Are you secure in your campus?

By Loraine A. Más Vayas

On Tuesday October 7, 2014 a group of students from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus organized a press conference regarding the issue of public safety on campus. Since the beginning of the semester, the story of an engineering professor who was assaulted and injured during a robbery in a UPRM building August 10, 2014 on brought attention to campus security.

Panelists Mr. Gustavo Cortinas, Director of the Quality of Life Office at the UPRM, Mr. Carlos Marrero, Director of the Campus Police University Guard at UPRM, Mr. Marcus J. Ramos Cintrón, Student Council Representative to the Administrative Board, and Lieutenant Barbosa answered various questions from students regarding the subject of security on UPRM grounds.

The topics of new measures taken, budgets and official UPRM security policies were discussed. Cortinas said: “The law says that we should be able to read a newspaper outside on campus at night”. A simple task which hasn’t been realistic for some time on campus.

Security cameras are one of the central topics in the press conference. Mr. Ramos explained how the policies were implanted and established regarding security cameras, but the actual action of placing cameras is a far stretch at the moment because of the university’s fiscal situation. Gustavo explained how the security camera is a security measure considered at the moment, but because of the upcoming recession by 2 to 5 percent of the university’s budget, their installation is not possible at the moment.

Lieutenant Barbosa, who has been working as a UPRM guard for 25 years, that security cameras could be not a permanent solution but a method which effectively decreased criminal activity, if used correctly.

Because of the incidents which took place early on in the semester various new security measures were implemented. For example, allowing only one entrance into the campus, which has restricted access granted by the guards. This has been criticized for being  an obstruction for some students.  Mr. Marrero argued that “Comfort can never be on top of the security”.  That is, sacrifices must be made to ensure public safety.

Students understand that the measures taken although may disrupt somehow their usual accustomed daily routes, it is done for their well-being, which is the biggest priority at the moment for all campus officials.

Another security measure which was implemented around ten years ago was the emergency totems found in certain areas around campus. These totems were greatly efficient when in use and had a direct line into the Campus Security Office.

However after a few years because of the maintenance costs and school budgets running lower they aren’t in use today.
Regarding the upkeep of these totems, Marrero and Barbosa assured they will begin maintenance in these again and will be available for usage around campus again soon. Upkeep of campus lighting is also a matter discussed, which students showed a concern in a safety perspective.

Ramos and Cortinas spoke about an exercise done by the Student Council and again by the Quality of Life Office: they went around campus and counted around 300 lighting installations which weren’t working properly. This issue is also a result of a maintenance and upkeep issue around campus, which in this case is a safety matter as well.

The overall press conference offered an insight into relevant and important safety topics students were specifically concerned with. Panelists reassured their audience that measures are being taken and will continue to be implemented and improved to ensure safety throughout the UPRM campus.

(From left to right) Marcus Ramos, Gustavo Cortinas, Carlos Marrero and Barbosa during  Campus Security Press Conference

From left to right Marcus Ramos, Gustavo Cortinas, Carlos Marrero and Barbosa during
Campus Security Press Conference

Advertisements

Racial Profiling is the Problem

By Niomarie González

On October 14, 2014 in Chardón building of the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez three panelists gave a conference about racial profiling in Puerto Rico and United States. The conference was focused on how racial profiling is seen and used by police and people with power. The three panelists, Dr. Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón, and a UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle.

Why does racial profiling exists?

Dr. Christopher Powers started the press conference by saying that racial profiling is caused by the abuse of power and that it should be illegal in all the states of the US because it actually is illegal in some states. He affirm that “racial profiling exists because power exists. It’s a technique of social domination.” Powers added that it also is caused by the history of racism and segregation in the United States.  African Americans, Latino and Muslims are the more targeted population.

Is racial profiling a problem in Puerto Rico?

“Racial profiling is everywhere” said Attorney José Negrón; it is seen in every part of the world: Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, among others. In some places racial profiling is legal. That’s when it becomes a problem. It was legalized once in Pennsylvania but it was illegalized again.

Negrón also shared an experience he had. Once in Washington DC  he went to a club and the guards wouldn’t let him in because of his Puerto Rican license.

Who is likely to suffer from racial profiling in Puerto Rico?

Brendan says as a joke, “In Puerto Rico everyone who is not Puerto Rican” Puerto Ricans are racist with the people who come from another country, or town. In Puerto Rico the Dominicans are discriminated even though they contribute more to our country than the Puerto Ricans. He also says that racial profiling is not only about skin color or race but economic level too.

How racial profiling contributes to police abuse?

Racial profiling enables and promotes police abuse, there is an implicit permission of brutality in racial profiling. Powers emphasized on a law that says, “you citizens have to go and identify potential illegal aliens in Arizona,” fomenting heat. Hate and racism always go together and they are caused by the abuse of power.

The majority of police officers in the United States are white, so they tend to discriminate the black people of the states they serve.  Abuse of power is the first step for violence which in many cases can lead to murder. The Police Department is not taking action when racial profiling occurs. Police brutality and racial profiling have gone together for many occasions and it was seen in the Ferguson case who is the recent case which started this dispute in the United State.

Ferguson Case

Ferguson case was the recently racial profiling case in the United State. The Ferguson people are still unhappy even though they have been heard and even the media had contributed to this case, nothing has changed. The policeman who shot Micheal Brown will not be charged.  The population of Ferguson is 75 percent black. Yet, an irony is that the mayor is white, five of the six cities council members are white and 50 of the 53 police officers are white.

Racism is also seen in the voting process. In the last municipal elections only 12 percent of the voters turned out to vote. As for this the Missouri GOP, Matt Wills, expressed that the voter registration drives are “disgusting” and “inappropriate”. Wills, is behind the new proposed amendments that in contrary of making the voting process better for the Ferguson citizens it makes it even more difficult. According to the Violence Policy Center, the state of Missouri had the highest black homicide rate in 2010 and second highest in 2011.

hello

Two experts on different areas of racial profiling and a student victim of racial profiling compose the conference panelists. Christopher Powers, first from the left, José Negrón, second from the left, and Brendan O’Boyle, third to the left.

Domestic Violence: What’s Happening

October 22, 2014

By: Nicole Michelle Arroyo Díaz

Professor Luisa Seijo, Dr. Luis Nieves and attorney Vanessa Díaz, held a press conference on October 15, 2014 at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. To discuss domestic violence and the Law 54.

Panelists listed and described different types of domestic violence, including abuse in same sex couples. The effectiveness of Law 54 and its extent and protection for the victims of domestic violence were discussed as well.

Law Against Domestic Violence

Vanessa Díaz, attorney at law, described domestic violence as a pattern of behavior from one person against another in a domestic context that harms the victim. This behavior can be summarized as any action of physical, verbal, emotional or even economical.

Law 54, approved in 1989,stipulates how the courts should proceed when faced with domestic violence. Cases recently it has been amended to include protections for same sex couples as well.

Increased Statistics Reported

According to Professor Seijo, 90 percent of victims in her program, Siempre vivas, are women. This does not mean that men are exempt from this type of abuse.

Dr. Nieves recalled in his experience, violence between homosexual partners is the result of an argument that escalates to violence. They do not conceptualize it as domestic abuse.

As attorney Díaz said, “machismo” in this society prevents men in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships to accept or acknowledge this abuse.

Children Are Taught the Biases

Professor Seijo explained that children are taught by their parents, teachers and families. Children in our society are encouraged to be violent against other children, adults and even animals.

She stated that boys are given toys that are used for violence, such as guns and swords, and are expected to play in groups. On the other hand, girls are taught to play by themselves with dolls and toy kitchen appliances. This is also mentioned in the research paper by Brenda Brewer, Children Growing Up with Biases.

The paper also shows the way kids express and behave in a playground shows a lot about their personality and their upbringing. If violence is encouraged by the children’s role models, most likely they will tend to be or definitely be more aggressive.

Differences in Domestic Violence Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Relationships

There are many similarities between heterosexual and homosexual relationships when talking about domestic violence. Dr. Nieves indicated that male victims in a homosexual relationship have a tendency to be perpetrators in a new relationship. Female victims in heterosexual or homosexual relationships tend to avoid violent relationships in the future.

Steps to Getting a Protection Order

There are many situations when a person can be advised to file a petition for a protection order, said attorney Díaz. This protection order is provided by the civil court and by the Law 54 against domestic violence.

Although there are different cases the steps are much similar, she explained. The first step is going to civil court and explaining the judge the need for the protection order. The next step is the judge evaluating the situation. After the evaluation is completed the judge can grant the order or summon the aggressor. The order will be granted for five or six days until the hearing. During the hearing the judge hears both sides, evaluates any evidence submitted and decides whether remove or extend the protection order.

Protective Measures for Victims

As part of the protection order, the judge can take the aggressor away from the home. The judge can even order a relocation of the aggressor if he or she understands the victim is still at risk, as explained by attorney, Vanessa Díaz.

She also clarified that if the couple has children, the custody agreement may be changed temporarily or permanently to protect the victim as well as the children.

Domestic Violence Victims in University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM)

Professor Luisa Seijo, director of the program “Siempre Vivas,” explained that the process of being identified as domestic violence victim can be very dramatic for the victim. As part of the difficult process the victims are given counseling and a safe home for relocation. In the UPRM there is a protocol to deal with domestic violence cases. It starts reporting the incident and going to ‘Siempre Vivas,” where they receive counseling and the changes needed to guarantee the safety of the victim.

Panelists’ suggestions for the improvement of 54 Law

All three panelists agreed that the law still has its limitations and could use some improvements to prevent and minimize the domestic violence cases.

Attorney Vanessa Díaz proposed that people should be educated. She acknowledges that the law has been amended to improve its effectiveness. However, she understands the citizens need to know what the law provides for them.

Dr. Nieves agreed with Díaz and also recommended to improve the identification of the victim and the aggressor, especially in same sex couples. He also stated that domestic violence is a cycle and that has the power to put a stop to it is the victim and not the perpetrator.

From left to right: Professor Luisa Seijo, Dr. Luis Nieves and attorney Vanessa Díaz during the Domestic Violence Press Conference. Held on October 15, 2014.

From left to right: Professor Luisa Seijo, Dr. Luis Nieves and attorney Vanessa Díaz during the Domestic Violence Press Conference. Held on October 15, 2014.

Racial Profiling: A Truth Discussed Amongst Experts and Witnesses

On October 14th 2014, a conference held at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez campus (UPRM), recruited the expertise of UPRM professor, Dr. Christopher Powers, Att. José Negrón Rodríguez, and UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle to discuss the heated topic of racial profiling. Panelists challenged ethical perspectives present in society and its government, particularly in relation to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson County.

The conference opened with the following statement by Dr. Powers, in response to a question about the meaning of racial profiling: “Racism is persistent. Racial profiling exists because power exists. Those in charge separate the society in order to strike fear and control populations.” He added that race is not an anthropological or biological fact, but an invention of man to distinguish amongst people.

Regarding racial distinctions, Att. José Negrón commented: “Racial profiling happens geographically. Depending where you are is where you’ll see it in different races. For example, you may not see much of it in Mayagüez; however, in San Juan, Dominicans have a lot of problems being victims of racial profiling. Depending on the location is where the issue arises. It is a problem which is very abundant where it’s legal.”

To deal with the problem, Negrón recommended that civilians know their rights. “However, there’s a problem with this. With a show of hands, how many of you have read the Bill of Rights?” A deafening silence fell in the conference room.

 

The panelists of the racial profiling press conference at the UPRM. From left to right: Dr. Christopher Powers, Att. José Negrón Rodríguez, and UPRM student Brendan O'Boyle

The panelists of the racial profiling press conference at the UPRM. From left to right: Dr. Christopher Powers, Att. José Negrón Rodríguez, and UPRM student Brendan O’Boyle

“See? Very few people take the time to read the bill and familiarize themselves with what their rights actually are.” The attorney providedd the audience with brochures with information of people’s rights.

Brendan O’Boyle’s perspectives on racial profiling were personal. He described his experience with racial profiling in Puerto Rico. “There have been occasions where, just because I’m white, have blonde hair and blue eyes and am an American, people assume that I’m rich and ask me to go back to my homeland because ‘I don’t belong in this country.’”

Att. José Negrón explained that while racial profiling also affects people with financial status, “the poorer you are or your population is, the more likely you are to be racially profiled by police officers.”

The attorney’s claim is exemplified by recent events in Ferguson with the death of African American youth Michael Brown, 17, who was shot multiple times by Caucasian officer Darren Wilson. News reports published in Russia Today (RT) stated that “the police chief said the officer fired multiple times, but was reluctant to give more details because he didn’t want to “prejudice” the case.” The police department received explosive responses from the public. “Many protesters who have spoken with The Huffington Post over the last week said that some immediate justice for Brown’s killing would go a long way.” Stated an article published in The Huffington Post. This event was brought up in the conference.

Dr. Powers provided his personal standpoint on the Ferguson issue: “By what standard of police measures is it justified to shoot an unarmed teenage boy multiple times after initially shooting him in the head? It shows how minority lives have less value in face of justice.”

Why are people racially profiled?

By: Gerardo Torres Madera

On Tuesday, October 14, 2014 a press conference was held in Chardón building at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. The panelists were Professor Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and Brendan O’Boyle, student at UPRM. The topic of the conference was racial profiling. José Negrón and Gerardo Torres interviewed the panelists. The conference lasted about one hour.

The first question was directed to Professor Christopher Powers. He was asked why racial profiling still takes place in the United States. He mentioned two reasons, “Because the persistence of racism; ant two because power exists.”

Brendan was asked if he had been a victim of racial profiling here in Puerto Rico. He said he has not been profiled by police in the island and he stated “most of them have no desire to talk to me.” This is because racial profiling is mostly toward people of color and Brendan is white with blonde hair and light colored eyes.

Attorney José Negrón, on the other hand, discussed who is more likely to be a victim of racial profiling in Puerto Rico and in the United States. “Here in Puerto Rico, anybody who is not Puertorican.” He added that “racial profiling is not about race, it is also an economic issue.”

Reflecting on the United States case Negrón also commented that racial profiling cases have increased since the 9/11 incident. The attorney also agreed with the professor that among the states with more racial profiling incidents are Maryland, Florida and Georgia.

It is an economic issue because people who belong to the lower class are the ones who are mostly profiled, and as Professor Powers said, power also takes great place in this issue.

One of the most famous recent cases of racial profiling is the case that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, in which a 16 year old African American boy named Michael Brown was shot dead by an officer named Darren Wilson. This case caused a lot of controversy.

Another case that might not be well known is a case about a black man named Earl Sampson that lives in Florida and works at a store named 207 Quickstop. Earl has been stopped by the police a lot of times. An article published in www.nydailynews.com narrates “Earl Sampson, 28, has been stopped by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years, searched more than 100 times, and jailed 56 times at the store where he works for no reason.”

In Asia, Muslims are also being targeted by new policies created by the government. An article published by www.voanews.com proclaims, “Prominent Australian Muslims say their community is being unfairly targeted by law enforcement and threatened by right-wing groups, as the government’s tough new policies aimed at combating radical Islamists threaten to create a backlash.”

untitled12

From left to right we can appreciate the presence of Professor Christopher Powers, Attorney José Negrón and Brendan O’Boyle.

Cultural Enrichment Activities in Mayagüez

by: Melissa A. Padilla Cintrón

On Monday, October 20, 2014, a group of students from Professor Jocelyn Géliga’s “Writing for the Media” class of University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (also known as “Colegio”) reunited five panelists for a press conference on, “Cultural enrichment activities in Mayagüez”. The purpose of the conference was to interest students and residents to participate in cultural activities on campus and in the West of Puerto Rico.  The panelists: Director Nana Badrena from Western Ballet Theater (WBT); Mr. Jose Garcia Ressy from Social and Cultural Activities Department of UPRM campus and also collaborator with “Presencias”, a cultural and arts project going on every Thursday in “Colegio”; students Amil Yafet, representing plastic arts program of the Department of Humanities in campuss and the president of Asociación de Estudiantes de Drama en la Educación (AEDE), Wilfredo Guilloty; and a representative from the municipal government of Mayagüez, Olga López. All panelists answered questions of interest about art and culture for the Mayagüez community.

Panelists discussed past and future art events in the region, the art scene in Western of Puerto Rico and how they are working for a future development. Every panelist had their own say, some agreed and others did not. One of panelists, Nana Badrena did not agree with Guilloty in that there is not an active art and culture agenda in the West, especially Mayagüez unlike San Juan. Bradrena argued that there is cultural movement in Mayagüez and the problem is the society does not promote them.

Furthermore, Guillermo and Amil argued that the activities are not properly promoted. One of the problems can be there is insufficient communication with students from “Colegio” stated Olga. It was one a fairly point made by both students and an explicit argument by the director and Olga.

A part of the arguments, they agree on defining art and culture. All of panelists agreed that art supports culture and culture is history. Art is an expression communicated by dance, paintings, sculpture, music which is all part of a culture and as García expressed that culture is “an expression of civilization”. Amil added that art and culture can be good as bad, he gave an example about “peleas de gallo” from his hometown, which for some people is bad but they are part of their culture.

Further on, Mr. García said there are many activities going on the West of Puerto Rico a part from Presencias in “Colegio” and Yagüez Theater. There is Salsa nights every Tuesday on la Nasa in Dulces Labios, Mayagüez; “Bomba y plena” nights in Hormigueros, Café Betances and many other activities which they are all part of culture and art.

According to Mr. García, ther is a website for Presencias in for the public is aware of the events. On Presencias website the people will find a brief explanation of Presencias vision and mission. There is also a scheduled of the events with the day and hour they will be presenting. For other activities on campus the student can search for  http://www.uprm.edu/decestu/ActSocCult/ website.

Moreover, Olga expressed the municipal government has created funds for these types of activities for the town and there are many activities going on in Mayagüez for next months. She exhort everyone to stay aware for them to attend.

Briefly, Bradena communicate she is connected to Mayagüez municipal government activities and WBT has been invited and work for “Festival de la danza”, participated on “Bienal y Cultura Santiago de los Caballeros” on Dominican Republic and also was invited to open for the Math Olympics in San Juan for 2015.

For more information about events in the area you can search in http://www.apasear.com/. In the website there are a variety of events to choose and enjoy. If you are more interested in Mayagüez area you can go to https://www.facebook.com/mun.mayaguez and find more information.

Panelists from press conference: “Cultural Enrichment Activities on Mayaguez”. From left to right: Olga, representing municipal of Mayagüez; Nana Badrena, Director of Western Ballet Theater; Amil Yafet, student of plastic arts in the Department of Humanities in campus; Wilfredo Guilloty, student and president of AEDE from campus; and José Garcia Ressi, supervisor of extracurricular activities and representing the Social and Cultural Activities department from campus.

The interviewers standing back of the panelists from press conference: “Cultural Enrichment Activities on Mayaguez”. The panelists from left to right: Olga, representing municipal of Mayagüez; Nana Badrena, Director of WBT; Amil Yafet, student of plastic arts in campus; Wilfredo Guilloty, student and president of AEDE from campus; and José Garcia Ressi, supervisor of extracurricular activities and representing the Social and Cultural Activities Department from campus.

Local art scenery: the importance of art and science

By: Solange M. González

Baruch Vergara, Lorraine Rodríguez and Andrea Mendez presented a press conference in  Dr. Carlos E. Chardón Building of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez  Campus (UPRM) about the art scenery in Mayagüez and the important of the plastic arts and dance in society.

Professor Vergara attended the forum on behalf of the plastic arts. The professor is responsible for teaching engraving and plastic arts in UPRM, where he also coordinates the university gallery and its art exhibitions.

Lorraine Rodríguez and Amanda Méndez represented professional and student dance. Lorraine Rodríguez came on behalf of Elmer Perez from Ballet Escenario in Mayagüez. Rodríguez is a master student of microbiology who is also a professional dancer and teacher of the aforementioned company. Andrea Méndez is in her third year of chemistry at UPRM. She is an official dancer of the UPRM Dance Team and since childhood has trained in the discipline of dance.

Professor Vergara discussed various issues relating to the importance of art in our society. “People think that art is an inferior study. This has a totally platonic tradition in the sense that everything that has to do with sensitivity is frowned upon and appears that knowledge only comes from the brain and intelligence, thought or reason.” Professor Vergara expressed the underestimations of society towards the arts. At the same time he makes the people reflects about the importance of arts for the world and the good behavior of the community. The arts give us another ways to seen the things and problems solutions among other different point of view.

Baruch Vergara next to one of his work.

Baruch Vergara next to one of his work.

Professor Vergara also commented on the importance of the gallery to the university and the difference between it and other galleries. He shared the criteria must have each artist to be exhibited at the gallery. The artist needs to contact with the art program of the UPRM and express his/her interest to participate in the gallery, presents his/he curriculum vitae and a portfolio with his/her woks. He mentioned the limitations of the UPRM gallery since it depends on the volunteerism of students to stay open. Moreover he also mentioned that the arts galleries on the west side, as is Western Gallery, are losing their swing because they are having more losses than gains.

Art also can be represented by the dance and Ballet Escenario has  a great artistic and cultural importance in the Mayagüez area. It celebrated its 10th years  anniversary on October 10, 2014 with an artistic role in Yagüez Theatre. Rodríguez spoke about the methods and techniques that use the company to prepare its dancers. When they have a presentation, they practice so much hours to obtain the perfection they want. She mentioned to the public that the company has won different Dance Congress such as the Salsa Congresst and the dancers, the ones that the company has prepared, have won many important dance competitions in Puerto Rico and other continents. She touches on the issue that Ballet Escenario help people from different social classes to take their classes with different kind of grant.

Panelist Lorraine Rodríguez in one of her salsa dance competition.

Panelist Lorraine Rodríguez in one of her salsa dance competition.

Rodríguez also emphasized the importance of combining both: art and studies. “Not only are good  the ones who are able to graduate in Mechanical Engineering or Computer Engineering but also are real good we, the ones that are able to express our feelings through art, through a motion, by the way I make you cry with the movement of my finger or the way I look you when I’m moving my body.”  In our society the careers non related to science are disparagements. According to Rodríguez, art and science studies must go hand by hand. She says that no matter how much intelligent do you have if you do not know how to expresses the emotions. The people need to learn how to valuate their culture and the things that defined their as individuals. We must not despise the different passions of people because all individuals express themselves and learn in different ways.

Andrea Mández and part of the UPRM Dance Team representing the university in the Puerto Rico Inter-University Athetics League (LAI).

Andrea Mández and part of the UPRM Dance Team representing the university in the Puerto Rico Inter-University Athetics League (LAI).

According to Méndez, it is difficult to combine her studies with dancing. However, dance is to her the escape to relaxation from the stress of life. “Everyone can do it but it is hard. Dancing won’t help me get to med school, but I use it as a stress relieve. It is important that students have that stress relieve, because many students do very bad things for stress relieve but you should do something beautiful with you free time.” Student life is stressful and exhausting, b we are human and we need to find different distractions and have a balance between different activities. Many young found distraction in alcohol, drugs and other vices; instead Méndez proposes a better alternative: the arts.

All the panelists brought up different views about what is art; however, they all conclude than art is an important cultural, intellectual and emotional instrument. Through art we can open doors than mere intelligence or reason alone does not allow us to open.

Same Sex Marriage Controversy

By: Kenneth Raices

On October 17, 2014 three panelist’s interviewed about the controversy of same sex marriage at University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez. The panelist’s Gustavo Vázquez, UPRM psychology student; Ricardo Ferrer, member of The Gay Straight Alliance at UPRM; and Yolanda Arroyo, author and activist for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual rights.

The LGBTT community is making a big movement in every country state and region. One of the most recent movements is happening right here in Puerto Rico where our invited panelist Yolanda Arroyo is suing Puerto Rico’s government so that same sex marriage is accepted and legalized. Yolanda rejects that same sex marriage contributes to the breakdown of the family union: “I don’t care; I’m fighting for this to happen”.

GSA member Ricardo Ferrer said they are dedicated to educate society about homosexuality and marriage of the same sex and that same sex marriage approval represents freedom and equality in society. Ferrer mentioned interracial marriage, which was forbidden until 1967. While Gustavo Vázquez said no, “No battle is won by one war”. This has been a controversy seen here in the island where even the Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla has stated he does not favor same sex marriages but if the Supreme Court approves them, his administration and he will respect the decision.

On October 19, 2014 the Supreme Court made the decision of not to legalize the right to get married and the news made all the front pages in local newspapers. In an interview published in El Nuevo Dia on October 21, Melissa Mark Viverito, president of the New York council, said she is not happy with this decision made in the island of P.R but she believes that it will happen sooner or later.

Panelists Ricardo Ferrer and Gustavo Vázquez. Yolanda Arroyo is on the phone and her photograph is projected in the background

Panelists Ricardo Ferrer and Gustavo Vázquez. Yolanda Arroyo is on the phone and her photograph is projected in the background

The case is going to be seen in the court of Boston at a point when 32 states in the U.S recognize same-sex marriage. This is not only being seen in Puerto Rico, it’s an international movement. LGBTT people are fighting for rights, they are being persistent and in time it will be approved 100 percent, said Yolanda Arroyo about this case and all the cases that are being seen around the world. Not legalizing same-sex marriage is thought to be a discrimination just like interracial marriages where back in 1967. In an article at The Huffingtone Post researchers said that legalizing same sex marriages could have advantages like the numbers of child adoptions would increase rapidly because these couples cannot pro-create.

One of the most recent studies at a University in Texas argues that if same sex marriage is legalized, it could boost up the economy. Panelist Gustavo Vázquez argued that “would help because of marriages, housing, car and a lot of economy features functioning as boost, injecting fuel”. Yolanda Arroyo did not agree, because in her opinion people today are more independent and would not necessarily want or have to get married.

The interview had one of the most personal and hard questions asked; the question was religious related. Ricardo Ferrer said his sexual orientation did not change or affect in any way his religious believes: he learned that “God will love you no matter what”, and kept repeating it.  On the other hand, Gustavo Vázquez said it shouldn’t but it does because people start seeing you in another way.

After the conference finished it was clear that the three panelists only wanted respect and equality; they are not looking for acceptance only justice. Yolanda closed the interview with these brief words, “We are normal, not monsters”.

Racism in the World

By: Paola Granado

On Tuesday, October 14 at 10:30 a.m. a press conference about racial profiling was held at the Chardón Building of the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez. The three panelists that attended were: Dr. Christopher Powers, professor of Comparative Literature at UPRM; Att. José Negrón, licensed attorney in Puerto Rico; and Brendan O’Boyle, student at UPRM.

The press conference began by introducing the panelists and by asking Dr. Christopher Powers: “why do you think racial profiling still takes place in the United States?” Powers responded, “it advocates for law and order which sees racial profiling as a legitimate tool to perform effective policing and on the other hand advocates for civil liberties and anti-racist who sees racial profiling as practice of racial discrimination.” Powers added that racial profiling still takes place because of the existence of racism and the legacy of segregation; it has become a technique for social domination and power.

Racial profiling is racist because it assumes there is a set of behaviors that are associated with somebody’s race. Racism is a product of historical institutions that feel the need to control the population. In Puerto Rico, the majority of victims that experience racial profiling are people who are not Puerto Rican or people who speak English. People from Dominican descent, people specifically from the Loíza town and people of lower socioeconomic status in general also experience racial profiling.

Racial profiling can lead to unfortunate scenarios where police forces may go to the extent of killing innocent people. Dr. Christopher Powers provided the example of a recent killing of a young, unarmed boy named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was violently shot four times and then killed by a final bullet in the head. Powers proceeded to describe the powerful response of the citizens of Ferguson. Powers argued that it’s possible and many times justified because in the United States, African American and Latino lives have less value and do not receive as much protection or security as White lives.

Brendan O’Boyle was asked about how students, should respond in society when confronted with racism. O’Boyle responded; “our role is to take what we have learned through our education and help to educate others”. Racism only exists because many people fail to recognize that we are all equal human beings. Biologically we share 99.9% of our genetic makeup with every other human and it is only .1% of our genetic makeup that actually differs.

O’Boyle believes that people do not take the time to educate others. Most students in college have been given the tools to expand their knowledge of the world by taking different classes, but students do not spend enough time explaining to their families and loved ones what they have learned. We are developing a more individual-focused culture rather than a global culture. The only way to remove the idea that race is a significant factor differentiating people from others is by providing education and expanding the concept of globalization.

Regarding these issues there are also evident examples around the world. The video “Viral Racism in Mexico” was utilized for the promotion of an anti-racism campaign. It tries to educate viewers that racism is not only seen in adults, but that it begins at a young age.

The video, which can be found at Youtube, presents different children having to choose between a black and white doll while an interviewer asks them several questions. Throughout the video most of the children referred to the black doll as bad and ugly.

Another example can be seen in Northern Ireland where racist attacks have increased and there has been more racial offences recorded by the police in the last five months than in the entire year. When racial offenses occur they are considered assault and when the person is prosecuted it is then up to a judge to declare a sentence by proving whether or not the actions were racist. Unfortunately, there are usually no witnesses available to declare what truly happened.

This picture presents the three panelists. On the left Dr. Christopher Powers, followed by Att. Jose Negron and Brendan O'Boyle.

This picture presents the three panelists. On the left Dr. Christopher Powers, followed by Att. Jose Negron and Brendan O’Boyle.

Domestic Violence between Same Sex couples in Puerto Rico

Standing in the back are press conference organizers –from left to right- : Keysalis J. Fermín, Mirna Jiménez, Dayana Banchs, Nicole Arroyo and Valerie Padilla. Sitting in the front are the three panelists –from left to right- : Prof. Luisa Seijo Maldonado, Dr. Luis Nieves Rosa and Vannesa Díaz Collazo. Photo credits: Keysalis J. Fermín

Standing in the back are press conference organizers –from left to right- : Keysalis J. Fermín, Mirna Jiménez, Dayana Banchs, Nicole Arroyo and Valerie Padilla. Sitting in the front are the three panelists –from left to right- : Prof. Luisa Seijo Maldonado, Dr. Luis Nieves Rosa and Vannesa Díaz Collazo. Photo credits: Keysalis J. Fermín

By: Keysalis J. Fermín Pacheco

The panelists Dr. Luis Nieves Rosa, professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Prof. Luisa Seijo Maldonado, director of Siempre Vivas Project, and Dr. Vannesa Díaz Collazo, attorney at law and criminal justice professor, offered a press conference on the topic of domestic violence on Wednesday Oct. 15, 2014 at UPRM.  The conference focused on topics about the victims of DV, the 54 law and its latest amendments and how Puerto Ricans should work together to change the way we look at gender roles in our society.

The press conference started off by asking the three panelists to define domestic violence. Díaz said, “Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which in most cases includes different types of abuse from one person against another.” Panelists were also asked to define the 54 law “It’s the law that has been approved in 1989 in Puerto Rico for the protection of domestic violence victims.” said Díaz.

Dr. Nieves on the other hand, discussed his research on gay men and characteristics that are unique to domestic violence among them. He started working with this topic back in 1989, about the same time the law was first approved. He served as a counselor in a program for gay men in New York providing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention. “What I encountered in my practice was that there was a lot of high risk behavior between same sex couples. Based on was I was identifying as domestic violence that escalated into sexual rape,” said Nieves.

In an article published in the book Al Margen del género: la violencia domestica en parejas del mismo sexo, Dr. Nieves says that in Puerto Rico there are no shelters that accommodate victims of domestic violence in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community. When asked if this has changed since the article was published in 2006 he said, “we still don’t have programs tailored to work with same sex couples specifically but the ones that exist are getting trained to identify who is the victim and who is the batterer.”

Dr. Nieves also spoke about the invisibility of domestic violence issues in same sex couples in Puerto Rico due to the fact that the approval of the amendment of the 54 law to include same sex couples has not been disseminated. An article titled Ejercen los Gays la Ampliación de sus Derechos published by El Nuevo Día, states that, “In May 2013 the government of Puerto Rico approved law 22, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That same year the Puerto Rican government amended the 54 law to extend its protection against domestic violence to gay couples regardless of marital status.”

The article titled Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community in the Center for American Progress website indicates that, “same sex couples may lack the resources needed to help them come out of abusive relationships. Such services for gay men are practically nonexistent.”

When asked about special characteristics among same sex couples violence, Dr. Nieves said, “There’s not much difference in the violence they inflict. It can be verbal, sexual or physical just like any heterosexual couple.”

Díaz was asked to give recommendations to lower the statistics of domestic violence in Puerto Rico. She argued that citizens need to be educated. “I think we need to educate our people so they can know their rights and they can know how to defend themselves.”

At the end of the press conference Seijo was asked how many victims have become survivors in her Siempre Vivas project at UPRM. She said they’ve helped 2,037 participants and only one of them was killed by her aggressor. Seijo has a very emotional reason to work with female victims of domestic violence. One her colleagues got killed by her husband along with their two kids, her mother and a friend that was at their house in the moment. Since then she hasn’t stopped working for the safety of Puerto Rican women.

“We live in a patriarchal society in which the man is seen as superior. We have to change our minds and attitude to work together to make other people understand that we need change our perspective as a community,” concluded Seijo.

« Older entries