Culture

The Rich and Fascinating History of Puerto Ricans on Broadway

United Artists

Puerto Ricans have influenced New York culture for years, and their footprint is nowhere more prominent than it is on the Broadway stage. Although Puerto Ricans officially became US citizens in 1917 with the passage of the Jones-Shrofth Act, the “Great Migration” from PR to NYC truly started in the 1950s with the advent of commercial airline travel. After this initial influx of migrants, the Puerto Rican population of New York City skyrocketed to 12% of the city’s total population.

Naturally, with the sudden and stark change in demographics, New York City’s culture experienced a change too. This change was never more apparent than in the rise of the “Nuyorican” movement, a class of performers, artists and writers who embraced both the American and Puerto-Rican sides to their identity. Like many of the newcomers to New York City before them, on Broadway, Puerto Rican performers revealed themselves as forces to be reckoned with. It is there, on the Great White Way, that this group of actors proved to America that Latinos have as much talent as their white counterparts.

1. Chita Rivera

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Chita Rivera is arguably the most successful Latina–let alone, Puerto-Rican–to ever grace a Broadway stage. This seven-time Tony-nominated, two-time Tony-winner began her Broadway career in the musical “Call Me Madam” in 1951. However, it was her performance originating Anita in the original Broadway production of “West Side Story” that cemented her status as a Broadway icon. She has since appeared in almost 40 productions on stage, received the Kennedy Center Award in 2002 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

2. Rita Moreno

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No introduction is necessary for the ultra-talented, legendary actress of stage and screen Rita Moreno. Although Moreno is probably best-known for her work as Anita in the film adaptation of “West Side Story”, she also has a successful career in theater. In 1975, she earned a Tony Award for her portrayal of Googie Gomez in the stage play, “The Ritz”. She truly is a living legend. She, too, has been awarded a Kennedy Center Award and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

3. Raúl Juliá

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Best known for playing Gomez in the “The Addams Family” films, Juliá was actually a very well-respected stage actor nominated for multiple Tony Awards before he made the leap to the Silver Screen. He started acting career appearing in plays in Puerto Rico, but soon moved to New York City to try his hand at Broadway. He quickly found success as a celebrated Shakesperian actor, appearing in plays such as “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, “King Lear”, “As You Like It”, and “The Taming of the Shrew”.

4. Diosa Costello

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Puerto-Rican born actress Diosa Costello is notable for being the first ever Latina to star in a Broadway play, the 1939 musical “Too Many Girls” with Cubano Desi Arnaz. Dubbed “The Latin Bombshell” (how original) by the press, Costello never received super-stardom because she was “reluctant” to take her career to Hollywood.

5. Olga San Juan

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For her incredible work in 1951’s “Paint Your Wagon”, Olga San Juan was the first ever Latina to receive the prestigious Donaldson Award, an award given by the New York theater community for excellence on stage. San Juan even experienced minor mainstream success in hit Hollywood films such as “Blue Skies” and “Variety Girl”.

6. José Ferrer

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Puerto Rican actor José Ferrer was renowned for his portrayal of the famous unlucky-in-love character Cyrano de Bergerac. In fact, Ferrer won a Tony Award in 1947 for his critically-acclaimed performance.

7. Míriam Colón

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Míriam Colón was part of the groundbreaking class of “Method” actors that rose to prominence in the 50s and 60s. Colón became the first Puerto Rican actor accepted into the Actors Studio after she impressed co-founded and visionary Elia Kazan with her audition. Later, she acted as founder and director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater in New York City that still exists today.

8. Lin Manuel Miranda

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Of course, we can’t continue this list without mentioning Lin Manuel Miranda–the Patron Saint of Puerto Ricans on Broadway. After establishing himself in the Broadway world with his hit Latinx-centric musical “In the Heights”, Miranda further cemented his place in the annals of Broadway history by writing and starring in the Broadway blockbuster “Hamilton” (you may have heard of it).

9. Anthony Ramos

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You may know him as Lady Gaga’s BFF in “A Star is Born”, but Nuyorican actor Anthony Ramos actually got his start playing (and originating) the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in “Hamilton”. When “Hamilton” won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Ramos held up the Puerto Rican flag during the acceptance speech.

10. Ednita Nazario

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Although Ednita Nazario is primarily known as being a singer, this Puerto Rican powerhouse made waves in the theater community with her performance in the short-lived 1998 musical “The Capeman”. Although the musical faced harsh criticism, Nazario herself earned a Drama Desk Award for her performance

11. Josh Segarra

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Actor of Puerto Rican descent Josh Segarra graduated NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in theater. Afterward, he quickly made a name for himself by originating the role of Emilio Estefan in the hit Broadway musical based on Gloria Estefan’s life “On Your Feet!”.

12. Luis Salgado

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Puerto Rican performer Luis Salgado is a respected choreographer who had much to do with the stunning dance visuals of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s “In the Heights”. He’s appeared in musical productions of “Rocky” and “On Your Feet!”. Of being a Puerto Rican actor on Broadway, Salgado says: ““The funny thing is that they still ask Puerto Rican actors: ‘Do you have documents to work here?’ There’s so much one wants to reply to that question…”

13. John Leguizamo

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Already a famous Hollywood actor, John Leguizamo took his talent to the Great White Way with “Latin History for Morons”, a critically-acclaimed play he wrote and starred in. The play was nominated for a 2018 Tony for Best Play.

14. Ariana DeBose

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Ariana de Bose is an actress from Texas of Afro-Puerto Rican descent. Her Broadway credits include “Bring It On”, “Motown: The Musical”, “Hamilton” and “A Bronx Tale”. You’ll definitely be seeing de Bose more in the future, as she’s set to play Boricua Anita in the new movie adaptation of the “West Side Story” musical.

15. Jimmy Smits

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Jimmy Smits made history when he appeared in the 2003 play “Anna in the Tropics” that premiered at the prestigious El Royale theater. Along with fellow Poricua performer Priscilla López, Smits was part of an all-Latino cast that he (rightfully) called a “historic moment”.

16. Priscilla Lopez

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Tony-Award winning singer, dancer, and actress Priscilla Lopez is best known for originating the role of Latina hopeful Diana Morales in “A Chorus Line” (a play notably written by fellow Nuyorican Nicholas Dante). According to Lopez, the character of Diana was based off of Lopez’s own life: “For many years, I felt guilty because I was working on Broadway while many other fellow Latino actors were not.”

17. Josie de Guzman

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Legendary actress of Puerto Rican descent Josie de Guzman is notable for being handpicked by composer Leonard Bernstein to play Maria in the 1980 Broadway revival of “West Side Story”. She earned a Tony Award nomination for her acclaimed performance. You can still catch her lighting up the Broadway stage once in a while.

18. Paola Lazaro

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Paola Lazaro is a Puerto Rican playwright whose career is “dedicated to relating to Latinxs everywhere”. She most notably wrote the Dascha Polanco-starring off-Broadway production “Tell Hector I Miss Him

19. Ruben Santiago-Hudson

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Journeyman actor of Afro-Puerto Rican descent Ruben Santiago-Hudson is best known for his 1996 Tony Award-winning performance in August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars”.

20. Robin de Jesús

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Robin de Jesús is a Nuyorican two-time Tony nominee for his acclaimed performances in “In The Heights” and “La Cage aux Folles”. According to de Jesús, he was inspired to get into musical theater when his high school drama teacher told him he’d “never make it” because he was “too short and Hispanic”. Looks like he proved her wrong!

Identity – TEST on 5.0.3 – stick to the front page🌵

Culture

Identity – TEST on 5.0.3 – stick to the front page🌵

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Mexico makes global headlines every day. Whether news outlets are discussing the new president, the border wall, immigration, their economy, gas shortage, the rise in tourism, it’s truly never ending the multitude of ways Mexico creates a complex and fascinating discussion.

As the 14th largest country in the world, Mexico has been expanding and developing since the first existence of people on the land. While Mexico continues to change and evolve, its culture and people are what truly make the country stand out with vibrancy and beauty.

Here are 20 fascinating ways Mexico has become the country we love today.

1. The first people of Mexico.

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People often talk about the Mayans or Aztecs almost as if they were the first people that inhabited Mexico, but it is the Olmecs who are the first recorded society to settle there. According to History.com, the Olmecs inhabited the area that is now the state of Veracruz. The sculpture above isn’t what they looked like, but rather art they created themselves out of stone.

2. Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire

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In 1521, the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire, which meant that people from Europe now colonized large portions of Mexico. That is why today, Mexicans from all over the country can speak both Spanish and indigenous languages. That is also why Catholicism is the country’s main religion.

3. Mexico gained its independence in 1810.

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Fast forward to the early 1800s, Mexico finally becomes a republic but there’s still a lot of tension between the Spanish elite and the indigenous landless minority.

This chaotic time would soon come in the form of another revolution, but for now, Mexico and other countries including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had become their own entity.

4. The meaning behind the colors of the flag.

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The Mexican flag was created in 1821 and embodies both the indigenous people and the Spanish. Green represents hope and victory, white stands for the purity of Mexican ideals and purity of the Catholic faith, and the red stands for the blood shed by the country’s fighters and leaders.

According to amhistory.com, legend has it that “the gods had advised the Aztecs that the place where they should establish their city was to be identified when they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear tree, devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the main plaza in Mexico City.”

5. Mexican-American War of 1846.

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Initiated by American President James K. Polk, the U.S. and Mexico launched into war over territories in 1846. Unfortunately, a bad deal known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the exchange for $15 million led Mexico to lose parts of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

6. Modern-day Mexico.

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As Mexico settled into the shape that we know today, the people of Mexico continued to go to and from the U.S., almost as frequently as they did before. Treaty or no treaty, wall or no wall, Mexicans have been a congruent part of the American culture and its land. Mexico on its own is a spirited country that continues to evolve with each coming year.

7. Citizens of Mexico.

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Since Mexico is made up of people of indigenous and Spanish descent, the mixture of people that are Mexican citizens is noticeably different from any other country. There are people from all over the world that have been migrating to Mexico for centuries, including Asians (primarily Filipino), CanadiansGermansBritish, and many more. American citizens are by far the largest population that live in Mexico, second to Mexicans of course.

8. The ebb and flow of Mexico’s economy.

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While Mexico is currently undergoing a gasoline shortage their economy, like most countries in the world, is anything but stable. The country is rich, that is for sure, Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican citizen, is one of the richest men in the world.  According to the Balance.com, Mexico’s gross domestic product in 2017 was $2.4 trillion.

Mexico’s new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador is also attempting to push that number even further. Despite the economy’s current downturn, the president wants to raise the minimum wage in order to boost the countries economy.

9. Influential Mexicans

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Mexican influencers have always been part of the country’s history, from pioneering leaders like Emiliano Zapata Salazar and Pancho Villa. Some of the most beloved, however, can still be seen in today’s culture including artist Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. If we get started on all of the incredible talents coming out from Mexico today, well, that would be a whole other story.

10. The growth of Mexico.

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As Mexican citizens migrate to other countries, particularly the U.S., the influx of migration into Mexico has grown as well. The recent migration from Central Americans into Mexico is proof of that. While many of the Central Americans are seeking to move to the U.S., the majority of them stay in Mexico, and the new leader of Mexico wants to help with that situation as well.

11. Violence in Mexico

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One tragic element that is part of Mexico’s history, and that continues to be resounding today, has to be its violence. It’s not a safe place for journalists, students, and mainly women. The ongoings of the Mexican cartel and the corruption of the government means that Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

According to Forbes, out of 15 most dangerous countries, Mexico ranked at No. 12. The U.S., for those keeping scores, came in at No. 13.

12. A wonder of the world: Chichen Itza.

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There are many (many) things one should do before they die: live in New York; see the Golden Gate Bridge; see the Great Wall of China. One thing that should definitely be on that list is experiencing the Mayan Ruins known as Chichen Itza located in the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and is considered the last great Maya capital and features more than 4000 structures.

13. Cartels in Mexico

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As we mentioned before, Mexico is a violent country and the cartel is largely a big reason why. Understanding the growth of the cartel is a whole other beast. One may think that El Chapo is the face of the countries drug wars, and while that may be the case, there are others, primarily Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. His story can be seen in Netflix’s “Narcos Mexico.” The cartel culture has influenced not only the government, police officials, the economy, but also art and culture.

14. Famous traditions

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For many Latinos, Mexican culture has been ingrained in our everyday life since day one. For the rest of the world, Mexican customs are only now getting the recognition it deserves. From Day of the Dead to folkorico and mariachi music, everyone is barely catching on to the beauty that Mexico bestows.

15. Mexican food.

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Let’s keep it real for a second. Mexican food is probably one the best things to ever been invented. It is like a creation from God and we are blessed that it came from our people. From tamales to menudo to tacos, you basically find Mexican food in every part of the world. Whether it’s good or not, is another story, but if you want the most legit Mexican food you will have to go to Mexico or Los Angeles.

16. Standout cities.

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One of our favorite things about traveling to Mexico is meeting the different kinds of people, and the food that comes from these places. Standout cities that everyone must visit, and here’s a list in no particular order:

  • Mexico City
  • Oaxaca
  • Veracruz
  • Queretaro
  • Guadalajara
  • Tepic
  • San Miguel de Allende
  • Merida
  • Cancun
  • Puebla
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Ixtapa
  • Morelia
  • Guanajuato City
  • Cuernavaca

17. Indigenous community.

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Mexico has gone through an insane and poetic transformation. From colonization to migrations, Mexico is still very much indigenous. You can see native people throughout Mexico and indigenous languages are spoken everywhere.

18. The fluctuating migration.

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Mexico’s population has always been diverse, but there is definitely a current migration taking place right now. As tens of thousands of people migrate from Central America many of them remain in Mexico because they can’t gain asylum in the U.S.

According to The Washington Post, many Central Americans have sought Mexican asylum that offers them permission to work in the country, and the new president welcomes that.

19. New leadership.

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On Dec. 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s 64th president. There were mixed thoughts about the 65-year-old politician. His radical policies have stirred the pot, but the majority of Mexicans are welcoming new ideas. His economic views and implementations have certainly made things already a little hectic, but he’s doing many positive things too, including wanting to raise the minimum wage.

20. Mexico vs. the U.S.

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Mexico and the U.S. have always had a love/hate relationship with each other. While both countries are deeply attached to each other, both literally and metaphorically, they are both dependent on each other as well. President Donald Trump has been a defiant foe to the Mexican people, and at times, to its leaders, from the inception of his presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see how the new president interacts with Trump because Mexico’s previous president had a love/hate relationship with him too.

21. Tourism in Mexico.

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Mexico has always been an exotic destination for tourists, despite its issues with violence and the economy. Trump’s hateful words about Mexicans and Mexico hasn’t deterred that one bit. According to Forbes, the “country is the No. 1 destination for tourists from the U.S. and is receiving record levels of visitors.”

In the last year, it was projected that more than 40 million people visited Mexico, and we’re certain that number will continue to increase year after year.

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Aprender a dudar es apprender a pensar

Octavio Paz

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Cancun Has a Major Algae Problem and The Cause Could Be Global Warming

Things That Matter

Cancun Has a Major Algae Problem and The Cause Could Be Global Warming

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For the past several years, Cancun has notoriously become one of The Summer Spots. With promises of cheap beer, crystal clear surf and fun hangs, tourists typically flock to the vacation destination for good times in the spring and summer in troves. The location’s sands, beaches, and resorts are typically packed by this time of year, but a nasty visitor is washing up on the shores of these beaches, scaring off the usual summertime travel industry.

For the past several months, an invasion of seaweed-like algae hasn’t been just an eyesore for tourists, it’s also been a nasal deterrent.

Hundreds of pounds of seaweed-like algae is washing up on the shores of Cancun and it’s ruining the city’s tourist season.

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The past several months, the sunny resort town has been inundated with slimy, brown seaweed-like algae. It’s name is sargassum and it has washed up all along the coast around Cancun; stretching all the way down to Playa del Carmen and even further to Tulum. With the stench of rotten eggs, the algae smells just as gross as it looks and makes for a pretty unappealing soggy mess. It’s definitely not the sort of beach conditions that encourage tourists to visit.

Though Cancun businesses are feeling the effects of this invasion, the president of Mexico isn’t as concerned. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reportedly called the problem controllable and has only allocated 2.6 Million for the removal of the algae. The removal is a slow process — being shoveled away by city workers — but the lack of resources makes the task even more difficult. Also, the endless onslaught of fresh algae with every tide doesn’t help. Even using front loaders and trucks for the cleanup, the work takes several hours and results in an algae-covered beach only moments later.

Officials aren’t certain what the cause of this algae is but there are clues that point to it being caused by major global issues.

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Scientists have suggested that the increase in algae is caused by the warming of our Earth because of the global climate change we are currently experiencing. This is the same hypothesis that has been suggested to explain Florida’s Red Tide. Earlier this month, scientists at the University of South Florida used satellite imaging to discover the largest bloom of the algae in the world. It’s being called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and it is impacting beaches along North, Central, and South America.

Others believe that deforestation is to blame for the assault of algae on these beaches. Due to the logging and increased use of herbicide and fertilizers by Brazilian lumber companies in the Amazon forest, dangerous runoff flows into the ocean. The nutrients in these fertilizers encourage the growth of the algae; causing super blooms to occur.

In a release about a study of these super blooms, Dr. Chuanmin Hu of the USF College of Marine Science expressed concern about the state of the Atlantic ocean. He has predicted that:

“The ocean’s chemistry must have changed in order for the blooms to get so out of hand.”

Regardless of what the Mexican president and scientists say, locals who face this problem every day are the ones most impacted by the algae.

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Tourism in the community has taken a major hit during a time when Mexico is already heading towards a recession. The first three weeks of June, hotel occupancy in the area dropped by 3.4%. Air travel to the city also saw numbers that aren’t as optimistic as Cancun usually sees during this time of year. It only claimed 1.2%, the smallest amount of growth that the area has seen since 2011.

It isn’t just the international travel industry that loses money to the algae. In a city like Cancun, as much as 40% of jobs are tied to tourism alone. Events like this — that impact the beaches so severely — threaten the livelihood of locals. The Mexican transportation industry, local artisans, restaurants, beach resorts, and sight-seeing locations depend on this busy season to provide the bulk of their yearly income. In order to lure travelers, hotels in the area are even running specials. In many places in Cancun, tourists can get as much as 20% off rooms and free transportation to unaffected beaches.

Cleaning up after this mess will take a lot more than a few hundred shovels.

Twitter / @ElCanaco

Reversing the effects of climate change can not really be accomplished on an individual level. Realistically, a single person does not cause this damage. Instead, it is large conglomerations that hurt our Earth with their anti-environmental policies. Until the governments of the world decide to hold these companies accountable, nothing productive will be done to stop this damage.

Right now, we’re seeing this onslaught of algae but who knows what is in store for our environment if we don’t make major improvements soon. It’s more than just our Cancun vacations that are counting on these changes.

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