The Importance of Márquez to the Latino Experience

María T. Padilla

If it weren't for Gabriel García Márquez, I wouldn't be the Latina I am today.

The Colombian writer, who died Thursday at age 87 in Mexico, gave me, a Hispanic born in the United States, the gift of self identity.  I always knew I was puertorriqueña but Márquez put my Latino-ness into context, he put a stamp on it.

Portrait of the writer Gabriel García Márquez as a young man
Because when you grow up as "other" in the United States, you really don't have a clear image of who you are and where you come from.  And everyone –from well-meaning teachers to friends, family and acquaintances– wants to help define you, making of your persona this malleable thing, when it ought not to be. ¿Y tú quién eres?

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude as a young adult was a gamechanger.  Where had Márquez been all my life? Márquez – I can't call him Gabo without feeling self concious– gave me Macondo, a place that contained some of Puerto Rico, some of New York, some of everything I knew and had experienced. Except it didn't have a name, until then.


Central Florida Briefs

The legendary salsa crooner Cheo Feliciano

María T. Padilla

Singer Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Accident 

El Nuevo Día and other media in Puerto Rico are reporting the death of salsa singing legend Cheo Feliciano in a car accident on the way home after a night at a San Juan casino. According to police at the scene, Feliciano crossed the median onto oncoming traffic and hit an electricity post.  The singer, whose fan base spanned generations and countries,  was not wearing a seat belt and his head impacted the front windshield. 

He was 78 years old. 

"Papi es para toda la vida, porque nos ha dejado su música, su corazón, a su pueblo, a su gente... 'Familia', como decía papi. Gracias a Dios, tenemos su música para recordarlo", said his son José Enrique, as reported in El Nuevo Día. (Papi is for all times because he has left his music, his heart, to the public, his people. 'Family,' as Papi would say. Thank God we have his music to remember him by.)


OC Republican Chairman Lew Oliver Apologizes

Lew Oliver interviewed by Fox 35News following his remarks
against the Puerto Rican community last week.
María T. Padilla

Orange County Republican Party Chairman Lew Oliver delivered an apology to the Orlando area's Puerto Rican community, following remarks published last week  in the Orlando Sentinel stating that Puerto Rico was a "basket case" and that Puerto Ricans are dependent on government jobs, among other things.

Here, in its entirety, is Oliver's apology, as published in the Sentinel online edition today:  

One week ago, I made some hastily written, poorly chosen, unedited written remarks to Orlando Sentinel Reporter Scott Powers regarding Puerto Rico.   I want to make the following statements about those remarks:

Candidate Profile: Peter Vivaldi Seeks Congressional District 9

This is the first in an occasional series on Latino candidates running for public office in Central Florida. If you would like to be profiled, please email me at maria_padilla@bellsouth.net for the questionnaire.

María T. Padilla
Peter Vivaldi

There are about two dozen Hispanics running for public office in Central Florida, from municipal to the congressional  posts.  Many candidates were mentioned in a two-part series published in Orlando Latino in late February, titled "Off to the Races."

I've asked the candidates – Republicans and Democrats – to answer a 10 questions to allow voters to get to know them better.  Peter Vivaldi, candidate for congressional District 9, now occupied by Alan Grayson, starts off the series. Congressional District 9 includes parts of Osceola and parts of Orange and Polk counties, and is about heavily Hispanic and Democrat.

Q. Why are you running? 
      As a 35 year resident of Orange County I have seen the change in the makeup of this District.  I believe that the present Congressman is only focused on issues that bring national recognition more than local impact.  I am running to help increase economic growth and over stability throughout the FLD9.


Puerto Rican Movie Premieres in Orlando

The movie premieres this Thursday at the Loop in Kissimmee.

María T. Padilla

The Loop in Kissimmee is the setting for the Thursday premiere of the movie Mi verano con Amanda (The Last Summer), filmed in Puerto Rico with Puerto Rican talent.

According to film promoters, it's the first time that a Hispanic movie is released in Orlando not just for a one-day run, but in multiple theaters at the same time.  

"We got it covered," said Josie Valentine, spokeswoman for Orlando Film Studios, which promotes independent films and is working with film makers Benji López and Eduardo Correa of Innova Entertainment, based in San Juan. "We wanted to get every Latin person in a 40-50 mile radius."