La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña, Inc. [La Casa] is a nonprofit organization (501[c]) focused on Puerto Rican culture, education, and research. Our institution was established in 1983 by Boricua pioneers looking to preserve, promote, and enrich Puerto Rico’s national culture throughout the diaspora through literature and the arts. La Casa continues this vital mission through its programs, events, and workshops in New York City, Puerto Rico, and beyond.
Puerto Rico and its diaspora is a subject that goes way beyond that beautiful archipelago on the northeast edge of the Caribbean Sea, which includes the Puerto Rico Main Island, Vieques, Culebra, Mona, and smaller islands. Puerto Rican cultural heritage is a story of a colonized people that have survived, prevailed, and expanded throughout the world, despite great adversity through human and natural disasters.
Puerto Rico is part of the Greater Antilles, a group of islands that include Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispañola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), comprising about 90% of the West Indies. Puerto Rico is a Latin American colonial possession that first declared its nationality on September 23, 1868, under Spanish colonial rule. The United States took possession of Puerto Rico at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898, but never granted it freedom. Instead, Puerto Rico remained a colonial subject under a new sovereign ruler.
But even under the great influence of the US military, media, and trade impositions, the people managed to create and preserve their nationality through their culture. That resiliency also transcended its geographic origins, as the nation blossomed throughout the diaspora, past oceans of time and space, leaving an unusually bright mark in the universe.
Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage is a story of rebellion, resistance, and rebirth that has resonated throughout the cosmos. And that story is composed by people from all walks of life that can trace their roots to the indigenous Taino, West African slaves, and Spanish colonists, traders, pirates, and other Europeans in the Puerto Rico archipelago’s history. Their unique experience and history, from San Juan, to outer space, is told through culture.
A Puerto Rican once sang, “Que Bonita Bandera”, while orbiting the planet at 17,150 miles per hour. It is a privilege and honor for us to explore the connections through the arts, literature, history, and social movements of the Puerto Rican nation to see why a person would do that.
Cultural heritage is what connects indigenous Taíno, Africans, and Spaniards through colonial rule, piracy, slave trade, and industrial development, to NASA astronaut Joseph M. Acaba.
The Puerto Rican universe is indeed epic in scope relative to its geographic origins. But there’s a map that clearly and beautifully connects the dots, and displays the boundaries. That map is our national culture, and the unyielding spirit of the Puerto Rican people, generation after generation, era after era, from one colonial government to another.
No matter how small the islands appear on the map, the universe is brighter because of Puerto Rico’s distinct style, voice, and passion for life.
From the days the Spaniards invaded and colonized the native Taínos, through the Euro-American Slave Trade, to El Grito de Lares revolt of 1868, through all the piracy that came before and after, the US invasion and colonization, to El Grito de Jayuya revolt, to stopping the US Navy from using Vieques as target practice, to the Summer of 2019 revolt that ousted the colonial governor, and through all the movements in between, there is a distinct culture and national affirmation that connects the dots.
We are honored to nurture, preserve, and add to that map of the Puerto Rican experience.
Despite centuries of natural and man-made disasters, the Puerto Rican story continues to unfold. Although the United Nations concluded on more than one occasion that “Puerto Rican people constitute a Latin American and Caribbean nation that has its own and unequivocal national identity”, Puerto Ricans on the islands continue to bare the weight of political and economic calamity under colonial rule. And that affects everything.
As with all nations around the world, politics seeps into the culture, the arts, and into the blood of the people — as it should. And through our history, we can easily identify a sense of never-ending struggle as a recurring theme; “la lucha”.
That constant battle for survival is not always healthy, nor conducive to growth. Struggle is good, so long as it is followed by growth and true progress. That development and prosperity, whether as a person, or a nation, is sometimes marked by a resurgence of spirit, and a major shift in policy that can open new doors, new chapters, and new levels of evolution. That is what we see in the national culture, as with most countries in the world: a constant push forward, “pa’lante”, toward a better world for ourselves, and a greater life filled with new discoveries.
From Luisa Capetillo to Jennifer Lopez, from Ramón Emeterio Betances to Bruno Mars, Puerto Rican history and culture trails behind them all like a comet across the heavens.
We hope you enjoy our events, programs, and workshops, and join in the conversation on Facebook. As a non-profit, we appreciate any tax-deductible contribution you can make to further our mission. Thank you.
Some of our recent and upcoming events: