Colombian Gold… María Isabel Urrutia Ocoró

Colombian Gold… María Isabel Urrutia Ocoró

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we are formed… by telling these stories, we see an example of how we live, how we inspire and how we honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

MimiTVA Posting from the DMV, February 4, 2018

María Isabel Urrutia Ocoró (born 25 March 1965) is a former weightlifter, athlete and politician from Colombia.  Raised in Valle del Cuaca, she was always a stellar athlete.  Starting out in shot put and the discus throw she represented Colombia in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

On the advice of her coaches, Maria Isabel switched to weightlifting  in 1989 and became an amazing champion.  Urrutia won silver at the 1989 World Championships.   She went on to win gold at the 1990, silver 1991, gold 1994, silver 1995, bronze 1996, silver 1997, and bronze at the 1998 World Weightlifting Championships.

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Urrutia won a gold medal in the women’s 75 kg class in the 2000 Summer Olympics  becoming the second Colombian woman to win a medal and the first ever to win gold.  Maria Isabel Urritia is still the only gold medal winner to represent Colombia.  During these games she carried the flag of Colombia in the inaugural parade. Post her Gold medal win, she was honored through out Latin America.

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Colombian flag-bearer Maria Isabel Urrutia leads her team onto the field during the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics Friday, Sept. 15, 2000, at Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)

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Nowadays she is retired from sports but she also became a politician.   Urrutia held a seat in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia from 2002 to 2010 (twice elected: 2002 and 2006).  A popular elected official she was noted for her excellent legislative results and transparency in governing.

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LaVidaEnBlack History Afro-Latinos in Football

LaVidaEnBlack History  Afro-Latinos in Football

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

Posting from the DMV, February 6, 2016

Victor Cruz the salsa dancing wide receiver for the Giants is touted as one of the best in the NFL, unfortunately he had to have “season ending” surgery in 2015.  Raised primarily by his Puerto Rican Mother and Grandmother.  Cruz was twice kicked off the University of Massachusetts football team for bad grades.

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So he went back home and two events changed his life and his motivation.  Apparently Cruz was in a club when gunshots rang out and then a few weeks later, his father took his own life.   Cruz decided not to give up and fought his way back to play for the U-Mass team.

And life kept hitting him, right where it hurt.  He wasn’t drafted for the NFL. And then the Giants invited him to camp.  Cruz was not cut and started playing in the 2010 season only to unfortunately suffer an injury that benched him for the rest of 2010.   Victor Cruz’s career has been a roller coaster but when Cruz is on the field he is a standout.  In 2011 he was an integral part of the Giants Super Bowl victory.  In July, the 26-year-old signed a five-year contract extension with the Giants for a total of $45 million.

Cruz has gone on to write a book and is now a proud father and husband.

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A few other notable Afro-Latinos in the NFL include….

Mychal Rivera

The Oakland Raiders tight end, who also happens to be Naya Rivera’s little brother, was drafted into the league in 2013 during round six.

La Vida En Black Venezuela

La Vida En Black Venezuela

German bankers from the Welser family, who financed the sale of Venezuela in the 16th century, were the first to traffic in human beings into Venezuela.

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The family was granted colonial rights to the Province of Venezuela from Charles I, King of Spain.

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The Africans were a part of the Ewe-Fon people from Benin and the Congo. They were brought to South American shores in 1528. The Welsers were granted a special concession to settle and exploit western Venezuela but lost that privilege in 1556.

The Ewe-Fon people were known for their religious and spiritual practices. Quite resistant to Christianity, these people were often engaged in symmetry and subterfuge, including disguising Deities with Christian Saints. a53c29a964f4746dd9d5ba5baa60e232  In the Americas, Fon spiritual rituals and practices fused with French, Portuguese or Spanish practices to create new and distinct religions like Voodoo, Mami Wata, Candomblé and Santería.

During the sixteenth century, enslaved Africans were in high demand to be brought to Venezuela to exploit the copper mines in Coro and Buría (Yaracuy) and to Isla Margarita and Cumaná for pearl diving and fishing.  Specific Africans were sought out for their skills in mining, fishing and diving.  Catching-of-pearls-Bern-Physiologus-IX-centuryThe Conquistadors discovered an extensive pearl bed around the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, a few short kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast. In the early 16th century,  La Peregrina pearl was discovered by an enslaved African and his enslaver offered it to the Spanish queen.  The enslaved man was rewarded his freedom.

Small-scale agricultural plantations were also established in Venezuela, especially in the regions surrounding Caracas. Portuguese, French, and English enslavers continued to deal in human cargo taking Africans of diverse origins, primarily Bantu from the Congo, Angola and Manding from the Gold Coast, up until in the early 1800s.  Enslaved people were treated as units of commerce, called pieza de india in reference to their physical size and potential for hard labor. However, in Venezuela the trading of people as slaves ended (1820-21) before Yoruba people began to be kidnapped from the Motherland and sold in South America.  This distinguished Venezuela’s enslaved population from those in Cuba, Colombia and Brazil.

In the eighteenth century, large shipments of enslaved Africans were brought to Barlovento to support the booming cacao industry and to the sugar plantations in Zulia, around Lake Maracaibo. Venezuela’s enslaved population comprised 1.3 percent of the total slave trade in the New World, compared with 38.1 percent for Brazil, 7.3 percent for Cuba, and 4.5 percent for the United States (Brandt 1978, 8).

For more about the history of the African Diasporic community subscribe to this blog for more on La Vida En Black …

LaVidaEnBlack History 

LaVidaEnBlack History 

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and from where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai… Gracias Profe Evo!

Posting from the DMV, February 2, 2016

As a child from humble beginnings; Dr. Raul Cuero, studied and played with roaches in his family home in Buenaventura, Colombia.  Motivated by boredom he was inspired to use his expansive imagination to create and invent over 27 patented items. A National Hispanic Scientist of the Year, Dr. Raúl Cuero, Ph.D., today is a renowned microbiologist, inventor, and president/research director of the International Park of Creativity in Bogota, Colombia.

Dr. Cuero’s childhood memories of the behavior of roaches and lizards, which were abundant in his environment created his love of science.   Dr. Cuero was severely affected by the ravages of illnesses such as malaria, tuberculosis in his community. During the 1950s, more than 30 percent of the children in his hometown died from diseases like parasites, malaria, tuberculosis and viral infections before reaching the age of 10.

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Dr. Cuero is also the founder, president, and research director of the International Park of Creativity (IPOC). IPOC’s soul purpose is to incubate young inventors under the mentorship of inventors.   IPOC was formed to nurture the invention of new technologies and products for global markets.  The young scientists implement scientific research and developments for diverse industries and other institutions seeking new technologies and products in a competitive global market.  Finally IPOC is a global “Think Tank” a center for economic, social, scientific and technological development.

Wit Ostrenko, MOSI president, stated “As the Director of the International Park of Creativity, we feel Cuero’s is essential to our mission and his core ideology of making science real and demonstrates the power of S.T.E.M. Education for our youth.”

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Dr. Cuero and his research team in Colombia’s, International Park of Creativity “IPOC” developed this novel technology over the span of six (6) years.

Dr. Cuero’s latest book in English is available in Amazon  is about creativity  where scientist and inventor R. Cuero, PhD, explains how to use your loneliness as a resource to ignite your imagination so you choose innovative action over sedentary reticence. Using creative experiences, history, philosophy, and sociology, Dr. Cuero presents a positive view of both loneliness and modern technology, and offers clear steps to overcome obstacles in order to achieve progress through creativity.

 

LaVidaEnBlack History Month 

LaVidaEnBlack History Month 

It’s important to know who we are, from whom and where we were formed… by telling the stories ourselves, we see an example of how to live, how to inspire and how to honor our ancestors, Aguanile, Mai, Mai…

Posting from the DMV, February 1, 2016

MimiTVA commits to post about different Afro-Latinos throughout Black History Month and beyond.  I’ll start out with my personal favorite … El Negro Primero, the Venezuelan soldier, Pedro Camejo!

In Venezuela, Simon Bolivar known as the liberator of South America realized the vital role Black men played in the colonies quest for freedom from the Spanish Crown. One of Bolivar’s fiercest soldiers was El Negro Primero, Pedro Camejo. Born a slave, Camejo’s nickname was a testament to his bravery for Pedro was always the first to enter the battlefield.

 Frightening the enemies with his vicious spear, Cameo rose to the rank of Lieutenant.

After fighting valiantly in the Battalla de Carabobo, Camejo was mortally wounded and before taking his last breath he uttered this unforgettable phrase to say goodbye to his trusted leader, General Josè Antonio Pàez, “Mi General vengo a decirle adiòs porque estoy muerto” (My General, I came to say goodbye because I am 
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Camejo has a municipality named for him as well as a statue in Caracas, the only such statue of a black man in all of Venezuela.  He fought for freedom and died a brave and unforgettable death.

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Sara Gòmez; The Documentary Gem of Cuba! 

Sara Gòmez; The Documentary Gem of Cuba! 

#LaVidaEnBlack #TheBlacksideofHispanicHeritage

  Sara Gómez (November 8, 1942 – June 2, 1974) was an Afro-Cuban filmmaker. She was born into a middle-class family in Havana and she was afforded an education in literature, piano and Afro-Cuban ethnography. 
She became a journalist before joining the newly-formed ICAIC in 1961, Castro a fan of film as art developed ICAIC as a new center for film in Cuba.   Gòmez quickly rose in the ranks as an assistant director to Jorge Fraga and Tomas Gutierrez Alea, as well as to the visiting French director Agnes Varda. 

One of only two black filmmakers at ICAIC at the time, and for several years its only woman director, Gomez made a series of documentary shorts. One of which is featured here…

“De Cierta Manera” was her last film and her first feature although Sara died after filming.  

De Cierta Manera (One Way or Another) a 1974 Cuban romantic drama was Directed by Sara Gómez. Considered Avant Garde; the film mixes documentary-style footage with a fictional story that looks at empoverished neighborhoods of Havana right after the Revolution of 1959. 

The film illuminates the history before the Revolution and the development that occured after Castro took over in 1959 Cuba. 

Its plot shows how tearing down slums and building modern settlement will not change the culture of its people. 

Gómez wrapped filming with Mario Balmaseda and Yolanda Cuellar just before her death; technical work was finished by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Julio García-Espinosa y Rigoberto López before its posthumous release.

As De Cierta Manera reveals, Sara Gómez was a revolutionary filmmaker at a crossroads; the Afro-Cuban community, its cultural traditions to include the African based religions, Abakuá and Santería, women’s issues, the treatment of marginalized sectors of society, and the role of family within the context of the revolution and workers’ rights. For its time, the film was extremely radical both in form and content.  Sara Gómez remains one of the most significant filmmakers from Latin America.  There is an award named for Sara Gòmez in the Women in Film and Video Chapter of Cuba. 

La Reina de Azùcar y los Afro-Latinos

La Reina de Azùcar y los Afro-Latinos

Ay Celia… I celebrate her this September – October in my La Vida En Hispanic Heritage Month posts and I would be remiss to not celebrate La Reina, So here ya go! 
As a constant source of inspiration you never fail to impress, Celia you still reign supreme in a world where you were meant to be just a this or a that.  But it was your destiny to touch hearts it was your purpose to make your people proud, that those who looked like feel as though they to could be respected and revered by their grace, talent, beauty.  

  
As the ONLY Afro-Latina with her very own expansive exhibit displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC, you had weaved yourself into the very fabric of this country, unlike any other Afro-Latina in the world.  The exhibit was complete with costumes designed by you and your music it was such an amazing thing to see and enjoy. 
 A Grammy nominee, ten times over, Celia sang only in Spanish because as she used to claim her “English was not very good looking.”    

She received a Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement award, a National Medal of the Arts, and honorary doctorates from Yale and the University of Miami. A street in Miami was also renamed  in her honor. 

  

Her trademark orange, red, and white polka dot dress (an original Celia design) and her personally designed shoes have been placed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute of Technology. According to the European Jazz Network, Celia “commands her realm with a down-to-earth dignity unmistakably vibrant in her wide smile and striking pose.”

   

Celia was a big star in Cuba before she came to the US.  She replaced the Puerto Rican singer Myrta Silva in the famed Cuban Orchestra, La Sonora Matancera in 1950 much to the chagrin of the white aristocracy in Cuba.  This singular move would propell the orchestra and Celia to international stardom. She became one of the first Afro-Latina women to lead an orchestra and Sonora Matancera took Cuban music around the world with Celia Cruz as “La Guarachera Cubana.”

  

I will never forget the way I felt driving down Constitution Ave, when I saw this mega building sized poster of Celia emblazoned with her battle cry to sing  Azùcar! in DC.   Our national museum of American History had this beautiful icon covering the front of their building it was a win.  And I remember thinking ..wow Celia, you were

A Cruz Original
 
It was amazing to see An entire exhibit devoted to our queen, our music, the ancestors were so very pleased.  Couldnt you feel it in her voice? I can, to this day, still hear her singing in my heart,  felt her spirit in my soul, “La Vida Es Un Carnival”
La Vida Es Un Carnival Live  

I was filled with an inexplicable level of pride at who Celia was and what Celia Cruz means to me and people who look like me.  She is irreplaceable our Queen, La Reina! It was confirming to see that Celia Cruz a naturalized citizen, of these United States was still honored and revered with her own exhibit. She was a treasure. 

 

   I have my favorite songs of Celia’s I love “Usted Abuso” with its lovely arrangements and of course “La Negra Tiene Timbao” my anthem because I am Ese Negrita que esta caminando… 

But the song that just breaks my heart in its mastery of lyrics is a cover En Español of I Will Survive.  Recorded just months before she succumbed to brain cancer. Her voice rich but strained emmitted the wonderful Adios of this legendary singer. 

“Yo Vivire, en el alma de mi gente, en el cuero del tambor, en las manos del congero, en los pies del bailador, yo vivire, ahi estar, mientras pase una comparsa, con mi rumba cantare, sere siempre lo que fui con mi azucar para ti, yo vivire, yo vivire…” 

(Translation) “I will survive, in the soul of my people, in the skin of our drum, in the hands of the drummer, in the feet of the dancer, I will survive, and there it is, while my song is playing, with my rumba I will sing, always being alive with my azucar for you I will survive… I will survive” 

Below every latin vocalist from Gloria Estefan to Jose Feliciano and Marc Anthony come on stage with Celia to sing one last song with her. A truly proper goodbye.   I am always rendered to tears each time I see it. 

An All Star Tribute To Living Legend Celia Cruz

I Still cant listen to any of her music without breaking out in dance either… So this post is in gratitude… Thank you God, Mil Gracias a Dios por la Vida En Black of La Reina, Celia Cruz!