Tag Archives: RICANSTRUCTED

March 1st 1954


BLUE LOLITA STAR RICANSTRUCTED by vagabond ©
BLUE LOLITA STAR RICANSTRUCTED by vagabond ©

In the years following World War II the colonized nations who had fought and died alongside the imperial Allied powers began seeking independence and Puerto Rico was no exception. The US government was not interested in giving up Puerto Rico but it also didn’t want to be seen as a colonial power in the eyes of the world. In 1947 the US Congress passed a law allowing Puerto Ricans the ability to vote for their own governor. As the US Congress allowed Puerto Ricans the right to vote for their own governor they passed a gag law in 1948 known as Ley de la Mordaza. It made flying or displaying the Puerto Rican flag illegal and barred anyone from speaking, printing, publishing, organizing or advocating for independence. In 1949 Luis Muñoz Marin was elected the first Puerto Rican governor. The leader of the Nationalist Party Don Pedro Albizu Campos saw this governorship as a means of having Puerto Ricans administer US colonial interests.

As governor Luis Muñoz Marin immediately endorsed a proposal known as “Free Associated State” to try to get as much autonomy for the island as possible. “Free Associated State” granted some autonomy over Puerto Rico but nowhere near complete autonomy. Albizu Campos, the Nationalists Party and other independence supporters all agreed that “Free Associated State” simply put a Puerto Rican face on US colonialism. In response to all these developments Albizu Campos and the Nationalists Party began to plan an island wide insurrection. On October 30th of 1950 in the towns of Jayuya, Utuado, Arecibo, Ponce, San Juan, Mayagüez, Naranjito and Peñuelas there was an open armed revolution to rid Puerto Rico of the US imperialism it had suffered under since the Spanish American War of 1898. The revolution failed and Albizu and hundreds of other Nationalists were rounded up and arrested.

In 1952 the US Congress ratified “Free Associated State” status for Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico has existed in this very confusing and very nebulous state since then. While in prison for his role in calling for and leading the revolution of 1950, Albizu began writing a young Puerto Rican Nationalist woman named Lolita Lebron. In that correspondence he asked Lolita to lead an attack on the US Congress. She accepted the mission and along with Raphael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Andrès Figueroa she led an attack on the US Congress on March 1st of 1954. The date was chosen because it was the first day of the Interamerican Conference in Caracas, Venezuela and the attack was meant to draw international attention to Puerto Rico’s plight as a US colony especially to the Latin American nations meeting in Caracas.

Lolita, Rafa, Irving and Andrés got into the visitor’s galley of the Congress as it was in session. Lolita unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and screamed “¡Que Viva Puerto Rico Libre!” – Long Live A Free Puerto Rico! then the group shot into the Congress. Five Congressmen were wounded in the attack and the four Nationalists were captured. When Lolita was asked if it was her intention to kill she replied, “I didn’t come to kill, I came to die.”

Lolita, Rafa, Irving and Andrés all served 25 years in prison for the attack. At that time Lolita Lebron was the longest held female political prisoner in the world, a fact that did not go unnoticed during the Cold War. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter pardoned the Lolita Lebron and the other Nationalists after and a long and lengthy international campaign to free them. Carlos Romero Barceló the then governor of Puerto Rico was opposed to the pardon claiming that it would only encourage further acts of “terrorism” on the Puerto Rican government and US interests on the island. When the Nationalists returned home they were received as national heroes, much to Barceló’s chagrin.

Throughout the history of Puerto Rico’s long and complex colonial relationship with the US government  there have been many of these uprisings that, at the time of these actions, seem to receive very little support from Puerto Ricans. Yet the Puerto Rican people have always supported their political prisoners and have had an outstanding track record of garnering global support for them that has brought pressure to bear on the US government to free Puerto Rican political prisoners time and time again. If Puerto Ricans don’t want independence from the US then why do they want independence for the political prisoners and prisoners of war who fight to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism?

There have also historically always been massive outpourings of support for these independence leaders when they die. Many Puerto Ricans agreed with the ideas of the Filiberto Ojeda Rios, the independence leader assassinated by the FBI in 2005, even if they didn’t agree with his decision to use violence as a means of expressing those ideas. Puerto Ricans felt that Filiberto was worthy of their admiration. Filiberto’s funeral procession was the longest in Puerto Rican history. The same could be said for Lolita Lebron. When she passed away in August of 2010 it wasn’t only the so-called minority of Puerto Rican’s who want independence that mourned her passing but the whole Puerto Rico nation that mourned. It was also the Puerto Rican diaspora that mourned as well as the international community that has always supported Puerto Rico’s independence. Many will say that the violent actions taken by Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irving Flores and Andrés Figueroa on March 1st of 1954 can’t advance the cause of Puerto Rican independence but history has proven that this argument doesn’t hold up…

BLUE LOLITA STAR RICANSTRUCTED by vagabond ©
BLUE LOLITA STAR RICANSTRUCTED by vagabond ©
Flea wears a Lolita Lebrón RICANSTRUCTED T-shirt
Flea wears a Lolita Lebrón RICANSTRUCTED T-shirt
www.ricanstructed.spreadshirt.com
http://www.ricanstructed.spreadshirt.com

The images of Lolita Lebron above are available as T-shirt’s and as 1″ button from my design company RICANSTRUCTED. There are other designs that can be found there of other Puerto Rican independence leaders there as well… You don’t need to believe in Puerto Rican independence to wear a shirt with an independence leader on it like you don’t have to be Argentinian or Cuban to wear a Che T-shirt… Show your support for the independence of Puerto Rico and get yourself a RICANSTRUCTED shirt…

RICANSTRUCTED RED KNOCKOUT

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Xu

Puerto Rican PSA#1


Puerto Rican PSA#1 by  Lisa Gonzalez Sanchez & vagabond ©
Puerto Rican PSA#1 by Lisa Gonzalez Sanchez & vagabond ©

A T-shirt of the DEFIENDE LO TUYO is available from RICANSTRUCTED

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-V6

Alternatives To The Gap’s Manifest Destiny


ITEM FOUND SINCE 1840 by vagabond
ITEM FOUND SINCE 1840 by vagabond

“Never let your schooling interfere with your eduction”

“”I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.” – Mark Twain

“I first learned of Manifest Destiny in American History in Junior High School. To me it has always meant that one could set goals, work hard, and achieve their dreams. Having the opportunity to design for the Gap was the realization of one of my dreams. This phrase and they way I used it was in no way meant to be offensive or hurtful, and I apologize to those who might have interpreted it in that manner.”
– Mark McNairy designer of the MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt for the Gap

If you’re looking for evidence of how stupid and racist American imperialism can make you, look no further than the MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt that was released by the Gap. The designer Mark McNairy thought he was taking a political ideology of imperial empowerment and reclaiming it as a personal improvement slogan. Don’t know what Manifest Destiny is? … Then consider this to be a teachable moment for you…  The question is, is it possible for white people to go all through their lives and not know that touting the benefits of Manifest Destiny is not a good thing? It would seem so… But when you analyze it further it sadly doesn’t seem that far-fetched. When i think  about on my own schooling i remember how American imperialism was buffed to a shine so that it became easy to gloss over, slavery, women’s suffrage, the labor struggles of the late 19th and early 20th century, and the civil rights era, just to name a few things that come to mind. So the fact that Mark McNairy came out of Junior High School thinking that Manifest Destiny was a positive ideology is not that far off.

GAP ERROR 404 by vagabond ©
GAP ERROR 404 by vagabond ©

However it’s not just Mark McNairy who isn’t aware that Manifest Destiny is an ideology of imperialism with its roots firmly planted in racism, but everyone at the Gap and at GQ Magazine which seems to have had a hand in the collaboration between Mr McNairy and the Gap. It seems that this design got past everyone at the Gap and GQ and made it all the way to being a product that they were selling online. That is of course until an online petition started by AIM Southern California (AIM = American Indian Movement) got together a few thousand signatures and shamed the Gap into removing it from their stores. What’s shocking is that no one, at the Gap or GQ or even Mark McNairy thought even for a moment to do even the slightest research on Manifest Destiny before charging forward with this offensive idea. Or maybe they did and didn’t give a damn anyway? Either way that kind of thinking comes with the territory when it comes to white privilege. In the eyes of whiteness the world is designed (pun intended) and shaped by white people for their benefit. Manifest Destiny as an imperialist ideology rooted in racism that justified the slaughter of millions of indigenous people in the Americas and the Caribbean, is just a sidebar to the new brand of ironic hipster racism.

The implications of this are so wide and so deep that it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong… i’d like to throw the idea out there that things went wrong (and continue to go wrong) with the education system in this country. It’s a system that force feeds a warped white washed view of American history in order to indoctrinate the populace into pliability for the ongoing Manifest Destiny in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continued Manifest Destiny of American colonies like Puerto Rico. The problem with this kind of education is that it runs headlong into an opposing view outside of the classroom. In the real world Manifest Destiny is just as bad an ideology as Nazism. That however didn’t stop Mark McNairy from defending his MANIFEST DESTINY T-shirt design with this tweet as his initial response when the uproar began… MANIFEST DESTINY. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. The fittest, get it? The fittest…? As in T-shirt, as in fashion…? There seems to be no end to this ironic brand of hipster racism that comes from white people believing that the election of President Obama is the beginning of post-racism.

This won’t stop here, because American imperialism needs a compliant populace to support its imperialist adventures around the world and the seeds of that compliance are sown in the American education system. The recent naming of the mission to get Osama Bin Laden as Operation Geronimo is another example of the failure (or success, depending on your politics) of an American imperialist education. (Check out my thoughts on that in A Rejection of American Mythology Part I and Part II) The ongoing elevation and hero-worship of Columbus, who was the harbinger of the holocaust of indigenous people in the Caribbean and in the Americas. It’s an ongoing and never-ending assault. The saddest part to all of this, is not that this happened, but that it will happen again and again and again because what can be sown from imperialist seeds planted within the American educational system but the yielding of an imperialist crop…?

A few years ago i started a T-shirt company called RICANSTRUCTED dedicated to the independence of Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. i’ve done a few of my own designs that were created to created discussion and dialogue about some of these issues… If you’re looking for something for an alternative to the Gap’s Manifest Destiny and the rewritten version of America’s imperialist version of history, then look no further…

MANIFEST DESTINY RECORDS by vagabond

MANIFEST DESTINY RECORD COMPANY by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED
MANIFEST DESTINY RECORD COMPANY by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED

To get more info on the Manifest Destiny Record Company check out Record OF Empire…

ENJOY COLONIALISM 1493 by vagabond ©
ENJOY COLONIALISM 1493 by vagabond ©
Enjoy Colonialism 1493 by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED
Enjoy Colonialism 1493 by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED
DISFRUTA COLONIALISMO 1493 by vagabond ©
DISFRUTA COLONIALISMO 1493 by vagabond ©
Disfrute Colonialismo 1898 by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED
Disfrute Colonialismo 1898 by vagabond for RICANSTRUCTED

For more info on this design check out Enjoy Colonialism…

To order any of the designs above and  check out more anti-imperialist designs check out RICANSTRUCTED

To check out some other designs of an anarcho nature check out AUDIO VISUAL TERRORISM

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-R2

A Punk Aesthetic For A Pawnshop Dream


We did a wardrobe fitting for PAWNSHOP DREAM with Alexis “Flea” Fernandez late last night. Flea who is not only my niece but the co-star of PAWNSHOP DREAM. Flea will be playing a younger version of former US Held Puerto Rican political prisoner and prisoner of war Dylcia Pagan. Who served 20 years in US prisons for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico using any and all means at her disposal…

Dylcia is the inspiration for PAWNSHOP DREAM. She has always claimed her freedom even locked up within the bowels of prison but has never really ever fully owned it. It’s that complicated sentiment that is at the crux of PAWNSHOP DREAM. The film is a surreal comedic allegory about Puerto Rico’s complicated relationship with a freedom, that like Dylcia, it has always claims but has never owned. The colonial relationship Puerto Rico has  had with the US since 1898 is a complex one and is a metaphor for Dylcia’s life. It’s also a film about how capitalism colonizes all of us except the very few who benefit from such colonialism.

Flea will play a young version of Dylcia. i decided to go with a Punk Aesthetic for her character since Punk is such a strong and easily recognizable rebellious fashion. And what would fit a rebellious warrior like Dylcia better than Punk? So i turned to my girlfriend of many years Resister who dug into her closet and came up with this outfit. A red Che hoodie with green plaid bondage pants, green boots with thin orange laces, fingerless black star bondage gloves and a long sleeve Lion Of Judah Rasta T-shirt underneath it all… The RICANSTRUCTED baseball hat is a one of a kind sample that i wear all the time and Flea added that little bit of flavor afterward.

i think this outfit says it all… Defiant but fun and vibrant and full of life… Like Dylcia herself…

We are still struggling to make PAWNSHOP DREAM… We have only just reached (as i write now) the %10 mark in our goal to raise $5000 to make the film… Please think about sending in a donation of $25, $10 even $5 to help make this surreal comedy a reality…

Donations can be made at www.indiegogo.com/PAWNSHOP-DREAM and anything and everything is very much appreciated…

PAWNSHOP DREAM


Pawnshop Dream by vagabond ©
Pawnshop Dream by vagabond ©

i just launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo for the latest film i wrote, PAWNSHOP DREAM. Its a follow up to my award winning feature film MACHETERO and it’s a surrealist comedy with its roots planted in the political soil of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and heavily influenced by the surreal Nuyorican poet and playwright Rev. Pedro Pietri. The film follows a teenage girl (played by Alexis “Flea” Fernandez) who sees a beautiful box of sand in a Pawnshop that she wants to buy. She goes in and asks the owner of the Pawnshop what it costs but the Pawnshop owner refuses to tell her. He only tells her what that she can’t afford it. The teenage girl really wants the box of sand, so the Pawnshop owner offer to put it on layaway and the teenage girl accepts putting down whatever money she has.

The Teenage girl returns to the Pawnshop several more times to make her layaway payments and each time the Pawnshop owner strings her along telling her she still doesn’t have enough to pay for the box of sand. Years pass and the teenage girl grows up to be a young woman who comes in and makes her layaway payment on the box of sand. More years pass and an older woman, (played by former US held Political Prisoner & Prisoner Of War Dylcia Pagan) comes in to finally claim what has always been rightfully hers. The Pawnshop owner refuses to give it to her telling her she won’t get the box of sand until she’s done paying for it and at the same time refusing to tell her what the final cost actually is.

The older woman comes back into the Pawnshop one last time with a beautifully wrapped box. She tells the Pawnshop owner that she has brought him a gift. The Pawnshop owner is thrilled at first until he hears a ticking noise coming from inside the pretty package. He asks the older woman what it is and she tells him it’s his time running out. She tells him that he has very little time to do the right thing but the Pawnshop owner insists on continuing to collect on the box of sand. Before he can tell the older woman to leave the Pawnshop the box stops ticking…

Somewhere in this age of empire there is a an intersection where Colonialism and Capitalism meet and on that corner is a Pawnshop where dreams are bought and bought and bought but nothing is ever sold. This is the metaphor for the relationship between colonialism and capitalism. Puerto Rico is one of the oldest colonies on the planet. Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for almost 400 years and has been a colony of the United States since 1898. The box of sand in the film is Puerto Rico and the Pawnshop owner is the United States government.

PAWNSHOP DREAM is all about simplifying the complex relationship between colonialism and capitalism. With a biting humor and a distilled political sense, the fog of understanding can be lifted to reveal the nakedness of the empire. With the occupation movements sweeping the US and around the world i think that the relationship between colonialism and capitalism is something that can be used to expose the empire. i think the beginnings of the rampant unchecked capitalism wrecking financial havoc around the world can be traced back to colonialism. i also think that the colonial situation of Puerto Rico is a metaphor for how capitalism treats each of us as individuals. It promises and promises and promises a better future if we work hard but never delivers on the promise.

Colonialism is a tool of capitalism and PAWNSHOP DREAM is a surrealist expose on the reality of that relationship. Colonialism and capitalism are historically intertwined. Although the film uses the “nationless nation” (as Rev. Pedro Pietri calls Puerto Rico) as an example of how capitalism uses colonialism to amass financial profits that metaphor can be applied to all the victims of capitalism… Each of us is colonized by capitalism’s false prophecy of prosperity…

We are trying to raise $5000 to make PAWNSHOP DREAM a reality… There are really only a few ways to help see this film come to fruition… Donate some loot… OR… Spread the love by spreading the word about the campaign to raise money for PAWNSHOP DREAM… If you are on twitter use the hashtag #PAWNSHOPDREAM… If you’re on Facebook post a link to the PAWNSHOP DREAM Indiegogo Campaign… If you have a blog and find the concept interesting write something about it or link this blog or reach out to Dylcia Pagan and or myself for an interview…

i can’t DIWO (Do It With Others) if there are no others to do it… i can’t DIWO, without you… Your help as always is a humbling endeavor for me and very, very, very much appreciated… For more info on the campaign and to follow our progress which will be updated frequently check out PAWNSHOP DREAM on Indiegogo

The work on PAWNSHOP DREAM has already begun… Arturo & Joseph Rodriguez of RICANSTRUCTION got together a few weeks ago to record a part of the score at Terrordome Studios with DJ Johnny Juice of Public Enemy and X-Vandals at the controls. You can read all about it and check out a video of them recording the track from a previous post called Lunchroom Beats Vol. 1… Enjoy it.. It’s a lot of fun…

Freeing Puerto Rico One T-shirt At A Time


RICANSTRUCTED LOGO by vagabond ©
RICANSTRUCTED LOGO by vagabond ©

“This work is a torture on the rump, but a joy to the heart”
– Eduardo Galleano 

Puerto Rico has been a struggling against colonialism since 1493 when Columbus first landed on the island. It resisted colonialism by the Spanish for 400 years and it has struggled against US colonialism since 1898 when the Spanish handed Puerto Rico over to the over to the US after the Spanish American War. Throughout this struggle against colonialism (that has lasted over 500 years) there has always been a brutal repression against those who have sought independence. There is a long history of independence supporters being, persecuted, prosecuted, imprisoned, exiled and killed for their beliefs.

That history has made many people fearful of expressing their desire for independence. That fear of expression has metastasized into an epidemic of self censorship where people  don’t even want to think about independence. In resistance to that fear and self censorship I came up with the idea of starting a company that would make people proud to declare their independence for Puerto Rico to the world.

RICANSTRUCTED is a design company that i founded and that is dedicated to the independence struggle of Puerto Rico as a means of letting people express their support for Puerto Rican independence… All the designs are a reflection of both Puerto Rico’s historic struggle, and it’s continuing struggle for independence. Wearing a T-shirt or a Hoodie or Button may not seem like much in terms of resistance but it informs people who don’t know that Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. It may even be the beginning of a conversation. Many people don’t speak about the Puerto Rican independence struggle because they don’t know if others also believe in Puerto Rican independence. A T-shirt or a hoodie or a button allows people to show their support for independence… Hopefully it tares down the fear that still exists for others who are apprehensive to declare their support for Puerto Rican independence…

RICANSTRUCTED LOGO by vagabond ©
RICANSTRUCTED LOGO by vagabond ©

Before people go telling me that i’m pimping the struggle or capitalizing on the movement, let me explain something, because nothing could be further from the truth… There are faster ways to climb up out of the 99% to the 1% than designing independence T-shirts for Puerto Rico… i’m not getting rich doing this… i actually lose money when you consider the amount of time and energy i put into designing, maintaining and marketing RICANSTRUCTED

i have dedicated the better part of the last 13 years of my life to the cause of Puerto Rican independence… i have written articles, painted murals, made documentaries, music videos, done paintings, designed posters, flyers and pamphlets… i have created, designed and maintained websites dedicated to the Puerto Rican independence struggle… i have organized Political Education classes, organized rallies, protests, concerts and spoken out in the media on the Puerto Rican independence struggle. i made my first feature film… MACHETERO about the Puerto Rican independence struggle… Most of that work was done when i worked with the Puerto Rican punk band RICANSTRUCTION which was a force in its own right. RICANSTRUCTED is not a means of pimping the struggle or exploiting the movement… it’s just a continuation of that struggle in a different form…

With the holi-daze coming up on us, there is a movement to support small independent businesses as opposed to large faceless corporations. In that spirit RICANSTRUCTED is offering two ways to save for the coming holi-daze… Order 5 T-shirts or Hoodies and pay for 4… or order 3 T-shirts or Hoodies and get free standard shipping… Either way you can spread the love to the ones you love… No matter how you slice it, it’s a good deal… Support a small, artist run, independent business, get something for someone that means something and save a few dollars while doing it…. But you need to order before November 24th to take advantage of these deals..

And by the way, you don’t need to be Puerto Rican to support RICANSTRUCTED… And you don’t need to be Puerto Rican to support Puerto Rican independence…

You can be linked to RICANSTRUCTED by clicking on the word or on any of the images…

Related Links from Nothing To Be Gained Here
FALN – Struggle Until Victory
The Birth And Attempted Assassination Of A Nation
A Record Of Empire
Enjoy Colonialism?
The Rebel History Kept Hidden From You
Arm In Arm With Arms: The Puerto Rican Uprising Of 1950

The History On The Wall


Lucha En La Pared (Struggle On The Wall)
Lucha En La Pared (Struggle On The Wall)

In the spring of 1998 i designed, helped organize and painted what became known as the Dos Alas – Albizu/Che Mural on 105th Street & 3rd Avenue. Not4Prophet of the Puerto Rican Punk band RICANSTRUCTION and hip-hop duo X-VANDALS was also instrumental in the earliest stages of organizing and conceptualizing the mural. There were two other key artists who were brought on to the project, one was former Young Lord Carlito Rovira who has painted some really beautiful banners for a variety of causes from Puerto Rican independence to freeing political prisoners to trying to stop the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal. The other artist was Tato Torres who is also a talented musician and leads Yerba Buena a band that plays traditional Afro-Puerto Rican music.

The mural was organized by the Puerto Rico collective (a group of activists who were seeking independence for Puerto Rico) and the RICANSTRUCTION Netwerk (a group of anarchist leaning artist agitators). The mural managed to survive the weather, vandalism, and even the repointing of the brick face on the wall but was in need of a huge restoration. That’s when Marina Ortiz, Not4Prophet and Xen Medina formed the Luisa’s Liberation Artists Making Action LLAMA (llama – in Spanish means to be called). The organization was named after the great Puerto Rican anarcho-feminist Luisa Capetillo. One of the first projects to be undertaken by LLAMA is the restoration of the Dos Alas – Albizu/Che Mural.

On Thursday October 20th, the NY Daily News printed a Spanish language supplement called Hora Hispana and distributed it in the paper. The restoration of the Dos Alas – Albizu/Che Mural was a featured article on the cover of that supplement. The day before Hora Hispana was distributed on the 19th an english version of the article was posted on the NY Daily News website.

Daily News Supplement Hora Hispana With Dos Alas - Albizu Che Mural Restoration
Daily News Supplement Hora Hispana With Dos Alas - Albizu Che Mural Restoration

The restoration is going beautifully. Marina Ortiz, Not4prophet and Xen Medina of LLAMA have brought together a group of artists and volunteers to bring the mural back to it’s former glory. The people who have been working diligently on the mural are marina Ortiz, Not4Prophet (who was one of the original organizers and painters from 1998) David Concepcion, Fernando Ruiz Lorenzo, Carlito Rovira, Tato Torres (another original painter from 1998), Xen Medina and George Acevedo. If you’re in El Barrio then make sure to pass by the Northeast corner of 105th Street and 3rd Avenue to see the Dos Alas – Albizu/ Che Mural.