in disbelief Looking everyday life, humanity and seeking the "exotic".

Culture and society

On the why, the how and the what of "liberal academics why make poor revolutionaries"

grasshopper Note for Spanish readers, judging by the blog stats are still the most: This is in response Inglés, AKA 'the difficult "because the original post is in that language. Let me know if need to clarify something. "

Youngist (Young People Powered Media) recently posted a great, provocative entry in Their blog . The gist? They feel unease (Perhaps anomie?) Regarding the role academics play (or do not) and the effort They invest in any Initiatives That can be rightfully called "revolutionary."

The post is good and Timely. It Should be, and I'd like to think it wants to be, read as a provocation to conversation and debate. In That spirit, and instead of rambling about the rights and wrongs I find with it, I'll divide my response in three semi-conventional parts: The good (what I, as a reader, find useful and true); the bad (what I, as a reader, find misguided or misleading); and the complicated (not the ugly but rather the stuff that needs depth, the stuff I love people pointing out in my own entries, the stuff that signals an engaged readership And Also the potential for depth and THEREFORE, true transformative, even revolutionary action. )


So right. Academics, and I mean academics who Deal with topics historically That Emerged from the need to Precisely Identify, study and when to address social injustice even possible, need to do so More Often and better. For example:

Professional academic Researchers in the social sciences of many colleges and universities exploit the Struggles of oppressed peoples. Oppressed peoples are left stranded with little to no resources after leave Researchers Their communities high and dry.

Yes. We do. It sucks. It is sucky Especially When said not only academics but leave benefits arising from Within Their Own Their careers stint "observing" those communities. Using as an example the work of a private researcher, the author adds:

Hardly ... she was involved in. student organizing campaigns against budget cuts That Affect low-income students. Community college students need resources developed through research like Herideen's. This is a major flaw in academic research in the social sciences.

Whenever our research has a potential contribution to make to an Ongoing struggle, it is simply awful, beyond wrong, to sit back and publish one more article yet, or move one, or forget. Or give conferences to other audiences, who find the oppressed communities May info we have Studied simply "other" or even worse, "exotic"

Yet ... you have to give back to communities in These actual or substantial businesses any way,: such as offering resources and support to the various communities have speaks of in his writings.

Or even worse, Disseminate and publish it only in venues and ways That are designed to advance our own careers and the causes That Were not at the center of our research Efforts:

The texts are almost ... So THAT alwayswritten only academics can understand. Some students and scholars call it " acadamese . "It is writing That needs to be decoded before it can be understood.

I remember myself as a graduate student struggling to understand academese. I remember nights awake reading the stuff that my classmates, Most of them from Ivies and such, took for granted as "background knowledge". I remember finding an article That spelled out the same stuff my professor (and then, but not for long, advisor) had hinted at in academese in class the day before, and I remember her laughing and saying something along the lines of "little grasshopper , that's the kind of article you keep for yourself and use it for your own knowledge, but no need to share it With the students ... "The point is, it is true. Academics sometimes, even Often, derive more academic way than hiding from Capital from sharing. Sharing is undervalued and under practiced. This is not only true, it is real issue Also, With political and pedagogical Implications.

That said:


1. "You revolutionaries"? Really? We as professors (and I assume you, as a student) Both have more or less signed on a program, a system, an existing and oppressive structure, a status-quo. The revolution is not meant to be Carried out from within Institutions. By definition, it is Something That happens to, not from, Institutions. My job is to teach you stuff so That you can make it. Including, sometimes, the use of academese. Speaking of which,

Ordinary Becomes extraordinary language When groups of people who Have Been historically "othered" are able to read Something That connects to Their Lives.

Yes! But still. It is my duty, as an academic and as a progressive person aware of social difference, not only to translate things into "ordinary" language but also, more Importantly Perhaps, to make sure I do my best to Ensure That my working class students have access not only to the translation of things but to the language That ivy-league Their Counterparts have access to. And to the meaning of That difference.

The division of labor in the ivory tower Reinforces capitalist modes of production through individualized research and study That is hardly ever Most Shared With Those it Affects.

There is one place, for a lot of us, where it is shared. It is the classroom. It is the place where we must, in an effort That oftentimes feels herculean, convey not only the language but the original present its relevant meaning, what the plus means Distance between them, all in the same time and credit hours It Takes Harvard folks to comunicate just the first one, to much nodding and smiling. Often we are punished for this in, of all places, student evaluations, where students complain about us not being "easy" enough, of asking too much of them. Which Brings me to the third part:


It is complicated. Trying to act in a revolutionary Manner from within, feeling under appreciated by colleagues and students alike, Judged "too hard" by the Latter and "too soft" by the former. But the interaction Between your point and ours have productive spaces of action,: such as:

1. Let's fight together for open access to knowledge. Journal articles Commercially Should not be owned. Jeez. They Should be open to all. And there's a number of models make it possible That. The fact That open access journals are valued as "less Rigorous" in academia hurt us all. It is not simply a function of disconnected Researchers, but rather a structural feature of capitalism. Let's fight together against it.

February. Frontier The info we have available to us, open to us, dutiful to us, is probably the classroom. We need to find creative ways to combine the rigor Necessary to help our students have a level playing field with privileged folks, With the awareness Necessary to get Their communities and ours to benefit from it in concrete ways. Teaching and learning, in other words, need not to be Acknowledged simply as a means for oppression, but insofar as we are willing to work inside an intrinsically oppressive system, as a space where we need to help our students learn not enough, but as much, or even more, as Those Who are born with the proverbial silver spoon in Their mouths.

. 3 Last but not least: Do not ignore Those who do exactly what you denounce as "not doing enough" Because in doing so you are replicating the same structural oppression That makes so many academics end up speaking acerca oppressed communities as entertainment for rich folks . I mean people like Paul Farmer, Who could be making a LOT of money as a doctor or politician and instead writes popular books and builds clinics for the poor in Haiti and Rwanda, while stealing hours from his sleep to bring us wonderful, useful academic concepts like "structural violence."

Hugs and solidarity, Rima


chopped Eye: proposals and protests

gay marijuana So you want the governor says, "to do, not complaining"?

Not that I want to put protestona me, but I can not help protesting against that unhealthy dichotomy. Protests are proposed - propose to do something different. Proposals may be complaining, for the same reason.

But anyway. Guess understand terms, or insinuating, that is not enough to complain. That the complaint does not provide that. I believe that in a representative democracy the people choose individuals precisely for that purpose, but did not come to the blog to talk about politics, so we left that issue for another time. I came here today to talk about Chava economy, theme or one of the issues of the day, along with education (Malita), and crime (robusta and galloping.) The combination of these three things is not chance, but well predictable and dialectic: Nah neglect the education of a country, and you will notice that crime will increase and the economy burst in the worst sense. Contrary to the kids, knowledge is not something you can borrow with interest for decades to cover local holes. But that is another topic.

The subject of this flash is that I want to make some proposals. I woke up inspired. I'm not an economist or a political scientist, so if I say some nonsense protest or corrígame, reader, reader, but I am a citizen and have the right to protest, I say, to propose, so I propose. If I am inspired more and if you comment maybe we can make a number of proposals here at FLASHING.

[Parenthesis: the word "protest" has, significantly, the word "head" meaning head, which in turn represents the thinking .... Hmmmmm ...]

Let today's proposals. A couple of initial assumptions, however: These proposals assume that I bring the following:

1) You can not get their hands from the island to the global system and invisible bondholders today we tightened the nuts, but we assume that the invisible "bondholders" suits them the economy improves, I say, at least a bona fide bondholders I bought bonds at reasonable prices (like my grandfather, who invested chavitos bonds after a lifetime of work sharecropper class for retirement), not the devices now meet behind closed buy bonds at close range gates, ensuring güira as sharks that give little walk to the dam Puyan bleeding and blood for a little more ...


2) That any proposal, even those so-called "moderate" or "reformist" territory, has yet to bring a little something different to the table, because what we have been doing obviously is not working, and I especially mean crap like growing "values" through Prayers prayers Morning reflections in schools, or follow anesthetizing training people on the moles to improve their resume.

Let's proposals. I bring two three.

1. Legalizing gay marriage and celebrate.

What it is not economics but religion, or politics? Conversely, friend, friend. Marriage, for one, comes into our history as an association of marital property. And also go beyond that other drivel, "tolerance" would be a stick, economically speaking. Note that although we have cute little beaches and year round sunshine, tourism in Puerto Rico is a pathetic six (6!!) percent of the economy of the island. Legalizing gay marriage bells and whistles opens the door to all kinds of good things for the economy: Destination weddings, for example, which could cause secondary jobs and generate chavitos our hotels, suppliers of eco-tourism, inns, restaurants, caterers, DJs, wedding planners, travel agents, holiday labels, florists, musicians ...

This is not a crazy idea. Gay marriage is there. It has been legalized in a thousand places and if we do not move, we will end up legalizing it anyway but the economic advantage to be those established as the Caribbean destination where you can make your tropical wedding and your gringo friends and family can enter without a passport and spend their dollars. Dollars, unlike the dollars spent at Walmart, that famous "job creator" stay in Puerto Rico and feed small and medium business (and therefore the people who those businesses feed.)

Good economic proposals, said someone at some point, build on existing resources. And there are ample resources this idea: We have a strong tradition of small traders who provide services as described above, food, entertainment and wedding planning. We sun and beach. We have hotel tradition and an interested population, hungry for work in that area. And certainly we have people who are in love with people of the same sex and wants to get married and have a party to celebrate with loved ones.

The main obstacle to move this idea is religious fundamentalism. It is natural that so: fundamentalisms do not agree that the economy improves. The more crime, less education, and have more poverty, fundamentalism becomes happier and healthier. That's true in our country and elsewhere. So fundamentalists (and friends yoítos friends) , grappling with that because that's out there. Gay marriage is like the vote for women and blacks. He touched his time and frankly, it was time.

What you do not believe in gay marriage, he says, because he does not believe in marriage? Well, okay, do not go to the wedding, or even better, make up a group of freethinkers working the idea, because we need both freedom and thought in this country. And speaking of freedom, go to the second proposal.

Two. Legalize (and celebrate) marijuana.

Yes, I talk about legalize, not "medicalizarla". Legalize for medical and recreational uses.

Course of the use you give to this poor, maligned crop is medical: For a while chemotherapy patients, chronic pain, and other conditions deserve relief medicine that is known is good for them. But again, think of the economic possibilities and again in connection with tourism. Cuba has made many chavitos creating specialized care for patients from other countries with certain conditions of the skin and eyes tourism. Legalizing medical marijuana would allow us to create partnerships between hospitals, hotels, therapists, psychologists, yogis, organic farmers, teachers zumba ... And by the way, tend to our own population of patients who want access to this medicine.

But think beyond. Recently, in Venice Beach, California, I found myself on the beach with the most chuchin quiosquito: the Doctors Green. Two young doctors (OR dressed in green) customers attending there documentation for condition protected by medical marijuana law in California, and helped arrange a license for products containing the plant. And by the way, maintain a full of brownies, candies, biscuits, pipes, papers, and artifacts cute place whose name I do not know but I guess let you inhale the fumes of something with the thing in question ...

Do not like the idea of ​​the kiosk? Do you find immoral? Before tearing his hair, look at the kiosks currently obtain medical certificates of license, these proliferate around DTOP offices, where they sell the "review" doctor, stamps, and help you with the application If you do not speak ... immoral those spaces, not to get green Venice doctors.

Best imagine the possibilities opened legalization! From street kiosks combo bacalaito, soda and joint, passing very cute bakeries with Puerto Rican coffee and dessert "reinforced" with cannabis, following services "delivery", and arriving to gourmet restaurants and bars with exotic varieties of the thing ... .

In fact, what if we combine 1 and 2, and became the first country to capitalize on weddings, gay and straight, "marijuana themed" destination? Do not laugh, I say that half jokingly but seriously. Centerpieces with little plants of marijuana, hemp tablecloths, souvenirs ....

Again, we have the resources: Our climate allows us growing year round without having to invest in climate monitoring; we used a sub-population of young and energetic entrepreneurs interested in organic agriculture knowledge and cultures; and we certainly have a large population of potential customers who already smoke marijuana. Jobs, jobs .... gardeners, botanists, nurses / therapists, cooks, artisans, florists, massage therapists and aromatherapists ... Mechanical and renewing drivers driving buses volky "vintage" painted pretty colors, to provide services such as 1) and 2 mobile kiosks) type "taxi" transportation to take you home after smoking, not to lead, or even 3) tours of the island, with stops to sample local foods, local beers, and artisan marijuana cigarettes with flavors and odors Special!

Obstacles? I think mainly prudery and hypocrisy, frankly, because in this country where there is both drunk and both eater, marijuana is a bad very least, from the perspective of health.

What do you fear, because marijuana is what they call a "gateway drug", with which people in the fateful path of drugs start? For it consider this: it's very, very possible that marijuana is a "gateway drug", if it is, because MOMENT, WE HAVE criminalized AND THUS IN GATE FOKIN. Forgiveness. It is a stirring. I mean right now, we force marijuana users to go to the point to buy, where they are exposed to other drugs and incidentally, the famous stray bullets and collateral damage of drug trafficking. Or so we put the prisoners and headed into the structures of drug trafficking. Or we put prisoners and killed them. I suspect that if marijuana were legal, it could end up causing no avoiding the most dangerous drug addiction. Some studies suggest that smoking marijuana makes people drink less alcohol . That way maybe even put us healthier, the seedling esa.Sin doubt that legalization will make the most spacious prisons and let out of jail all those people just in it for using and selling marijuana.

Without going any further: Uruguay has legalized gay marriage as much marijuana. They were congratulated in fact declared "Country of the Year" by none other than The Economist, one of the most respected journals in economics (and conservative!) world. And of course, the precedent of Colorado, you just legalize medical and recreational use of marijuana.

I have more to do, but we're almost at 1800 words and usually try to avoid the tomes on the block. Thanks for visiting, leave me your comments, and peaceful protest, here in FLASHING, we believe the pro-testa articulated, designed, shared and genuine is, in substance, a proposal. And good for "testa" good to think.


parental involvement in schools

baby reading Assert (report?) The importance of parents in the education of vegan hijxs has become commonplace. Here and there.

The governor speaks of "demand accountability to parents." Not only. Parents talk about demanding accountability to parents. I see it in facebook, in comments like "I do blah blah blah but the mother does xyz blah blah blah, it seems that does not care about the children ..."; I see in academic research that measures the impact of parental involvement in the educational achievement of students; I see it in the writings of famous columnists like Friedman , what we asked rhetorically, "how about better parents?", as a response directed to aquellxs talking to reform schools.

It is a truism because it's true, I guess. The parental education does have a significant impact on the children, even when controlling for family income. The parent involvement itself can increase the academic achievement of students vegan.

However ...

You're right, reader, reader. There's always a "but" in these flashes. And this but starts with a story. Or two.

The first story is about a mother. Over the years I devoted my efforts to research and service to the issue of the connection between education and poverty in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to meet many parents. Some involved, others less involved, the other distant education of their hijxs. For different reasons, in different ways. But that comes to mind is a woman in particular. Addicted to several things, all bad. Very poor, partly because their meager incomes deviated largely from family needs your addicted to the body, broken. When you visited to obtain the necessary permits for its hijxs could accompany us in our educational tours, I was .... I was, like, drink, or taken away, or affected by any substance or combination of them that I know. His son had to hold her hand and help her signature scribble on paper that I had.

When I left, the eyes of the lady (the "bad mother" who so easily condemn in facebook, in government speeches, newspaper columns) were wet. His skinny arm grabbed mine, to talk, but had trouble talking, listening to me, the situation was strange, too hearing too many unknown variables ...

The neighbors commented to me later, with that mixture of conviction and compassion that characterizes both our communicative exchange, the lady was always drunk, sleeping by day, coming out in the afternoon, returning at dawn. Who prostituted said one, but another said he did not know ...

The first day of the tour, this lady awaited us. In time, the hand of a child in each of theirs. Sober. It would be. Bathed, dressed in clean clothes.

Eye: Most children walked to the meeting point. Most parents took their children there. It was not a requirement for participation. But this lady did.

The monumental effort to get up early, stay sober, get ready, get there ... I got off the bus to greet her without smiling (think any non-addict can understand, fully, what the addict feels when he decides not to take, or not to use , how it feels when the body craves something with the fury of the body and deny it), put their children's hands in mine. Here I bring you all said.

And he left the bus, with a high forehead and back straight.

I think it was Borges who said "there is a dignity, the vanquished, which is inaccessible to the victor." Or something. In dignity I thought, as I watched her walk away.

Second story. This is about some teachers and principal. They are the team of Bethune Elementary School in New Orleans. A school destroyed before and especially after Hurricane Katrina. A school where all children are poor a school surrounded by crime, violence, poverty and pain.

Well, the school achieved, thanks to the efforts of these wonderful women, dramatically improve the academic performance and student learning. You can read about the case, and how they did it, here and here .

I had the opportunity to share the table for dinner a couple of years with the teachers and the director of Bethune ago. And ask them what they had done regarding parental involvement in their school. Surely, I thought, must have forced these parents to help in some way ....

The director looked at me severely. Then he looked at his math teacher and he grinned at each other.

"Parents ask them to trust us. To ensure that students arrive to school. Once there, Rima, are ours, are our responsibility. "

Is not involved? Insisted. Yes, they replied, there is much more participation than before, but that involvement began after us we began the exercise to improve student performance. Gradually parents have been more involved.

If the baby arrived unable to read, participated in an intensive reading and writing plan. If I could not write, if needed academic support, adding he did not know if, you taught. If they had to change plans or adjust methods or additional resources, somehow did. One thing did not change: the expectation of the teachers, all, all the comrades was that students can and should learn.

Sometimes the kids came in a dirty shirt. The director of Bethune took up a collection, bought new uniforms, and installed a used washer and dryer in the basement of the school. Sometimes arrived hungry, so the school makes sure to provide meals.

Once here, they are our responsibility.

Not an ideal situation. Ideally parental involvement. But I fear, gentlemen politicians, columnists and fellow parents and teachers and friends ciudadanxs ... that Bethune are right, and that there is no choice. We can not wait for the fathers and mothers miraculously recover to start rebuilding the country enriching the bodies and minds of their children. Let us invite them, of course, incluyámoslos, but can not help to educate their children, we need to educate these children anyway. Because their children are also ours. Our responsibility.

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University for many

CUA (Published in The New Electronic Day, May 3, 2013)

My colleagues and I have studied the relationship between higher education and poverty in Puerto Rico since 2006. A root community work and research with youth and adults in economically disadvantaged areas, we can say today that we share a goal, an academic and north moral.

We firmly believe that, for the good of the country and its people, younger Puerto Ricans, especially those from the poorest households, must graduate from college. I mean, it seems urgent to ensure that our poorest youth, 1) are better prepared for college and more exposed to academic rigor in schools, 2) apply and are admitted to the university that suits them, and 3) graduate College.

The reaction to this message was mixed. There has been much support, resonance and enthusiasm, but also serious questions, some of which I want to attend.

We are told, for example: "There are already too many people in universities and not enough jobs." The jobs crisis is real. But it is doubtful raise in response, people are less educated or college are "too many". The census indicates that only about 20% of the population has a bachelor's degree, and nearly 34% of the Puerto Rican population 25 years and not have a high school diploma.

More questionable is still the idea that reducing the proportion of college is good for the economy: the median income of a high school graduate is around $ 11,000, while a high school graduate is approaching $ 46,000. Worse, our findings demonstrate that the poorer a student, the less likely you apply, be admitted and graduate from college. Moreover, this is especially true in programs that offer greater social mobility such as science, medicine and engineering. One wonders, when we speak of "college for certain": who are excluded?

We also say things like "increase access to college curricula implies weaken and devalue college knowledge." That is neither true nor desirable. What we are talking about is to provide real opportunities in schools and universities. Students to learn more, not less.

Two California public universities illustrate this concept well. In San Diego, the university works directly with high-poverty school districts, educating and supporting students, teachers and counselors, and getting more students achieve admission. In Northridge, the University invests human and financial resources, including its best teachers, remedial courses and programs for admitted students with the greatest academic need, (there and here) also tend to be those in greatest need.

Is our reality? Insufficient academic opportunities in our schools. Almost 80% of our students attend public school. In my village, for example, there are two public high schools. In one of them, no preparatory curriculum (so-called "advanced"). In the other yes there is, but is usually available only for a minority (less than 10%) of the student.

Many students decide, early in life, the university and knowledge are not for them, and the country sometimes seems to echo. "These babies will have no interest", is probably the most painful (and common) in which we listen. "I do not want to study, are not interested in college."

But, as my colleagues say power is wanting. If someone (or your child) is born in a circumstance in which the motivation, expectation and preparation for college are present, it is very difficult not to become university. The reverse is also true.

If we want more "interest", we have to make the development of this interest and academic preparation that must accompany it, in a national project.

Maybe it is our most urgent project.

Note: The University Center for Access has been conducting research and outreach to this target since 2007 This paper is dedicated to his current researchers, Lissette Gonzalez Rolon and David, and his graduating class, which will celebrate the many achievements. Saturday. CUA! CUA! CUA! :) For more information on the CUA, or to donate time or resources, please write to: centro.acceso @, or visit


on the subject of black Friday and trunk: pumpkin

I once read a Taino legend, perhaps apocryphal. He said that the world was born of a great pumpkin, broken as a result of the fratricidal battle of two brother gods, scattered in slimy hotbed to create animals, plants, humans ...

Morning (well, it was eleven) of jalogüín I was surprised at the mall. One of my puppies need shirts, pants another, another colorful tights to complete your costume for tonight. I, as always happens in that space, I wanted many things and yet none, and in the end I left empty-handed because my mental health was more important than whatever that "needed". But my ambivalent consumer issues are irrelevant, at least not in this paragraph.

What is irrelevant is that the mall was full of costumed children and girls and disguised, plastic pumpkins in hand, of tricortrí. And in each store were greeted not by their common neighbors, if they have any, but friendly staff shops, candy bags also on hand. It was early, no one was still very tired, everyone smiled.

And they were lovely boys. Especially young, often soften enough. I saw a bee that could not have been more than a year, in your car, the mother in charge of the pumpkin. A three foot ninja, as threatening as a teddy bear. An iron man not yet spoken.

For some reason, however, the tender show gave me one of those flickering sadness that often precede these blog. I am very skeptical when I hear arguments like "all the past was better", but still .... just occurred to me that yes, it was better when we went around the neighborhood, when some neighbors gave away sweets and not others, when the "sweet "were all different, and some home made, when a neighbor was taking huevazo potted one on the balcony ...

No, reader, do not judge me! I do not condone the huevazo and to think that (almost) never threw one. The point is in the constellation of social relations framework that serves as the carnival we have inherited from our second conqueror. On the one hand, the neighborhood, which for better or worse I do not have some what of gemeinschaft, of community, of more or less small world outside (well, we are not innocent, never far but at least a little more distant) the cold, friísima, amoral market reality and secondly the MALL, representative par excellence of the market itself, space where we will know everything we need, everything necessarily makes us incomplete, all that whispers "buy, if I buy, be better, be happier ..." a false promise, moreover, because the finite purchasing power, combined with the desire to possess infinite and the possibilities of things to buy condemns us irremediably dissatisfaction ...

And then there's the sadness that I visit while I smile sweetly the little bee sleeping, oblivious to the meanings amiss my mind ponders. Because it's terribly inconvenient, that sadness. It puts me in the uncomfortable position of trying quietly to adult neighbor. And I reject the view, because I understand. How can you not understand? So, as things stand, and with this heat, it not makes all the sense in the world carry the baby to make your tricortrí safety and air conditioned mall? Also reasonable to buy the costume, semi-disposable, plastic or some fiber like that in a department store, ignoring the inner voice that tells us something Chinese or Chinese or Chinaman surely sewed, hurry and underpaid or foreign local landscape or where hundreds, thousands, millions of costumes like that, turned into garbage almost inevitably and almost immediately and polluting the poor planet, but that is all that makes sense get because let's face it accumulate, who has time to get to sew? I that (not knowing sewing and buying a costume of those)'m as guilty as anyone: home economics was my only C in school, to the great shame of my poor grandmother, God rest her soul, and work out home, so the issue of buying costume vs do is not even an option ...

But still there is sadness, and just opt ​​for a bit contaminate you, the reader, with her. Because that fantasy world that is the mall and growing, yet morbidly nourished, healthy and rotten, slimy contents of the Great Pumpkin is the relentless cycle of extraction, production, consumption and waste , that world, gives me sadness, sorrow and share that with others in the virtual gemeinschaft providing me this platform is at least as legitimate as a conversation about shoes.

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social class and access to public university, Part 2: Mangoes shorter and structural violence

Posted in 80grados.

In the first column of this series last month, I discussed the statistical relationship between social class and access to the University of Puerto Rico, using the data of my own enclosure, the RUM. I also proposed to reduce the university negatively affects the poor disproportionately students. Judging by the comments in and out of this forum, I think the fact that the poorer is a student, the lower its probability, in general terms (because there are always exceptions and exceptionalities) to apply, be admitted and graduate from UPR is a matter that we know intuitively to be true.

The question that came up most often has to do with the origins (and thus, indirectly, with possible solutions) of this phenomenon. Ie: we know that the poor have less access to the UPR. But why? How does that happen?

The comprehensive, sophisticated, complete answer is complicated, and I do not know at all. It deals with the origins and consequences of socioeconomic inequality here and elsewhere. Taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that this conceptualization to deal with differential access to the UPR must first deal with poverty. You need to solve the problems of poverty and inequality, and to address the problem of education.

Now, I absolutely believe in the urgency of working to reduce socioeconomic inequality in Puerto Rico, and actually have spoken and written about it before. But it seems to wait for the eradication of poverty / inequality to address the problem of differential access to quality education is misguided.

In fact I am convinced that working to expand access to quality public education for the poorest is a comprehensive and urgent part of the larger project to reduce inequality and poverty.

That's my context: To work with poverty and inequality have to work with education. In today's column, I want to address some possible "low-hanging mangoes" in that project.

What I mean by "low-hanging mangoes"? I mean structural problems visible. They are not necessarily easy to meet, but (contrary to the constant crowing about "values" that favor some rulers) are apprehended, conceptualizables. Are visible as part of the daily functioning of our educational institutions (school and university) as well as key moments or events in the lives of aquellxs for reasons having to do with its removal from class, do not come to college or graduate it. They are important segments of routes that social class and naturalizes imposes on human beings. More importantly, are directly correctable.

Today, in this space, I want you to think of the structural obstacles (and prettily handles their solutions) generated by what we might call the tyranny of geography and its implications.

Consider the case of Juni, born and raised in a public housing area west. Juni was a student of good grades in middle school, and was especially good at math. In fact, he says, "I loved math." When the time came (in ninth grade) to make decisions about high school, and from information received from their school counselors, Juni chose a vocational curriculum in electronics. He finished high school, went to work in the tuna, tuna eventually closed and since then, Juni must make a living (and support his family) I chiripeando.

Juni is (or was) a short, mango. A young man with his grades and academic inclination, in another setting, in another school, had received advice and very different options. Reader middle class or upper middle class who read this: Think of one son, who at fourteen had a description like Juni. Good grades, good in math. What is the academic landscape, what life choices are facing that child?

The structural problem that formed the (very limited) options Juni is at least partly a geographical phenomenon. His village is part of a four residential block including (it is like a village within a village) and children of all those residential attend the same middle school. Call it "A". That middle school "A", in turn, is connected (in English, is a "feeder school") with a particularly high school call it "B". The course, the natural route for these students is to attend four residential middle school "A", and usually, students of the school "A" end up enrolled in high school "B." And in high school "B", all programs are vocational.

Most vocational programs (not all) carry a reduced course designed as "academic" rigor: that is, things like English, Spanish, math. Most students in vocational curricula (again, not all) do not have easy access to advanced courses, take only two years of math (jumping, for example, the Algebra 2 course, a particularly important course for success in examinations for admission to the university and the university itself), and only two years of science.

The geography of June, at fourteen, input determined fairly fixed their academic potential, regardless of their talent, potential, or interest. And it is not only the courses to which he had access. There are other things that happen automatically for students at many private schools, or in more advanced curricula of public schools, things that do not occur to students as Juni. Receive a request to the UPR automatically without prompting. Receive guidance on the college board, examination for admission to the U. More subtle, but no less important, and receive the daily subliminal message that says "the university there is a real option, and if you apply yourself, you're item university. "

Of course there are ways to get out of that fixed route. But it is not easy and requires some tools and a particular cultural capital. Take the case of a woman whom I will call Lisi, and his son, whom I will call Luis. A Lisi same thing happened to June and ended in a vocational secretarial curriculum. Lisi is a fantastic, intelligent, determined woman. When his son told him he wanted to be an engineer, Lisi was ready to go to the end of the world to make that happen. But the boy was played by geography, the same vocational school attended by Lisi and Juni. Lisi knew what that meant, so I visited another public school in the area, one that did have the advanced courses that your child needed access.

He was told no. "That's not the school that touch him," was the literal answer. "It's not the destination that touch him," the implication is almost the subtext. Lisi explained patiently that his son wanted to go to college and needed access, no vocational preparatory curriculum. "Do not touch him," he heard, over and over again. Facing the structural violence of educational inequality, embodied in a deaf and implacable bureaucracy. Lisi lost patience. Maybe even raised his voice. He spoke of civil rights, justice, lawsuits.

He managed to enroll the boy. But how many poor parents have the tools, knowledge and value of Lisi?

The most common is that the student enrolls in the school curriculum and that "they touch." If you come to college, taking remedial courses come unprepared. Have greater difficulties in their introductory courses. Greater difficulties in introductory courses translate into lower notes and lower notes, in turn, shifts terrible the next semester tuition.

A bad shift enrollment at the university, in turn translates frequently in the worst kinds, the worst times, the worst teachers. More structural violence.

That happened to Sara, maid in another residential west area. No one spoke of the university. The curriculum (vocational-"marketing") in school that "he played" not prepared well. Anyway, this exceptional girl learned of the existence of the UPR (reading the newspaper), requested and entered. Once inside, however, has problems in chemistry and mathematics subjects new to her, who had taken only two years of science (biology and earth sciences) and two of math (algebra 1 and statistics.) Is pulled low grades. He had a bad turn of enrollment the following semester. Terrible schedules, courses outside their curriculum, the worst teachers. Discouraged, he left college.

Sara missed an opportunity. And the country lost a talent. A talent we desperately need.

We talked a lot about the brain drain, but do little to cultivate local brains. We talk a lot about the importance of developing students 'interest' and prepare, but very little of the many ways in which we avoid the development of interest and limit access to preparation.


In short: We're talking about a structural, visible, correctable problem: Many of our public school students are channeled by "default", schools and curricula where it is less likely to receive information about college and college preparation. This reduces your chances of request, be admitted and still being supported, successfully graduate of the State University in Puerto Rico.

Students like Juni, Sara and Luis are mangoes Shorties: Despite the obstacles of poverty, have achieved good students with academic aspirations. The system of public education, K-16 school and university, should be able to give better service. For example: In schools, make preparatory curriculum, advanced courses, applications to college and university information widely available in all our schools. That consideration of the public university admission is free and universal. In college, invest our best teachers and university resources in introductory and remedial courses. Better train future teachers and counselors. Re-think the current system of enrollment shifts.

I will continue discussing this issue in an upcoming column. Please share with me your questions and comments. Thanks for reading.


Towards a more "small and agile" university?

Originally published in , as the first column in a series on access to public higher education in Puerto Rico.-Rima Brusi

The University of Puerto Rico is broken, a known radial analyst commented Wednesday afternoon. Breaking the most important and successful social project in the country, he added, perhaps irreparably.

He was referring to recent and known events: The publisher of the UPR, ignoring the row of academic manuscripts submitted and approved, decides to publish the policy proposal of Ricardo Rossello; the Medical Sciences Campus decides to offer a special square with "perks" without competition, this same young man whose record is satisfactory but not extraordinary, as if it were an exceptional candidate with millions and established laboratories proposals; Legislature takes away, in a so-called "swap" , the UPR agricultural land; central administration and the Mayagüez lost access to funds present, and future approved by the National Science Foundation, by repeated negligence (and perhaps corruption) in the paperwork concerning the compensation of the researchers and the relationship between such compensation and time spent; the loss of investment retirement plan because of investments made ​​by the trustees of the UPR despite opposition from the board of retirement and financial advisor to the plan. I could go on.

Of course these ("fresh" so recent and the self-confidence of the perpetrators) fresh affronts should be adding them others in the not too distant past: Abundant batons, beatings , gases and attacks several aimed at students protesting (and Sometimes that also did not protest , and he was standing there also nomas, and dads and moms that went into the middle, as well); designation of confined spaces (and sometimes distant, changing or invisible) as the new "public expression zones" to the detriment of the democratic right of expression; the ignored capitalized administrative powers gave alternative proposals of students and teachers to deal with the fiscal problems of the university and reduce or avoid the rise in tuition. I could go on.

When the abuse is far and seguidito, we will reduce the bandwidth. The outrage today makes a bit we forget yesterday, the visible and blatant abuse makes us pass the study of less obvious. So I want to bring to the table another matter, another break, another symptom of the disintegration of the social and cultural project that is the UPR. It is the amount and profile of students.

In 2009-2010, there were eleven UPR campuses a total of 65,669 students. In 2011-2012, the total was down to about 57,000 .

Who is left out? There is much talk of that. But there is reason to think that those who are left out tend to be the poorest students.

Let me take my own enclosure (UPR-Mayaguez or RUM) as an example. In 2008 entered the RUM 2560 students. Of these, 44% came from private school, and 56% of public school. In 2012, 1,858 students entered , 50% of them in public school.

Let's put this in perspective, about 80% of students of high school seniors in the country attends public school. Eight out of ten. But in our complex is coming from the public are five out of ten, with an additional loss of 6%.

I will plot a little thing to make it more clear:

Changes in incoming class UPRM

What does this mean? A couple of things: 1) that the profile does not seem socioeconomically admitted to the country, 2) the absolute number of admissions was significantly reduced (27%) and 3) together with the reduction, has worsened the difference between the seniors and the entering class in the RUM.

Another bit of evidence, more micro, more anecdotal, perhaps more emotional: Some years ago, my colleague David Gonzalez and I started work scope in mayagüezanos public housing, with the goal of increasing the number of young people in these spaces reach the RUM. The first year, they were admitted and entered college six. The following year, eight. The next ten years. Last year?? One

One should keep in mind that about 12% of college aged boys in Mayagüez live in public housing. But only 1 in 1,858 (0.0005%) entered the public University Campus left it at most two cases, one or two miles of their homes.

Now it is not the first time we present (the "we" refers to all faculty and student researchers to believe or toiled in the University Center for Access RUM , which now leads the colleague Lissette Rolon) qualitative and quantitative data demonstrate and report the structural and symbolic exclusion of the poorest sectors of the educational opportunity. And through the years, we have accumulated a list of frequently asked questions and reactions, I'll be attending here and I will write the entry next month. For example:

Frequently Asked Question # 1: These data are from Mayagüez, Mayagüez and is one of the most selective campuses of the UPR system. How do we know this pattern of unequal admission is a system level problem?

Answer: There is evidence suggesting that this is the case, though certainly bias is more pronounced in the RUM and the Yuppie. But we know that at the country level and from 2008 PUMS data (analyzed by Dr. Walter Diaz and available here ), the median family income of those youth enrolled in any campus of the UPR is $ 32,379.00; in contrast, the median income of those who are enrolled in a private university is $ 25,979.00, and those who are not enrolled in college is $ 15,600.00. That is, that with the increase in family income tends to increase the accessibility of public higher education.

There are also several reasons to believe that the reduction in size of the university disproportionately affects the less well-off students. We know, for example, that the index admission (IGS) is strongly related to family income and class background of students. 1 That is, the higher the household income, the more likely a student is admitted. We also know that the higher the family income the greater the probability that a student applies to the UPR. And finally, we know that the quota reduction has a direct impact on the ISM of a program: if the number of applicants on the quota of the program, the IGS also rises.

The shrinking of the university affects the poorest still being accepted for structural reasons: Unlike their more affluent counterparts, low-income students depend on Pell Grants to pay for their courses. To retain the scholarship need to enroll at least twelve credits. However, the reduction courses far from alleviated by reducing the total number of students, seems to be worse than ever. If I have kids and I have to meet with ten credits, because either way, the payment and me staying. If I have kids and I manage to enroll only ten credits, I lose all. If I check the twelve but was delayed and did not give me extra time, I lose too.

Finally: That the university in many ways breaks lately. And one of those ways is hurting, on behalf of the "smaller, more agile university" that spoke Ygrí Rivera, the ability of the institution to address social inequality and promoting education for more disadvantaged sectors. Reduce quotas has that effect. Allowing politicians have land and community projects of the university, too.

At the end of the day, the attack on the university has as a backdrop other attacks, other shocks. The most obvious of these is the political party and the use of the electoral college as booty. But there are other important ideological clashes that attend here. One of them is the two worldviews that are not only different, but enemy: one where the false moralism prevails, the surface solution and the belief in the moral superiority of having more; and one that privileges the ball and recognizing inequality as a serious problem and other problems generator.

For the first, the UPR is an obstacle and needs to get smaller, more oriented toward careers and less toward the liberal / humanist education, serving mostly the upper middle class and teaching talent recruit only the party ranks. For the second, the UPR is a cultural project, their role includes but goes beyond the diploma and has the duty to connect with the social reality of the country.

There fabric to cut this matter. Many things unsaid many things without studying much latent debate. But you have to start somewhere.

I intend to keep these columns about twelve hundred words, so I leave the rest for next time. In it I hope to address some additional "frequently asked questions". Have a question? Déjemela here in the comments. Thanks for reading and see you soon.



Previously published in the journal 80grados.

Gregorio smiles, grabs a piece of chalk and writes something on the board. It is a mathematical equation. The explained a calm but deliberate step. Occasionally pause is silent, look students in the eye. As he goes on to explain, add numbers, draw graphs, symbols and notes.

Luego lee en voz alta un problema verbal, e invita a los estudiantes a resolverlo utilizando las técnicas que acaba de ilustrar. Los más entusiastas o atrevidos gritan ideas e instrucciones desde sus asientos. Gregorio incorpora sus sugerencias, tanto las correctas como las erróneas, y sigue trabajando en la pizarra. Lenta y colectivamente maestro y estudiantes buscan, y eventualmente encuentran, la solución.

Un segundo problema, luego un tercero. Otros estudiantes van tomando valor. Las voces y consejos se multiplican. Gregorio comienza a invitarlos a pasar al frente, motivando especialmente a los más tímidos. Pronto hay un grupo nutrido de adolescentes pasándose la tiza unos a otros frente a la pizarra. Los demás continúan ofreciendo sugerencias, y en ocasiones bromeando, desde sus asientos. Gregorio se va alejando de la pizarra, y termina sentado con la audiencia.

I've probably seen more animated class rooms and more interesting methods, or at least exotic. He visto smart boards, clickers , proyectores. Pero el libreto –bastante tradicional– de Gregorio (algunos lo llaman el yo hago , nosotros hacemos , ustedes hacen ) tiene algo especial. Es calmante ya la vez altamente efectivo. Funciona para Gregorio, porque se ajusta bien a sus recursos ya su personalidad. Funciona para sus estudiantes, porque aprenden.


El miércoles, primero de agosto, escuché en la radio una entrevista que dos periodistas le hacían al secretario de educación de Puerto Rico. Le pedían cifras de deserción escolar en Puerto Rico. El hombre patinaba, gageaba, titubeaba y contestaba que obtener dichas cifras era, de momento, más o menos imposible. Citaba problemas de definición de la cosa, implementación de la cosa, comunicación y operacionalización de la cosa. Claro que este resumen mío no le hace justicia a la conversación circular, a la creciente frustración de los periodistas que aclaraban y refraseaban, inútilmente, sus preguntas, ante la incompetencia administrativa, representada por este señor y por otros burócratas de alto nivel, individuos en puestos cruciales para nuestro bienestar colectivo, destruye día a día las posibilidades educativas de los niños puertorriqueños.

Me pregunto por qué el secretario no hizo referencia a los datos del censo , que nos permiten estimar la proporción de personas en edad escolar que no asiste a la escuela, y sumarla a la de jóvenes de 18 a 24 años sin diploma de escuela superior. O a los datos oficiales del departamento federal sobre la isla, datos que están basados en los que su oficina en Puerto Rico reporta, datos que incluyen cosas como tasas de graduación de escuela superior. Ambos estimados son probablemente conservadores y subestiman la cantidad real de desertores, pero igual hubieran sido mejores que decir que no se sabe nada. ¿Se puede hacer algo, cuando no se sabe nada? ¿Será que este señor no confía en sus propios datos, en los datos que su equipo de trabajo le provee al departamento federal? 1 Si es así, ¿qué está haciendo exactamente para mejorar la calidad de los mismos? ¿Será que prefiere ignorarlos, porque son trágicos? ¿O porque los desconoce?

¿Será que en el fondo, no le importa? Digo, porque el servicio público verdadero tiene que estar basado en el conocimiento, tiene que hacerse con los ojos abiertos. Si no sabemos, no podemos servir.

Supongo que fue escuchando esa entrevista que me puse a pensar en Gregorio y su salón de clases, seguramente para consolarme recordando a alguien lidiando de forma competente con la educación en el país. Los gregorios y las gregorias que día a día se las arreglan, en medio de nuestro revolú nacional, para facilitar, ampliar y promover el aprendizaje de nuestros estudiantes.

Pero me parece que aquí, en el salon de Gregorio, hay otra lección. Y es que frente a las abstracciones y platitudes que dominan el discurso sobre educación en Puerto Rico, nos vendría bien afianzar la discusión en lo concreto, lo cotidiano, lo empírico. En la experiencia diaria de los estudiantes, por ejemplo. En los datos que tenemos, y en los que deberíamos tener, y en cómo obtenerlos. En quién regresa y quién no a la escuela. En el contenido y efectividad de las lecciones. En la oferta académica a la que nuestros estudiantes tienen, o no, acceso. En los muchachos, en los directores, en los maestros, en los baños sin papel de inodoro y las escuelas sin datos de registro confiables y las oficinas de consejeros “académicos” empapeladas con propaganda del army y en los maestros sin la preparación y el desarrollo profesional responsable y atinado que necesitan para atender a una población infantil y juvenil más de la mitad de la cual vive en la pobreza y cuyos padres no tienen empleo .

Algún lector podría decirme que esas son las cosas en las que evidentemente uno se fija, que son obviedades. Pero no sé. Las campañas políticas, los seminarios para maestros, las clases de educación no hablan de asegurarse de que todos los baños tengan papel de inodoro, o de la importancia de que haya acceso a cursos avanzados en todas las escuelas superiores públicas de Puerto Rico, o de que sepamos, por fin, cuántos estudiantes han abandonado la escuela ya dónde se han ido. No. Las campañas nos dicen cosas como que “los valores cuentan.” Los seminarios hablan, y en términos bastante abstractos, de cosas como “ética”, y/o suelen ser impartidos por compañías de origen y capacidad dudosa . Los currículos universitarios para maestros en ciernes no atienden, en alguna profundidad y complejidad, el tema de la desigualdad y la pobreza, a pesar de que Puerto Rico es el territorio más desigual del país desarrollado más desigual del mundo, a pesar de que la mayoría de nuestros estudiantes viven bajo el nivel de pobreza .

“Discutir y debatir ampliamente la definición de deserción escolar”, proponía el flamante secretario de educación en la radio. ¿Cuántas décadas llevamos discutiendo esto? ¿Qué tal ponernos a trabajar? ¿A contar, medir, observar, estudiar, modificar, en lugar de seguir sacando cosas como “valores” de la manga? Nos vendría bien que más administradores a todos los niveles, más consejeros, más maestros y más ciudadanos actuaran y pensaran como Gregorio, no como el secretario.


Gregorio imparte cursos de matemáticas en una escuela superior en una zona urbana de Puerto Rico. Tres de cada cuatro estudiantes en esa escuela viven en hogares bajo el nivel de pobreza. En el vecindario donde ubica la escuela predominan los edificios de vivienda pública, las casitas dilapidadas y los apartamentos de bajo costo.

El estilo de enseñanza de Gregorio combina tres ingredientes que los estudios revelan como importantes en la enseñanza efectiva: persistencia, altas expectativas, y mejoramiento continuo. Los aplica dentro y fuera del aula. No hace mucho, por ejemplo, notó que uno de sus estudiantes de grado once había obtenido una puntuación particularmente alta en el examen diagnóstico que la escuela utiliza para ubicar estudiantes en el curso de matemáticas de ubicación avanzada (AP.) En su escuela, los únicos estudiantes con acceso a los cursos AP son los seniors , los que están ya en grado doce, pero Gregorio le preguntó al director si podía matricular a este estudiante. La respuesta fue negativa. “Solamente podemos costear un grupo de AP”, dijo el director. “No podemos dejar a un junior entrar, cuando sabemos que hay muchos seniors que se están quedando sin tomar el curso.”

El director estaba genuinamente preocupado por un problema de financiamiento: la escuela no podía pagar maestros que impartieran cursos adicionales de AP. Gregorio no protestó: en el salón y fuera de él, se trata de una de esas personas que evitan la confrontación inmediata. Prefiere una terquedad gentil pero implacable. Se puso a pensar sobre el asunto y en sus posibles soluciones. Como la mayoría de los estudiantes estaban matriculados en una matemática de menor nivel, Gregorio propuso reducir la puntuación requerida en el diagnóstico para entrar al curso de AP. Esto reduciría a su vez la demanda por el curso menos riguroso y Gregorio quedaría no con uno sino con tres grupos de AP. Admitiría a más seniors, y al junior que estaba listo para tomar el curso. Todo ello sin gastos adicionales para la escuela.

La reacción inicial del director fue la predecible. “Es una barbaridad”, dijo. Los colegas maestros de Gregorio se mostraron escépticos. “No pasarán el examen de AP”, dijo una maestra, molesta. “Gregorio les está dando falsas esperanzas a esos muchachos.”


“Falsas esperanzas”. Es una de esas frases que escucho con frecuencia, cuando de ampliar las oportunidades educativas de los estudiantes más pobres se trata. Cuando hablamos de más universidad para los pobres, por ejemplo, alguien sale siempre acusando a una de inculcar “falsas esperanzas” o de “no ser realista.” Parecería que en nuestro país, la educación de los pobres siempre se tiene que enmarcar en lo “vocacional”, o en lo “especial” para hacer sentido. Nunca en lo “avanzado” o en “la universidad”. Pero volvamos a Gregorio.


Para Gregorio, el camino estaba claro. “Tendré que repensar, rediseñar la clase”, me dijo. “Pero no me molesta hacerlo, de hecho es algo que hago todo el tiempo… Además, creo que muchos estudiantes son capaces de aprender este material.”

El director se resistió por una semana, pero finalmente autorizó los tres grupos de matemática avanzada, y cruzó los dedos.

No fue fácil, pero Gregorio no se rinde. Cuando notaba que sus estudiantes se rezagaban, les daba lecciones adicionales los sábados. Los veía y practicaba problemas con ellos en la mañana antes de la escuela, durante el almuerzo, y después de la escuela. Siempre estaba dispuesto a ir atrás y reforzar material de grados previos en clase: fracciones, por ejemplo. Exponentes. Álgebra básica. Pero al mismo tiempo comunicaba, consistentemente, expectativas académicas altas.

“En esa clase tenías definitivamente la sensación de que no era una clase que tú sencillamente tomas, o que sencillamente pasas…Ésta era una clase en donde tú aprendes”, me dijo un estudiante unos meses más tarde. “Se respiraba una expectativa de que trabajaras a cierto nivel.”

En lugar de falsas esperanzas, Gregorio le estaba dando a esos estudiantes unas destrezas matemáticas muy reales.

De hecho, casi todos ellos pasaron el examen de AP, algunos con notas muy altas.

Una sonrisa enorme iluminaba el rostro generalmente taciturno de Gregorio cuando me dio la noticia. Lo felicité, y enrojeció.

“Lo hicieron muy bien, los estudiantes” me contestó en voz baja, mirándose el zapato. Luego añadió, un poco más alto: “Yo sabía que ellos sí podían.”

Gracias, maestro.


Gobierno desahuciado

Por: Lissette Rolón Collazo

Dept.. de Humanidades y Centro Universitario de Acceso (CUA), UPRM

En los últimos tiempos, en Puerto Rico y en buena parte del globo, una se pregunta si las cosas se pueden poner peor y rápidamente se contesta, tristemente, sí, desde luego se pueden poner mucho peor. Entonces, recuerdo una máxima de mi hermana y de tantas mujeres sabias que prefieren anticiparse e imponerse a la desgracia antes que dejarse vencer. Para las personas que viven en residenciales públicos de Puerto Rico esa máxima suele ser el pan nuestro de cada día porque las cosas no mejoran pese a esfuerzos comprometidos y bien intencionados.

De ese nubarrón nos hemos inundado en las últimas semanas. Un reportaje en El Nuevo Día y sus secuelas ha levantado un avispero desenfocado. El aspirante a Director de la Junta de la AEE y el de la AAA amenazaron con cortarle los servicios a los residentes por su morosidad o incumplimiento de pago. Afortunadamente, este gobierno cuenta con un Secretario de la Vivienda con miras más amplias que las de sus colegas y de inmediato solicitó una reunión para establecer un plan . Menos mal que el Gobernador tuvo un instante de lucidez y advirtió que la medida de desalojar a los que no paguen puede causar una crisis social. Qué bueno que asomó la pesadilla aunque fuera por segundos.

El balance es que aquellxs que no nos habíamos enterado, aprendimos que la Ley 69 –Justicia Tarifaria de Utilidades para Residenciales Públicos– aprobada en noviembre de 2009 fue algo más que una medida politiquera. La misma perseguía atajar la morosidad y desarrollar estrategias para conseguir que los residentes cumplieran con un requisito federal de Vivienda Pública: pagar sus servicios de luz y agua. También nos enteramos que, pese a todo, en tres años los residentes deben 12.5 millones a la AAA y 29.9 a la AEE respectivamente. Ante tal iluminación, hubo muchxs que tomaron la piedra porque están cansadxs de ser lxs que pagan, porque cada vez están más estranguladxs por un gobierno incapaz y una crisis económica mundial. La soga, una vez más, partió por lo más débil y las personas que viven en caseríos se convirtieron en el chivo expiatorio de la frustración de otrxs.

Señoras y señores indignadxs con piedra en mano, esas comunidades no son el enemigo ni el problema de esas agencias y mucho menos la causa de esta crisis. Ellas constituyen, desde los avances del plan de desarrollo de Muñoz a mediados de siglo pasado, el área más fina de la soga. Ellas son la memoria de una pobreza que se arrinconó, se pintó y se resguardó en edificaciones de cemento. Ellas nos recuerdan que para que se diera la magia del desarrollismo hubo que fabricar un estado de bienestar social que, no obstante, estuvo quebrado desde sus orígenes. Ellas y lxs que importamos al Norte son el recuerdo de un país colonizado y pobre que aspiró a un pacto entre iguales y terminó siendo un segundón de tercera. Ellas son la memoria y el presente de una pobreza que Puerto Rico no puede mirar a los ojos sin sentir culpa y rubor precisamente porque imaginamos que dejamos de ser pobres hace décadas.

Algún listo podría decirme: ¡pues que se vayan a trabajar! Y yo le contestaría, muchxs lo hacen ya, pero lxs más desbordarían las oficinas de desempleo y dispararían las estadísticas más allá de lo razonable para cualquier agencia crediticia global. En otras palabras, sale más barato asistirlxs que tenerlxs como ciudadanxs activxs en el mercado laboral. Si no me lo creen, pregúntenle a la economista de su preferencia.

Las comunidades de los residenciales públicos son poblaciones complejas en las que hay gente que paga y gente que no, gente que trabaja y gente que no, gente que estudia y gente que no, gente que sueña y gente que hace (o no) muchas otras cosas. Como podría explicarlo cualquier sociólogo o planificador, esas comunidades no son el problema. Si quisiera, hasta el Gobernador podría explicarlo.

El problema está en muchos otros sitios, pero por esta vez quiero apuntar sólo a uno: el propio gobierno. Según el Informe Anual sobre el Estado de la Propiedad Eléctrica de la AEE (Informe número 38, junio de 2011), al final del año fiscal 2011 la AEE tenía sin cobrar $1,184.1 millones, de los cuales $ 409.1 son adeudados por el gobierno. A continuación algunos de los deudores principales:

Autoridad de los Puertos: $55.3 millones

AAA: $49.6 millones

Tren Urbano: $20.8 millones

Autoridad de Edificios Públicos: $18.6 millones

Administración de Servicios Médicos: $13.6 millones

Gobierno central y sus agencias: $54.2 millones

Invito a lxs ciudadanxs indignadxs con las personas de residenciales públicos que redirijan su rabia y justa frustración a las agencias mencionadas y al propio gobierno. Le pregunto a los directivos de la AEE y de la AAA, ¿por qué no desahucian al Gobierno de Puerto Rico? ¿Por qué no nos liberan de su nubarrón de fatalidad y desatino? Quizá nos alumbre una mejor primavera después del colapso.


our PAN

Usually I read and enjoy the Sunday column Mayra Montero. 's today, however, I worry . In it the author addresses the issue (rough and disturbing by others) of the angry reaction of many to the possibility of losing 25% of the allocation of PAN that can be used in cash, and invest (or spend, verbs and moralities drag verbs are always present in this discussion, do not forget) in diapers, lottery, toilet paper, cigarettes, petrol ...

It probably right, the author, when he suggests that it is more desirable to fully accept the food use of funds and increase the total program budget, which maintain 25% cash blessed by gas station owners who call and several drugstores and lose opportunity to participate in the program in the style of the 50 states of the union. Is also right, how sad, when reporting the political populism of the courtyard and the murky motivations of those who recognize the dubious "right to cash" poor Puerto Rican. Después de todo dice, de nuevo con razón, el programa fue diseñado para alimentos, no para otra cosa.

What worries me is I do not know what subtext in the chosen language in the indictment that led to the protest. "I will not get into speculation about what some spend on electronic lottery, cigarettes or alcohol." says Montero , but it came inevitably where we always end up coming when we speak of PAN and poverty in Puerto Rico. Y añade: “Lo grave aquí es la mentalidad de una buena parte de las 640,000 familias que reciben el PAN, y cuyos niños y jóvenes van creciendo en un mundo vegetativo, persuadidos de que esa tarjetita sirve para comprar comida, sí, pero también para que el padre o la madre los complazcan en algún capricho….Protesta todo el mundo, hasta el dueño de una gasolinera, porque se da por sentado que esa cuarta parte es para gasolina.”

I'll try to explain here, but I know I probably will raise welts that bugs me fall, some controls are displayed, and other tricks of the trade blogger. The mentality that complaint Montero (and many, many denounce every time we passed a farmhouse and bufamos "pa'lla look, all these antennas, all those cars") is often attributed to the country's poor , but rarely Once it is recognized that is not exclusive to the poor. Not even, frankly, is more frequent or harmful especially in the poor than the rich. [In fact, we would argue that the whim of the rich, or especially the mega-rich, is more harmful because it results in damage globally, but that's another story and another topic.] The "treat" the poor child who has grown thinking that "deserves" a cell or a box of gum is no different morally fad or middle child who has grown rich class thinking the same. La diferencia estriba en la capacidad adquisitiva de los padres, con lo que la acusación a los beneficiarios del PAN puede convertirse, en este discurso, en una acusación de “parejería”.

What's more, the self-deception that kid who thinks he deserves his toy is not unlike the deception of a poor country that thinks deserves a Nordstrom.

More worrying me is the apparent dichotomy necessary-unnecessary that often occurs when discussing food-no food in this context. Montero said that the paper towel is a luxury. Puede ser. Certainly a reusable wipe is better for your pocket and the environment. But what what about toilet paper? Do I think that's a luxury too? What about diapers? Let us go further: The cell was a treat when we had pay phones available on the street. Pero ¿cuándo fue la última vez que usted vio un teléfono público funcional en la calle? They are a relic, an antique.

Again, certainly the idea of ​​PAN are food, and that politicians need to face the island indignation of the people and do what they need to do. But ... but ... estudiémonos. Pensémonos. 're a country with a tremendous inequalities , a country where the message of the landscape is buy buy buy ten ten ten owns owns owns, where consumption is the most obvious way in which the worth and specific, legitimate routes have the money the required consumption are few, and not enough for everyone. Montero who is serious minded families PAN says, but I think the worst is that constitute us, from an early age, in subjects who are defined by what they consume and for a good part of the Puerto Ricans, the only routes to that maintain and consumption are the informal economy. And that mindset, let's face it, it is collective and we have to work collectively. No es algo que hay que “decirles” a los pobres (a quienes, dice Montero, “nadie les ha dicho” que el PAN es para comida) sino que tenemos que decirnos todos a todos, y pronto, porque se nos hunde el país, señores, se nos hunde, y no hay Nordstrom que nos salve.



Esta mañana, mientras tomaba mi café, miré el jardín, con la intención de regodearme un poco en la dicha cotidiana de su belleza pequeña, marrón tierra y hoja roja, pájaros y ardillas grises, verde que se acaba, menoscabado por un invierno incipiente pero igual, ya su manera, hermoso. El tren del pensamiento (que cosa, no es cierto? el cerebro humano, detenga el tren ese cualquier día, en cualquier momento, y siempre aparecen sorpresas, con un poco de suerte una las agarra y las escribe, o al menos las piensa en algún detalle, pero el tren y su maravilla siguen…) el tren del pensamiento, decía, fluye, se desboca y desemboca, en cuestión de micro segundos, en la imagen inquietante de los estudiantes en la Universidad de California, Davis, sentados, cabizbajos, valientes, rociados con gas pimienta por un guardia cuya caricatura infame le ha dado la vuelta al mundo.

Detuve el tren para examinar la conexión más de cerca. Es bastante clara, y de hecho creo que hasta la leí en alguna columna o comentario, cuando ocurrieron los eventos en Davis. El individuo que agrede a los estudiantes tiene el ademán de un jardinero que rocía malas yerbas en un jardín para proteger alguna otra cosa, que asume como mejor o más valiosa, de la amenaza que plantean la propagación y la raíz.

Estiro un poco la metáfora (ya en ese momento el tren quiere partir, a alguna otra parte, tal vez hacia un café, y hacia otro tema, pero no lo dejo, porque hay que ponerle un poco de orden y disciplina al cerebro) y se me ocurre la pregunta obvia. Si la juventud que protesta es la mala yerba, ¿cuál es la yerba buena, la que el gas pimienta pretende proteger? Un profesor de Davis escribió en el Huffington Post no hace mucho que esos chicos sentados representaban lo mejor de lo mejor, en términos de logro académico y creatividad.

En el espacio de una universidad, las malas yerbas son distintas, que no se eliminan con gas pimienta sino con trabajo arduo y del bueno, y todas ellas nacen de la pereza intelectual: Son cosas como el descuido, la chapucería, el plagio y la indiferencia que aquejan a muchos profesores, empleados y estudiantes.

La disidencia no es una mala yerba.

Or maybe you? My younger brother, who worked as a gardener and arborist while studying a BA, I had a private garden, a Puerto Rican mansion, where his instruction included a who quit, each time, a little puzzled: had to boot, one for one small yellow flowers defined as "bad", to let grow other flowers, too small and too yellow. The difference between clump and flower was defined not so much by the nature of one or the other as the aesthetic whim of the owner of the garden. The ideas of "beauty" and "goodness" in the botanical field are so tied to notions like "value" and "exclusivity" that govern the realm of consumption and allow you to be separated from the mega boutique shop, and the latter grocery store.

So returned to Puerto Rico mine in the Garden Route and flowers of our own and criollísimo one percent, the train of my thinking gives me another picture, so similar and yet so different from the potbellied guard sprayed students at Davis . It is the image of the muscular guard yells, and incidentally he spits, a frightened student. The emblem on his shirt mocks me with a "serve and protect".

That image, of course, is brought to her friends. The impact force pulling the soil to a student leader, or raising the baton to tame the protest of a young man lying on the ground, or having as many students from rolling down the steps of Capitol. It is a strike force with elaborate than facing an army and absurd musculature can not conceive of a force beyond the push and the poisoning Davis golpe.El guard sitting grumblers armor. The Puerto Ricans guards pushing them, hitting them. Not to mention the Chileans.

All of them (and they) gardeners besotted with orders to boot, at all costs, tiny and beautiful yellow flowers. Some will call them weeds. Others say 'students live.'


Education, inequality, and indifference

Michael, Julio, Sara and David have several things in common. Los cuatro nacieron y se criaron en residenciales públicos del área oeste. The four had excellent grades in middle school. The four illustrate the close relationship between education and social inequality in Puerto Rico.

Michael's story contains a loving grandmother, an absent mother, and several dead: Uncle, a headshot, aunt, AIDS. Michael described himself during those years as "a scoundrel but chamaquito good grades." Quit school to sell drugs because it took a long time and did not want to "hurt" those notes. Now, at thirty-something and after spending several years in juvenile correctional institutions, live in the residential, working as a barber in the informal economy, and fears for the future of their own children.

Supongo que podríamos decir que fue culpa de Michael, de su madre, o del narcotráfico. But think for a moment; here is also a great social and institutional indifference. Un nene de doce o trece años y buenas notas se nos va de la escuela, se mete en el punto, y no pasa nada. His departure is not perceived as a scandal, but as a natural thing.

That general resignation is reflected even in the way we collect (or rather do not collect) data relating to the problem. Dropout statistics are incomplete and confusing. Some estimate that over half of young people who starts school in Puerto Rico do not graduate. El Censo del 2010 indica que el 17% de la población entre los 18 y los 24 años no tiene diploma de escuela superior. Whereas many diplomas obtained through nontraditional mechanisms, desertion is with highest security.

Julio does not defected. Tras graduarse con honores de escuela intermedia, pasó a una superior vocacional porque ahí es donde siempre iban, y siempre van, los nenes de su escuela intermedia. What would not be a problem if our vocational curriculum have sufficient academic rigor as to not affect the chances of college boys. But most vocational programs in the country (not all) are academically lighter than the regular curriculum (which incidentally does not have, in many cases, the appropriate rigor.) So in July, despite being very good at mathematics, took only two years of math "light." He graduated with good average and worked in tuna Mayaguez. When they were closing, Julio lost his job. As of today, is unemployed and lives "I chiripeando" You win.

I asked Julio if he had ever considered college. No, he said, had not happened. “Nunca nadie me habló nada de eso.” Piénselo un momento: Un nene tiene buenas notas, es excelente en matemáticas, pero no se le prepara, ni se le habla de la universidad. And that neglect is not perceived as a scandal, but as a natural thing.

Upon entering high school, Sara was also located in a vocational curriculum. But she did request to college, and was admitted. He came to a campus of the University of Puerto Rico eager but little preparation. Se colgó en matemáticas y en química en su primer año. Fueron las primeras F's de su vida, y lloró mucho. Yo no soy así, yo soy de buena nota , me explicó.

What happened then? Spent in college we will descorazonarla, deflate the desire I had to be educated. Por sus malas notas, le tocó uno de los últimos turnos de matrícula y no quedaban cursos; twelve to complete minimum credits and not lose his scholarship took courses in concentration was not ready to take; is hung again; la suspendieron; we lost.

Sara's story illustrates the failure of their schools, where he got good grades but not prepared. It also illustrates the complicity of the university. Es fácil echarle la culpa al “interés” oa la preparación académica de la muchacha o de su familia. Pero las escuelas que no la prepararon, y la universidad que no la pudo retener y cultivar, son todas cómplices. Accomplices to reproduce the conditions that make it likely failure, and accomplices to receive the same not a scandal, but as a natural thing.

The young are born in poverty receive a package of very meager opportunities, at all levels. Lo dicen las historias, lo dicen los números. In my compound, for example, the overall rate is 56% graduation. The graduation rate of students in residential is, in contrast, only 36% [1] .

A veces logran, de algún modo, hacerlo todo bien. David, for example, came to college. Logró conseguir el apoyo académico necesario para bregar con sus clases. Obtuvo dos empleos a tiempo parcial para mantenerse a sí mismo ya su pequeña familia. He managed to do all that, and doing well in one of the toughest venues in the UPR system.

But we lost. When enrollment rose with the new quota, David requested an extension. Not the granted, so he could not pay, and lost credits that had managed to register. When assembled the tuition money to enroll late, there were no classes, and could not get enough credits to retain their scholarship.

I do not know how many students like David we've lost. I know we're not counting, that we are not raising their game as a problem, we are not making a special effort to retain them, and that his absence should be a scandal, but treat it as a natural thing.

The four stories summarized above tell us something about the state of the country and its problems. Pero también nos recuerdan que la pasividad de las instituciones educativas reproduce esos problemas. Tenemos mucho que hacer, en las escuelas y universidades puertorriqueñas: Recolectar más y mejores datos; inyectarle un mayor rigor al trabajo escolar; fortalecer apoyos y servicios universitarios.

Especially urgently recognize the show as a collective indifference toward academic fate of the disadvantaged populations. See your destiny is ours, and it is not inevitable or natural.


For more information on education and inequality in Puerto Rico, can lower Workbooks the University Center for Access : 1) Geography and Inequality ; 2) Social Class and Educational Achievement ; 3) Student Persistence and 4) College Access and Urban Poverty .

[1] Y esa es una de las tasas más altas, si no la más, de Puerto Rico. Among the UPR campuses, there are rates as low as 20%. Among private universities, about 11% and 12%. Click here to see graduation rates thousands of institutions in the island and in the United States.


triste, y leyendo

Un hombre decapitado por sus vecinos adolescentes, una mujer ejecutada, unos atletas asesinados, fuerzas policiacas corruptas y desmoralizadas, niños que se le pierden al departamento de la familia para reaparecer en puntos de droga, niños asesinados por sus padres, mujeres asesinadas por sus parejas…Leer las noticias se me hace cada vez más difícil. Los números no han sido, hasta donde sé, analizados formalmente y comparados (con mínima sofisticación) con estadísticas anteriores de crímenes violentos. Pero se sabe, o más bien se nota, o mejor aún, se siente, que van en aumento. Que el magma de putrefacción moral, emocional, afectiva, intelectual, se desborda en lava implacable. Que todas y todos sentimos el calor.

Tengo un libro en mi mesa de noche, aún sin terminar de leer, pero quiero compartirlo con ustedes. Se llama The Spirit Level , y examina las consecuencias de la desigualdad. Los autores, epidemiólogos de profesión, comparan la evidencia estadística en 25 países industrializados y 50 estados norteamericanos, y demuestran, creo que contundentemente, que una amplia gama de males sociales aumenta proporcionalmente con el aumento relativo en la desigualdad . Cada capítulo examina uno. Por ejemplo: A mayor distancia entre los que tienen más y los que tienen menos, mayores los indicadores de enfermedad mental (incluyendo adicción a drogas), menor la expectativa de vida (para toda la población, no solamente los más pobres), peores los indicadores educativos, más los homicidios, más los presos y más las madres adolescentes.

Lo interesante no es tanto lo obvio: que la desigualdad económica afecta a los más pobres. Eso es triste, pero ya se sabe. La contribución particular de este libro, me parece, estriba en que en las sociedades más desiguales, los males sociales ennumerados arriba aumentan…para todo el mundo. Como un “contaminante que se riega” escriben los autores, “la desigualdad tiene efectos directos e indirectos en toda la sociedad.” La teoría que el libro parece sugerir es una que encadena el contraste socioeconómico con valores como la dicotomía dominancia/subordinación, el énfasis en el interés propio, y la distancia y desconfianza entre distintos grupos sociales.

Aunque la cosa es social, está mediada inevitablemente, en ese esquema, por eventos que se dan en los cuerpos individuales. La desigualdad, discuten los autores, tiene efectos sobre la salud hormonal y cardiovascular de los individuos, así como en su desarrollo neural. Ese planteamiento también ha sido articulado, en términos parecidos, por gente como el economista Paul Krugman , que resume los hallazgos médicos en esta columna, y el antropólogo Daniel Lende , que atiende el asunto en su blog sobre neuroantropología.

Oh well. El libro no está libre de críticas, y ya ha sido clasificado por algunos como de “extrema izquierda” ( whatever that means ) y denunciado como una teoría fatula para adelantar una “agenda” de gobierno grande. Pero francamente los autores de The Spirit Level me parecen más convincentes y creíbles que sus críticos. Así que me voy a leer. Ya sé que leer no va a salvar al mundo, ni a resolver la situación. Pero es lo que voy a hacer. E intuyo que en este tipo de planteamiento, uno que vincule la desigualdad económica con sus correlatos políticos, sociales, biológicos y mentales, se encuentra alguna parte de la explicación de esa cosa horrenda que parece estar consumiendo, hoy, a mi país.


la tragedia del olvido

Hace algunos meses, una noticia trágica apareció en nuestros medios: Una mujer olvidó a su hijito dentro de un automóvil, y el niño murió.

Múltiples voces se alzaron entonces, y se alzan todavía, en contra de la madre. Presa o muerta, la quieren.

Y es que resulta fácil, incluso reconfortante, pensar que nunca, jamás, le podría pasar algo como eso a uno oa una. Es doloroso imaginar la posibilidad, por remota que sea, y para alejarla de nosotros, del ámbito de lo factible, nuestra tendencia suele ser la demonización instántanea de la persona (madre o padre) a quien le ocurre. A tratarlo como un criminal de la peor calaña posible: un infanticida.

Pero contrario a otras tragedias que matan niños y niñas alrededor del mundo, a cosas como el abuso físico, emocional, sexual, a cosas como la negligencia cotidiana que nace del desamor, a cosas como la explotación del vástago propio en pos de algún bien material, contrario a todo eso, el acto de olvidar a un infante en un auto resulta ser algo que sí le puede pasar a cualquiera. A una persona buena, moral, recta, a un padre o madre amantísimo, incluso.

En esta lectura (le advierto que no se trata de una lectura fácil de terminar, al menos no sin esmelenarse, especialmente si uno tiene hijos) del Washington Post se describen con precisión y-porqué no- con la compasión que a veces nace de la narración precisa las historias y perfiles de varias familias que pasaron por esta tragedia. ¿Cómo son? Pues podrían ser…cualquiera. No había un patrón de abuso, de hecho no lo hay en el perfil de casos como estos. No hay un patrón de negligencia. Son padres y madres que aman a sus hijos, personas que probablemente pensaban que a ellos no les podía pasar una cosa como esa.

Lo único que parecen tener en común esos casos es una alteración en la rutina mañanera, acompañada de distracciones en la forma de diligencias, llamadas, o eventos inusuales. En casi todos los casos, el padre que inadvertidamente abandona a su bebé había tenido un cambio en la rutina del día, o no era el que usualmente llevaba al niño, o se detuvo a hacer otra cosa…y es ese acto el que parece interrumpir el proceso mental que nos permite cumplir con nuestras obligaciones cotidianas sin pensarlas mucho.



El día de la madre, le dicen. Su origen es incierto-hay quien dice que, al menos en su significado contemporáneo y occidental, fue un invento de Hallmark, y francamente es muy posible. De hecho es hoy día una industria billonaria . Pero supongo que cualquier día es bueno para pensar en la maternidad.

Escribí la palabra “maternidad”, y vinieron de inmediato a mi mente, no mis cinco hijos (dos paridos, tres afiliados) sino el cuadro en “El Túnel” de Sábato. 'Maternidad', se llamaba el cuadro, y si recuerdo bien, en su primer plano tenía la escena de una madre y su infante, y al fondo, en la ventana, una mujer. Por alguna razón, ese primer plano se me antoja como un cuadro de la época azul de Picasso, así:

Y la ventanita, esa mujer al fondo, podría ser algo como lo que apareció en la portada de una de las muchas ediciones de El Túnel:

La escena en su totalidad puede por supuesto generar múltiples interpretaciones, como todo texto, y algunas de ellas son muy macabras. Pero la que me viene al caso (esa frase, “viene al caso”, tal vez siempre debería estar precedida por un “me”) es la idea de que la maternidad, ese estado o forma de estar que necesariamente se impone, y pasa al primer plano de la vida de una, sirve para atisbar la totalidad del ser, incluso de aquellas instancias que paracerían tener poco, o nada, que ver con tener prole.

Hay tela para cortar, en esa idea, y poco tiempo para cortarla, porque mientras escribo arrimada al counter de la cocina, algunos miembros de mi maravillosa familia me agasajan, se aprestan para hacer cosas chulas como cocinar para la glotona Mima. Es decir yo. Pero esa misma es la cosa. Escribir es inseparable de mi maternidad. No digo que la maternidad es una condición necesaria para la escritura. Lo que alego es que se trata de una cosa tan trágicamente, maravillosamente, arrolladora, que una vez se experimenta está de algún modo presente en todo lo que hacemos.

Y viceversa. Todo lo que hacemos está presente en la maternidad. A ella traemos nuestros talentos y nuestras carencias, nuestros éxitos y nuestros fracasos, nuestro acervo y los de la especie y la cultura. Y desde ella vemos, en la ventanita, todo lo demás que nos compone.

Ello es así desde la práctica cotidiana, que me ubica hoy y ahora frente a la pareja encantadora y tierna que hacen mi esposo y nuestro hijo de cinco años, cocineros ambos de repente. Es así también en la estética peculiar de la memoria, que me presenta, implacable, los cabellos negros y lacios de mi madre, su falda larga de hippie , sus sandalias de cuero, sus uñas y rostro sin pintar, y mi orgullosa e infantil certeza de andar, afortunada, de la mano de la mujer más hermosa del mundo, de estar frente a la belleza misma.

Frente a la madre. No en balde algunos, tantas y tantos, viven fascinados por La Virgen. No es por su virginidad, sino porque encarna esa cosa inmemorial, arquetipal, liberadora y opresiva que es la sensación de haber sido, inevitablemente, gestado.

Así que le doy bypass a Hallmark, y opto por celebrar. Porque celebrar el día es celebrar que somos, todos, gestadas y gestados por unos seres que alguna vez, al menos, fueron (ojo, “fueron”, no “nos parecieron”) los más hermosos del mundo. Y porque las hijas, los hijos, los gestados, al final del día nos gestan, nos permiten nacer o más bien, renacernos, y nos regalan una nueva hermosura.



Some time ago, Fortuño referred to the protests at the University of Puerto Rico com or "worthy of a banana republic." And now his running mate indicates that he "does not represent Macondo "and therefore not be given to "Entertainment" in the House of Representatives of the United States, where Rep. Gutierrez has been denouncing Pierluisi some things that, in the interests of good taste and delicacy that the office of Congressman apparently requires you prefer not to mention.

We misbehave, and "Macondo" say quickie.

This despite the fact that in (and as Creole!) Creole version of the camera in question have individuals who claim to possess "powers" as they had the old gypsy Melquiades and Ursula, the soul of the book and of the house ; superintendents of police have with the blessing of their superiors treat citizens protesting as ... well, as citizens protesting in a banana republic, archetype not so much the fruit of production and labor repression.

Despite also that the desolation of Macondo and the Buendia White House, is now a desolation as, oh, so familiar, so flavored unemployment and hopelessness, so like the desolation of our many peoples today, now, while Pierluisi enchisma with Gutierrez and reminds us that no protest is worth, that the objection is noise and nothing else, so "no democracy works" and that the tube that sucks, gansoducto, vá because yes , above of citizens and within the earth trembling (with fear? anger?) complaining.

Will this duo to please, to NOT be like Macondo, to NOT be a banana republic, the ladies have to celebrate the little kid ourselves that we will save money with the greenway and give up painting murals in San Juan, the students would have to accept without question the fee if they can not study and go to work with Chiky Starr, and Gutierrez should behave like Chuchin, and go on tour to tell the press that " shaves completito " ?

If that is civilization ....

One wonders if these people have read the book to refer both insist. I mean, for me at least tell me the country Macondo do not insult me. Every time you bring us so hairs a little town in question, to hint to know what, it would have to give the hint, in any case, those who trample civil and environmental rights, to take advantage of the chaos and misery .


imagen y sonido

foto:r.alcaraz, diálogo digital

I'm away. I look through the lens of the media (and Facebook, which has become a very useful tool for quick news, thanks to friends who generously share the news tool) what happens in college.

It's like a dream. One of the bad, of course.

Police concentrated on the premises of the Yuppie. And not just the police well, period. También, tal vez especialmente, la policía a caballo, la policía de negro, y la policía rodeada de escudos gigantes, como soldados romanos, escudos para protegerse de…¿qué?

Because of that fearsome army of students sitting on the floor practicing after training and publicly announce civil disobedience. The police are coming, so that sitting can feel the breath of the horses hooves nervousness. Los pellizcan con tecnología y técnicas que a saber desde cuando querían usar y para las cuales no encontraban el cuándo, o el quién. Los empujan con escudos, se los llevan cargados, los arrestan. Los persiguen por las calles de la capital. Les compartamentalizan la protesta (con carteles designando zonas específicas para ello), y luego les cambian las coordenadas en pleno asunto. Literalmente, he visto como mueven el cartel de lugar.

[The place where I work, they have put the sign away, far away from any university building. Para que los protestones protesten al son de los coquíes y de los grillos. Pero eso es otra historia.]

Al mirar la escena de lejos, se me ocurre que si yo fuera un alienígena, o al menos un extranjero bastante despistado, de momento me parecería que en la universidad hay un enemigo terrible. La impresión, la imagen, estaría basada en la cantidad y variedad de policías.

Luego está el sonido. Police leaders who assure me that there are no "points" to break up, and you need to protect students who do want to take classes; Administradores universitarios que justifican la locura de la intervención militarona apelando a las acciones violentas de unos misteriosos encapuchados, acciones que al parecer, todo el mundo desaprueba.

Pero el caso es que a la hora de arrestar, no hay encapuchados , casi nunca arrestan a los encapuchados, a menos que sean Tito Kayak , porque a ese siempre lo quieren arrestar, sino que parecen preferir, en eso de los arrestos, a muchachos y muchachas comunes y corrientes, desarmados, capturados mientras hacen cosas tan inofensivas como hablar por megáfonos o repartir papelitos. O sentarse en el suelo.

Entonces, piensa el extranjero o el alienígena, o la bloguera, entonces se trata de otra cosa. Se trata de enviar muchos policías para crear la impresión de que allí, en la Universidad, hay un terrible enemigo del pueblo (porque ¿para eso es la policía, cierto? para proteger al pueblo?), y se hace mucho ruido, se habla en los medios de la gran amenaza que son los estudiantes, para hacer la imagen más creíble…Como en las películas baratas, donde de repente se oscurece la escena, para entrarnos el susto por los ojos, y simultáneamente suena la música siniestra, para entrarlo por los oídos…

Sound and Vision, for the benefit of ordinary people with an interest in making democracy beyond the occasional vote and is running rough esgalillao and trying to react to karst, the pipeline corridor, college, law school, the supreme court ...

Meanwhile, in the curious contraction of space that the internet and postmodernism allow, I have the New York open on another screen Times and I seek to understand what is happening across the world, in Egypt, where intense protest s have been a reaction deaf and repression by the state. And, perhaps because they are the two screens open at once, Egypt feels suddenly very close, and sounds awfully familiar. Un miembro del partido oficialista egipcio confía en que el cansancio les dará la victoria. Otro habla de “ley y orden” para justificar sus acciones. Others accuse the grumblers to be few, or a sector with particular ideological interests. Threatened with arrests. Meanwhile, democratic freedoms are eroded in the name of order and bring the troops repression clutter the street.

Los periodistas que escriben el artículo recuerdan la pelea en los setenta de M. Ali contra George Foreman, en donde Foreman daba golpes, golpes, golpes, peleaba solo, y Ali esperaba…hasta que Foreman estaba débil, exhausto. And then Ali knocked him out.

To all this, the president of the UPR announces, happy proud that "94%" of the student is enrolled. 51,000 students. Claro que eso no es el 94% de los estudiantes que estaban matriculados el año pasado, no: es el 94% de los pre-matriculados. De modo que la alegría del presidente me resulta bastante insólita (sí, mi capacidad para sorprenderme todavía, a estas alturas, le puede estar resultando insólita al lector.) Pero es que 51,000 estudiantes es 14,000 estudiantes menos que los que había. La UPR ha perdido aparentemente 14,000 estudiantes. Casi llegan a los 50,000 que la Junta de Síndicos calculaba y quería, no hace mucho . Not that the break-van and is being broken. The UPR, according to these numbers, has lost over 20% of their students. That is good news for whom? Not to me. Not for the country.

It's like a dream. One of the bad, of course.


the habit of mary

I know a boy of thirteen I could, I'm sure, be a scientist, or engineer, or philosopher. And that would be. For this you need to go to college, of course. The best. But do not do well in their classes, not doing well in class, when it occurs too often, has a cumulative effect that most often leads to an unhappy ending.

Lied above when I said I knew one. Actually I know many and many like him. De ojos y mentes brillantes, pero experimentan dificultad para hacer el trabajo de álgebra, o para leer el libro. Se frustran por ello.

Some leave school. They tend to be poor. Why? I'm not sure. But I think for the middle and upper classes there are more social protection mechanisms. That when the son of the doctor, or lawyer, or college professor, having trouble reading in second grade, something is done, and done soon, and if it fails, nothing is.

[At this point, the reader might say, offended, that learning difficulties and dropout happen to anyone, regardless of their social class. And I will answer is absolutely right, but it is more likely to occur to him born in socio-economic disadvantage. A medida que uno asciende en los indicadores de clase, más raro ("raro" de "improbable", no "raro" de "weird") se torna el problema de aprendizaje que desemboque en fracaso escolar.]

I've been working with a project that is dedicated to understanding and addressing educational inequality several years. A través del tiempo, muchos me han dicho, a modo de consejo y con mucha razón, que parte del problema educativo estriba en que el aprendizaje escolar necesita hacerse mas atractivo, más divertido, y es cierto. We have therefore incorporated tours, games, and more.

But today I think there's something more. Something more simple, and oldest, and most importantly, and less fashionable, and more difficult to implement. The habit of Mary. Quiero intentar articularlo aquí, con ustedes, en el blog.

Tharp, dancer, choreographer and author of a book called The Creative Habit , reminds us that to compose great pieces, the great Mozart had first to practice their scales, and usually had to. What do you mean by that? It means that talent, even the great talent it needs the Destrez to to manifest. Para convertirse en virtuosismo.

We are born with talent, but not skill. The skill must be practiced usually much, until it becomes part of us and enables us to then use the talent to build, to create, the thing is: the new recipe, the bridge, the chemical formula, the legal argument, business strategy, the novel, the family plan, or country.

The importance of the practice is universal, but it is perhaps most visible in the famous, or extreme cases, as well described Gladwell in Outliers , when we realized the ten thousand hours, approximately, which became famous talents such as Bill Gates and members Beatles farming, in relative anonymity, their skills.

But back to the Puerto Rican babies: How can pretend that the boy read and enjoy a novel, if not as a child dexterity practiced everyday sounding syllables, then words, then sentences until you prove you dream them so natural, so automatic, that his mind understand the language directly, your brain will tuck a bypass to the mechanics of reading and was straight to meaning? ¿Cómo lograr que la muchachita domine el álgebra, o la geometría, si tiene que realizar las operaciones aritméticas más bobas con los deditos, contando para sumar, sumando para multiplicar, porque no se aprendió las tablas? Hay unas cosas que hay que practicar, unas destrezas básicas que son lo que son las escalas para los músicos: Hay que dominarlas, al derecho y al revés, sin pensar, temprano en el juego.

[Se ha indignado de nuevo mi lector. No me diga que si el muchacho no lo aprendió en elemental no lo aprenderá nunca , me regaña. And I smile again and say that you are absolutely right, and of course these things can and should be remedied to the extent they are discovered, even if it means practicing reading in seventh grade or obsessively repeat the rules for handling fractions in college. Hay que hacer lo que hay que hacer. This is a bit like quitting smoking to prevent cancer, although one take decades smoking. It is always best not to smoke than smoking. But it is better never to start. And in education, the most effective is to practice "scales" basic reading, multiplication tables, when they are still children and not fall in love with other students, do not think of cutting classes, want to please one, have much time, and (d) look at the world and teacher with big wondering eyes ...]

Para poder optimizar su talento, para crear un mejor país, nuestros niños tienen que 'practicar sus escalas'. Cosas como lectura, aritmética, puntualidad, esfuerzo. A lot of. Usually. And when I think about it, I remember Mary.

En nuestro trabajo con jovencitos de escuelas mayaguezanas, los tutores se sorprenden cada semestre, al ver mentes alertas, equipadas, buenas, talentosas, teniendo, consistentemente, los mismos problemas: En clases donde se trataba álgebra o geometría, las dificultades tenían raíces aritméticas, como multiplicar, o manejar fracciones. In classes (all!) Dependent on language, it was a reading comprehension problem, knowing sound prayer but not process it, understand it, because to understand reading as sound has to be automatic.

Mary is a teacher, now withdrawn, famous in his village because he did not miss one: He taught toditas toditos and reading. Era maestra de primer grado, y esa meta de que todos leyeran era su desafío personal, todos los años. Every child, every year. Today his daughter Olga emulates this exercise in your own classroom, in another matter, in another town. And I think also the granddaughter goes around ...

María no se leyó a Tharp, pero me consta que conocía muy bien la importancia delhábito, porque se la aplicaba a sí misma. He got up every day at the same time, going to work (almost never missed), and we got consistency, talent, skill, desire.

Por las noches, en su casa, hacía planes.

His plans changed, over time, because Mary, recognizing his work as a creative profession and daily exercise as an art, regularly attending continuing education workshops. Basically, I do not think these workshops were needed, strictly in terms of content; but she pulled out the juice and apply what they learned in their plans.

Esa actividad cotidiana de los planes me dice mucho de su disciplina, de su humildad y de su optimismo. Porque cuando usted cree que se las sabe todas, usted no hace planes. When you think you can not, by their actions, and that transform students reach their living primarily forged class, intended for anything, you do not make plans. If there is no hope, no

[My imaginary reader becomes indignant. And it knows what he murmurs.]

Not much, I answer. Pero soy maestra. In my case is perhaps the easiest thing, because my students are usually adults or be out there, on the eve of being. Pero conozco muy de cerca la tentación de la arrogancia o la desesperanza, de enseñar en la modalidad de “salir del paso”, de no hacer el esfuerzo máximo para transformar mentes y vidas porque asumimos que los estudiantes llegan hechos, forjados, destinados, que el que va a aprender aprende y que el que no, pues no, independientemente de lo que hagamos. And I succumbed to these temptations of thought and feeling more than once.

Y resulta que el país esta en crisis, “crisis” en plural, y que una de las crisis principales es la educativa. The areas of action to address the crisis are, of course, many, and all educational levels. But a humble space, just mentioned, has to be the usual and enhanced basic skills such as reading and arithmetic in elementary school practice. Because without these two forms of habit learning and subsequent creation professionals, citizens, are virtually impossible.

[At this point re-offend my reader and tells me, very indignant that his grandfather is illiterate and yet is an excellent, intelligent and active citizens. Well, I congratulate her grandfather on my part, I say. Returning to the metaphor of cigarette: I know a grandfather who smoked for eight decades and I got cancer and lived to be a hundred. But speaking of her grandfather, and is an active and intelligent citizen, go and read him what I just wrote: I bet your grandpa will agree with me, because this extraordinary grandfather knows he is not able to read but nevertheless. Perhaps, with access to a quality education, her grandfather could be a thousand things today, including our governor. And maybe, with his grandpa at the head, the country would be better than now. But I digress. Mis cariños y respetos a su abuelito.]

And my compliments and congratulations to all and all teachers and teachers like Mary. Ojalá se reestructure el sistema de modo que la labor de los maestros sea recompensada con mejores salarios y mayor reconocimiento y oportunidades de desarrollo personal y profesional.

We have to be more like Mary. La crisis educativa no es necesariamente culpa nuestra, lo sé. And do not try to blame teachers-there are many, many problems in the country that make learning difficult, and teaching! But touched us, touched us assist you with rage, with rage, with intensity, with love. Todos los días, cultivando el hábito, la destreza, de la inocencia. Innocence I said yes, because many innocent optimism (which eye is not the same as optimism bobo) to believe that we can transform the life of the baby that comes from impaired community, or living in the broken home with adults and inevitably requires broken, and to think we can transform with the times tables and reading daily ....

Pero hay que hacerlo, porque es nuestra mejor esperanza y la mejor oportunidad para que ese nene pueda imaginar, articular, construir un mundo distinto. Y porque a veces, hasta funciona. Tenemos que hacerlo con consistencia y celo. Crear y cultivar el hábito y la rutina de practicar destrezas para el pensar, con el hábito y con la rutina propios del enseñar con ahínco y con cuidado.

With Mary's habit. We will in this homeland.


y aquí, en la oscuridad, un avestruz.

No me gusta la palabra “oscurantismo”. De hecho la oscuridad me evoca todo tipo de adjetivos positivos: Apacible, tranquila, misteriosa.

Pero en estos días, y tal vez por aquello de que nos enseñaron a asociar la oscuridad con el medioevo, es imposible no hablar de oscurantismo.

Los signos están en todas partes: Nuestros líderes políticos cazan gárgolas, por ejemplo. GARGOLAS, esas criaturas más o menos demoníacas que servían como desagües y guardianes de los techos medievales. No pueden cazar chupacabras, o alienígenas, o perseguir al comepantis de Gurabo, como antaño, no. Cazan gárgolas. Y estudiantes universitarios.

También prohíben libros. No los queman públicamente, es cierto, pero los prohíben. Y no me sorprendería que los quemasen también, francamente. Los prohibimos por “obscenos”, porque hablan de sexo. Lenguaje y acción, por cierto, que también le imputan a los estudiantes universitarios.

Exhiben, además, una sospechosa fijación con los colores, las oraciones, y los galeones perdidos bajo el mar . Legislan para ponerle fecha al saludo ya la sonrisa. Y para castigar estudiantes universitarios.

Hablan de desarticular puntos y de castigar al criminal, y mientras tanto mueren más mujeres que nunca a manos de sus parejas reales o wanabí. En un año de asesinatos récord, han decidido meter a la policía a la universidad.

What? A saber. Hablan de proteger vida y propiedad. Pero toda la violencia reciente de la U parece ocurrir depués, y no antes, de la llegada de la policía pública o privada. Estudiantes perpetrando actos tan criminales…estar en el lugar incorrecto y aferrarse a él, han recibido patadas en los genitales y macanazos en las barrigas. Padres que cometen la barbarie…llevar almuerzo, regresan con la cara rota. Rectores que deberían liderar el intelecto lideran en su lugar el ejercicio del anacronismo insulso, cuando justifican la presencia de la policía en un campus particularmente pacífico con la excusa de que allí “gente de izquierda”, como si la izquierda no fuese la mitad oeste del espectro político, sino una patología criminal particularmente peligrosa.

Aquí lo verdaderamente peligroso es el ensayo del despliegue de fuerza bruta contra la disidencia intelectual. Nos espera otro tanto cuando les recordemos que no estamos del todo de acuerdo con la idea de un gasoducto, o cuando sugiramos que el corredor ecológico necesita sus cuerdas de regreso, por aquello de que nos gusta el verde, y respirar…Y a existe una ley infame, que apodan ley “Tito Kayak” , diseñada para que protestar en una construcción sea un delito grave. Se aprobó, por cierto, a gritos y sin contar. Muy apropiado, muy metafórico, eso de esquivar la aritmética de contar votos para favorecer la percepción subjetiva del volumen y premiar no al que pensó en mayor detalle sino al que chilló más duro.

Los avestruces de carne y hueso no entierran sus cabezas en la arena. Eso es un mito, una metáfora. Pero si un alcalde puede buscar gárgolas y alienígenas sin perder su prefijo de Honorable, entonces yo puedo usar la metáfora del avestruz sin perder el caché, y así lo haré. Todos los días, algún avestruz celebra, inocentemente, la presencia de la policía en la Universidad, por aquello de la ley y el orden, o acusa a los estudiantes de “empezar”, o habla de “dos bandos”, como si se tratase en efecto de dos ejércitos. Y luego entierra la cabeza en la arena del oscurantismo. Le pedimos, por favor, que la saque, mire, y piense. En ello nos va el país.


peligrosa educación


No sé si pueda decir que es lo peor que ha pasado (¡después de todo, ha pasado tanto y tan rápido!) pero sí que tiene que estar entre lo peor de esta crisis: Figueroa Sancha anuncia en foros diversos su intención de abrir un cuartel en la UPRRP, y su deseo de que se haga lo mismo en cada recinto.

Why? Porque, nos dice, hay que “desarticular puntos de droga”.

Parecería que la policía no tiene nada que hacer. Que no hay crimen en el país.


Fó, dice la presidenta de la Junta Reglamentadora de Comunicaciones, Sandra Torres, refiriéndose a la última canción de Calle 13. Dice que no le gusta, porque es “completamente obscena y lasciva”.

Y recordé que hace unos días, en mi clase de introducción a la antropología cultural, hablaba con mis estudiantes de la importancia de no temerle a las palabras por lo feas, sino en todo caso, por sus significados y sus usos históricos.

Por supuesto que al leer la noticia de que cita a la asqueada señora, no me quedó mas remedio que escuchar, inmediatamente, la canción en su totalidad (convenientemente, endi incluye un enlace en la noticia.) Digo, por aquello de que es “ completamente obscena y lasciva”, me dio curiosidad ver como ese encantador, talentoso, malhablao rimero del país nuestro encadenaba cientos de malas palabras unas con otras. He escuchado muchas canciones suyas, y todas ellas, por más “sucio” que fuera su lenguaje, contenían una que otra palabra bastante normalita. Así que pensé, se botó el Residente. Now yes. Se le fue la mano.

Escucho. Espero las palabras obscenas. Escucho algunas que podrían ofender a la Sra.Torres. Me imagino que frente al desafío de la portavoz de la censura, la mitad del país ha hecho lo mismo, y la canción retumba en miles de hogares, en todos ellos sonando, las palabras terribles, “alcalde”, “país”, “pensar”…


Bueno, tal vez es que son las frases, las obscenas: Cosas como “mis letras groseras son más educadas que tu silencio”,”dejar de hablar no combina con gente violenta”, “abuso, por parte del estado”, “conformarse y dejar de existir es como ver a alguien ahogarse y dejarlo morir.”


Ooooooh. :)

Hay una estrofa donde ofrece rehabilitar, en Cuba, a un alcalde tecato indeterminado. ¿Será alguna de esas? '¿Tecato?' ¿'Cuba', tal vez?

Pero, ¿quién le dijo tecato primero a quién?

También dice huevos. Y jodido. Pero no creo que sean esas.

Tal vez son todas. El ejercicio mismo de encadenar palabras, groseras o no, para expresar una cosa distinta a la cosa simplona que prefieren los que hoy mandan. Los que presiden sobre este obsceno, obscenísimo orden (porque la obscenidad, con frecuencia, poco tiene que ver con el líbido o con la grosería del reguetón) decía que los que mandan lo hacen sobre un obsceno ritual de destrucción del pensar, del intelecto, del pensar y el intelecto concebidos como propiedad de los pueblos y no de los bolsillos…Que esos que presiden la destrucción del pensar, dicen esos, esos tipos y tipas de los que Serrat decía que “entre ellos y yo hay algo personal”, que pensar sólo sirve si es propiedad privada o estrategia de mercadeo, ellos, dicen que la lucidez es mala, que es grosera, y que es lasciva….Y por eso no les gusta la canción de Calle 13. Por lúcida. Prefieren cosas como “vota o quédate callao”, o mejor aún, “sencillamente quédate callao.”

Aquí los dejo con el rimero lúcido, grosero, encantador.

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la universidad, enmarcada


libros del diablo



®The Far Side

Estaba yo en plena domesticidad sabatina, cuando sonó el timbre. Como mi puerta no tiene una de esas pequeñas claraboyas que permiten ver la imagen, un tanto deformada por el cristal, de la potencial visita, me asomé por la ventana. The street was full of them, and were unmistakable because they walked in pairs, loaded with small black bags, and protected from the sun by large umbrellas. Eran ellos. Los testigos. De dos en dos, de puerta en puerta. My dog ​​barked, with a bark that the stranger who does not know that, decoded, means "sóbame tummy now, please," I may sound fierce. For a moment I thought, but without much conviction, that maybe I would scare the dog.

Los sabatinos Testigos de Jehová son parte del paisaje de la urbanización boricua. Tireless, true, consistent, arrive in their cars are parked, grab Bibles and parasols and walking from house to house carrying the word. Desde que recuerdo, he visto gente evitando esas visitas. Las estrategias son muchas. One of my grandmothers, for example, looked out the window, scowling, muttering "here they come, here they come ...", and unopened (and sometimes almost without waiting for the bell) roared, with a curious mixture of anger and satisfaction, "we are Catholics". If witnesses insisted shouted even louder, "we are not interested". Another grandmother was quite the opposite: I prepared grapefruit juice, sat in the balcony, and as they swayed glasses, umbrellas and Bibles, the grandmother took the baton of preaching and kidnapped them talking conversion attempt Wonderland Catholicism .

No sé cuál de las dos abuelas era más temible. Con la segunda, especialmente, solían quedarse un poco desconcertados. But they always returned. Incansables, consistentes, ciertos. Thin leaflets left behind, full of tips for good living, and evaluated in terms, very well written. Oraciones completas, citas bien puestas, mejores que muchos de los productos académicos y cuasi-académicos que me ha tocado leer. Y sobre todo escribir. De hecho el Atalaya es una de las revistas más leídas , si no la más, y pasa por un riguroso proceso de edición.

El barrio donde viví mientras estudiaba en la Universidad también estaba en el radar de los testigos. And my neighbors also had their students strategies. Uno de ellos, un futuro químico, aseguraba que había logrado espantarlos saliendo al balcón vestido sólo con una toalla y afirmando que era budista. Nunca intenté ese método, y tampoco supe nunca si funcionaba por el budismo o por la poca ropa.

Mis métodos siempre fueron bastante más modestos, incluso cobardes. El más común era simular no estar en casa, escuchando el gentil pero obstinado”¡buenos días!, mintiéndole a los testigos con mi silencio.

En una ocasión, hace años, armada de valor (tal vez un poco cansada de esconderme y callar) decidí abrir la puerta y darles una respuesta amable, honesta e implacable.


They: Hello Me:. Good morning, you apologize, but I'm agnostic They. What do you thing is I: They Agnostic. Ah. [Awkward pause] I Like the Rosicrucians: [feeling honest, yes, but also a little ridiculous, and nothing implacable]: No, it's not like the Rosicrucians. They simply am not a believer. Ah. [Another pause] Atea Me: No, no. Los ateos piensan que dios no existe. Los agnósticos pensamos que no es posible saber si existe. Ellos: [Aliviados] Ah, pues le traemos buenas noticias. [Agarran la biblia.] Yo: [Olvidando lo de "amable". La verdad es que no nos importa mucho, saber si existe.... [Ahora mintiendo descaradamente] Lo siento, se me va a quemar la comida. I have to go back to the kitchen.

Después de ese fracaso comunicativo, había regresado a la maniobra cobarde de simular no estar en casa. Ahora, mientras miraba por la ventana, pensaba que hoy sí tenía una excusa legítima – la comida hervía sobre la estufa. Pero igual no me creerían. Estarían ya acostumbrados a las mentiras cobardes de los católicos, los agnósticos, los ateos, los cristianos de otras denominaciones, los vagos, los ocupados, los desentendidos, los budistas, los…vamos, todos los no-testigos.

The bell rang. I sighed. I dried my hands and opened. There were two testigas, forties, maybe fifty-year time. Una de ellas le sobaba la panza a mi ahora callada perra. The other smiled at me. He had beads of sweat on his forehead.

Them: Hello I: Good morning. [Sighs] Look, frankly I do not want to talk about God, nor am I interested in the magazine. [Pausa desconcertada] Pero con gusto les puedo ofrecer un poco de agua fría. Ellas: [Se miran]. Yes, thank you.

Camino a mi cocina. So far, so good, pienso. Pero usarán el agua para ganar tiempo. Five minutes will be in full conversion attempt, and I will be going the pa'l kindness ...

We water the three. It was hot. Y hablamos. A lot of. De Mayagüez. Dogs and other pets. Of the children, especially teenagers. De que las cosas estaban malas. De la emigración. Busqué más agua. Seguimos hablando. De la geografía de Puerto Rico. De las características de diferentes pueblos. What to do, to practice democracy. What you can expect, and what not, schools. De qué se siente ir de puerta en puerta. It feels like doing what one thinks is right. Tireless, certain, consistent. Was also short, and surprisingly comfortable silences. Agua life, said one of them, upon completion of the second glass. Me dieron las gracias, les dí las gracias, y partieron con sus atalayas y sus biblias.

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goodbye, am


los abogados

[A la clase graduanda de la Escuela de Derecho Eugenio María de Hostos, 5 de junio de 2010.]

Agradezco mucho, me honra mucho, la invitación que me ha hecho la clase graduanda Fuego de Justicia para hablarles en su noche de logros.

Pero este tipo de invitaciones siempre trae consigo unas preguntas implícitas, unos temas generales, que uno debe atender. Temas como el significado del grado, o la carrera. Preguntas del tipo “¿Ahora, qué?”

Yo estudié antropología, no derecho, de modo que no se cuán preparada esté para responder esas preguntas. Pero las voy a abordar. Y para hacerlo, les voy a contar un par de cosas, para luego plantearles un argumento. Los cuentos son simples: Tienen que ver conmigo, con mis abuelos, con las polillas, con los libros, y con algunos abogados. El argumento tiene que ver con la lucidez y con la justicia. Podríamos llamarlo fuego y justicia.

Mi primer encuentro con un abogado fue, como tantos otros encuentros importantes en mi vida, a través de un libro. Y mi primer contacto más o menos serio con libros de verdad, de esos libros que no tienen dibujitos, fue en un garaje. Tenía yo unos diez años, y acababa de mudarme a vivir con mis abuelos, que vivían en una casa vieja muy cerca de la Universidad de Puerto Rico en Rio Piedras.

En esa casa, el carro dormía afuera, en la calle. El garaje era para los libros. Y no es que no hubiera libros en otras partes de la casa. De hecho había libros por todas partes. Y libros de todo tipo. Literatura de buena calidad,; literatura de mala, o al menos dudosa, calidad; enciclopedias, revistas, cómics, manuales…Había libros heredados de tíos, hermanos, amigos, desconocidos…Mis abuelos, como otros tantos de su generación, compraban pocas cosas, y botaban menos todavía. Y esa regla se la aplicaban tanto a los tornillos como a los muebles, tanto a la ropa como a los libros.

De más está decir que en casa había polilla. Y mucha. Los libros apolillados , sin embargo, no se botaban: eran desterrados al garaje, y allí mismo había que leerlos, para que no contagiaran a los libros sanos. Allí, entre muebles viejos y herramientas, me sentaba yo, sobre un cajón, a cultivar mi imaginación (ya cultivar, de paso, un asma crónica que me duró unos cuantos años.) Sentada como una polilla gigante y flaca, leía yo en el garaje mis libros, mis libros apestosos a libro viejo, llenos de agujeros, maravillosos libros.

Uno de mis favoritos, tan favorito como Historia de Dos Ciudades, como Los Tres Mosqueteros, y preferido por mucho sobre cualquier cosa que estuviésemos leyendo en la escuela en aquel momento, era un volumen rojo, bastante grueso, publicado en los años cincuenta, que se titulaba Sala de Jurados y que contenía la biografía de un abogado de nombre Samuel Leibowitz. Un abogado judío de padres rumanos, residente de Nueva York. Me gustaba especialmente el capítulo que narraba el caso, el largo drama, de los chicos de Scottsboro- nueve muchachos negros falsamente acusados, y condenados a muerte, por haber violado dos mujeres blancas en Alabama en la década de los 1930. Leibowitz hizo historia, primero porque tomó el caso gratuitamente, luego porque apeló las condenas, luego sacando libres a cuatro de los acusados, reduciendo las sentencias de los otros cinco, y de paso llevando la cosa al Tribunal Supremo no una sino dos veces, destapando la olla de grillos que era el discrimen racial cotidiano del sur, obligando a los jueces, ya los hombres y mujeres de Alabama, a prestarle atención al racismo. ¿Cómo lo hizo? Pues lo hizo con el saber, y con la agilidad de acción que el saber a veces nos permite. Lo hizo conociendo la ley, conociendo el derecho; lo hizo, también, entendiendo la psiquis colectiva, el ethos, de Alabama. Lo hizo, en fin, estudiando, aprendiendo, construyendo y actuando.

Yo tenía diez años, y las cuestiones heroicas me impresionaban mucho…pero los superamigos de las caricaturas que yo veía los sábados por la mañana (individuos de la talla de Superman, Batman,y especialmente la Mujer Maravilla) se quedaban todos cortos al lado de Leibowitz. El caso de Scottsboro cautivó mi imaginación, y hasta cierto punto cautivó también la de la época: Fue de hecho inmortalizado en otro de mis libros favoritos, publicado en los sesenta, y también apolillado: To Kill a Mockingbird. En él una niña, una niña como la que yo era entonces, narraba la historia de su comunidad, una comunidad pequeña, unida, capaz del mayor de los desprendimientos, pero también del peor de los racismos. Su padre (el héroe, el abogado) no solamente era hábil, sino que en su decisión de representar, con toda su energía y toda su destreza, al acusado negro, arriesgando su seguridad personal, representa el espinazo, la capacidad moral, de toda la comunidad. Tal vez de todo el país. Tal vez de toda la especie.

Ustedes utilizarán su diploma para diferentes cosas. Taller jurídico ciertamente hay- después de todo, a los tribunales puertorriqueños llegan sobre 300,000 casos al año. Podemos evaluar el producto de su esfuerzo académico a partir del salario que usted gane, del contrato o el ascenso que se lleve, del carro que maneje o el bote que se vaya a comprar. Pero esas cosas, aunque nos permitan vivir y hasta nos den satisfacción, tienen poco que ver con la felicidad, con la experiencia óptima, con pensar y con sentir, a no ser que el salario se lo gane haciendo algo que le fascine (y ojo, no hablo de algo que se le haga cómodo, o que le guste un poco, sino que le fascine), a menos que el carro lo lleve a los lugares en donde usted va a aplicar lo mejor de sí, de su preparación, de sus destrezas, en pos de algo en lo que usted cree, oa menos que usted aprenda a manejar ese bote como todo un lobo de mar y se dedique principalmente a eso. Porque la felicidad es lúcida, la felicidad es intensa. Cito a Ana Lidia Vega de nuevo: “La verdadera cultura tiene que ver con la hiper-conciencia, con ese arrebato natural que viene a alborozarnos el casco para que desafiemos la noción panzona, chancletera y control remoto de la felicidad.” Y eso es cierto de la felicidad en todos sus ámbitos: el trabajo, el amor, la actividad mental, la cocina, el hobbie, o el asueto.

Todo está conectado, en la biografía propia, en la suya, en la mía. Y todo lo que vale la pena hacer es mejor si se hace de manera lúcida, plena.

Otro abogado, puertorriqueño, que también creía en la intensidad y en la lucidez, lo dijo así: “La gloria no se escribe con palabras, se escribe con la vida”.

Yo creo que la “gloria” a la cual se refería Pedro Albizu Campos en esa cita no implica necesariamente la fama, o la tragedia. La lucidez feliz puede ser una cosa bastante cotidiana. Déjenme hacerles un último cuento. Hace algunos años estuve sentada en un tribunal de menores, y presencié varios casos seguidos. Los casos tenían el mismo fiscal, el mismo abogado, y el mismo trabajador social. Fue muy conmovedor ver las cabezas, juntas, de esos tres personajes: el representante del estado, el defensor público, y el trabajador social, los tres conversaban, cuchicheaban, antes de cada caso. Los antropólogos somos terriblemente curiosos, y yo podía escucharlos un poco, desde donde estaba, así que paré oreja. Y descubrí que los tres, en todos los casos que vi ese día, claramente buscaban lograr un escenario que maximizara oportunidad y posibilidades para el menor. El suyo era un heroísmo cotidiano, colaborativo, de rutina, que no dejaba por ello de ser glorioso. Lúcido. Feliz.

Con lo que llegamos al argumento, a la propuesta. Y la propuesta es corta, es simple, y es la siguiente: Los estudios cuya culminación hoy ustedes celebran deben servirles para la lucidez crítica y para la vida plena. Deben servirles “Para pensar críticamente por ustedes mismos y para sentir, solidariamente, con los demás”. Deben servirles para entender el mundo, para elegir sus causas, e incluso, y especialmente en tiempos de crisis, para asumir posiciones. Posiciones que surjan no de la superficialidad o de la ignorancia, sino del conocimiento, y desde la certeza de que el conocimiento es siempre, inevitablemente, gloriosamente, una obra incompleta, en construcción. El estudio del derecho debe permitirles entender mejor los asuntos para atender mejor los asuntos y para, como dijo otro abogado, Franz Kafka, “partir no de lo aceptable, sino de lo justo”. Para vivir plenamente.

Lo que han aprendido en este espacio debe servirles como herramienta para alcanzar esa felicidad que es posible sólo en la luminosa lucidez, la única felicidad capaz de cambiar las cosas, la única actitud equipada para hacer al mundo mejor, para hacer al mundo más justo.

Thank you very much.


un ahorro de lujo en la UPR

Conceptualmente, tiene sentido implementar medidas de austeridad en la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Después de todo, el país está en una crisis económica, y los destinos del país y de su universidad están atados en la más íntima de las relaciones: Sobreviven, triunfan o se hunden al unísono.

Pero en la práctica la cosa cambia un poco. Porque no todas las medidas son iguales, o afectan a todo el mundo por igual. Y hay algunas medidas para lidiar con la crisis que atentan contra la identidad misma de la Universidad. Que la distancian del país.

Tomemos por ejemplo aquellas que tienen que ver con el número de estudiantes que la universidad planifica atender. No se habla, oficialmente, mucho de ello: Pero hay señales, y no son buenas. La Junta de Síndicos ha dicho en repetidas ocasiones que espera recaudar 40 millones del alza en la matrícula que llaman “cuota especial”. A 800 pesos por cabeza, ese estimado asume 50,000 estudiantes matriculados en el sistema.

Solamente 50,000. La última vez que la UPR tuvo esa cantidad de estudiantes fue en la década de los setenta. Ahora atiende alrededor de 65,000: uno de cada tres estudiantes universitarios de la isla.

La distancia que la nueva política de ocupación generaría entre la institución y el país se agrava cuando consideramos el perfil de esos quince mil estudiantes actuales y potenciales que se quedarían sin atender. Los índices de admisión (IGS) que constituyen el criterio único de admisión a la mayoría de nuestros programas, aumentan, en promedio, según aumenta el ingreso familiar de los estudiantes. Esto quiere decir que aunque hay estudiantes con todo tipo de IGS en todos nuestros sectores sociales, hay una tendencia a que el IGS (y por lo tanto la probabilidad de ser admitido) aumente según aumenta el estatus socioeconómico. Dicho sesgo no es un reflejo del potencial académico sino de desventajas sistemáticas que afectan más a unos sectores que otros a través del tiempo.

El IGS, por su parte, es en gran medida una función del cupo en determinado programa. Mientras más popular es un programa de bachillerato, y más gente solicita admisión a él, más alto se vuelve el IGS. ¿Cuáles son los programas más populares del sistema? Por mencionar algunos: Todas las ingenierías; Biología y Pre-médica; Accounting.

Súmele, al bajo estimado de ocupación, las prácticas implementadas en el presente proceso de matrícula, y el cuadro empeora. Las medidas implementadas en distintos recintos, implican una menor oferta de clases disponibles para matricular. Para un estudiante que depende de la beca Pell para estudiar, no poder matricular su requisito mínimo de doce créditos constituye más que una barrera: Puede ser el fin de sus estudios en la UPR.

Algunos hablan de una Universidad “más pequeña y ágil”. Yo creo que parte de la “agilidad” de la universidad pública debe estribar precisamente en su capacidad para atender sectores y geografías diversos. El problema fiscal en la Universidad no debe, no puede, tratarse como una hoja de cálculo gigante. La eficiencia no puede darse en un vacío moral. Las decisiones que tomamos para cortar gastos pueden solucionar un problema matemático de presupuesto-pero agravar los problemas socioeconómicos del país.

Cerrar cupos y secciones para “ahorrar” gastos implica así cerrar oportunidades para muchos futuros ingenieros, médicos y contables en la universidad del país, y sentar las condiciones para un estudiantado menos diverso, más homogéneo socioeconómicamente.

¿Pueden el país, y su Universidad, darse ese lujo?

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