Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US

As I have done with other sensitive topics and points of contention on this blog in the past, allow me to answer the question ‘are Puerto Ricans immigrants in the US?  Definitively and right off the bat: no.

Puerto Ricans are not immigrants the United States.  There are a few very technical reasons for this but to put it simply, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory which entitles its natives to automatic US citizenship upon birth.

It can be a bit confusing when you don’t have the background on the subject because on every other front, it would seem like Puerto Rico is its own country entirely.  They have their own flag, Spanish is the main language spoken there, and they are not even part of the mainland United States.

In many rights, Puerto Rico is its own country; they maintain much independence from the U.S. and have their own very distinct Puerto Rican culture.

When it comes right down to it, if someone from Puerto Rico decides they want to move to the U.S. not only it is a much easier process for them when compared to natives of other Latin American and Caribbean countries, they most certainly are not to be considered immigrants.

Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US?

Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US?

What Makes the Difference

At this point you may be asking yourself what is the difference between Puerto Rico and other Caribbean or Latin American countries.

Firstly, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the US all the way back in 1898 but that still didn’t make Puerto Ricans automatic citizens. That came with the outbreak of World War I when the Jones-Shafroth act was passed.  Although this act was passed most likely just so that Puerto Ricans to add to our fighting forces, it did and still does to this day, make all Puerto Rican born persons a United States citizen.

There are extenuating circumstances however (after all, we are talking about governmental matters) for Puerto Rican citizens. For example, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in US presidential elections right off the bat.  This right only comes after they have an established residence within the United States.  Other than that Puerto Ricans are as American as any other person born in the states.

Puerto Ricans in America

There are about 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States.  They make up 9% of the Hispanic population living within the United States and have contributed greatly to the Latin flavor that is so prevalent in our nation.

Most Puerto Ricans in the US are fluent in English and you can always count on Puerto Ricans to maintain strong ties to their home land even if they were actually born in America.

Are Puerto Rican Immigrants?  Get it Straight

While you are not likely to be corrected in a rude way should you accidentally refer to Puerto Ricans living in the states as immigrants you are probably not likely to endear yourself to anyone else who considers themselves culturally sensitive by doing so.

The better we understand each other and the unique circumstances that follow us as a result of our different heritages, the more we will enjoy what there is to enjoy about such differences.  The next time you get asked the question: are Puerto Ricans immigrants?  hopefully, you will know exactly how to respond.

If you are interested in knowing more about Puerto Rican culture like their Christmas celebrations, foods and traditions check out Puerto Rican Pasteles, Puerto Rican Parrandas or What Is the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the same thing?  No.

Let’s just get that out of the way right now. You may be reading this because you want a simple answer to the question “are Spanish and Latin the same thing?” and if you are, you have your answer in plain English (and Spanish for that matter ), no.

If you want a more thorough explanation and an insight into my reasoning, please keep reading.

An Easy History Lesson

Did you know that the term Hispanic was introduced to America in the 70’s during the Nixon administration?  It’s true but if you were living in any Spanish speaking country after the 1930’s you are probably more familiar with the term Hispanidad.

Hispanidad was adopted by Spanish speaking countries in unison as a sort of umbrella term for those who were born in Spanish speaking countries.  In the 70’s America was kind enough to oblige its Hispanidad guests and citizens by coining a word that was meant to be the same but one that was easier for the Anglo to pronounce.  That is why today, we have the term Hispanic.

A Hispanic can be fluent in English or Spanish because it refers to both people who emigrated here and those born here of Latin descent.  In this way, Hispanic is the broadest term and Latin is more distinctive.

Basically, if anyone in your ancestry was born in a country where a Latin based language was the native language, you are Hispanic. Hispanics can live anywhere, speak any language as the term is more biologic in nature and refers strictly to ethnic background.

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the Same?  First Let’s See Who Are Latins

To understand what the difference is between the terms Hispanic and Latin, you must realize that Hispanic is the more universal term.

There are no “Latins” in any other country besides America because Latinos are specifically people who were born in a Latin American country and came to the U.S.  While a Hispanic could have been born in the states and is very familiar with its culture and society, a Latin is one that comes from another country and who for the American culture is not their native culture.

Keep in mind that none of these terms are to be confused with “Latino.” A Latino is something of a combination of the two but a person who is altogether distinct from Hispanics and Latins. For example, I am a Hispanic and a Latino.

I am of Hispanic descent but I was born here in the states.  A Latino cannot have been born in Chile or Germany for that matter, come to the states and be a true Latino. English is probably the primary language of a Latino and is characterized by identifying as Americans while having ties to Hispanic culture.

Latino is also a cultural term and was used heavily in the 70’s to replace Chicano.  It is a term that the socially conscious and politically active first generation Hispanics coined to identify themselves as separate from Latins and Anglos.  They are something all their own.

This can be a bit confusing I know but an easy rule of thumb is that Hispanic is the baser and broader ranging term between the two.  So if someone asks you for example ‘are Spaniards Latins?’ you will know the answer is no because Latin refers to someone who has at some point immigrated to America.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

While the matters of the heart can never be quantified (the heart wants what the heart wants) the increasing number of Latinas opting to marry gringos is a very interesting phenomenon that invites much speculation and pondering.

If you don’t know what a ‘gringo’ is, take this opportunity to educate yourself by reading this article

Why do Latinas love gringos so much?  I don’t believe that this is warrants a general answer.  It’s not that Latinas love gringos just because they are gringos.

I think for the most part Latina women are drawn to Caucasian men because they represent the antithesis of Latino bravado.  Not that all Latin men are so stereotypically haughty, but such characteristics have for better or worse become inexorably associated with Latin men.

Caucasian men seem to be more mild-mannered by and large, although there are always exceptions to the rule.  Imagine this: you are a young Latina who grew up in a house of boisterous Latino men.  You will more than likely react to this upbringing in one of two ways.

The first; you will seek out and value what there is to be admired about the confidence, strength and surety that exists in the characters of the Latino men you were raised by and grew up with.

The second response may be that you are repelled by such characteristics so that in your adult life, you will seek out the exact opposite in your significant other.  If you are of the latter ilk, and you live in America, guess what, you are probably going to be attracted to and even marry a gringo!

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos?  Simple Cultural Differences

I have talked to many Latina women who have either dated or are married to Caucasian men and a common theme that comes up is the differing cultures.

At first glance, you would think that deep cultural differences would only serve to drive a wedge in a marriage but I have found quite the opposite when talking to these women.

In fact, they say that the differences in their cultures are what bring them closer together with their spouses.  Those Latinas who have made it last with their gringo partners say that the prominent aspects of Latino and gringo characters actually complement each other.

For example, I know a Latina, a Chilean to be exact who (I will say this as gently as I can) has a tendency to make a small matter into a big one.  She recognizes that about herself and says that her gringo husband is excellent at calming her down and getting her to see situations in a milder manner.

She swears that if she ended up with a Chilean man, tempers would go unchecked and there would be explosions of monumental proportions in their marriage.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Another reason that I have observed and may serve to explain why more Latinas are marrying gringos today than ever before is a more modern level of equality in the home.

Latino culture is such that the men are the bread-winners and don’t do housework and other domestic activities.

For better or worse, it seems that Latinas are shying away from this dynamic and gringos are much more likely to be amenable to this household role.

Successful Latinas may also be drawn to gringos who are more likely to be supportive of a career that could outshine their own as well.

All of this may be reading too deep into things that may not even be there and the answer could be much simpler in reality.  After all, we live in America and a Latina growing up in America may value a partner who could be something of an usher to her in this American life.

It makes me happy to see Latina/Caucasian marriages work because I believe it can be a benefit for all parties involved.  On a purely biological level, species thrive when they intermingle as it brings the favorable characteristics of both to the surface and phases out that which is detrimental.  So it goes with Latina/Caucasian marriages.

Who Are Hispanic Millennials

There is quite a change in the cultural landscape on the horizon here in America. In just a few short years, Latino Millennials will dominate a huge portion of the U.S. population and with this upcoming surge in Hispanic influence comes an influx of culture, changes in marketing, art and values.

Who Are Hispanic Millennials and What is Their Impact

Who Are Hispanic Millennials

Who Are Hispanic Millennials

One of the most important steps in answering the question “who are Hispanic Millennials?” is understanding how this generation identifies itself. Hispanic millennials are typically generation Yers who were born to immigrant parents. They are second or possibly 3rd generation Hispanics born here in the states.

It is very interesting to look at the numbers regarding trends among this group. For example 73% of young adult Hispanics have watched English-speaking only television shows within the last week. This is a generation that is embracing American culture and wishes to not only assimilate but to stake their claim on the cultural scene and make an impact in various ways.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, Hispanic millennials are not content to keep a low profile and to keep off the radar of anglos. They feel confident not only in their English-speaking abilities but as contributors to the society they find themselves involved in. This is a major characteristic because now, more than ever it means that marketing and Hispanic Millennials go hand in hand.

Personally, when I think about Hispanic Millennials, I envision a hip class of Latinos that is as much American as they are tied to their Latin roots and it seems that the advertising and marketing world share the same view.

Did you know, for instance, that young Hispanic adults are almost twice as likely to own an iPad or other late generation tablet than non-Hispanic people of the same age group?

Hispanic millennials have taken to cyberspace to express themselves, further their careers and to connect with people who share similar interests and values. Again, unlike their parents, they are very technology literate and more than 60% of Hispanic millennials are online.

Still, the identity of this curious demographic cannot be summed up solely by the tendencies of their American culture. One of the defining characteristics of Latino millennials is their ties to their ethnic backgrounds.

While a great portion of Hispanic millennials are likely to define themselves first as American, most of them are bilingual and still celebrate the holidays and rites of their origin countries i.e. quinceañeras and The Day of The Dead. It is very important to remember that these young American adults maintain a strong bond with their heritage because it is this heritage that shapes who they are and how they live here in America.

In reality, Hispanic millennials are not too different than Tommy Smith down the Street or Mr. Johnson at your office. They are growing up in very similar ways as the typical Anglo but with an undeniable Latin flavor. They are an amalgamation of foreign Hispanic cultures and the American way of life. In fact, one of the reasons the world is taking so much note of them as of recently is because they are making the world see Hispanic people and Latin culture in a whole new light.

So, who are Hispanic millennials? I suppose the shortest and most direct answer to that question is this: they are the newest generation of people to contribute to the zeitgeist of this country.

Mexican Chocolate – Moctezuma’s Greatest Legacy

You probably know that chile peppers and corn are native to Mexico, but did you know that chocolate is from Mexico, as well? When you hear the word “chocolate,” you may think of the famed Swiss candy, but without the Aztecs and Moctezuma, that would never have existed.

Moctezuma, sometimes spelled Montezuma, was the Emperor of the Aztec empire when the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán in 1519. When Cortés and his men arrived, Moctezuma greeted them with great fanfare.

Mexican Chocolate and the Fall of the Aztecs

Although there are now historical records to contest this, tradition holds that the Aztec people considered Cortés to be the reincarnation of their god Quetzalcoatl.

Believing Cortés to be a god, Moctezuma treated him to the finest foods that he had to offer. Among these: chocolate, fruit of the cacao tree which, according to the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the god himself is said to have bestowed on humanity. Banished for revealing this secret of the gods, he was to return one day, as a white-faced god.

Although Cortés had never heard of chocolate, its consumption dates back to 1900 BC in Mesoamerica. The Aztecs even gave chocolate its name: it likely comes from xocolātl, a word in Nahuatl that means “bitter water.” Although we generally consume chocolate that has been sweetened, in its natural state it is indeed quite bitter.

Plus, the Mexican chocolate that Cortés and his men encountered was very different from the chocolate that we know today.

For starters, the chocolate of that time was only served as a drink. It was a frothy, spicy beverage, with chile peppers, spices such as vanilla, and corn meal, sweetened with honey. It was much like the still-traditional drink atole.

Importance of Cacao

Cacao was highly valued and even used as currency.

Cacao was highly valued and even used as currency.

Given its particular flavor and texture, Spanish conquistadors appear not to have enjoyed early Mexican chocolate very much.  However, it was clearly an important part of the culture very valued by the Aztecs.

The upper class enjoyed chocolate and used it in religious ceremonies and even traded as currency.

Surprisingly, the Aztecs themselves did not produce the cacao needed for chocolate, as their climate wasn’t suitable. As an imported product, it was even more of a luxury.

Cacao seeds were also required by the Aztecs as taxes or tributes from those they had conquered. Moctezuma himself was a great fan of chocolate and was said to drink up to fifty cups of it each night after dinner, from a golden cup.

Recognizing its possible applications, the Spanish took the precious ingredient back to Europe despite not understanding its appeal – just in case. There, they added sugar and voilà: the chocolate we know and love.

Beyond its delicious taste, chocolate has lots of health benefits. For example, cocoa beans have high levels of flavonoids, which have antioxidant, protective effects.

Dark chocolate may also help with the circulatory system and reduce blood pressure. And, not surprising to those of us who love a good chocolate break, it may help cognition.

In addition to his critical role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Moctezuma was also responsible for increasing the size of the Aztec Empire. Still, it’s clear that one of his biggest legacies is the spread of this Latin food throughout Europe, and then the rest of the world.

What’s your favorite way to eat chocolate? Tell us in the comments!

Gustavo Dudamel Biography

If we think about child prodigies and classical music, most people will think of age-old talents such as Mozart or Beethoven – most of them European. But Latin America has its own very talented classical conductors and composers, as well, who do their best to keep this art alive and relevant for today’s audiences. Gustavo Dudamel from Venezuela is one of those musicians.

At only 33 years old, Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is one of the most popular and most recognized classical music directors in the world, and one of the most famous Hispanic people, as well.

He was born on January 26, 1981 and found his passion in music very young, as the son of a trombonist and a singing teacher who enjoyed listening to symphonies while other kids of his age still painted with their fingers. He took up the violin at age ten then soon began to study composition.

Gustavo Dudamel Biography, Early Years

Gustavo Dudamel, one of classical music's rising stars.

Gustavo Dudamel, one of classical music’s rising stars.

Dudamel first studied music at home with his father but then became involved with El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela (The System of Youth and Child Orchestras).

El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela is a famous Venezuelan musical education program with a noble mission: to keep at-risk young people out of dangerous situations in their communities, such as drugs or violence.

Through El Sistema children learn music – formally – so that their free time is spent enjoying cultural activities, as well as spending time with others with similar interests.

El Sistema left a huge impact on his life, and Dudamel has promoted the initiative in many countries, so that younger generations can take advantage of these kinds of projects the way he did when he was a child.

Having had success in Venezuela with El Sistema and the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, a young Dudamel competed in – and won – conducting competitions, including the Gustav Mahlar Conducting Prize, starting the young man from South America on the way to an international career.

Dudamel, Young but Dedicated

In any Gustavo Dudamel biography, it is impossible to leave out one important aspect of his work life: his dedication.

Dudamel is known not only for his talent, but also for the seriousness with which he approaches music. Not satisfied to be considered the whiz kid, Gustavo is consistently praised for his work ethic. This trait, along with his charismatic personality and youthful appearance, have led to his status as one of the most popular conductors around.

Since 2009, Dudamel has been the music director of Los Angeles Philharmonic, and like the conductors of other major orchestras, Dudamel is well-paid.

His salary for 2011-12 (the last year that Gustavo Dudamel salary information was available) was over $1.4 million including benefits. The L.A. Phil is clearly pleased with Gustavo Dudamel ticket sales and has actually extended his previous contract through 2019.

Examples of Recordings of his Presentations

Gustavo Dudamel: Mambo (Fiesta) with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. (2008)
Mahler: Symphony No. 8 with Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (2012)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5; Francesca da Rimini with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (2009)
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra with Los Angeles Philharmonic (2007)

Gustavo Dudamel also continues to be the music director for the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, reflecting his commitment to his country and the musical education he received.

Given all that he has accomplished at such a young age, it’s clear that the Gustavo Dudamel biography still has many pages left to be written.

Are you a fan of Gustavo Dudamel? Let us know in the comments!

Juan Luis Guerra Biography

When you want to talk about important Latin musicians, it’s impossible not to mention legend Juan Luis Guerra. From the Dominican Republic, this well-known singer and songwriter was creating music to the smooth rhythms of bachata long before the current crop of Latin crooners made this type of music popular with urban Hispanic youth.

Juan Luis Guerra Biography and Early Life

Juan Luis Guerra was born on June 7, 1957. As a ten-year old, he already knew how to play guitar, but he didn’t discover that music was his real passion until much later.

Juan Luis studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, an education which is clearly reflected in his poetic and socially conscious lyrics.

He then decided to try his luck in the United States, where he attended the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston. During that time, he returned periodically to his native country the Dominican Republic to work at a television channel so he could afford his stay in the United States.

Juan Luis Guerra, in a concert in Madrid.

Juan Luis Guerra, in a concert in Madrid.

An essential part of any Juan Luis Guerra biography is that he has been internationally awarded many times for his work, with achievements that practically no Hispanic singers and musicians have ever accomplished before. He won his first Grammy for “Bachata Rosa” (1990) with his band 440 and has continued from there.

Many of his best-known records have topics which discuss social issues. For example, “Ojalá que llueva café” (1989), the album that represented the beginning of his international career. The title song, now a classic of Latin music, metaphorically wishes for food (and coffee, “café”) to rain from the sky so that the peasants have something to eat.

In 1992, he released “Areíto,” creating controversy due to the lyrics of the songs which protest against the challenges and poor conditions present in Latin America.

Famous Juan Luis Guerra Songs

Want to hear for yourself? Here are a few of his most popular songs:

“Ojalá que llueva café”
“Burbujas de amor”
“Bachata rosa”
“Estrellitas y duendes”
“El costo de la vida”
“Como abeja al panal”
“A pedir su mano”
“Palomita blanca”
“La Llave de Mi Corazón”
“Mi PC”
“Las avispas”
“Soldado”
“Para ti”
“Quisiera”

His personal life has also influenced his music in direct ways. In 2004, after six years of silence he came back with “Para ti,” an album that represents Guerra’s conversion to Christianity.

Although some fans were disappointed by the evangelism in his lyrics, this album sold more than half a million copies and earned him two Billboard Awards.

Juan Luis Guerra Tours

He has always toured heavily world-wide and the Juan Luis Guerra tour continues to sell out throughout Latin America.

He even once said that at the beginning of his career, sometimes he was so exhausted on tour that he couldn’t even remember which country he was in! At that time, the tour was one of the most anticipated tours in the region, with Juan Luis Guerra tickets selling out long in advance.

Guerra, known for his beard, hat, and infectious smile, is one of the most famous Hispanic people and has worked with many other Latin and non-Latin artists, even touring with some.

Guerra has also surprised his fans by singing in other languages such as English (“July 19th”) or Portuguese (“Fogaraté”).

Another key aspect of any Juan Luis Guerra biography is the message that his music and his concerts give. Guerra is well-known for his positive lyrics, and his shows reflect that. He tries to transmit his faith to the audience, encouraging them to be optimistic and thankful to God for His gifts.

Guerra continues to be commercially successful, and any Juan Luis Guerra biography is certainly a work in progress.

Are you a fan of Juan Luis Guerra fan? Tell us your favorite songs in the comments!

The Arab Latinos in the US

Since at least the nineteenth century, Arabs have immigrated to the Americas. There were even Moors on Christopher Columbus’s voyages. And yet, we don’t generally think of Arab Latinos when we think of Hispanics.

History of the Arab Latinos

The history of the Arabs in Hispanic culture begins long before the colonization of the New World, with the Moors in Spain and Portugal.

Of Arab and Berber descent, the Moors entered the Iberian Peninsula from Morocco, calling the region Al-Andalus. Their rule eventually came to include most of Spain and Portugal, Gibraltar, and even parts of France.

The impact of the Moors and their religion, Islam, is still clearly seen in architecture in many parts of Spain. The Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Spain’s most famous landmarks, is one of the best examples.

Shakira is one of the most famous Arab Latinos.

Shakira is one of the most famous Arab Latinos.

Arabic and the Spanish Language

One of the most lasting legacies of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula is the influence of Arabic on the Spanish language. Some 1,000 words in Spanish have Arabic roots, with another 3,000 being derived (related) words. Together they make up about 8% of the Spanish language. The only larger lexical influence on the language is Latin.

Interestingly, most of the words coming from Arabic are nouns, with very few verbs and only one preposition (hasta), implying that the structure of Spanish was not greatly affected.

If you have ever wondered why there are so many words in Spanish with the same meaning, one of the reasons is the influence of Arabic. For example, olive: olive/aceituna (from az-zaytun) and migraine: migraña/jaqueca (from shaqiqa).

Another lasting hallmark of Arabic is words that begin with “al” – almanaque (calendar), almuerzo (lunch), almohada (pillow) – since “al” is the definite article in Arabic.

Names in Spanish, however, were less likely to be impacted by Arabic. Throughout Spanish history, Muslims had to adopt Christian last names either by decree or due to persecution, much like Hispanic Jews.

Arab Latinos in the US

There are, in fact, millions of people of Arab descent in Latin America. Estimates include: Argentina, 1.3 million to 3.5 million; Mexico, 1.1 million; Venezuela, 1.6 million; Chile, 500,000 to 800,000.

And in Brazil, there are some 10 million people of Arab descent – some 6-7% of the population. In fact, the Brazil’s Arab community is the largest outside of the Arab world.

Many famous Latinos are, in fact, Arab Latinos. For example, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Hedú, considered the richest man in the world, is of Lebanese origin. Entertainers Salma Hayek of Mexico and Shakira both have Lebanese backgrounds, as well.

Also, a large number of Latin American presidents have been Arab Latinos, including presidents of Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Argentina.

One of the reasons that Hispanic Arabs fly under the radar is that a large majority are Christians, rather than Muslims. Immigration in the 20th century is largely from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, often escaping religious oppression.

Estimates put some 97% of Hispanic Arabs as Christians. Since many are Orthodox or Catholic, the common Hispanic religion, they integrated fairly smoothly into their new communities. Intermarriage is common, meaning that the Arabic language is also not passed down regularly to children.

That said, given the historical relationship that Hispanics have with the Arab world, there are those, particularly in the U.S., who are converting to Islam. In fact, 6% of U.S. Muslims are Latino, and they are one of the fastest growing segments of the Muslim community. Many are not of Arab origin, but see connections to language and culture that have continued since the rule of the Moors.

Are you an Arab Latino? Tell us in the comments!