once… Harlem’s Last Poet on the life of Last Poet Abiodun Oyewole and Six Shooters about six Puerto Rican teenagers from the 70’s and 80’s who chose camera as their weapon of choice… Been working on a sci-fi script that i’m halfway through writing…  Have to edit a short film tentatively entitled Sacred And Profane shot in the deserts of Nevada this past Spring with my Red Epic… Gotta get a short film we made a year ago called Coney Island Dreaming out to some festivals and see what happens… Trying to adapt an Afro-Futurist novel for the big screen as a potential Hollywood franchise… Some time next Spring a book of posts from this blog will be published by 2 Leaf Press under the name NOTHING TO BE GAINED HERE… And there are other ideas other projects in various stages all calling for attention…

This art thing is a lover… and like all lovers we fight and we make love and we fight and we talk and we refuse to talk and we argue and we forgive… It’s a lover, this art thing, and it will kill me… Art will be the death of me (hopefully)… You have to die of something and art is good way to live and i suppose it’s as good way to die… as good as any other way…



Vimeo 1080P

Ok… ok… ok… this is an off the dome rant… One that can be seen as a selfish weak ass piece of shit but it’s how i feel sometimes… A lot of times… Most times… To be honest all the time… For those who give a shit about true politically and artistically radical independent filmmaking the price of my film MACHETERO is dropping on this Grito De Lares from $5.99 for a 48 hour rental to $2… and from $10 to download and own to $5… So now the price should be a smaller hurdle to get over… This is an experiment for me to see if people are actually interested in this kind of filmmaking, story, artistic experimentation, politic, etc… etc…

Maybe the price is a problem… Maybe it’s not… Maybe i’m bad at marketing and promotion… Maybe i need someone who is someone, to say that i am someone, for you to believe that this is something you should watch… Maybe it’s some of those things or a combination of those things or none of those things or all of those things…

If just one person a day rented MACHETERO at the original price of $5.99 i would make $5 a day which is about $150 a month… If one person a day bought MACHETERO at the original price of $10 i would make $9 a day which is about $270 a month… If both those things were to happen a day i would make about $420 a month… $420 a month comes out to about $5000 a year… MACHETERO cost $16,000 to make… A rental and purchase a day at $420 a month comes to about $5000 a year, which means the film can recoup its cost in approximately three years and three months… After another three years at those rates of rentals and purchases i could afford to give $1000 back to all of the key personnel who worked for free to make the film… And none of those people are expecting to get paid… so how nice would it be to get a thousand dollars for a film you worked on six years ago for free…?

Why should i try and make some money off a revolutionary film that calls for the ouster of the us colonial government in Puerto Rico…? Because we live in a capitalist society and as much as i would love to give my film away for free that doesn’t help me survive within this capitalist structure… It doesn’t help me to make another film which i have to make… Why?

Because i didn’t choose to make films or be a filmmaker… Filmmaking chose me… How do i know this…? Because i’ve tried to quit time and time again… Like Michael Corleone said in Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in”, thats me and filmmaking… i love making films… and i could give a shit if anyone likes them or the saw them… But the nature of capitalism is that you need to make money off of what you love and so this is where i fail miserably… And maybe, purposely because i’m an anti-capitalist… So maybe this boo-hoo, woe is me, cry me a fucken river bullshit rant is just all my own fault and has nothing to do with anyone else… i can’t take the blame for it, but i can take the responsibility for it… There’s a difference but i’ll let you tease that out…

Anyway… this is an experiment… Let’s see what happens… It’s obvious i’m not in this for the money… i just dropped the price of the rental and purchase price of the film… No one would do that if i they were in it for the money… Shit with the hours i work making a film i could make more money working minimum wage at Mickey D’s… So let’s see how it all shakes out… Fuck it… if nothing comes of this it won’t be because i tried… and failed… and tired again… and failed… and tried again… and failed… and tried again…

And now a word from our sponsor… This bullshit whine fest is brought to you by MACHETERO on Vimeo On Demand… what’s that mean…? It means Vimeo is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, Playstation, X-Box and Roku if you want to watch on your TV at home (which as a filmmaker i highly suggest since it’s the closest you’ll come to a theatrical experience)… Vimeo is also available on your phone, tablet and computer…

And to those who have rented or purchased MACHETERO already i thank you for your support… It means more than you can know… And it goes further than you can imagine…

Vimeo Streaming Players & TV

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Trans-sister by vagabond ©
Trans-sister by vagabond ©

A while back i illustrated a book of poetry called Last Of The Po’Ricans Y Otras Afro-artifacts. One of the poems in the book was called Trans-sister and it was about Puerto Rican Trans woman Sylvia Rivera and her fight for equality and justice… Sylvia Rivera was at Stonewall on that fateful day of June 28, 1969… With the ruling by the US Supreme Court that the entire US must recognize Marriage Equality i thought it important to remind people of that the modern day LGBTQ struggle for rights was born at the Stonewall Inn in NYC…

It’s good that the LGBTQ brothers and sisters have some equal ground to stand upon after so many years of pain and struggle and it’s a moment worth celebrating… At the same time we have to remember that homophobia, gay homeless youth, trans phobia, and the everyday violence that people face for being themselves is something that continues… So let’s celebrate this victory and use it strengthen the other work that must be done…



The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©
The Puerto Rican Mandela by vagabond ©

A few weeks ago i was asked by Benjamin Ramos of Pro-Libertad, an organization dedicated to the freedom of Puerto Rican political prisoners, to design a poster for US held Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. For those who don’t know Puerto Rico has been a colony of the US since 1898. For more on that whole situation check this out… Ever since it’s colonization there’s been a resistance movement to liberate Puerto Rico from the US to quote Malcolm X “…by any and all means necessary”. Some of those means have included armed struggle which is the right of colonized peoples in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples under UN Resolution 1514.

Oscar Lopez Rivera is a freedom fighter not unlike the most famous political prisoner in the world, Nelson Mandela. Oscar is 72 and has been in prison since 1981, that’s almost half his life. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to 70 years for the crime of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government. Contrary to the lies and misinformation fed by the US government and the corporate media Oscar is not charged with killing or maiming anyone. He is charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the US government.

After i designed the image above Benjamin asked if i knew anyone who could print some posters and postcards. i reached out to the worker owned union shop of offset printers, Radix Media. i worked closely with Lantz Arroyo and he was able to print a run of 11″x17″ posters and 4″x6″ postcards of the image…

Puerto Rican Mandela posters
Puerto Rican Mandela posters

Some of the posters will be used as media to help spread the word about Oscar and some will be for sale with the proceeds going towards Oscar’s commissary. If you’re looking to try and get one let me know and we’ll work something out. i imagine Oscar will use some of those funds we raise to get art supplies since he is a painter. Check out some of Oscar’s work here…

The international campaign to free Oscar Lopez Rivera is asking people to call both the White House and demand that Oscar Lopez Rivera be released unconditionally. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111 and leave a message!  Let him know that Oscar Lopez Rivera has been in prison for too long and deserves to go home!  

Sample Message for your phone call:
President Obama, I ask that you free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera.  Since 1981, he has been in jail for fighting for Puerto Rican independence; he never committed a violent crime and has been a model prisoner.  I ask that you follow in the foot steps of Presidents Truman, Carter, and Clinton, who freed other Puerto Rican activists, and set Oscar free!

For more info on Oscar Lopez Rivera the video below is from Democracy Now and gives some more detailed information on both Oscar and the campaign to free him…




a stroll in the french quarter

the air becomes almost solid here

feels like you can cut it with a knife

it’s all thick sweat dripping slow and heavy

the clouds hang low and the city lights up the sky

trying to portray a forced happiness

fueled by hurricanes and grenades in plastic cups

but if you look down and not away

you’ll see where the weight of this almost solid air

fell those too exhausted from the race

lying on the streets of the quarter

shell-shocked by the empty failure of it all

watching the bourbon run out into the street

eye lids weighed down by moisture in the atmosphere

fading to black as the air solidifies around the dream

– vagabond ©


less than ideal art and ideas for a less than ideal world…


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