Tag Archives: Latin America

Being real

Jorge Luis Borges once noted that camels are never once mentioned in the Koran, which proves it is an authentically Arabic book. Anyone who isn’t from the Middle East writing a book set there would feel compelled to mention camels, whether it was necessary for the story or mere tokenism. Reading that Borges essay has given me a critical eye for set and setting, and now any details in a work I examine whether I think they were there organically or to remind you of the setting.

It’s truly astounding how whenever characters go to New Orleans it just so happens to be Mardis Gras or at very least Mardis Gras is gratuitously mentioned, similar with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. No matter what city a film takes place in, you can guarantee that whatever landmark it is known for will make an appearance. In Ratatouille the Eiffel Tower is present pretty much whenever they are outside, even Linguini’s shitty apartment had a clear view of it. That’d be some prime real estate. I’ve been to Paris and I know first hand the Eiffel Tower isn’t omnipresent, I didn’t even see it on my first day there because my hotel room wasn’t anywhere near it.



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A Dream Has Come True

Some of you might remember My Second Meaningful St. Patrick’s Day, which I posted a few weeks back. It didn’t get the attention I had hoped it would, but I was sufficiently happy with it to submit it as a freelance article to the school paper. I had to do some censuring editing, chiefly because I don’t think they would publish something with the phrase “dirty Prod Anglos.” After changing that to “Anglophone Protestants” and doing a little fine tuning I submitted my piece. On Monday someone I didn’t even recognize approached me and said “hey you’re in this month’s paper!” So I rushed to the nearest newspaper rack and picked up a copy. I found it very satisfactory to see my work printed in ink. Now can say that I am a published author, which has been a dream of mine for years. Many people have told me that they really enjoyed my article and learned a lot of interesting things from it, which was exactly the reason why I submitted it. Bernardo O’Higgins seems to be of particular interest to many readers, so I’m glad I mentioned him. Some people have said I ought to join the newspaper staff, so I have decided to apply.

For those who didn’t read it, here it is in its uncensored glory: https://djgarcia94.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/my-second-meaningful-st-patricks-day/

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My Second Meaningful St. Patrick’s Day

I have always enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day because I like corned beef and Shamrock Shakes, however it meant anything more than that. However two and a half years ago I learned that I am part Irish, from my father’s predominately Hispanic side. His maternal grandfather was half (along with half Navajo, but that’s beside the point), but my dad had no idea despite having grown up with him. My grandma randomly brought this up, and while it surprised me it makes perfect sense. My paternal family has lived in what is now New Mexico (NOT MEXICO, NOT MEXICO YOU GOT THAT?!?!) for around eight generations, having come from primarily Spain before that. New Mexico has a notable Irish community, many of them came from NYC looking for more greener (figuratively), more Catholic friendly, pastures. Most noted of the early Hiberno-Nuevomexicanos was Billy the Kid. His mother thought leaving New York would save him from death as a petty street gangster, yet ironically the move resulted in him dying as one of the most illustrious outlaws in American folklore. I know nothing of my Irish ancestors before or after they moved to the Southwest, but watching Gangs of New York gives me some idea to what it may like for them before they packed up. My great grandfather spoke no English, only Spanish. Of course Irish Gaelic was Ireland’s main language into the nineteenth century and those Irish who went to NM were trying to escape those dirty Prod Anglos, so they probably had little attachment to the English language.

Hispanic and Irish are not mutually exclusive. In fact, Hispanic is a linguistic term (not a racial one) that is far more inclusive than many think. Argentina has its Italians, Costa Rica has its Jamaicans, Peru has its Japanese, Panama has its Chinese, Chile has its Germans, Mexico has its Lebanese, and Irish are to be found all over. Chile’s first President was named Bernardo O’Higgins. Che Guevara, perhaps the most iconic Latin American of all, had an Irish father and the birth name Ernest Lynch. He viewed himself as being part of a tradition of Irish rebels who fight against empire, and now the ironic icon is immortalized in murals from Bogota to Belfast. Billy the Kid is no one to be proud of, O’Higgins is in the shadow of Bolivar and San Martin, and Guevara outright polarizing. Still they show that the Irish have made lasting impressions in Hispanophone areas.

St. Patrick’s Day is all about cultural identity. I am only a sixteenth Irish and that has zero impact on my day to day life, but knowing that bit of trivia has greatly enriched my sense of cultural identity.



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The Ballad of William Walker

This is a (mostly) true story, so listen up:

Born in a one room shack in Tennessee
Then poorest state in the land of the free
Sure he was hick but was smart as can be
He passed the Bar when he was only three
William, William Walker ’tis of him I sing!

In New Orleans he practiced law
Then headed West as an outlaw
His dueling record without flaw
He was the smartest bastard the Frontier saw
William, William Walker a true gentleman thief!

He met up with pirates in San Francisco
They headed down to Mexico
Annexing Sonora promised serious dough
Creating new for land for slaves to grow
William, William Walker the man who don’t know bounds!

His project lasted one brief time
‘Till Mexico deported him without a dime
And put on trial for his illustrious crime
Got acquitted and a song of freedom he did chime
William, William Walker should have learned something!

He looked to Nicaragua where he saw a prize
A potential canal of tremendous size
Many adventurers answered his plies
They boarded their ships and descended like flies
William, William Walker crossing a point of no return!

They raped and pillaged the Mosquito Coast
Something Walker would proudly boast
The Nicaraguans proved an unhappy host
Since it was them who suffered most
William, William Walker Nicaragua’s would be king!

Expansionism sure brought him much joy
Adding Costa Rica was his next ploy
And for him that was rather coy
But his base was torched by a Costa Rican drummer boy
William, William Walker will he learn his lesson yet?

Never one to learn from a mistake
Nicaragua was too lucrative a cake
In Managua he plotted the next move to make
And won an election that was surely fake!
William, William Walker never gonna give it up!

Naturally he wanted more
And dreamed of the riches he could store
Having no problems with blood and gore
He invaded Honduras which was just next door
William, William Walker living out Manifest Destiny!

Things didn’t go so very well
It was to the Honduran army that he fell
They tied him to a post and rung a bell
Then the squad fired and now Walker’s in hell
William, William Walker what a wasted life!



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So Apparently I’m a Person of Color

Originally I was going to be moving into campus next Thursday. However, I recieved an email saying that I am eligible to move in early on Tuesday for a program intended for students of color. All my life I have considered myself white; my mother is unambigeously so and my while my father does not identify as white he does qualify as White Hispanic on the Census Bureau. I am not offended with the terms “nonwhite” or “minority”, however I do have some issues with the currently acceptable “person of color” as I feel that term defines me by the color of my skin. The nonexistant color of my skin mind you, I am rather pale. Of course, I am not in a position to decide with label is okay and which is not.

Anyway, this early move-in program is intended for African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders (I’m not sure why Asians and Polynesians are lumped together, I guess the Census Bureau can’t tell the difference between say Thais and Samoans). Having a Spanish last name means I qualify. Of course race is a purely artificial construct with no scientific validity, so it is based on opinion and perception and nothing else. My mom has Portuguese and Italian ancestry that one hundred years ago would have made her a Person of Color. That’s in addition to an equal ammount of Slavic heritage that in much of Europe was viewed and something “other.” Now all that is viewed as just as white as her Dutch family. As for my dad, we recently found out that my grandmother has a significant abount of Irish and Navajo blood. So like most Americans, I have a rather diverse background that is hard to sum up. Still, most of that is considered White (or at least Indo-European) so I consider myself white.

Whatever I am or people classify me as, I am very happy to be able to move in earlier than I than I thought I was going to. Here is an interesting chart showing Colonian Latin America’s VERY different ideas about race:



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Two Roads Diverge in a Yellowed Wood

I’m one of those people who are always speculating on what might have been. As far as I am concerned, even the slightest detail may affect everything from that point forward, even if we are not aware of it. Actually, I was just thinking about what would have happened if I stayed home last week. Most likely I would have just stayed home and did the same old same old, I certainly would have posted on the 24th to the 29th. Many people say that Disneyland will give you happy memories for the rest of your life, which I guess it did but it was hardly lifesaving. Had I not gone I would have regretted it, but going was hardly lifechanging to my knowledge.

When I went to Costa Rica was a different matter entirely. There my entire outlook on life was changed and I know that my interaction with some of the people I met had a major impact on their lives. A year ago I doing work in the area where my background photo was taken. Only now am I starting to fully see just how much the trip has impacted me. When I first found out about the trip I was hesitant, because I didn’t think I could raise enough funds. Had I not gone I would have deeply regretted it, most of those who decided not to go now really wish they did.

There have been relatively few times in my life where I had to make a decision that I know was a game changer; but those times I have experienced have been truly memorable.



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I’ll be on hiatus until Thursday

I’ll be vacationing in California for the next few days and I probably won’t be on here until I’m back home.

On a slightly related note, tomorrow is also the one year anniversary of a mission trip I went on in Costa Rica (which is where the picture of my page’s background was taken). It was a lifechanging experience, and it has changed the way I view the world forever. The purpose of the trip wasn’t to preach to people, instead we did a wide range of service project. Most prominent of these was building a home for a young couple and their baby. For our standards the home would not be one we would think of living in, but by the standards of the slum that it was built in it was the best home one could ask for. By an even greater coincidence, when I return home it will be the first anniversary of building their house.

Man, I remember waiting excitedly about getting to go on that trip; it took a year of preparing and fundraising and didn’t seem like it would ever come. Here I am a year later and Costa Rica seems like a distant memory. Time sure flies when you live your life.

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My nomination for Person of the Year

I nominate Pope Francis. Though he has not been Pope for even six months, Francis has proven to be truly exceptional. In rejecting most of the pomp and ceremony synomymous with the Papacy, he has made it clear that he is sincere in his actions. When I first heard that he would be performing Easter Mass in a juvanile hall, I was very impressed that he would do it there and not Sistine Chapel; and I was further impressed to learn that as Cardinal of Buenos Aires he made it a personal tradition to perform Easter Mass in such places.

After Hugo Chavez’s death many people wondered who would fill the void and speak for Latin America, and I think that Francis will become that spokesman. A major reason why he was chosen was because he’s from Argentina, as Latin America is where most Catholics are located. Being from the Western Hemisphere alone makes his election a huge milestone; granted his parents were immigrants from Italy; a country that has had way too many Popes.

What I find most impressive about Francis is his dedication to the poor, consistantly stating that helping the poor should be a priority of the Church. Its too early to tell now, but hopefully he will manage to turn the Church into a new direction. Child labor and wage slavery (the subject of my post from yesterday) are something he has consistantly condemned, along with human trafficking. If you have travelled to Latin America and witnessed these things first hand, as I have, you will see things that will never leave your heart. I have been very happy to see Francis speak out against such evil has made me very happy, it is good to know that there are some people of power addressing it. I just hope he will do the same for a certain problem his Church has been having, I don’t think I need to specify what.

In terms of influential Argentines, Francis now shares a legacy with Juan and Eva Peron, Che Guevara, and Jorge Luis Borges. Each one has left a lasting impression on the world, all for very different things. Just a little bit of trivia.

Anyway, all of these things about Francis have convinced me that he will be a very influntial figure in years to come; and that is a major criteria for Time’s Person of the Year. My runnerup is Edward Snowden, but he came in the spotlight even later.


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