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Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

Sembrando Herencia 2012
Mami Boricua

The History behind the Musical


In December 2012, Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance debut our newest original musical, Mami Boricua, a tribute to our mothers and grandmothers who contributed to improve working conditions in the garment industry district on NYC in the 1950s. Enjoy the history behind the musical.

The 1950s Great Migration

In our musical, our main characters migrate to New York City searching for economic opportunity. Puerto Ricans began (im)migrating to New York as early as the mid 19th Century when Puerto Rico was still a Spanish Colony. The largest wave of migration to New York came in the 1950s in what became known as "The Great Migration" with the advent of affordable air travel. For $52.50, one could take an 11pm night coach to New York City -- a crammed, frightening, nauseating, unpressurized flight that was jounced around the air like a ship in a storm-tossed sea. Puerto Ricans eager for economic opportunity were attracted by U.S. factory owners and employment agencies that had begun recruiting heavily on the island. One documented case was the recruitment of 130 women directly from Puerto Rico by the American Manufacturing Company. They were brought to NY by steamship and set up in an apartment building complete with Chaperones from well-known respected Puerto Rican families and a free bus that took them to and from work. In 1953, Puerto Rican migration to New York reached its peak when 75,000 people left the island. By 1960, the United States census showed that there were well over 600,000 New Yorkers of Puerto Rican birth or parentage. Estimates were that more than one million Puerto Ricans had migrated during this time of the Great Migration [8,9,10,11,16].

WORKING ON FORMAT>>>>


Mamíoricua
History behind the Musical

History behind the Musical for original story by…
Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eirúnard
Founding Director, Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

With special contributions by 
Zulmarie Alverio, Historical Researcher (Puerto Rico)
Maynard – Research (PR Migration & NY Garment Industry)

!!! PUERTO RICAN FOLKLORIC DANCE CONFIDENTIAL !!!
Copyright ©2012 Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance, Inc.  All rights reserved.
 
Mamíoricua

The story is a tribute to the hardworking women who sewed to make ends meet in New York
City in garment district factories, in sweatshops, and from their homes in the 1950s.
Through this play, based in true history, we enjoy entertaining and powerful scenes of
women, mothers, and grandmothers who led and contributed to efforts that improved working
conditions, wages and benefits for seamstresses and needleworkers in New York City and in
Puerto Rico. 
In this story, every character has a dream for a better life, and goes through a journey
of self discovery on their way to obtain it.

History behind our story…

Women played an important role in the effort to unionize the factories and win better
conditions for garment workers in the first half of the 20th century. Puerto Rican women
held a special place in the early settlements of Boricuas in New York, by creating
communities that were rooted in traditional Puerto Rican family values in the middle of
an alien environment. They established settlements where customs and institutions
mirrored those from back home.  

Women were pivotal in retaining Puerto Rican cultural heritage through the transmission
of language, customs and traditions to the new generation, their families and
communities.  They often provided links between the Island and mainland communities for
new migrants coming into the community from La Isla. Over factory sewing machine, across
stoops, in bodegas, or over cafe in their own homes, women helped newcomers understand
the intricacies of mainland culture and get connected to jobs, housing, traditional
medicines, schools, churches, best places to shop.

In the 1950s, the garment industry in New York was booming. Among the working class, many
home-centered business ventures were invented in response to real economic need.  Among
these, piecework ranked as the most popular of home enterprises, including hand crafts
(jewelry making, home decorations), needlework (embroidery, crochet), and sewing
garments.  Some of these businesses ventures brought extra cash into the household, as
women took on projects to do at home, outside of normal working hours. Some women worked
from home in-lieu of having a traditional job. 

While these women were horrendously underpaid, most were happy to have the income, as any
income was better than none, especially among women whose young children necessitated
work-at-home convenience. As children matured, stay-at-home moms were often able to
transfer their skills to the factory.  Some would even work their way up to position of
“plant-lady”. 

In addition to providing economic means, piece craft and needlework provided a setting
for social interactions. Almost exclusively a feminine world, multiple generations, young
and old would often gather in someone’s home and work together. Crafting traditions
were transmitted to the new generation as curious children were encouraged to
participate.

Meanwhile back in the garment district, Puerto Rican women were hired by the thousands as
sewing machine operators, one of the lowest paying jobs in the trade during this
timeframe, thanks to competition overseas with available laborers who could do the work
for only a fraction of the cost.  By the 1950s, although many of our mothers were already
experienced needleworkers, clothing production was changing; the garment industry no
longer needed such fine skills. Seamstresses who used to make whole garments found
themselves sewing only sections in assembly-line fashion, and as a result, receiving less
pay for less skill. While the work was monotonous, the work was simple, and they could
earn more money if they worked fast.

Many Puerto Rican women looked for union shops where they expected to get protection,
benefits and higher wages. During the fifties, labor unions were stepping up their
organizing, and many of our mothers and grandmothers led that effort. Some became union
chairladies and organizers, and sometimes the chairlady had the power to stop a shop with
a strike!

This history is the basis of our story!   


 
APPENDIX

HISTORY BEHIND THE MUSICAL

Each section is followed by references for that section. 

From Puerto Rico to New York - Highlights on Early Migration History
Research by Ana Maria Maynard

The first Puerto Ricans to “immigrate” to New York was during the mid 19th century
(Puerto Rico was still a Spanish colony). The earliest Puerto Rican community was in
Manhattan. Most came from well-to-do families (or people with money) who could afford to
travel by steamship, an expensive and long trip. Others immigrants included men and women
who were exiled by the Spanish Crown for their political beliefs and struggles for the
cause of Puerto Rican independence.

Despite the fact that Puerto Rico became a possession of the US in 1898 (Spanish American
War), Puerto Ricans moving to New York were not considered “migrants”until 1917,
when the United States Congress approved Jones-Shafroth Act which gave Puerto Ricans U.S.
citizenship (so they could draft Island men to help fight World War I). During the First
World War (and afterwards) the flow of immigrants coming from Europe was affected, and
United States companies began looking to Puerto Rico for cheap labor. The 1924
Immigration Act that restricted European migration to the United States further
accelerated the massive migration of these internal colonial subjects to New York

One documented case from the 1920s was the recruitment of 130 women directly from Puerto
Rico by the American Manufacturing Company, a rope factory. They were brought to
Brooklyn, New York by steamship, met by a company representative, and set up in
company-owned, three floor apartment buildings on a “centrally located, spacious
thoroughfare’’ (a big, busy street in Brooklyn?).  The buildings had modern
electric lighting, verses gas light, which was a perk in those days.  The building came
complete with two Chaperones from well-known respected Puerto Rican families who looked
after the women’s welfare, and four other women who were in charge of domestic
services (like cooking). There was a free company bus (40-person) that took them to and
from work, and could be used for recreation excursion trips on the weekends; they just
had to pay the cost of gas and driver.  Businesses sprang up in these Puerto Rican
migrant neighborhoods to serve workers needs, like bodegas that served hot lunches (rice
and beans!) to the workers during the week. 

Operation Bootstrap  (1940s)

Operation Bootstrap 


Operation Bootstrap (Operacióanos a la Obra) was the name given to the ambitious projects
which industrialized Puerto Rico in the mid-20th century.   The island's traditional
economy was based around sugarcane plantations.   By the middle of the twentieth century
it remained one of the poorest in the Caribbean. In 1948 the United States government
began Operation Bootstrap, which invested millions of dollars into the Puerto Rican
economy, to transform the rural agricultural society into an industrial working class.
Puerto Rico’s Departamento de Fomento ("Department of Economic Development")
encouraged the establishment of factories. 

The US government in Puerto Rico enticed US companies by providing labor at costs below
those on the mainland, access to US markets without import duties, and profits that could
enter the country free from federal taxation. The Departamento de Fomento invited
investment of external capital, importing the raw materials, and exporting the finished
products to the United States. To entice participation, tax exemptions and differential
rental rates were offered for industrial facilities. As a result, Puerto Rico's economy
shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing and tourism. The manufacturing sector
shifted from the original labor-intensive industries, such as the manufacturing of food,
tobacco, leather, and apparel products, to more capital-intensive industries, such as
pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery, and electronics. 

Although initially touted as an economic miracle, by the 1960s, Operation Bootstrap was
increasingly hampered by a growing unemployment problem. There were not enough industrial
jobs brought in to offset the loss of jobs in Agriculture.  As living standards and wages
in Puerto Rico rose, manpower-intensive industries faced competition from outside the
United States. It also faced criticism from civil rights groups, and the Catholic Church,
who perceived the government promoting birth control, encouraging surgical sterilization,
and fostering the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States.  Due to this failure,
the late 1940s began a period of mass migration from Puerto Rico to the United States. 

From Puerto Rico to New York - The 1950s Great Migration
Research by Ana Maria Maynard

The first Puerto Ricans to “immigrate” to New York was during the mid 19th century,
when Puerto Rico was still a Spanish colony. But the largest wave of migration came about
in the late 1950s in what became known as "The Great Migration".  In 1948 the United
States government began Operation Bootstrap, ambitious projects which invested millions
of dollars into the Puerto Rican economy, in order to transform it from a rural
agricultural society (sugar cane plantations) into an industrial working class
(manufacturing). 

Unfortunately, not enough jobs were being created to replace the number of jobs lost in
agriculture. Puerto Ricans eager for economic opportunity were attracted by U.S. factory
owners and employment agencies that sent agents to recruit workers. The demand for
workers in New York City was so great that the Mayor Robert Wagner publicly stated in
1953 that he and all New Yorkers would welcome any Puerto Rican willing to work. So,
people left the Island in search of a better life. 

With the advent of affordable air travel, for $52.50, one could take an 11pm night coach
to New York City -- a crammed, frightening, nauseating, unpressurized flight that was
jounced around the air like a ship in a storm-tossed sea.  In 1953, Puerto Rican
migration to New York reached its peak when 75,000 people left the island. By 1960, the
United States census showed that there were well over 600,000 New Yorkers of Puerto Rican
birth or parentage. Estimates were that more than one million Puerto Ricans had migrated
during this time of the Great Migration.

[References] 

Operation Bootstrap:
http://ngnewsarticles.blogspot.com/2006/06/operation-bootstrap-industrialization.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bootstrap

"Puerto Rican migration to New York,"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rican_migration_to_New_York
"History Puerto Rican Migration," Latino Education Network Service,
http://palante.org/History.htm

Puerto Rican [Migration] / Cuban Immigration
http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/cuban3.html

"Long Night's Journey," The Puerto Ricans: a documentary history, Kal Wagenheim and Olga
Jimenez de Wagenheim, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1994.

"From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City, Virginia E.
Sancheck Korrol, University of California Press, 1983.

Jimenez de Wagenheim, Olga, "Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History from
Pre-Columbian Times to 1900," Markus Wiener Pub., 1998.


 
Puerto Rican Women & The Garment Industry
Research by Ana Maria Maynard 

Many Puerto Rican women who came to NYC in the 1950s found work as sewing machine
operators in garment factories in New York City, where the pay and working conditions
were often poor.  Women played an important role in the effort to unionize the factories
and win better conditions for workers.  Here is research about the history of Puerto
Rican women in the garment industry.

Although Russian Jews and Italians had dominated the garment industry in New York since
1914, many immigrants wanted something better for their children and dissuaded them from
pursing similar employment. Their withdrawal from the industry opened opportunities to
new groups including migrating Puerto Rican women. The mirgration of Puerto Ricans women
was intertwined with the garment district. As they settled in New York City their lives
and wellbeing became interwined with the union.  Puerto Rican women joined the
International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) during the 1920s, and an
organizing campaign in the early 1930s brought more than 2,000 Puerto Ricans into the
Dressmakers’ union (Dressmakers’ Local 22).  

Between 1930 and 1936, about 30 percent of gainfully employed Puerto Rican workers in the
United States were either garment or hand-sewing (needle) workers. However, most of them
worked at home until the 1940’s and early 1950’s, when they began to enter the
garment workshops in great numbers. 

As migration increased after World War II, so did Puerto Rican women’s union
membership. These women came to New York as labor migrants, displaced from Puerto
Rico’s economy.  They were part of the first airborne migration and arrived at a
critical juncture in the garment industry.  In 1947, the ILSWU claimed to have 7500
Puerto Rican women members, and estimated that 4,000-8000 worked in other small shops. In
1959, half of the 8036 members of the Shirtmakers Local 23 Union were Puerto Ricans; they
held leadership positions on the Executive Board and various committees.

Unfortunately the garment industry was changing in ways that had a major impact on Puerto
Rican women workers and on the union.  Competition fostered the industry’s relocation
to places outside New York, and exerted downward pressure on wages. Puerto Rican and
African American workers found themselves earning lower pay than their Jewish and Italian
predecessors for the same work, and were generally relegated to the lowest- paid
unskilled and semiskilled jobs in the industry. 

During this time, section work increased, in which workers sewed just one portion of the
garment instead of the entire garment, which meant de-skilling and lower wages.  As union
shops left the city, small contracting shops proliferated. They were far harder to
organize and the unions gradually lost their ability to keep sweatshop conditions from
returning, even in the former center of its strength in New York.  In the 1950s and 60s
it was not uncommon to find garment workers who labored with few breaks to earn more
money (they were paid by the piece, not by the hour) in factories without air circulation
and windows that were all painted green so no one would be distracted by sunlight.

Tensions between Puerto Rican workers and the union leadership surfaced during the 1950s,
because union leaders and staff were not Spanish speakers.  1957 and 1958 Puerto Rican
workers challenged the ISGWUs representation on several occasions.  Efforts to create a
Spanish-speaking local in the dressmakers’ industry in 1957 and 1958 were rebuffed by
the union leadership (as was done in 1933 and 1934), and they did not recognize Local 60A
which was mostly composed of Puerto Rican men. 

While some charged the union with discrimination against the new majority Puerto Rican
and African American workers, others noted the garment industry was the first to face
economic challenges due to globalization. There was a loss of jobs in the city.
Globalization of the industry was affecting everyone and employment and union membership
plummeted.  

March 15, 1958 was “The Day the Dresses Stopped”.  As workers came to New York
City’s garment center, 200,000 leaflets were handed out. At 10AM, sound cars called
all dressmakers to a general strike in support of better wages, benefits and working
conditions, holidays, and severance pay for displaced workers of shops who relocated out
of State.  They were instructed to leave their machines and shops.  Thousands of workers
made their way to Madison Square Garden for instructions (my guess) and by the next
morning Seventh Avenue was filled with pickets signs.  The strike was 100% effective.  A
billion dollar industry was completely stopped, with the striking of 105,000 union
members in New York and six nearby states who joined the strike in solidarity with NY.
	
The success of the strike was going to depend on the participation of everyone. 	
Puerto Ricans in New York in 1958 were a vital part of the massive dressmaker's strike
due to their sheer numbers. Despite they were in the forefront of challenging the forces
that were successfully pigeon-holing Puerto Rican women into the most menial, lowest
skilled, lowest paying jobs, they participated in the 1958 strike thanks to Spanish
speaking workers who volunteered to serve on various strike committees. 

International Ladies Garment Workers Union Strike - March 15, 1958
 
Members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union on strike gather in a meeting
hall, March 15, 1958.   
In 1958, 100,000 striking ILGWU  members in eight states win the required use of the
union label.
[References]

From:  Garment Industry – American Immigration, Encyclopedia of Immigration, December
12, 2011. http://immigration-online.org/512-garment-industry.html
Lucy Romano- Brooklyn Garment Factory Work in the 1950s-1960s, The Fabric of Factory
Life, Adelphy University, March 08, 2011.
http://blogs.adelphi.edu/trianglefire/entry/lucy_romano_brooklyn_garment_factory

Vicki L. Ruí Virginia Sáhez Korrol, “International Ladies Garment Workers Union”,
Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1, , Indiana University
Press, Jun 30, 2006 , pp 348-349.
http://books.google.com/books?id=_62IjQ-XQScC&pg=PA349&lpg=PA349&dq=1958+dressmakers+strike&source=bl&ots=WN8JtxjvOW&sig=0IBWJx5rxPeEDqGAkNQYQylbFWI&hl=en#v=onepage&q=1958%20dressmakers%20strike&f=false

Carmen Teresa Whalen, “The Day the Dresses Stopped: Puerto Rican Women and the
International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the 1958 Dressmakers’ Strike,”
Memories and migrations: mapping Boricua and Chicana histories,  Editors:  Vicki Ruí John
R. Cház, William P. Clements, Center for Southwest Studies, p. 121, 2008.
http://books.google.com/books?id=9AYfyYW0LAUC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=The+Day+the+Dresses+Stopped:+Puerto+Rican+Women+and+the+International+Ladies+Garment+Workers+Union+and+the+1958+Dressmakers%E2%80%99+Strike,+Carmen+Teresa+Whalen.&source=bl&ots=NtLqEY6G01&sig=knG7RVSNho3hn-Q3BPARmqG2opU&hl=en#v=onepage&q=The%20Day%20the%20Dresses%20Stopped%3A%20Puerto%20Rican%20Women%20and%20the%20International%20Ladies%20Garment%20Workers%20Union%20and%20the%201958%20Dressmakers%E2%80%99%20Strike%2C%20Carmen%20Teresa%20Whalen.&f=false

Ricardo Griswold del Castillo, Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 29, No. 2 (WINTER
2010), pp. 102-104, University of Illinois Press
URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jamerethnhist.29.2.0102

Photo of Members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union on strike gather in a
meeting hall, March 15, 1958.   
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kheelcenter/5279689582/ 

Unite Here! Workers in US & Canada,   Timeline History.
http://www.unitehere.org/about/history.php
Dressmakers - Kheel Center Labor Photos
www.laborphotos.cornell.edu/default.php?cPath=24...1...

Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD), History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 – 2009.
http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm
Photos of needleworkers – 1940s in Puerto Rico
http://pinterest.com/bellavidaletty/puertorican-women/

Photos that show needlework labor conditions in Puerto Rico in the decade BEFORE the
1950s time frame of this story.
Title: Utuado, Puerto Rico (vicinity). Stitching needlework at the home of a farm labor
family in the hills. It is a widespread practice for factories to distribute hand work in
this way Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer. Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan.
(Utuado is in the mountains.)



Title: In the fishing village of Puerto Real (Cabo Rojo), many women take in needlework
to do at home to supplement their income from fish. The gloves which these women are
stitching are being done for a firm in Mayaguez and will eventually be sold in New York.
Puerto Rico Creator(s): Delano, Jack, photographer 
Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan.
Title: San Juan (vicinity), Puerto Rico. In a needlework factory Creator(s): Delano,
Jack, photographer Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan.


Title: San Juan (vicinity), Puerto Rico. In a needlework factory Creator(s): Delano,
Jack, photographer Date Created/Published: 1942 Jan.



 
MaríLuisa Arcelay de la Rosa 
Her Biography and contributions
By Zulmarie Alverio

Puerto Rico se convirtió uno de los principales país de Améca en conceder el derecho al
voto a la mujer.  En 1932, MaríLuisa Arcelay, dueñe talleres de costura de Mayagüe
convirtió la primera mujer legisladora de Puerto Rico y de toda Latinoaméca.  Perteneció
Partido Estadista Republicano y fue la ú mujer legisladora durante dos cuatrienios.
Apoyo los derechos de la infancia, las mujeres y los envejecientes. Fue empresaria,
contadora y maestra. Se le dedico una plena del compositor Mon Rivera, llamada:    Alo
quien llama? MaríLuisa Arcelay.

MaríLuisa Arcelay de la Rosa 
(December 7, 1894 – Oct 17, 1981)
	
Politician, businesswoman and educator, MaríVictoria Luisa Fundadora Arcelay de la Rosa
was one of the leaders of the Puerto Rican needlework industry in the early 20th century.
She was also the first woman elected to the Puerto Rican legislature (1932), and the
first female legislator in all of Latin America.  Born in Mayagü 1894,  she moved to
RíPiedras in 1913, where she earned a teaching certificate in elementary-level English
from the Normal School (a teacher’s college). She returned to Mayagühere she worked as
an English teacher at the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School. To earn additional
income, she began to work a second job as an office worker at the Benet & Co. sewing
workshop.

In 1917, she opened her own sewing workshop in Mayagüs the business grew she moved it to
an industrial building, where it evolved into a needlework factory employing 400
needlework workers, mostly local women who had no other means to sustain them
economically. In the beginning, the embroidery and sewing were done by hand, but
industrial machines were later used. She became an activist who defended the island's
needlework industry in many public hearings in Puerto Rico, New York City and Washington,
D.C.  She played an instrumental role in making the industry (both its prices, and it
products) compatible with the United States market, by opposing any minimum wage
legislation for seamstresses and common workers. The business remained in operation until
1965.

In 1929, a law was approved that granted the right to vote to women who could read and
write. In 1932, in the first elections in which women could vote, MaríLuisa Arcelay ran
for a seat in the legislature under the banner of the coalition between the Republican
Union Party and the Socialist Party. She became the first Puerto Rican woman, and the
first woman in all of Latin America, to be elected to a government legislative body.

MaríLuisa Arcelay was re-elected in 1936. During the eight years she represented District
16 of Mayagü the House of Representatives, she created and co-authored a large number of
bills and resolutions, among which were the laws that established the Puerto Rico
Lottery, created juvenile courts and orphanages, formed a pension fund for teachers and
cooperatives for handmade goods, and imposed penalties on parents who did not provide
support for their children. She was chairwoman of the Agriculture and Commerce Committee
in the legislature and was a member of the Education and the Treasury and Labor
committees. Her civil and social work also included directing the Puerto Rico Price and
Rationing Board in wartime and the Mayagüildren's Home. She was also a member of the
Women's Civic and Cultural Club of Mayagü

During the decades of the 40s and 50s, under her leadership, Puerto Rico's needlework
industry grew to become the island's second-largest industry...second only to
agriculture. There is a portrait of Maria Luisa Arcelay at the Schlesinger Library on the
History of Women in America.

Needlework Strike in Mayaguez 1933

In August 1932, needleworkers (seamstresses) of a local Mayaguez handkerchief factory
striked against the factory's owner, Lebanese industrialist William Mamary, to request
higher salaries for their work. The seamstresses were "fagotting" [a kind of embroidery],
magic by the sewing workers. The employees were always complaining, because they earned
little. The leader at the time was Maria Luisa Arecelay, close relative of Jose Luis
Moneróhe singer. Maria Luisa Arecelay, who was already a leader “on the side of the
worker,”’  incited unrest to encourage the workers to claim their rights. She was a
great leader (defender) of the working class. (She was a Senator and the first Puerto
Rican woman who had a license to drive car!)  Mamery hired replacement workers (whom the
seamstresses considered to be scabs). The strike was organized by local labor leader John
Vidal, and patronized by local assembly woman MaríLuisa Arcelay, who both had sewing
workshops. Police, who were called to protect employer properties, killed and wounded
some strikers who stoned the workshop of Arcelay. 

Arcelay used her position as president of the Agriculture and Commerce Commission, to
continue her defense of the needlework industry before local and federal authorities. She
also played an instrumental role in making the industry (both its prices, and it
products) compatible with the United States market, by opposing any minimum wage
legislation for seamstresses and common workers.

A plena standard was born on that day. Puerto Rican musician Mon Rivera wrote a song
titled Alo, Quien Llama? (Hello, Who's Calling?), sometimes also referred to as Que
Seráwhich describes the seamstress' strike and mentions Arcelay in the song:


El mosaico nú uno  - Alóuiéñ
Mon Rivera Alers

¿Quéeráue pasaráue el taller de Mamery pide gente pa’ trabajar.
Alóquiéñ?

(Coro)

¿QuéeráquéasaráEl taller de Mamery
pide gente pa’ trabajáAlóquiéñ?
MaríLuisa Arcelay
tratando con John Vidal
dicen que las bordadoras
que sin lana
no van pa’ allá(Coro)

Empezó huelga
Dios mí quéarbaridad
¡Ay! las trabajadoras
Empezaron a bembetear
. . .que si cuchi cu,
que si cuchi ca
Petra apaga esa plancha
No trabajemos na’

¿Quée cree esta gente?
No nos tienen piedad.
La lana que aquíos pagan
Ay, no nos da pa’na.
 

Notes from Zulmarie Alverio:  

Eso era en Mayagünde estaban los talleres de costura de John Vidal y de la familia de
Gilbert Mamery.  Las costureras hací “fagotting” [una especie de bordado], una
magia de la costura obrera.  Las empleadas siempre estaban quejáose, porque ganaban poco.
La lír en aquellos tiempos era MaríLuisa Arecelay, pariente bien cercana de Joséuis
Moneról cantante.  MaríLuisa Arecelay, que ya era una lír pro obrera, las agitaba para
reclamar derechos.  Fue una gran lír obrera, senadora y la primera mujer puertorriqueñue
tuvo una licencia para guiar automó.  Eran los tiempos del papáe Mon, era su éca, su vida
y eran las cosas que écantaba.  Y Mon cantóo y realmente inmortalizóla familia Mamery, a
MaríLuisa Arecelay y a John Vidal.

Translation: This took place in Mayagüere the sewing workshops John Vidal and Gilbert
Mamery Family were. The seamstresses were "fagotting" [a kind of embroidery], magic by
the sewing workers. The employees were always complaining, because they earned little.
The leader at the time was Maria Luisa Arecelay, close relative of Jose Luis Moneróhe
singer. Maria Luisa Arecelay, who was already a leader “on the side of the
worker’’, created unrest to encourage the workers to claim their rights. She was a
leader (defender) of the working class, a Senator and the first Puerto Rican woman who
had a license to drive car. It was the time when Mon Rivera’s Dad was famous, it was
about his time, his life, was what he sang about.  And Mon’s song really immortalized
the Mamery family, Maria Luisa Arecelay and John Vidal.

 [References]

Maria Luisa Arcelay -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar%C3%ADa_Luisa_Arcelay

Mon Rivera (Alo Quien Llama)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mon_Rivera

MaríLuisa Arcelay 
http://www.enciclopediapr.org/ing/article.cfm?ref=09122201

“Mon Rivera: su memoria en plena”,  Por Tite Curet Alonso, De su programa radial
Tropicalímo, Radio Universidad el 28 de febrero de 1998. Israel Sáhez-Coll transcribió
texto original para Herencia Latina.
 http://www.herencialatina.com/Mon_Rivera_2/Mon_Rivera.htm

“How Did Women Needleworkers Influence New Deal Labor Policies in Puerto Rico?”
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-1920., Document Project, Alexander
Street Press.  (subscription required).
http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/prns/doclist.htm
“Puerto Rican Needleworkers during the New Deal,” article from Document Project,
Alexander Street Press. (subscription required).
http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/teacher/prns.htm


Maria de Carment Baerga, “La Industria de la Aguja en Puerto Rico y sus Origenes”,
Géro y trabajo: La industria de la aguja en Puerto Rico y el Caribe hispáco, Chapter 2,
p. 59, La Editorial, UPR, 1993.
http://books.google.com.pr/books?id=_-gj0Zb8bIkC&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=%22industria+de+la+aguja+en+puerto+rico%22&source=bl&ots=TQ0Y9wnwLs&sig=VdsSSNA4Ig1Xk8P2Vyo5OWQ9Vis&hl=es-419&sa=X&ei=8esmUPNsg-zzBL6jgbAH&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22industria%20de%20la%20aguja%20en%20puerto%20rico%22&f=false


 

HISTORICAL REFERENCES:

[8] "Puerto Rican migration to New York," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto_Rican_migration_to_New_York

[9] "History Puerto Rican Migration," Latino Education Network Service, http://palante.org/History.htm

[10] Puerto Rican [Migration] / Cuban Immigration http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/cuban3.html

[11] "Long Night's Journey," The Puerto Ricans: a documentary history, Kal Wagenheim and Olga Jimenez de Wagenheim, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1994.

[12] "Rural Life Under US Rule," Cultures of America - Puerto Ricans, Petra Press, Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1996.

[16] "From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City, Virginia E. Sancheck Korrol, University of California Press, 1983.

[18] Wagenheim, Kal and Jimenez de Wagenheim, Olga, "The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History," Markus Wiener Pub., 1996. (Before I read this book, I hated history. ;) A facinating book that presents history in the words of those who were there.)

[19] Jimenez de Wagenheim, Olga, "Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History from Pre-Columbian Times to 1900," Markus Wiener Pub., 1998.

[20] Kal Wagenheim, "Puerto Rico: A Profile", Praeger Publishers, New York NY, 1970.

[21] Morales Carrion, Arturo, "Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History," W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1983.

[22] Pico Fernando, "Historia General de Puerto Rico," San Juan, PR: Ediciones Huracan, 2000.



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