This week's La Perspectiva post was written by Cafe Con Leche's Resident Artist, Nicole Olivieri. It is a piece she read at Cafe Con Leche's April Sobremesa, Nicole's art work is also included at the bottom of the post. To learn more about Nicole please visit our artist webpage by clicking here and to learn more about the economic crisis in Puerto Rico you can visit the Democracy Now website by clicking here.
Buenas a todos,
For those who may not know, I am an artist native to the island of Puerto Rico who recently moved to this area. I hesitantly came here because I did not want to leave my home, but found myself needing to do so, as many others.
It’s difficult to leave home, especially when it’s such a unique place. I have swam in waters that light up at night, followed turtles through the waves and played tug of war with lobsters I wanted to eat. I have swam through mangroves like the one in my painting, filled with fish of different colors and played with all sorts of urchins and starfish. I have sat at the beach watching the sun rise with close friends and chased the sun set home after a long day outdoors. I have biked around herds of cows and horses surrounded by lush green trees and interacted with tree frogs in my back yard. I have climbed to the top of volcanic rocks to see the beach below. I have reached the peak of el Yunque National Rainforest and seen the ends of the island leading to the horizon. I have made trees from seeds I found in the fruits I plucked off plants by the streets. I am grateful that I could document those moments and share them with all of you through these images.
More importantly, I have marched for LGBT rights and stood with protestors in universities. I have spoken to friends about the current state of the island and things look bleak. The senate has decided that our word does not matter. We are in an economic crisis and we need to pay somehow. We don’t have money to relinquish the debt, so politicians have seen fit to relinquish our right to speak. They want to use our natural reserves and our lands as profit for private companies and exchange what makes our home beautiful for monetary freedom. The tank in my painting that portrays the beauty of the island symbolizes one of the small islands off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico, where the military was very active until recent years. They want to use the lands taken by the people, along with natural reserves in the small island for the production of private companies that could pollute our land and waters. This would only be the beginning. And in retaliation, the students and the people have chosen to protest. Efforts to improve the situation through agriculture and education are being made as I speak. Young adults, people my age who I studied with, raised in different social classes are working together to try and make a better future for our home. They are telling the senate and everyone who would take those natural lands that our home is not for sale. I feel honored and truly privileged to say I have met a few of these people; some of them are friends of mine, I have met these present day revolutionaries.
It is my hope that with the images I share and the pieces I create that others will gain a respect and admiration for this unforgettable and truly amazing place that, despite all its problems, I am proud to call home.
- Nicole Olivieri on April 16, 2016