Posts Tagged ‘Columbia’

BRINCANDO EL CHARCO

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
December 6, 2006
7:30 pm

Brincando El Charco

The cult classic film Brincando el charco, a meditation on Puerto Rican identities in the context of mass migration, will screen as part of Columbia University’s Hispanic Film Festival.

Director Frances Negrón-Muntaner will be present to engage in a dialogue with Richard Peña, director of the New York Film Festival, and the general audience.

Despite the director’s original intent as a film for “half a dozen friends” who also shared the pains and joys of migrating to the U.S. over a decade ago, Brincando el charco still seems to have something to say for new audiences.

Wednesday, December 6, 7:30PM

Columbia University
Broadway at 116th Street
Room 517 in Hamilton Hall

HONORING A LEGEND: DR. ANTONIA PANTOJA

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
November 9, 2007
7:00 pm
Antonia Pantoja

Dr. Antonia Pantoja, Social Work ’54, a pioneer in education, social work, feminism, and civil rights. The founder of ASPIRA, the Puerto Rican Forum,
Boricua College, and Producir, Dr. Pantoja demonstrated the true value of leadership in our community: the ability to create profound change in
all that she touched with her kind hands.

Dr. Pantoja’s life, from her girlhood in San Juan, to her community organizing in New York City and San Diego, to her social and political activism (retirement) in the foothills of El Yunque, Puerto Rico. It is a wonderful work that reminds us to never forget one of our greatest heroes.

HONORING A LEGEND: DR. ANTONIA PANTOJA

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Light Dinner, Film Screening, Q&A with Film Director: 7-9:30pm

Columbia University
Broadway Room, Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York City

Please RSVP to LAACUevents@gmail.com.

Admission: Students, $3; LAACU Members, $10; Non-Members, $15
* Free t-shirt for the first 25 attendees.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Latino Educational Media Center for the completion of the documentary on Dr. Pantoja’s life.
Please support this project in honor of this legendary Latina.

Brought to you by Latino Heritage Month, the Latino/a Caucus, the Columbia Mentoring Initiative, and the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University.

HISPANIC NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL – 2nd EDITION November 27 – December 1, 2007

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
November 27, 2007
6:00 pm

Presented by Columbia University and Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with The Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Curated by Marcela Goglio and Claudio Iván Remeseira.

FREE ADMISSION. Photo ID may be required at door. To make a reservation, please reply to this e-mail. For further information, call (212)854-6698

Tuesday, November 27 , Instituto Cervantes, 211 East 49th Street. 6 p.m.-8p.m . EL CANTANTE, Dir Leon Ichaso, 2007, 116m
*Filmmaker Leon Ichaso will be present.

El Cantante is the dramatic-biography of Puerto Rican salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe. The film follows Lavoe’s (Marc Anthony) passionate relationship with Puchi (Jennifer Lopez) and his skyrocket to international fame. But even when he has it all, Lavoe is unable to escape the allure of drugs and his personal pain.

THE FOLLOWING SCREENINGS WILL TAKE PLACE AT:
Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
530/533 West 120th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)

There you’ll find an iron gate and the inscription “Morris Shapiro Hall” on the wall.
Just walk through the gates and take the elevator to Davis Auditorium (one stop).

(http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cssr/davis_directions.html )

Wednesday, November 28, 8-10 pm: THE KRUTCH , Dir Judith Escalona, 2004, 29m.
*Filmmaker Judith Escalona will be present.

The Krutch is a surreal narrative about a Puerto Rican psychoanalyst with a long-suppressed identity problem that erupts with some dire consequences. The film is unique in exploring the mental anguish and shame associated with racism. Stylistically akin to German Expressionism with an eye towards Buñuel, it occupies an absurdist space that keeps it from descending into the maudlin clichés of realism. With Jaime Sánchez as the mysterious Dr. Gúzman and Cathy Haase as his unsuspecting patient Mrs. Kleist.

PRECEDED BY:
TWO DOLLAR DANCE , Dir Yolanda Pividal, 2006, 17 m
*Filmmaker Yolanda Pividal will be present.

Every weekend, hundreds of Latino immigrants pack the dance clubs of Jackson Heights, Queens. There, they meet women who will be their dance floor partners for two dollars a song. Through the eyes of Victor, a patron, and Liz, one of the ballerinas, this film dives into the solitude and expectations of men and women who leave their families and countries behind to work in the United States.

and

LA BRUJA: A WITCH FROM THE BRONX, Dir Felix Rodriguez, 2005, 50 m.
*Filmmaker Felix Rodriguez will be present

Art, labor and family blend in this intimate documentary about performance artist Caridad De La Luz, better know as ‘La Bruja’. Born and raised in the Bronx, this daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants takes the number 6 train to downtown Manhattan where she performs at popular New York City venues. She reads her poetry in Joe’s Pub, stages her one-woman show in the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and performs at Def Poetry Jam. But opportunities are scarce and she struggles to make ends meet in an industry where ‘to keep it real’ often means to work for free.

Thursday, November 29: 8-10p.m.: SOY ANDINA, Dir. Mitch Teplitsky, 2007, 67m
*Filmmaker Mitch Teplitsky will be present.

After 15 years in New York, Nélida Silva returns to her birthplace in the Andes to fulfill a lifelong dream of hosting the Fiesta Patronal––a week of dance, music, and ritual honoring the town’s patron saint. But Neli’s changed, and so has the village. At the same time, Cynthia, a dancer raised in Queens by her Peruvian mother, embarks on her own journey, determined to know the real Peru. A cross-cultural road trip, propelled by traditional music and dance rarely seen outside of Peru, but with a universal core story: the yearning for roots and connection in a globalized world.

Friday, November 30th , 8-10 p.m. FROM MAMBO TO HIP HOP: A SOUTH BRONX TALE , Dir Henry Chalfont, 2006, 55m
*Filmmakers Henry Chalfont and Elena Martinez will be present.

The film is a portrait of the South Bronx, the beleaguered New York community that was infamously destroyed by urban renewal, arson, gangs, drugs and violence. Yet at the same time, this borough contributed enormously to the popular culture of the world and has had an impact way beyond its size. In the 1950′s, the streets pulsated with the rhythms of Cuba and the hot new urban sounds of Latin Jazz, Mambo and later Salsa. On these same streets in the 1970′s, a new generation spun records, rapped and danced to the funky beats of Hip Hop. From Mambo to Hip Hop is the story of how an oppressed community can survive and thrive through cultural expression.

Saturday, December 1st , 8-10 p.m. : WASHINGTON HEIGHTS , Dir Alfredo De Villa, 2002, 89m
*Filmmaker Alfredo De Villa will be present.

Washington Heights tells the story of Carlos Ramirez, a young illustrator burning to escape the neighborhood and make a splash in downtown’s commercial comic-book scene. When his father, a bodega owner, is shot in a burglary attempt, Carlos is forced to put his dream on hold and run the store. In the process, he comes to the realization that if he is to make it as a comic artist, he must first engage with his own community.

Judith Escalona’s THE KRUTCH at the NY Hispanic Film Festival 2007

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
November 28, 2007
8:00 pm

THE_KRUTCH_1.tif

The Krutch is a surreal narrative about a Puerto Rican psychoanalyst with a long-suppressed identity problem that erupts with some dire consequences. The film is unique in exploring the mental anguish and shame associated with racism. Stylistically akin to German Expressionism with an eye towards Buñuel, it occupies an absurdist space that keeps it from descending into the maudlin clichés of realism. With Jaime Sánchez as the mysterious Dr. Gúzman and Cathy Haase as his unsuspecting patient Mrs. Kleist.

Wednesday, November 28, 8PM – 10PM

Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
530/533 West 120th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue)

There you’ll find an iron gate and the inscription “Morris Shapiro Hall” on the wall.
Just walk through the gates and take the elevator to Davis Auditorium (one stop).

For more info:
(http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cssr/davis_directions.html )

PRdream mourns the passing of Manny Oquendo

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
March 28, 2009
5:23 am

MANNY OQUENDO
January 1, 1931 – March 25, 2009

Bandleader, percussionist Manny Oquendo passed away March 25, 2009 of a heart attack. A self-taught musician, Oquendo was a senior statesman of the Latin percussion instruments of timbales and bongos before founding and co-directing the critically acclaimed Latin music band, Conjunto Libre for more than 35 years.

A member of the seminal recording “Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino” Parts I & II, Manny Oquendo was known for his understated yet aggressive solo improvisations on both the timbal and bongos. His was not a race as to who could play the fastest, or who could do the most paradiddles, excessive drum rolls or “contra-clave,” Manny Oquendo’s style was a school in and of itself. “The Timbalero must always keep the beat,” he emphasized in interviews. “Never overplay,” was his most consistent rule.

His style was found in the roots of Cuban bands such as Arcaño’s or Orquesta Aragon, never flashy, never overstated. For influence and inspiration he looked to the drummers of the vintage Cuban bands such as bongocero, Ramón Castro, who played with the Orquesta Casino de la Playa and later with Pérez Prado or Conjunto Casino’s Yeyito Iglesias or Papa Kila (Antolín Suárez) who played with Arsenio Rodríguez or Sonora Matancera’s Manteca (José Rosario Chávez). Manny Oquendo was known by what he said on the timbal, not how many things he could do to it.

For more than 60 years, Manny Oquendo’s said many things through his percussive strength and musical vision. His profound yet understated sounds were part of the Latin New York music scene from the ‘40s until today.

Born José Manuel Oquendo on South Fourth St. Brooklyn, he was called “Manolo” before he became “Manny” in his teens. The family later moved to East Harlem in 1939 where Oquendo was captivated by the sounds of music. “Music was everywhere,” he recalled.

East Barrio’s first Latin music record store “Almacenes Hernandez” (originally located at 1600 Madison Avenue and opened in 1927) was just one flight down from the Oquendo family’s apartment. The swinging big bands of Machito, Jose Fajardo and Orquesta Aragon became the soundtrack of his childhood. “There was music constantly coming out of that store, and that was my education,” he recalled.

His first set of drums were a pair of “tom toms” with the skin on both ends. Played with sticks from a wooden hanger, Manny played along to records from his parents’ victrola. Spanish language radio stations were always on in his home. Later, when Oquendo visited his parent’s roots in Ponce, he discovered the cuatro through his grandfather.

After the “tom toms,” Oquendo got a pair of wooden timbales and began playing with Sexteto Sanabria but not before taking a few drum lessons at a school on 125th Street at 25 cents per lesson. Later on, he studied privately with Sam Ulano, a well-known percussion teacher. Jazz drummer Max Roach also studied with Ulano alongside Manny. Whenever they’d run into each other they’d reminisce on their school days. Oquendo always kept his set of trap drums.

By the 1940s, the Oquendos moved to Kelly Street in the South Bronx unknowingly joining a community of likeminded musicians. Pianist, Noro Morales lived down the street from Manny on Stebbins Ave.; Joe Loco was by Horseshoe Park; Tito Rodríguez was on Rogers Place; Tito Puente on 163rd Street, while Arsenio Rodríguez and Ray Coén both lived on Kelly Street.

Oquendo began playing with New York’s top orchestras. He played with the Carlos Medina Orchestra, the Charlie Valero Band and Xavier Cugat’s former singer Luis del Campo before playing with the legendary Marcelino Guerra Band.

From here Oquendo played with trumpeter Frank Garcia and his vocalist, El Boy, where he met Chano Pozo who performed with Miguelito Valdes at a local show and stayed to play with the fledging timbalero. Chano remained with the small group until he got a better paying job. Oquendo moved on as well, joining pianist Jose Curbelo’s orchestra where he performed on a full array of drums owing to their diverse repertoire that included tangos, sambas and American swing music. “It gave me the feeling of being a complete drummer.” He mentioned in an interview to Frank Figueroa over Latin Beat.

From here, Manny Oquendo joined Pupi Campos’ band playing many venues on Long Island alongside Tito Puente and his Picadilly Boys. Since they were both working in the same area, Tito and Manny would ride together to their respective gigs with Manny playing in Tito’s band as he waited for his own show to begin. When Tito’s regular bongocero Chino Pozo left to tour with Katherine Dunham, Tito asked Manny to take over that chair. When Little Ray Romero took a job with Eartha Kit, it was Manny Oquendo who Tito Rodriguez called to fill his bongo chair.

Manny had his Afro-Antillian chops chiseled under the bands of Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Johnny Pacheco and others. He had hung with the legendary Chano Pozo, taking the Musician’s Union cabaret license test for him enabling Pozo to work in New York clubs during his stay between 1946 –’48.

By the 1960s, everything Cuban was forbidden. Manny listened to the Mozambique sounds of Pello El Afrokan over short wave radio and on pirated records. Back in his apartment on Kelly Street in the Bronx, he’d practice hitting the timbal with the left and playing the rhythm on the right until he nailed the Cuban genre so well he made it his own.

In 1963, Manny Oquendo joined “La Perfecta,” the conjunto organized by pianist Eddie Palmieri. Alongside congüero, Tommy Lopez, Manny crystallized the Mozambique sound creating a powerhouse rhythm section alongside Palmieri’s improvisational infrastructure.

In 1974 Oquendo and bassist Andy Gonzalez left Palmieri to move in their own direction. Leaving the traditional structures behind, the duo incorporated jazz, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms while exploring alternatives. The goal was to “free” the music from restrictive content and Libre was born. During 1976 to 1981, Oquendo became a musical historian of the tipico sound he’d perfected with Palmieri. Libre’s first albums included classics by composers Ignacio Pineiro, Rafael Hernandez and Nico Saquito, as well as a traditional Puerto Rican plena by Manuel “Canario” Jimenez.

At the same time, the group attracted a creative crop of innovative young artists in Latin music. The Gonzalez brothers, Andy and Jerry Gonzalez are founding members; Alfredo de la Fe is featured on various incendiary violin solos with singer Herman Olivera making his recorded debut over a Libre recording while flautist Nestor Torres was also a featured guest. At various times, Barry Rogers, Jose Rodrigues, Angel “Papo” Vazquez, Jimmy Bosch, Reynaldo Jorge, Dan Reagan and Steve Turre held down the trombone line, while Oscar Hernandez, Joe Mannozzi, and Marc Diamond rocked the piano chair.

Last year, Puerto Rico’s Radio Station, Z93 dedicated its National Salsa Day to Manny Oquendo.

Manny Oquendo is survived by four sons and two sisters.

According to Manny Oquendo’s wishes, there will not be a viewing. We will post any information regarding a memorial in the future.

A video from Salsa Sunday’s Conversations with the Masters has been posted on our website at www.zondelbarrio.com/Press.php

About Aurora Flores:
Twenty-first century Renaissance woman Aurora Flores is the recipient of numerous awards and is included in Who’s Who in Hispanic America. Currently the President of Aurora Communications, she was the first Latina editor of Latin New York Magazine and the first female music correspondent for Billboard Magazine. While attending Columbia’s Journalism School, she broke into mainstream journalism and today has thousands of articles to her name.

A musician by training, Aurora founded her own septet, Zon del Barrio, bringing together modern music genres, Afro-Boricua folklore and Afro-Cuban salsa. She lectures on Latin music, has composed bilingual songs for Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer,” and recently edited and wrote the foreword for ¡Salsa Talks! A Musical Heritage Uncovered. Aurora can be seen in BET’s Pasos Latinos; BRAVO’s “Palladium, When Mambo was King;” the Smithsonian’s “Latin jazz, La Combinación Perfecta;” and in Edward James Olmos’s “Americanos: Latino Life in the U.S.” alongside the late Tito Puente, playing a composition she co-wrote. She is a proud descendent of Puerto Rican visionary, Eugenio Maria de Hostos.

Reggaeton – a book party

Sunday, November 1st, 2009
May 7, 2009
6:30 pm

Meet the Author: Book Party

Reggaeton
An Anthology by Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall and Deborah Pacini Hernández

Featured Speaker: Juan Flores, NYU
Presenters: Miguel Luciano, Visual Artist, Alexandra T. Vazquez, Princeton University and Frances Negrón Muntaner, Columbia University.
Music by DJ Mellow G.

Thursday, May 7, 6:30 pm

Faculty Dining Room 8th Floor West Bldg.
Hunter College
68th & Lexington Avenue

http://www.centropr.org/events.html?event=44

reggaeton

Island crisis could fuel more Puerto Rican migration to U.S.

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

by Jorge Duany, Ph.D., Guest Writer
Orlando Sentinel (Oct 15, 2009)

The signs of Puerto Rico’s acute socioeconomic crisis are everywhere.

The Island’s economy is expected to decline by 5.5 percent this year. Local consumer debt reached almost 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2008. The unemployment rate was 16.5 percent in July 2009. Since 1996, 45,000 manufacturing jobs have been eliminated. For the first time in years, the poverty rate increased during the current decade. The massive layoffs by the Commonwealth government have caused public dismay. Many people are extremely worried about keeping their jobs and paying their bills, taxes, insurance, and mortgages.

One of the traditional strategies in the face of economic difficulties in Puerto Rico has been emigration. An increasing number of Puerto Ricans is seriously considering that alternative, despite the recession of the U.S. economy.

During the current decade, at least one-quarter of a million Puerto Ricans has moved to the continental United States. According to the Puerto Rico Community Survey, nearly 428,000 residents of the Island relocated to the mainland, while about 224,000 returned from abroad between the years 2000 and 2007. According to the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the net passenger movement to the United States totaled around 297,200 persons between 2000 and 2009. In 2008, 51.6 percent of all persons of Puerto Rican origin lived outside the Island.

Aside from the massive resurgence of the Puerto Rican exodus, the latest census statistics confirm the migrants’ changing settlement patterns. In 2008, the state of Florida had the second largest number of Puerto Rican residents (744.4 thousand), after New York (1.1 million). Between the years 2000 and 2007, five of the ten leading destinations of Puerto Rican migrants were in Florida: Orange, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, and Osceola counties.

During the same period, 38,257 residents of the Island resettled in Orange County, the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which has displaced Philadelphia and Chicago as the second concentration for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. mainland. Other popular destinations for the migrants are Hamden County, Massachusetts; Philadelphia; the Bronx in New York; Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut.

On average, contemporary Puerto Rican migrants are younger, better educated, more skilled, and more likely to be bilingual than the Island’s population. Still, it is exaggerated to characterize the entire new migrant flow as a “brain drain,” since the bulk of the migrants has a secondary education and a blue-collar or service job.

At the same time, a growing proportion consists of highly qualified professionals, including medical doctors, engineers, nurses, and teachers. Among the main motivations for this continuous exodus are the gaps in wages, working conditions, and opportunities for professional development on the Island and in the United States. Furthermore, many migrants are seeking a better “quality of life,” referring especially to public services, housing costs, safety, and tranquility.

Finally, the most recent census estimates allow a comparison between the living conditions of Puerto Ricans on and off the Island.

In 2008, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate was 14.8 percent, compared to 10 percent for Puerto Ricans in the United States, 9.3 percent in Florida, and 10.4 percent in Orlando. The median income for Puerto Rican households on the Island ($18,190) was less than half than in the United States ($39,039), Florida ($41,892), and Orlando ($39,778). In turn, Puerto Rico’s poverty rate (45 percent) was much higher than for Puerto Ricans in the United States (24 percent), Florida (17.5 percent), and Orlando (16.2 percent).

Given such wide discrepancies in employment opportunities, income levels, and other economic indicators, the new migrant wave will probably persist, until living conditions on the Island improve substantially. Let’s hope that happens soon.

Jorge Duany is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He is currently the Wilbur Marvin Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, with a concentration in anthropology, at the University of California, Berkeley. He also holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University. He has published extensively on Caribbean migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism. His most recent coedited book is “How the United States Racializes Latinos: White Hegemony and Its Consequences” (2009).

PRdream mourns the passing of State Senator Olga Mendez, 1926 – 2009

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Olga MendezBorn in 1926 in Mayaguez Puerto Rico, her academic accomplishments are trumped only by her extensive work in public service. After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Mendez earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Columbia University, followed by a PhD in Educational Psychology from Yeshiva University.

Early in her career, Mendez was a strong advocate for improving social services in the community, and became a dynamic leader in the organization of voter registration drives throughout the country. She was elected Senator to the New York State Legislature in 1978, becoming the first Puerto Rican woman to hold the honor in the State of New York.

Mendez was elected as a delegate for the Democratic Conventions of 1980, 1984, and 1988. During her time in the New York State Senate, she served as Secretary of the Minority Conference in 1984, and in 1993 earned the honor of becoming the first Puerto Rican woman to be chosen as Chairperson of the Minority Conference.

In 2004, PRdream honored Senator Olga Mendez when she left office with a reception and performances by Teatro Circulo and El Trio Nueva York at its gallery then on East 106th Street.

A Casting Notice!!!!!

Friday, January 30th, 2009

From: “The Familia”
Date: Jan 29, 2009 10:41 PM
Casting Notice: Open call for: Taino Rosa Productions.

(For February 7, Saturday…12-5)

We will be casting many roles for the feature film “The Familia” (The Rise of Don Pedro). A Latino Mob/Love Story, starring Emilio Rosa , Tito Puente Jr., Santo Alam and many others .Open call for all types, especially Latino’s/Italian’s. Written and Directed by Emilio Rosa, Juan Shamsul Alam. Executive Producer, Marty Gross. Union/Non Union film to be filmed on Long Island must be willing to work for deferred payment. Those who have worked with us in the past, do not need to come down, we have you on file already. Must be available in May, for three weeks.

The Familia has already created a buzz for itself with a preliminary film trailer made to gage general interest level. This trailer started in New York City and has garnered inquiries from as far north as Canada and as far south as Columbia, South America. This pre-advertising has set the slate for a successful debut and international demand. In addition to the word of mouth already created by the trailer, the movie will be promoted on multiple Latino websites, radio and TV interviews. This film needs to be made because of the demand for Latino product and will be the first in the same caliber as “Scarface” The Godfather” with a real Puerto Rican flavor.

Males 18-60′s

Females 18-60’s

Bring pictures and resume

Call time is 12:00 sharp till 5:00 pm, February 7th (Saturday)

La Tea Theater

107 Suffolk Street

2nd floor.

New York, NY 10002

212-529-1948

Take F train to Essex Street,

Walk to Suffolk

www.tainorosa.com
Email: TainoRosafilms@aol.com

Puerto Rico’s Moment in the Sun

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

By MICHAEL JANEWAY
New York Times (May 22, 2008)

PUERTO RICO, an afterthought trophy for the United States 110 years ago at the end of the Spanish-American War and an island in limbo since, has become an improbable player in the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Its primary on June 1 could bolster Mrs. Clinton’s claim to a majority of the popular vote — the combined tally for all the Democratic primaries and caucuses held across the country over the past six months.

Puerto Rico’s formal role in the process is indeed weighty. Its 63 voting delegates — 55 elected ones and eight superdelegates — at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer will outnumber delegations from more than half the states (including Kentucky and Oregon) and the District of Columbia. Yet Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the Electoral College, nor will its 2.5 million registered voters cast ballots for president in November.

How in the world did this happen? From the beginning, the question of Puerto Rico has perplexed the United States. The island was essential to the defense of the Panama Canal, so we did not make it independent, in contrast to two other Spanish possessions we gained in the war, Cuba (which become independent in 1902) and the Philippines (1946). And we judged it foreign in language and culture — and worse, overpopulated — so New Mexico-style Americanization leading to statehood was out of the question.

Similarly, Puerto Ricans have never resolved their relationship with the United States. For almost 50 years after the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rican sentiment was divided between dreams of statehood and of independence. This ambivalence deterred the island from ever petitioning Congress for one or the other. And until mid-century, sporadic outbursts of violent nationalism haunted the scene.

Partly to put such extremism out of business, Congress in 1948 allowed Puerto Rico to elect its own governor and then in 1950 gave it an intricately designed, semi-autonomous “commonwealth” status short of statehood. Two years later, the island adopted its own Constitution, and Congress quickly ratified it.

Puerto Ricans elect their own Legislature, along with the governor. They enjoy entitlements like Social Security, but they do not pay federal income taxes. They retain their own cultural identity (Spanish is the prevailing tongue) but live under the umbrella of the American trade system and the American military. They have been citizens since 1917, but they have no vote in Congress or for the presidency.

The man who brought forth this unique arrangement, which has come to seem permanent, was Luis Muñoz Marín, who dominated Puerto Rico’s politics beginning in 1940. In 1948 he became the island’s first elected governor. He won three more terms and could easily have been “president for life.” A stretch of 116th Street in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem is named Luis Muñoz Marín Boulevard in his honor.

Muñoz was an eloquent advocate of independence until, faced with daunting statistics at the end of World War II, he concluded that Puerto Rico’s impoverished economy could not support nationhood. So he began packaging his third-way brainchild.

When pitching commonwealth on the mainland, Muñoz — an artist of words and imagery who also enjoyed a drink or two — would observe that Puerto Rico is the olive in the American martini. The phrase went down well in Washington, but Muñoz used different language at home. Neither Congress nor the American courts have ever embraced Muñoz’s Spanish-language phrase for “commonwealth,” universally recognized in Puerto Rico: “estado libre asociado,” or free associated state. Those three words suggested an autonomy (or even statehood or independence) beyond what came to pass. But Muñoz was too popular on the island for that to cause him trouble.

Still, Muñoz always intended to bring “enhanced autonomy” in trade, self-governance, taxation and entitlements to Puerto Rico. But Fidel Castro’s seizure of power in Cuba in 1959 moved Washington’s attention away from the commonwealth.

Muñoz left office in 1965. His dreams faded. The economy he jump-started went flat. Today, the government accounts for 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s work force (compared with 16 percent on the mainland).

Then in 1974, the Democratic National Committee and some shrewd local political strategists came up with an idea for how to play to lingering discontent over the island’s status: Why not make nice with Puerto Rico (and, as important, with the Puerto Rican vote in American cities) by awarding it the number of delegates to the Democratic presidential nominating convention that its population would yield as a state? But not until this year has a presidential race been close enough, long enough, to yield Puerto Rico a role in the endgame.

On the island, politics is focused on the longstanding deadlock between the two dominant parties, whose identities — one is for statehood and one is for enhanced autonomy — today bear no relation to those of the Republicans and Democrats in the 50 states. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are, gingerly, bidding for support from both of them.

But the mainland population of Puerto Ricans (like the island’s, almost four million) is watching, too. That fully enfranchised constituency is up for grabs in November. Republicans have fished in these waters, too.

Presidential candidates usually offer Puerto Ricans hazy promises that are sure to be unfulfilled. First on the list: We’ll do whatever you want about the island’s status if you deliver us an overwhelming majority for one or another option. That’s not going to happen.

Since 1967, public support on the island has seesawed inconclusively between statehood and enhanced autonomy — a better version of the deal they already have. Muñoz’s commonwealth helped eclipse independence; that course enjoys only limited support today. An overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans wants, one way or another, to be American.

The next president could just appoint another commission, more high-level and forceful than past ones, to reopen the dormant question of Puerto Rico’s status. But there is an additional option.

Fidel Castro is gone from office, Hugo Chávez’s influence is growing, Brazil is becoming an oil power, and the United States has no Latin American policy to speak of. John F. Kennedy wisely turned to Puerto Rican leaders to help him frame a new policy for the region in 1961. Similarly, the next president could ask Puerto Rico, with its democratic tradition and its past success with economic development, to help us plan for the post-Castro Caribbean.

The United States is overdue in re-engaging with this special place, which landed in our lap as a stepchild of imperialism in 1898, and which we have never seen clearly.

Michael Janeway, a former editor of The Boston Globe and a professor of journalism and arts at Columbia, is writing a history of the United States and Puerto Rico in the 20th century.