La Vida En Black History… Maestra Gloria Rolando

It’s empowering to know who we are, from whom & where we are 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…

MimiTVA posting from the DMV

Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando has been an inspiration to me for quite some time.  Her films are treasures of knowledge presented in the way of a modern day Griot, proud and brilliant; they make me eager to connect to my ancestors and fill me with pride in the way my father’s booming voice did, oh so long ago.

BalconGloria Rolando’s first film; “Un Eterno Presente: Oggún” is an audiovisual homage to the Yoruba diety Oggún.  Oggún is the blacksmith deity presenting the modern world of industrialization, and works with metals and technology through the songs of the immense Yoruba vocalist, Lazarro Ros.

In the film Rolando explains how the men and women of Lázaro’s generation, are the last bridge tying us to the Africa that gave birth to its roots in the Americas. “We must recognize that it contains legends and universal values that explain the world. My personal experience with Oggún demonstrates to me that this is possible.”

Eyes of the Rainbow,” is a documentary made in 1997 about Assata Shakur, the Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who took refuge in Cuba after years of struggles in the US.  The film integrates AfroCuban culture, including the Orisha Oya, to show Assata’s place in Cuba, where she has lived for the past three decades. In English.

Gloria’s latest film effort is about the Indepedientes de Color or The Independents of Color a Cuban Political party that was formed after the largely Mambi Army ousted the Spaniards from Cuba in the late 1800’s.   Recent research in Cuba has established that this army was overwhelmingly made up of Cubans of African descent (80% and perhaps as high as 90%): consequently it was thus one of the largest revolts of enslaved Africans in the hemisphere.  When the Mambis had ejected the Spaniards from Cuba, the plantocracy  / plantation owners became allies of the Americans.  These events led to the little known Massacre of 1912.

Evaristo Estenoz founded the Independents of Color in 1908 in order to secure a rightful share for Afro-Cubans in all aspects of  Cuban society, specifically the government which had successfully marginalized them. He was murdered by Cuban troops in 1912 along with more than 6,000 other AfroCubans and fellow party members, after an intense media campaign carried out by the planter class to demonize the party.  As famed sonero Arsenio Rodriguez says: “Hay que adorarlos como a Martí!”  Roots of my heart is the first treatment on film of a  history that has been largely ignored by both sides of the Florida Straights.

La Vida En Black… Fernando Velasco

By MimiTVA posting from the DMV, Super Bowl Sunday February 4, 2018

Today as we watch the Super Bowl lets think the son of a Colombian man who played for the Carolina Panther’s in Super Bowl numero 50.

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Fernando Velasco

Velasco’s work ethic is a lesson instilled by his grandfather. Velasco credits this work ethic to have been in the NFL. Velasco left the NFL in 2016 and recently signed as a Player Relations Coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs football team.

Velasco’s career in the NFL had him bouncing from team to team even at the beginning of the 2015 season he was playing with the Tennessee Titans.  An undrafted free agent in 2008, Velasco spent most of that year and 2009 on the practice squad. Versatility — his ability to play either guard spot and center — helped him make the team’s “swing” guy,  a backup interior lineman who is active on game days for the Titans.  He played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers before 2016 And the Titans released him in August.  And then on September 17, 2015, Velasco was signed by the Carolina Panthers to play center and be the back up to their 4-time Pro Bowl center, Ryan Kalil. After a ankle injury to Kalil, Velasco would start the week 8 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.

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“The thing about that area, everybody’s just hard workers, so that’s the thing that I definitely know is the reason I’ve been in the league this long, especially being an undrafted free agent, is just that work ethic,” Velasco said. “You come to work every day ready to get better. You don’t get content about being on the practice squad. You can’t get content about being a backup. So you always want to get better. You don’t want to be content.”

“Growing up in the household with my granddaddy, he went to work every day until he was 80-plus years old,” Velasco continued, “so seeing that from him, I can’t be content with anything less than being the best I can be.”

Velasco’s grandfather would be up and out at the crack of dawn to spend the day “loading and stacking” working for a grocery warehouse. Velasco’s Granddad would work late and then get up and do the same everyday until he passed away during Fernando’s freshman year in high school, “but that’s what he did to take care of the family.”

Velasco’s father is from Colombia and immigrated to America. He met Velasco’s mother in New York but was incarcerated for most of Velasco’s childhood and is prohibited from returning to America. Velasco’s grandfather filled the void.EAC4W9

“I had my granddaddy there, so it was a good learning experience,” Velasco said. “Sometimes it was frustrating, not having a dad to throw the ball around with, but it was a blessing and the Lord does things for a reason. It made me be the man I am today.” Velasco has reestablished a relationship with his father, who lives in Sweden. They’ve communicated through social media like Facebook and Skype and talked on the phone. Velasco met his father in Canada and Jamaica during an off season.

 

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

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.

History of the Lady Deities… Oshun & Yemaya; the ancient Orishas of Love 

Oxun is fertility & love; she is fresh water.  Kissed by the golden nurturing of the sun, she is also beautiful and kind.

Oshun

Oshun es agua Fresca y ternura, ella mantiene todo el poder de sensualidad y femeninidad en el mundo.

The Yoruba religion’s holy stories or patakís reveal Ochún (Oshún) as the youngest of all the Orichás. Olodumare (the supreme being) created earth, and all its gods, he created the trees and the flowers and the fruits and the animals.  Then Olodumare sat back to examine his work. 

In that instant, He sensed something essential  was missing.  He knew it was sweetness and love, the two things that make life worth living. He created Ochún and sent her to earth to cultivate those qualities in others. Ochún is the Orichá of love, her seductive and sensual power encapsulates the feminine ideal.

In nature, Oshun rules over rivers.  Olodumare had originally deemed all the waters on earth belonged to Yemayá, who is Ochún’s older sister ( in some stories, her mother).
But one day when Ogún was hotly pursuing Ochún across the fields and forests, the young Orichá fell into the river and was dragged away by whirlpools. Yemayá took Ochún under her protection, and gave the rivers to her so she could have her own kingdom. From that point on, the rivers belonged to Ochún and the ocean to Yemayá.

Yemayá and Ochún have a close relationship and often work together, especially in issues related to romance, marriage, and motherhood. Yemayá is a mature, motherly type who watches over children and protects babies in the womb. Ochún is the seductive and sensual Orichá who makes sure babies are conceived. She inspires sexual love and promotes fertility. Once her job is done, she usually loses interest and hands over the child rearing to her more maternal sister.

Oshun is the goddess of the sweet waters and the protective deity of the River Oshun in Nigeria. Alongside this river is a sacred grove, probably the last in Yoruba Culture, dedicated to Oshun.

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a dense forest on the outskirts of Osogbo town, western Nigeria. Sacred Groved were often found in areas where the Yoruba lived, and every town had one.  These sacred groves as time passed were either abandoned or they shrank in size, apart from the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. This sacred grove boasts 40 shrines, plus 2 palaces, as well as many sculptures and works of arts. Because of it’s sacred status, the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove was inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005. 

Legend has it, that villages from a nearby area were in search of water, and decided to settle along the river near the present town of Osogbo. These new settlers did not know this land belonged to Oshun. One day, the community was preparing the ground for the planting season, a tree fell into the river, and a voice emerged from the river lamenting: “You have destroyed my dyeing pots.” The village was filled with fear so they wanted nothing more but to appease the goddess. They were successful in their undertaking, Oshun advised the community to settle in the upper part of the river, for humans and spirits could not live together. The villagers complied with Oshun’s command, and the former settlement became the Osun-Osongbo Sacred Grove.

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 from the African continent 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 distinctive religious and spiritual practices. Quite resistant to Christianity, these people were often engaged in symmetry and subterfuge, including disguising Deities as 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. Africans will specific professional experience 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 with 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 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 enslaved ended (1820-21) before Yoruba people began to be kidnapped from the Motherland and sold in other parts of 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 human slave trade in the New World, compared with 38.1 percent in Brazil, 7.3 percent in Cuba, and 4.5 percent in 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 …

Me Gritarron Negra!!!!

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz

This La Vida En Black History Month message is so nice I had to do it twice… This story goes deep into the heart of Peruvian culture with the Heroine of Black Peru; Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra, a much celebrated poet, composer, choreographer, designer, + an exponent of Afro-Peruvian art.

The daughter of writer / playwright, Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio and Victoria Gamarra, their family was famous for their excellence in creative pursuits including the development of Zamacueca an ancient colonial dance and music with a mixture of roots from Africa to the Andes.
Victoria was one of 10 children born into the family. Her brothers are renown – Cesar is a musician and composer; Rafael the Bull Fighter isdeamed “untorero de gran clase” or the Wonderous Black Matador; and Nicomedes; the preeminent scholar of Afro-Peruvian culture. 
Victoria received a scholarship to attend the Université du Theatre des Nations in Paris where she was educated in costuming and choreography. She created unforgettable costumes for the play “The Altarpiece of Don Cristobal”. And made a triumphant return to Peru. In 1968 she founded the Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú, / Black Dance Theatre of Peru, inspiring a new and diverse period in Peru for the study of black culture.
Her choreography became a part of the fabric of Peruvian culture so much so that her talented group represented the nation at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Victoria won numerous prestigious awards including Best Folklorist at the Primer Festival y Seminario Latinoamericano de Televisión en 1970.
She was a special guest of the Colombian government at the Festival de Cali in 1971. There she notably recognized that the black roots of Cali did not come from just one country of origin but from several African nations, so much like the various slaves brought to the Americas.
Santa Cruz’s name became synonymous with the cultural identity of Peru and in 1973 Victoria became the director of the National Folklore for the National Institute of Culture (INC) /Conjunto Nacional de Folclore del Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INC). She continued to spread her love of Afro-Peruvian culture throughout the world, teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, and in Europe at the Teatro del Sole, in Italy.
She passed away in 2014 surrounded by her beautiful family, the legendary Ambassador of Peruvian culture was lain to rest at the Peruvian National Musuem. Her poem “Me Gritaron Negra” They Screamed “Black” At Me, became a beautiful badge of honor for Afro-Latinos every where. Performed here by Victoria and then by a little Ecuadorian girl…

Lyrics
Español  / English
Tenía siete años apenas,  /  Maybe I was seven years old,

apenas siete años,  /  Maybe seven years,

¡Qué siete años!  /  What seven years old!

¡No llegaba a cinco siquiera! /  I wasn’t even five yet!

De pronto unas voces en la calle / when some voices in the street

me gritaron ¡Negra!  / screamed at me ¡Negra! (Black Girl!)

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black! Black!
¡Negra! ¡Negra!¡Negra! /  Back! Black! Black!
¿Soy acaso negra?, me dije /  I thought, Am I? Am I really Black?
¡SI! /  Yes!
¿Qué cosa es ser negra? /  What does it mean to be black?

¡Negra! Black!

Y yo no sabía la triste verdad / And I didn’t know the sad truth
que aquello escondía. / That it was hiding

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y me sentí negra, /  And I felt black,

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos decían / Just like their screams

¡Negra! / Black!

Y retrocedí / And I rejected it

¡Negra! / Black!

Como ellos querían / Just like they wanted

¡Negra!  /  Black!
Y odié mis cabellos / And I hated my hair
y mis labios gruesos / And my thick lips

y miré apenada mi carne tostada / and I was ashamed of my toasted skin

Y retrocedí  / And I rejected it

¡Negra! /  Black!

Y retrocedí. /  And I rejected it.
¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!
Y pasaba el tiempo, / And the time passed by,

y siempre amargada / And I was always bitter

Seguía llevando a mi espalda / I carried this heavy load

mi pesada carga. / on my back.

¡Y cómo pesaba! / And it weighed me down!

Me alacié el cabello,  / I straightened my hair.

me polveé la cara, / I powdered my face,

y entre mis entrañas siempre / And deep down inside of me, I always heard
resonaba la misma palabra /  the same resounding word

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Neeegra! / Black! Black! Blaaaack!

Hasta que un día que retrocedía, / Until one day I so rejected me, 
retrocedía y qué iba a caer  / rejected to the point where I  put my own self down

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black!

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! / Black! Black! Black! Black! 

¡Negra! ¡Negra! ¡Negra! /  Black! Black! Black!

¿Y qué? / So What?

¿Y qué?  / So What?

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí! / YES!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Soy! / I Am!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra!  /  Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra soy! /  I Am Black!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Sí ! / Yes!

¡Soy! / I am!

¡Negra! / Black!

¡Negra!  / Black!

¡Negra! /  Black!

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!

De hoy en adelante no quiero /  From this day forward I will not

laciar mi cabello /  straighten my hair
No quiero / I do not want to!
Y voy a reírme de aquellos, / & I’m gonna laugh at those who

que por evitar / by avoiding
–según ellos– /  according to them

que por evitarnos algún sin sabor/   To avoid the “bad taste”

Llaman a los negros / call black people,
gente de color / people of color

¿Y de qué color? / And what color is that?

¡NEGRO! ¡NEGRO! / BLACK! BLACK!

¡Y qué lindo suena! / And how beautiful it sounds!

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Y qué ritmo tiene! And what rhythm it has!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

Al fin! / Finally!

Al fin comprendí,  /  Finally I understood,

¡AL FIN! / FINALLY!

Ya no retrocedo / I am not rejected
AL FIN / FINALLY

Y avanzo segura / I move forward with pride

AL FIN / FINALLY

Avanzo y espero / I move forward and wait

AL FIN /  FINALLY

Y bendigo al cielo /  I thank the heavens above
porque quiso Dios /  because God wanted

que negro azabache / like a precious black stone
fuese mi color / I was meant to be my color

Y ya comprendí / and now I understand

AL FIN /  FINALLY

¡Ya tengo la llave! /  I now have the key!

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO NEGRO

NEGRO NEGRO

¡Negra soy! / I am Black!

La Vida In Black History on MLK…

MIMITVA on…
His words will remain timeless much like Jose Marti , Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, President Barack Obama. The thought that words like Freedom, Liberty, Belief in Humanity never go out of style also remain true. As it relates to Latinos, Dr. King met with Roberto Clemente, and had much correspondence with the Secretary of Education of the Emerald Island, Puerto Rico.  Dr. Martin Luther King visited Puerto Rico in 1962, he spoke at the University these are some of his words…
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“Wherever men are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Lagos, Nigeria, Accra, Ghana, New York City, Montgomery, Alabama, Jackson, Mississippi, the cry is always the same. We want to be free. And it is more than a solo voice today, it is a mighty chorus, crying out with amazing harmony, and because of this surge towards freedom, we see a new age developing, those of us who live in the 20th century are privileged to stand between two ages, the dying old, and the emerging new. In this sense it is a great time to be alive.
I know there are some people who would argue with me at this point. They would contend that the deep rumblings of discontent around the world and all of the tension which we witness in so many situations are indicative of the fact that we are going backwards, instead of forward.
mlktocrowdThey would contend that we are retrogressing, instead of progressing. But far from representing retrogression and tragic meaninglessness, it may well be that the present tensions that we see in the world are indicative of the fact that a new age is coming into being. For it seems to be both historically and biologically true that there can be no birth and growth without birth and growing pains. An old order is passing away and the new order is coming into being.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, February 14, 1962, in Puerto Rico, Universidad Interamericana Puerto Rico

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 

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-Descendants 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 an enslaved man, 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. However, legend has told that Camejo returned to the soldiers camp on horse 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 
dead.)


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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