The Relationship of Identity to the Organizational Development of FLECHAS: Perceptions of Race from a Puerto Rican Perspective

The Relationship of Identity to the Organizational Development of FLECHAS:
Perceptions of Race from a Puerto Rican Perspective


By
Raul A. Avila



The Puerto Rican preoccupation with “whitening” and incidents of black racism obfuscate Puerto Rican identity. The “deliberate amnesia” regarding their genetic and cultural connection with Black African slaves compels Puerto Ricans to disassociate themselves from “blackness” and everything that “blackness” unjustifiably represents among many: inferior intelligence, poverty, and a lack of ability to perform well in high-level positions. Puerto Rican whitening is the answer to the racial profiling of Blacks by law and society, especially in the United States. The resulting disassociation with the African Black heritage impedes the resolution of the Puerto Rican identity crisis.


FLECHAS is an organization founded in New Haven, CT in 1977 to challenge this identity disorder among Puerto Ricans. FLECHAS is an acronym for “Feast of Loiza in Connecticut in Honor of Saint James the Apostle.” It is significant that Loiza, a city in northern Puerto Rico, was the Port of Call for Black African slaves. The founders of FLECHAS, natives of Loiza, grew up with positive images of being black and a strong sense of history rooted in their blackness. In fact the legend of Saint James, celebrated by the town for over two hundred years, runs parallel to that of the African god, Chango, who symbolizes strength and the peoples’ battle against slavery and injustice. Founders did not experience negative portrayals of blackness as Blacks in their day were policemen, elected officials, or teachers. It was not until they left Loiza that they experienced racism, so they founded FLECHAS to reestablish blackness to its rightful place of honor among the Puerto Rican community.


FLECHAS is a Puerto Rican organization founded in New Haven, CT in 1977. (Appendix A) The founders are a group of citizens, who in the late 1960s migrated from the town of Loiza, Puerto Rico, the center of African slave trade during the period of Spanish colonialism in the New World. With membership composed of primarily Black Puerto Rican descendants, FLECHAS was created in response to the conviction that the Black Puerto Rican heritage has been either misrepresented or generally omitted in any discussion of Puerto Rican identity.


The African influence on Puerto Rican culture is obvious. That influence can be found in Puerto Rican music, dance, art, food, and religion (Galvin, 2005). Moreover, DNA tests conducted by geneticists in 2000 found that 27% of Puerto Ricans on the Island have mitochondrial DNA from the people of Africa (Martinez-Cruzado, 2003). However, the Census of 2010 indicates that only 12% of Puerto Ricans self-report as being Black, while most scientists report that, for Puerto Ricans on both the island and in mainland United States, 47% have African blood (Kinsbruner, 1996). Although these findings are hotly contested, Via (2011) reports that the percentages of Puerto Ricans with African DNA average 20%. Apparently, Puerto Ricans have made a concerted effort to disassociate themselves from their Black African heritage.


For Puerto Ricans, the issue of identity formation has been complicated by five hundred years of colonialism, four hundred of which were under Spanish rule. The issues of racism, Black and White intermarriage, and Puerto Rican identity today can be traced all the way back to the 8th century Moors, who ruled Spain for 800 years. During that period there was no discrimination against Blacks. Historians, such as Robert Martinez of Baruch College, indicate that society in Spain was devoid of racism toward Blacks, and this attitude carried over to Puerto Rico by the conquistadores. As a matter of fact, Martinez notes, racial intermarriage was not frowned upon. He writes:

In the 8th century, nearly all of Spain was conquered (711-718) by the Muslim Moors who had crossed over from North Africa. A section of the city of Seville, which was a Moorish stronghold, was inhabited by thousands of Blacks. Black women were highly sought after by Spanish males. Therefore, it was no surprise that the first conquistadors who arrived to the island intermarried with the native Taino Indians and later with the African immigrants (Martinez, 1990, p. 3).

Conversations with founders of FLECHAS indicate this was indeed the case in the province of Loiza on the island of Puerto Rico, where they were born and raised. There was neither discrimination nor racism in Loiza, as many descendants of African Black slaves like themselves held prestigious positions in Loiza as politicians, writers, teachers, and law enforcement officers. It was not the same situation outside of Loiza on the island, according to the founders of FLECHAS, and when Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1898, Puerto Ricans experienced the same racist effects of “blackness” as African Americans. This writer’s role in composing this article as a participant observer is important and critical to consider since I am of Black Puerto Rican ancestry, a current member of FLECHAS, and a professional therapist for the Greater New Haven community in Connecticut.



Social History


The foundation for this article begins with the backdrop of the social history of Puerto Rico from the arrival of African Blacks in 1517 to the situation of Puerto Ricans as citizens of the United States in the present day. This history includes the 400 years of slavery in Puerto Rico and the treatment of Puerto Ricans by Americans from 1898, when Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War, to the status of Puerto Ricans in the 21st Century when Barack Obama, a Black man, became President of the United States. The atrocities committed in Puerto Rico and in the United States against kidnapped African slaves are familiar to everyone. In the time of Columbus and Conquistadors, African Blacks were considered no less than animals or beasts of burden to be hunted down, caged, and subjected to forced labor. This went on for 400 years in Puerto Rico.


Ayala and Bernabe, in their history of Puerto Rico, indicate that mixed race among Puerto Ricans evolved in several ways (Ayala & Barnabe, 2007). Criminal elements among white men and women in Spain went to Puerto Rico to escape debt or imprisonment and married Blacks. A more common means, however, was through the rape of Black women by white masters. Slaves in the United States were considered by law to be “property.” A man’s wealth was determined by the number of slaves he had on his plantation. White masters increased their “wealth” by having offspring with their Black slaves. Mistreated by the Whites, many Blacks – not all, but too many – were brainwashed into believing their inferiority, forbidden to learn to read, and forced into a life no better than that of beasts of burden.



One Drop Rule


It is important to note that in Puerto Rico race-mixing was a common occurrence. There, the race of an individual from a mixed marriage was determined by the rule: if there is one drop of white blood in a person, the person was considered White. In the United States, the opposite was the rule: one drop of Black blood determined the race to be Black. In the United States, therefore, no distinction was made between African-Americans and Puerto Ricans of mixed race. Both experienced discrimination and racism, both experienced racial profiling, and both were considered by nature inferior in intelligence, if human at all. In Puerto Rico and in the United States, most frequently, Blackness was determined by outward appearance: the color of skin, the kinky hair, and a wide nose (Cruz-Jansen, 2003).


More important to the answer to the research question may be the fact that “blackness” to the Puerto Rican may mean several things: blackness is slavery, blackness is no opportunity, blackness is poverty, and blackness is ignorance.



Blackness is Slavery


Woodward (2007) makes a comment that has significant application to the issue of Puerto Rican identity. She speaks about the need for Blacks to embrace their history as descendants of slaves in order to understand it, learn and accept it as part of their history, and move onward. She asserts that the issue of slavery has never been fully dealt with in the United States and is reflected in the denial of the Black experience in Latin America. Several authors make reference to the fact that Puerto Ricans avoid any discussion of slavery and Africans (Duany, 2007; Grosfoguel, 2003; Hiraldo, 2006).


Reid (2005) would respond that it is not that easy for Puerto Rican descendants of the African holocaust to “learn to accept... their history and move onward.” He replies that Black Puerto Ricans need first to remove the “shackles” that hold them back. These shackles are the mindsets and behaviors developed due to ongoing trauma of the descendants of African slavery and racism. Reid sees these mindsets and behaviors as the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he renames to apply specifically to the African holocaust, Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder (Reid, 2005).


A close study of the symptoms of PTSD reveals a remarkable parallel between the behavior of contemporary Puerto Ricans in their obsession with whitening, and their “amnesia” regarding any connection with African slavery and racism. The following are the predominant symptoms described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5), which we can apply to the Black African trauma.


Avoidance: Avoidance is a defense mechanism that helps the traumatized individual to minimize or totally extinguish the pain of the stressful situation. Descendants of slavery do not like to be reminded of slavery, and they avoid reading about it or looking at pictures and movies about it. The problem with the emphasis on slavery in American and Puerto Rican media is that it gives the impression that slavery is the only history there is in the Black African history, but it is not. Puerto Ricans may not only be avoiding their Black heritage, they may be totally extricating themselves from the trauma through its amnesia regarding the African heritage.


Identity: Trauma victims take on the role of the victimizer, even to the extent that some believe they deserve the pain inflicted on them. Children abused by parents become abusers themselves when they have children. This behavior has been manifest in present day Black police officers and other Black administrators. It is observed in young Black youths in New Haven assaulting and even killing other Black youths. Puerto Ricans spend much money and exert much energy in changing their appearance to look like the oppressor.


Poor Interpersonal Relationships: Interpersonal relationships are poor because of issues of identity and self-hatred, according to findings in PTSD. Erikson gives us powerful reason for the impairment of relationships among descendants of African slavery. He indicates that we go through stages of psychosocial development as our social circumstances change. In fact, he insists, we must resolve a previous stage before we are faced in our social circumstances with the subsequent stage of human “crisis.” To have meaningful and good interpersonal relationships an individual must experience “trust” for other people, then move on to experiencing a sense of “autonomy” followed by an ability to “initiate” ideas and the energy to be more “industrious” in contributing to his society. Stage five is critical: namely, to have a knowledge, understanding, and satisfaction with one’s own “identity.” Having resolved each of these “crises,” a person has the tools and psychological ability needed to give all these qualities to another person in loving and caring relationships (Erickson, 1950, p. 261).


Positioned on 400 years of slavery, it is conceivable that Black Africans could have experienced difficulty in negotiating and completing Erickson’s (1966) developmental stage relating to interpersonal relationships. In too many lives of the descendants of Black Africans, the stages prior to the stage of interpersonal relationships have not been resolved, thus making the individual unable nor interested in resolving the stage of good interpersonal relationships. Indeed because of the trauma of the horrors of slavery and present-day prejudice and discrimination, the African descendants are “fixated” at the lower stages of psychosocial development, neither trusting the world nor resolving an identity crisis. This situation may be underlying the strenuous efforts on the part of Puerto Ricans to divorce themselves from the trauma of blackness.


Smith (2012) may be summarizing the task for FLECHAS in addressing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder when he writes:

Any or all of the positive reinforcements such as: History and accomplishments by African Americans were replaced with the repetitive doctrine of black inferiority. Negative mental conditioning was reinforced by slave owners and much of white society, which led to harsh treatment, and brutal reprisal for seeking any form of knowledge of themselves or the world around them. Hence, this was why reading of any kind was forbidden among slaves. Knowledge is power, and once the slave became educated, he or she realized the injustice that was taking place.



Blackness is Poverty


Blackness for the Puerto Rican – as well as other Latinos – is poverty. For example, in 2003 social science researchers found that Puerto Ricans who identified as “White” earned $5000 more than those who identified as “Black” and $2,500 more per year than those who identified as “some other race” (Fears, 2003 p.A03). White Puerto Ricans had lower unemployment rates and lower poverty rates than Black Puerto Ricans (Espinoza and Franz, 2002). A large number of studies found a contrast between white and black Puerto Ricans in terms of favoritism in employment, attitudes of beauty and attractiveness, opportunities for adequate housing, etc. White beauty is the standard and ideal (Kilbourne, 1999; Hill, 2000; Mason, 2004; Rondilla & Spickard, 2007).



Blackness is Ignorance, Poor Education, and Low Intelligence


The white supremacy toward Blacks gained “scientific” authority beginning in the 19th Century to the present day. The scientific world determined through faulty research in craniology and anthropology that Blacks by nature were at the lowest level of intelligence, if human at all. Consequently, they were hunted like animals and, to identify who owned them, they were branded on the forehead like cattle. These same embers of racism were sparked in the mid-20th Century by what has become known as the Jensen heresy, the conviction that intelligence is race-based. In the late 20th Century it was further promulgated by Murray and Hernstein in their voluminous work, The Bell-Shaped Curve. Analyzing scores on intelligence tests of American citizens, Murray and Hernstein found that the intelligence scores of Americans fall on a bell curve. Blacks fell on the lowest end of the curve, thereby indicating according to these Harvard scientists that intelligence is race-based (Hernstein & Murray, 1994).



Schooling and Blackness


Research shows that schools practice skin color stratification. Schools do not exist in a vacuum, and researchers find the same patterns of inequalities inside schools that exist outside schools (Anderson & Cromwell, 1977; Murguia & Telles 1996; Robinson & Ward 1995). In fact, in their groundbreaking study, Hughes and Hertel (1990) found that the education gap between whites and blacks was nearly identical to the education gap between light-skinned blacks and dark-skinned blacks. Consequently, they suggest blackness plays as significant a role in the lives of Black Puerto Ricans as race does (Alba et al., 2000). Arce (1987) even included a variable on facial features in their analysis of skin color and education. They found that dark skin color coupled with black facial features (as opposed to Anglo) produced a significant depression of educational attainment.


Research indicates interesting facts on how skin color stratification operates in schools. Skin color hier¬archies reflect deeply held cultural beliefs about civility, modernity, sophistication, backwardness, beauty, and virtue (Ernst, 1980; Morrison, 1992; Smedley, 2007). In Western culture, light skin and European facial features have been equated with the positive characteristics mentioned above (Drake, 1987). In English and in Spanish, the terms “fair” and “ligera” mean both “light” and “pretty.” The conflation of these meanings is just one example of a deeply held cultural value that European or white bodies are superior to others (Feagin and McKinney, 2002). This gets translated in the classroom in particular ways. Teacher expectations exert a powerful influence on student achievement. If teachers, of any race, expect light-skinned students of color to be smarter, more academically prepared, from better families, and better-behaved than darker-skinned classmates, the students may rise and fall to meet those racialized expectations (Murguia and Telles, 1996). Teachers and principals may respond more positively to light-skinned or white parents of children in their classrooms. We know that school counselors encourage white students to attend college more often than equally talented African American students (Oakes, 1987).


In summary, it is apparent from the research that light-skinned people of color enjoy many privileges over their dark-skinned counterparts (Hunter, 2005). Blackness, it is clear, is concerned with actual skin tone as opposed to racial or ethnic identity. This is an important distinction because race is a social concept, not significantly tied to biology (Hirschman, 2004). Lighter-skinned people of color enjoy substantial privileges that are still unattainable to their darker-skinned brothers and sisters. In fact, light-skinned people earn more money, complete more years of schooling, live in better neighborhoods, and marry higher-status people than darker-skinned people of the same race or ethnicity (Arce et al., 1987; Espino and Franz, 2002; Hill, 2000; Hughes and Hertel, 1990; Hunter 1998, 2005; Keith and Herring, 1991; Murguia and Telles, 1996; Rondilla and Spickard, 2007).


Systems of racial discrimination operate on at least two levels: race and color. The first system of discrimination is the level of racial category, (Black, Asian, Latino, etc.). Regardless of physical appearance, African Americans and Black Puerto Ricans are subject to certain kinds of discrimination, denigration, and second-class citizenship simply because they are descendants of Black Africans. Racism in this form is systemic and has both ideological and material consequences (Bonilla-Silva, 2006; Feagin, 2000). The second system of discrimination is at the level of skin tone: darker skin or lighter skin. Although all blacks experience discrimination as blacks, the intensity of that dis¬crimination, the frequency, and the outcomes of that discrimination will differ dramatically by skin tone. Darker-skinned African Americans may earn less money than lighter-skinned African Americans, although both earn less than whites. These two systems of discrimination (race and color) work in concert. The two systems are distinct, but inextricably connected. For example, light-skinned Puerto Ricans may still experience racism, despite their light skin, and dark-skinned Puerto Ricans may experience racism and skin-color prejudice simultaneously. Racism is a larger systemic social process, and negativity toward skin color is one manifestation of it. The maintenance of white supremacy (aesthetic, ideological, and material) is predicated on the notion that dark skin represents savagery, irrationality, ugliness, and inferiority. White skin, and, thus, whiteness itself, is defined by the opposite: civility, rationality, beauty, and superiority. These contrasting definitions may give a clearer focus upon the meaning of blackness in the mind of the Puerto Rican.



The Whitening of the Puerto Rican


Within the social history of Puerto Rico, there were three methods by which the “whitening” of Puerto Ricans took place to address the negative effects of blackness: political policy in the history of Puerto Rico genetic evolution; and, in the present day, physical alteration.


The intellectuals in the newly emerging nations of the former Spanish colonies aspired to be included in Western European society as an autonomous group. Their principal argument was the fact that they were composed of mixed races. Graham (1990) writes:

From the time most of their countries gained political independence from Spain and Portugal in the early nineteenth century, Latin American elites strove for an ever closer integration with the northern European system, whether in trade or in finance, whether in politics or intellectual life (p. 72).

While negotiating for an association with Europe on the basis of their mixed-race reality, there was an expansion of traditional Spanish thinking concerning race issues and purity of blood (limpieza de sangre). Racism and the low regard for the races of color, Blacks, Mestizos and Mulatos, gave rise to the idea of “whitening,” the deliberate effort to shed blackness in society. There were several ways in which “whitening” could be achieved: marrying into white or whiter families, gaining social status through wealth, entering into military life, or achieving recognition of scholarly contributions to their respective nations.


For Blacks with apparent African features, achieving some of the benefits of whitening was more difficult. However, the accumulation of wealth or participation in military service made it easier for them to enter into the upper echelons of society. Furthermore, the desire to whiten the entire colony was evident by laws that envisioned a genetic disappearance of blackness (Loveman & Muniz, 2006). Chief among them was the use of immigration policy that restricted any further influx of Blacks into the country while encouraging and providing financial incentives to people of white Western European ancestry to migrate and settle in the colonies.


The elite societies of Latin America, however, were faced with the problem of being identified with the Black race. The “scientific” determination by the 18th century social scientists that African people were closer in nature to animals than to human beings motivated them to exert more effort to promote social policies that might stamp out blackness. Immigration policies were the principal means of curtailing any increase of African blood while increasing the presence of more white people in places such as Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and also in Puerto Rico. The view was that the offspring of mixed couples would gradually be whitened more and more in subsequent generations. It was thought that by limiting the immigration of any new African people, the whitening process would be accelerated (Graham, 1990).


Ronald Hall (1994, 1995, 1997) suggests that “the bleaching syndrome” the internalization of a white aesthetic ideal, is the result of the historic legacy of slavery and colonialism around the globe. He argues that many African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans have internalized the colonial and slavery value systems and learned to valorize light skin tones and Anglo facial features. He understands this deeply rooted cultural value as a cause of psychological distress and socioeconomic stratification.



Addressing Puerto Rican Identity


FLECHAS


In 1977, a group of people – many of whom were originally from Loiza, Puerto Rico – helped to organize the first Fiestas de Loiza en Connecticut en Honor al Apostol Santiago (FLECHAS) in New Haven, CT. The vision that still leads the organization is a firm belief in the importance of teaching and passing down from generation to generation the unique cultural heritage, history, and traditions of the Puerto Rican people (Hiraldo, 2006).


With a membership composed of Puerto Ricans in New Haven, FLECHAS places emphasis on the African experience in Puerto Rico and to date is the only organization of its kind, scope, and mission in the United States. It aims to address the racism that exists in Puerto Rico and amongst the entire Puerto Rican community. Related to this is the subjugation of the contributions of Blacks by government institutions and government agencies in New Haven and in Connecticut at large charged with preserving Puerto Rican culture.


FLECHAS has offered special programs throughout the years in Connecticut to highlight the contributions of the African contribution to the Puerto Rican identity and Puerto Rican heritage. These activities have included the weekend celebration, Fiestas de Loiza, in July. A weekend attended by thousands on the New Haven waterfront, the Fiestas offers Puerto Rican food of African origin, music, dance, and other African Puerto Rican memorabilia. Special entertainment and a commemoration of the abolition of Slavery in Puerto Rico every March (March 22, 8173).



Loiza, Puerto Rico


Located within 15 minutes of San Juan, Loiza is a town on the northeast coast of the island best known in Puerto Rico for its history as the centre of African trade and Black African traditions. This heritage is celebrated prominently on the Roman Catholic Feast of Saint James, Apostolic missionary to Spain (Hiraldo, 2006). Although there are other towns with prominent African traditions such as Ponce, San Juan, Guayama, and Hatillo, to name a few, Loiza is best distinguished for the representation of African Puerto Rican culture and St. James the Apostle (Hiraldo, pp. 14-31).


Loiza and its surrounding towns and cities are the area where African culture and influence in Puerto Rico is most evident. The town is also distinguished by the fact that it was one of the first settled by the Spanish alongside an already existing settlement of native Taino headed by a female chief named Yuisá, after whom the name “Loiza” is derived. Some of the cultural images in Loiza today date back to the European conflicts between the Christians and the Moors in Spain, hence the devotion to the Christian saint in the Spanish tradition of Loiza. (Hiraldo 2006). With its art, music, food, and other celebrations, the Feast of Saint James in Loiza is a unique fusion of all three cultures: Taino, Spanish, and African.



Puerto Ricans in New Haven, Connecticut


According to an 1860 census of the city of New Haven, there were ten families listed as Puerto Rican. In the 1930’s small groups of migrants arrived in Connecticut as seasonal workers on vegetable and tobacco farms. As these Puerto Ricans became acclimated to the area, many decided to stay and settle in New Haven and other cities of Connecticut. As time went on, this community continued to relocate family members from Puerto Rico because of the economic opportunities presented through agricultural and manufacturing work in the United States.


Puerto Ricans have been a part of Connecticut as far back as the 1600’s when they traded goods with the local population. In the early 1800’s, Puerto Ricans began to settle permanently in Connecticut cities in small numbers, but the native New Englanders knew little about the new immigrants, except that they came from the Spanish colony (Glasser, 1997). Glasser also states that there were early migrants to Connecticut around that same period in the cities of Bridgeport, Greenwich, Waterbury, and Meriden. She adds that there was little opportunity at that time for the Puerto Ricans to keep their language and culture because of their small numbers. For the most part, the mainstream community at large did not know what a Puerto Rican was so the community went largely unnoticed.


The numbers of Puerto Ricans migrating to the United States mainland increased. Besides settling in all the major cities of Connecticut, they went to New York and other neighboring states. In the 1930’s and 1940’s they became, for Connecticut at least, a primary labor force in the State’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The availability of jobs fuelled an influx of Puerto Rican migrants who distinguished themselves from native settlers in Connecticut by their Spanish language and culture and by their large numbers. This trend continued until the early 1960’s, and from these numbers came the Puerto Rican membership of FLECHAS.





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About the Author



Raul A. AvilaRaul A. Avila is a native New Havener born of Puerto Rican parents. His academic credentials include a Bachelors degree from the University of Bridgeport, a Masters degree in Public Administration and Counseling from the University of New Haven, and a CAGS (Certificate of Advance Graduate Studies) from Cambridge College. He is also currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Education also at Cambridge College.


Raul has worked the majority of his professional career in New Haven and Meriden, CT. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing psychotherapy in a private group practice, Alternative Therapy LLC, A Professional Counseling Service. Raul also holds National Certification (NCC) to the NBCC Board of Certified Counselors, as well as certification to the American Psychotherapy Association as a Board Certified Professional Counselor. He is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist through the Wellness Institute in Seattle, Washington.


Before entering private practice, Raul was employed with the Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven from the period of October, 1993 through October 2003. At the Yale Child Study Center, Raul held a variety of positions over a period of 10 years working for the office of Family Support Services at the community programs division.


Raul worked his way from the position of Family Support Worker in 1993 at the programs intensive family preservation program, to Case Manager in 1996 for the Merck project, predecessor to the current statewide Yale ICCAPS program in Connecticut. His final position at Yale Child Study Center was that of Clinical Instructor from 1998 to 2003. Raul was also employed in counseling positions at ADRC at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, and at NAFI CT at Wallingford, CT.


Raul’s civic interests include small business and community development. He served on the New Haven Board of Alderman (D-16), from 1993 to 2003, where he held several positions including: Chairman to the Human Services Committee, Co-chairman to the Joint Human Services and Community Development Committee, Chairman to the Youth Services Committee, and member to the Public Safety, Finance Committee, and Aldermanic Liaison to the Enterprise Zone Board of Directors.


Raul’s civic and professional affiliations include his membership to FLECHAS Inc. (Fiestas de Loiza en Connecticut en Honor al Apostol Santiago). A Puerto Rican cultural organization in Connecticut focused on community, youth and culture with an emphasis to the African significance to Puerto Rican identity. He is also member among honorees of the Meriden Chamber of Commerce, which awarded him Rising Star Small Business Man of the Year in 2011. Raul is also a Member of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce and also the American Psychotherapy Association.





Publisher Dr. Robert O'Block, American College of Forensic Examiners.