The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The story of Pachacuti Inca starts in Cusco where he was a ruler and the founder of what would become the great Incan Empire. Although in his early life, he was never meant to succeed the crown of Cusco from his father. Pachacuti had a brother named Urco and succession of the throne was to go to him.  However, Pachacuti earned the right to rule and showed his father that he deserved to rule over the kingdom by fending off an invasion by a rival tribe called the Chankas.

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The Merit of Pachacuti’s Rule

The Chanka had long since been an enemy of Cusco and the story goes that they decided to invade the kingdom with a massive army.  Pachacuti’s brother and father, fearing death fled the city but Pachacuti stayed behind and saw the invasion as an opportunity to show his father that the kingdom would not only be safe, but flourish under his rule.  Pachacuti acted swiftly and gathered an army to fend off the Chanka.  Not only did they quell the would be invasion but they beat the Chanka so soundly that legends emerged from that battle.

The Earth Shaker

The people could not believe how badly the Chanka had been beaten by the military intelligence and stratagems of Pachacuti that they created a story about it.  They said that the rocks themselves rose up from the earth to assist Pachacuti in battle and that is how he earned the name “The Earth Shaker.”

Coming Into Power

Of course, Pachacuti’s father eventually died but before he did, Pachacuti earned his father’s blessing as the successive ruler of Cusco.  This was to be the birth of the Incan Empire.  At that time, Cusco was just a small hamlet but Pachacuti had a grand vision for his kingdom and saw it stretching much further than its humble borders at the time of his succession.  He went to work launching military campaigns to conquer neighboring lands and was very successful.

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

The Story of Pachacuti Inca

Organizing An Empire

With the aid of his son, Pachacuti built Cusco into a might capitol city that was the center of the Incan Empire. He was a very skilled warrior and military strategist.  He also had a mind for politics.  When Pachacuti would conquer a new land and add it to his empire, he was not overtly cruel to the defeated people.  Instead he offered them membership into the empire in exchange for their subservience.  He did not lay cultures to waste but assimilated them.

He also used nonmilitary methods of broadening his borders.  Pachacuti Inca was known to dispatch spies into other territories and kingdoms in order to find out how they might be coaxed into ceding their land to him.  These spies found out about military weaknesses, economic needs and other vital pieces of information.

Pachacuti then came to the leaders of these lands and offered them what he knew they needed and enticed them with wealth, peace and protection under the Incan Empire.  Most took him up on this offer and in exchange, Pachacuti allowed them to continue to rule in their land as sub-governors of the Incan Empire.

Legacy

The Incan Empire was born and flourished during and after the life of Pachacuti Inca.  He died in 1471 but not before he absorbed into his kingdom much of South America.  His kingdom included what we now know as Chile, the south of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and the northern half of Argentina making it one of the largest empires in South American history.

Pachacuti was considered the Napoleon of South America and there are many statues of him in Cusco that still stand today. The story of Pachacuti Inca tells that he was in incredible ruler who organized a sophisticated and massive empire that would last until the Spanish conquest.

Who Was Simon Bolivar

Who was Simón Bolivar?  Is one of the most frequent questions people ask me when they know of my Hispanic background. Simón Bolivar was actually a pretty complex individual, at least from the standpoint of bygone history.  His nickname was El Libertador (the liberator) because he fought for the liberation of so many South American countries.

In many ways, as I researched the man and his accomplishments, I was reminded very much of Ché Guevara.  They were both born into wealthy families, they were both well-educated and they both became passionate fighters for independence and revolution. They were also seen at the time and now as polarizing figures.

Of course there are the contingents that celebrate both men as freedom fighters and revolutionaries, but their political beliefs were always a point of contention.

Who Was Simón Bolivar and What Did He Accomplish?                                  

After being educated in Spain, Bolivar returned to his homeland of Venezuela although at that time it was known as New Granada.  During the time that Bolivar lived, the late 1700’s and early 1800’s much of South America was still under Spanish colonial rule.

For Bolivar being under Spain’s rule  was unsatisfactory and during his time in Spain he had moved about in the European circles where he conjured up many political ideas and beliefs that he borrowed from European nations. For example, he wanted to implement in South America a parliamentary system like the one Britain had.

He also had some political views that were somewhat unpopular.  For instance, he favored a lifetime presidency for his vision of a united South America free from Spanish rule.  Still, in his heart, Bolivar was a freedom fighter.  He led many military campaigns in South America that won independence for various South American countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia.

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

During his life he formed the Gran Colombia which was a united federation that included the four aforementioned countries. Although the union was unstable and Bolivar would have to flee his homeland due to civil war and unrest, he left an indelible mark on the entire South American continent.

Manuela Sáenz

A discussion no matter how brief about Simón Bolivar must include his lover and muse Manuela Sáenz.  Although Bolivar was married to a woman who would eventually die of yellow fever, many considered Saenz to be Bolivar’s proper counterpart as she was herself a fiery activist and proponent of South American liberation.

Manuelita Sáenz as many knew her, helped Bolivar during many of his campaigns and aided in his escape an assassination attempt in Bolivia where he had named himself dictator.  She was herself born in Quito, Ecuador of Spanish descent and became a figurehead of South American liberation thanks to her efforts with Bolivar himself.

Later Life

Simón Bolivar’s days would see him liberate many territories from the Spanish, be named dictator of Peru and Bolivia and finally flee for exile in Europe.   He was a polarizing figure but had a grand vision and with any grand, revolutionary vision, there are bound to be detractors.

Such was the case for Bolivar who had dreams that mimicked the state system of the U.S., the parliamentary system of Britain and ones that were his own.  His leadership roles were short-lived but he succeeded in freeing much of South America from Spanish rule.

Simón Bolivar died in Santa Marta, Colombia on December 17th, 1830.  Many experts believed that he succumbed to tuberculosis.

 

Puerto Rican Culture

The more I researched Puerto Rican culture and attempted to make myself more privy to it, the more I got the feeling that it mirrored the way in which the American cultures was cultivated. In no way am I asserting that American and Puerto Rican culture are one in the same rather the manner in which each culture took shape are closely related. Puerto Rican culture came about as a conglomeration of foreign influences just like the culture present here in the states.

At a glance, there is very little that binds Puerto Rican and American culture other than the fact that Puerto Rico is an American territory and English is a prominent language on the Caribbean island but the more I learned, the more I found that the evolution of Puerto Rican culture is a strong parallel to American culture.

Location

One of the most important factors that shape any culture in the world is geography and Puerto Rico draws its cultural influences from one of the most unique geographical placements in the world: the Caribbean.

The reason the Caribbean is so unique is its proximity to both Africa and South America.  If you read through the history of Puerto Rico, you will know that it was conquered by the Spanish who found the indigenous Taino Indians.

The echoes of the Taino can still be heard in Puerto Rican culture even in music as a traditional Taino instrument called the guiro is still used in Puerto Rican music but the Spanish brought language and Catholicism which are both very much engrained in every day Puerto Rican life. The Spanish also imported Africans to the island and the African influence can definitely be seen and heard in Puerto Rican through bomba music and dance.

More recently, Puerto Rico’s location has made it a locale for Cuban refugees fleeing from Fidel Castro’s communist regime and Dominican Republic expatriates who came to Puerto Rico seeking a better life and more economical opportunities.  All of these influences shape the Puerto Rican culture with regards to food and integration.

Puerto Rican Culture

Puerto Rican Culture

Food

At this point you can probably just assume that any article on this site will involve the discussion of food in some way shape or form and I would be remiss to write an article about Puerto Rican culture that did not touch on the food.  For any culture in the world, cuisine stands as a distinguishing factor and a representation of the spirit of a nation, the fruition of a people’s efforts and the nature of their land.  Puerto Rico is no different.

Since Puerto Rico is essentially a tropical island, it grows lots of tropical fruit such as plantains, coconuts and papaya which all make their mark in traditional Puerto Rican dishes.

Chicken Adobo is a common dish as are a variety of exotic stews.  The influence that is most prominent in Puerto Rican fare comes from Spain but many Caribbean spices are also contributors to the flavors of the island.

Differences

Puerto Rican culture differentiates itself from other Hispanic nations thanks to its location and long history.  While African factors played no part in the development of other Latin countries, it was very crucial to the evolution of Puerto Rican culture. The fact that Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island also gives the whole vibe there a more tropical and exotic feel.

Linking Parallels

In many ways, Puerto Rican culture is the result of an amalgamation of foreign cultures. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Isn’t that how America formed and continues to form its culture as well?  That is what struck me the most when preparing to write this article; Puerto Rican culture can almost be seen as a microcosm of American culture. It draws from historical events, foreign contributors and is marked by the acceptance of such foreign cultures.

In any case, Puerto Rican culture which you can read more about in the article Christmas in Puerto Rico, stands as an example of how diversities are not something to be shunned but celebrated and of how the work of the entire globe can form a unique culture.

 

5 Reasons Every Man Should Date A Latina

I have already talked about why Latinas like to marry Gringo men but now let’s flip the tables and talk about the many benefits that come with dating a Latina.

It was pretty hard to narrow the list down but I think I have distilled the field into the best 5 reasons why every man should date a Latina.  Mind you we are not talking about marriage necessarily but I feel it incumbent upon me to implore the men of the world, Hispanic or otherwise to at least date a Latina once in their lives.  So let’s get started.

5 Reasons Every Man Should Date A Latina

Femininity

I have come across a lot of Anglo women who for some reason or another choose to suppress their femininity and to be cruelly honest, it seems neurotic.  Why deny biological roles?  This by and large is not a neurosis that Latina women are prone to.  They embrace their femininity which honestly makes a man feel like a man.  They wear dresses, heels and accentuate their glorious bodily gifts as opposed to hiding them away in some sort of misguided protest against the establishment.

Food

I ask you again; did you really think we weren’t going to talk about food here?  Mexican and really any Hispanic cuisine is delicious.  I’m sorry but there’s just no denying it and while not all Latinas learn how to cook (I know it’s a crying shame) you will most likely be privy to some one of a kind home cooking if you are dating a Latina.

5 Reasons Every Man Should Date A Latina

5 Reasons Every Man Should Date A Latina

Spirit

Have you ever dated a woman that was timid, shy or didn’t like to hang out with your friends?  I have and it puts a strain on the relationship when you feel like you have to tend to them at social gatherings and that they are attached to your hip.

Latina women are confident and outgoing and while this can sometimes work to their disadvantage it is nice to know that you will not have to coddle your significant other at every turn.

Family

This is something I have witnessed firsthand when my sister married a Jewish man: if the family is accepting of you then you will earn a support system that is fiercely loyal and nurturing.  My mother loves my brother-in-law as we all do and he has the benefit of adding strong men and maternal women to his family.

Fun

Having dated Latina women I can say that one of the best things about it, to me at least is the amount of fun you can have with them.  Latina women are spirited.  They like to go out.  They can be restless which again, can work to their detriment but is more often than not, energy put to good use.  Whether you are hitting the town or spending the night in Latina women have a way of making everything more lively.

I have been asked how it is dating a Latina woman and the truth is, like every other type of woman, you take the good with the bad.

Latinas are strong, opinionated and incredibly devoted and any of those traits when taken to the extreme can be dangerous.  Still, if you are lucky enough to find a Latina who can temper those attributes, do your best to hold onto her as she will surely add to the quality of your life and that is why every man should date a Latina.

How Hispanics are Redefining the US – Hispanic Heritage Month

As we observe Hispanic heritage month this year and reflect on what it means to be Hispanic in America, it is almost getting hard to see a defining line.

What I mean is that Hispanics are becoming so ingrained in the American culture and way of life that it is getting tricky to see where one culture starts and the other begins.  In truth, they are the same but where there were once clear markers between the two there are now only vague intimations.

This is because with things like Hispanic population growth and other factors, Hispanics are redefining what it means to be American.

How are Hispanics redefining the Unites States?  I’m glad you asked that question.  First, let’s take a broad look at the situation. Hispanic people account for half of the U.S. population growth over the past 10 years.  Without going into any more detail than that one has to assume that such a population growth will have far-reaching effects into all aspects of American life but let’s get into the details, shall we?

Hispanic Heritage Month - How Hispanics Are Redefining the US

Hispanic Heritage Month – How Hispanics Are Redefining the US

How Hispanics Are Redefining the US

Internet Presence

In this day and age one cannot deny the influence and impact that the internet, namely social media, has on our daily lives. Having established that fact let me point you to another statistic: Hispanic adults account for 72% of people active on social media.  You can interpret that fact as you will but you cannot deny that social media influence leaks into other aspects of American culture which leads us to…

Marketing

Major and niche markets have responded to this huge population boom and Hispanic social media presence and are scrambling to market to the Hispanic demographic. Ads are in English and Spanish and agencies are throwing more money at getting inside of the mind of the Latino because of…

Latino Spending Power

It is projected that by the year 2050 Latinos will comprise about 30% of the U.S. population. This means that our dollars will be that much more important to the U.S. economy.

As our presence increases so too will the amount of money we contribute to the various markets of our economy. Our contributions to the economy inherently leads to…

Political Influence

For better or worse, political candidates have to pander to the Hispanic population especially presidential candidates who are looking to secure California and Texas (the states with the most electoral points) which have the highest Hispanic populations in the country.  All of this amounts to the main way how Hispanics are redefining the US.

Cultural Influence

All of the aforementioned factors are only solidifying our place in this country.  It is obvious to anyone who lives in the U.S. that Hispanics are not going anywhere and we have already made our indelible mark on the American culture. You see it everywhere; in food, in music, on the Latino News Sources in the US  and on Television.

You see people sipping on Margaritas in bars and Anglos practically begging to learn Spanish from the Paisas in Echo Park and the Mission District and in Jackson Heights in Queens.  And it should be of no surprise to any American that Hispanic culture and influence has become so engrained in this nation that was billed as a melting pot of culture.

Our mark can be seen in everyday life.  People understand us more, they fear us less and we continue to branch out and make our presence felt.  That is how Hispanics are redefining the United States.

Latino or Hispanic – Which One is Politically Correct

There are fewer culturally relevant questions in modern America more polarizing than this one: Latino or Hispanic-which one is politically correct?

There are also few questions that simply lead to more questions than this one does. The truth is that as time goes on, each term becomes as equally politically correct as the other.

Some people prefer Hispanic and some prefer Latinos but there was a time in America, more specifically in the southwestern states, that this wasn’t the case.

The Civil Rights Movement

It didn’t get as much press as the African-American civil rights movement did but during the late 60’s and early 70’s there was another struggle going on within the Hispanic community. The term Hispanic was coined around this time but there was a burgeoning community of forward-thinking, young activists who were born in the states to immigrant parents that was ready to cast off this government assigned term.

Figureheads during the Brown movement of the early 70’s like Oscar Zeta Acosta shunned the term Hispanic opting instead to call himself and all like him Chicano. But the term Chicano was meant to denote an enlightened, thoughtful and sometimes radical person of Hispanic decent living in America. Thus, Chicano became the moniker for the Brown movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s and Hispanic was deemed politically incorrect by this group.

The Terms Today

Nowadays, it matters less what someone refers to you as especially with my generation.  The Brown movement is over and we have made enough strides to be able to call ourselves whatever we want. The mood is not so tense or serious as it was back then so we can essentially laugh off each term and not take offense one way or another.

Still, there are defining lines which you can read more about in the article What is Hispanic but essentially the difference between Latino and Hispanic is that Hispanic is an umbrella term for anyone of Latin descent (Mexicans Spanish, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Peruvian etc.) and Latino generally refers to a person of Latin decent but who is living specifically in America.

Latino or Hispanic - Which One is Politically Correct?

Latino or Hispanic – Which One is Politically Correct?

Especially in today’s amalgamated culture, Latino is emerging more fluidly but not because of political correctness.  More and more the term Latino not only refers to people but to a culture.

Hispanics born and raised in America take part of the Latino culture which has heavy influences from the American culture as well.

Today, Latino can mean so many different things but it is more unifying for younger Hispanics because it seems to hint at an American upbringing.

Latino or Hispanic

Unfortunately the appropriateness of using the term Latino or Hispanic will depend greatly on who you are talking to.  For Anglos reading this, try not to worry so much about which you use so long as you use each term respectfully.

If you are talking to a younger person, you are probably safe with using Latino. Some of the older generation-those who remember the Brown movement-might actually take offense if you use Hispanic but their numbers are dwindling every day.

For me, Hispanic is a more biological term which does not offend me in the slightest.  Hispanic is what I am as far as race goes. I am of Hispanic descent so why should I be offended by it?

Latino is more of a cultural term.  In truth I don’t feel more strongly tied to one term than the other.  If I hear Latino I assume that the person saying it is also Hispanic and probably around my age.

When I hear Hispanic I tend to think the person saying it is Anglo and of an older generation.  At any rate, the lines of political correctness are very blurred at this point but the good news is that it matters less and less which you use with each passing day.

The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

When I pose it to others, even Latinos, if they know the name Oscar Zeta Acosta, the answer is usually no. My next question is invariably “have you seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?” to which many people say yes. Then I tell them that Oscar Zeta Acosta is the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro known as Dr. Gonzo. This is usually more familiar to people but there is so much more to the man Oscar Zeta Acosta than how he was portrayed in that movie. Oscar Zeta Acosta was a self-made man. A proud Mexican American, author, lawyer and most importantly an activist.

Humble Beginnings

Oscar Acosta was born in El Paso, Texas a border town that doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects for young students. So Oscar went west to attend San Francisco State University and eventually earned his law degree at the San Francisco School of Law.

It was around the late 60’s and early 70’s when Los Angeles was a hotbed of political unrest and activism and soon Acosta found himself in L.A. in the thick of it all. He became heavily engaged in the Brown Pride and Chicano movement and fought tooth and nail in Los Angeles courtrooms to fight discrimination against Mexican Americans.

Hostility in the Streets

These were very tense times for everyone. African Americans were fighting for equality and Mexican Americans, who felt disenfranchised by the government, harassed by the LAPD and generally unheard in local politics, were fighting for a fair shake at the American dream. Oscar was a typical figure at many Chicano protests in Los Angeles and took the cases of many Chicano activists who could not afford legal counsel.

The Chicano contingent was galvanized and came to a head when in 1970 a Hispanic reporter named Ruben Salazar was sitting peacefully in a bar in the Whittier area when he was struck in the head by a tear gas can fired by an LAPD officer and killed immediately. The Chicano community was outraged and it was none other than the fiery Oscar Acosta who demanded persecution of the officer and even subpoenaed every single judge of the Los Angeles Supreme Court.

He was a leader and unifier of the Chicano movement and took the cases of other high profile Chicano figures such as Rudolfo Gonzales who founded the Denver based Chicano organization “Crusade for Justice.”

The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Strange Tale of Oscar Zeta Acosta

The Man Vs. the Myth

To say that Oscar Acosta was a man of conflicting interests would be an understatement. He was so zealous that he wouldn’t think twice about taking a ridiculously impossible case so long as it afforded him the chance to rail against the Anglo government system that he saw as the enemy. He fought vehemently and often too vehemently-taking cases of violent offenders who claimed to be Chicano. He was always in the barrio talking to and organizing the Mexican population in Los Angeles and this sometimes meant being in the company of unsavory characters.

He was a man of the people, even criminals. That fact coupled with the caricature based on Acosta known as Dr. Gonzo created by the author Hunter S. Thompson have overshadowed the accomplishments and noble endeavors of Oscar Zeta Acosta. It is kind of sad that I have to point out that he inspired the character of Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for people to even begin to know who I am talking about but that is how much Acosta’s legend has outgrown his reality.

Acosta disappeared mysteriously off the coast of Mazatlan, Mexico in 1974 and has long since been presumed dead. People have suspected political assassination, a random argument spurred by politics that got to heated and resulted in his death and simply hanging out with the wrong people. At any rate, the fact that his death still remains a mystery seems fitting for a man who has since become more of a legend.

The History of Tango Music

Breaking down the history of any musical genre is a daunting and near-impossible task.  Genres of music are not like physical inventions that can be traced to a singular point in time.  Rather, music is an amalgamation of moods, attitudes, social circumstances, emotional states and even geography.

It is impossible to pinpoint the birth of any genre because music is ultimately collaboration between people and it takes many shapes even in the infancy phase.

The History of Tango Music

So, what is Tango and how can its origins be traced?  For this we must turn our attention to late 19th century Argentina.

Argentina is widely considered the birth country of Tango music as we know it today but the truth of the matter is that the genre owes its style to influences that stretch far beyond the borders of Argentina.  Just upon hearing traditional Tango music, you will see what I mean.

You will be able to pick up on the exotic rhythms of Africa in the almost staccato nature of the 2/4 and 4/4 time signatures. Again, we may never know who incorporated African rhythms into Tango or how they were influenced by them but the infusion is undeniable.

Tango music also owes some debt of gratitude to Spain.  Spanish musicians were simultaneously developing what would ultimately help to shape the definitive Tango style in their Flamenco Tangos.

Spain and Italy play a further role in the formation of Tango music in the 20th century when European instruments were introduced in Argentina and subsequently integrated into the Tango ensemble.

An Argentine by the name of Angel Villoldo is credited with the very first Tango recording.  He played guitar and sang by himself and helped solidify the characteristics that we associate with Tango today.  One might say that he is the Godfather of Tango but who knows who he borrowed from and was influenced by.

That was back in 1905.  Somewhere around 1910, more instruments were being used to play Tango music which fleshed out the Tango sound and gave it a greater level of distinction as a genre of music.

The History of Tango Music

The History of Tango Music

The Music of the Lower Class

In the beginning Argentine Tango music was relegated to street hoods and young thugs.  The music was often played in brothels and other unsavory establishments where the “riff raff” of society normally convened.

The upper class outwardly disdained the music as it was seen as a bad influence.  This quarantining of Tango music to the poor and working class Argentine was not to last very long.  By 1913, the influence and aesthetic appeal of Tango music had reached as far as France and what was once taboo among the blue bloods of Argentina was now an acceptable and much enjoyed form of entertainment.

Influential Tango History

As with any genre of music, Tango was helped along thanks to landmark songs, recordings and artists.  Mi Noche Triste was a Tango song written by Pascual Contursi but sang by indelible Tango icon, Carlos Gardel.  The song became the blueprint for subject matter in Tango songs: heartbreaking tales of love and loss.

La Cumparista is widely held as the most famous Tango song of all time and was written by Roberto Firpo back in 1916.  To this day the song is recorded by Tango bands and orchestras and has been arranged in almost every conceivable style.

Tango Today

The history of Tango music shows us the mighty wave that Tango rode to popularity in the early 20th century eventually hit the shore and rolled back but it regained popularity once again in the 1980’s thanks in part to the TV show, Tango Argentino.

Today, Tango is experiencing a resurgence around the world as evidenced by radio stations, cable TV networks and new recordings dedicated to Tango.

Tango history intertwines itself with the history of Argentine culture.  While the history of Tango music requires a greater study than what I can get into here, and while a definitive point in time can never be named “the birth of Tango” for any music lover, it is a labor of love to seek out the roots of this enticing genre of Latin music.