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Trading Places: Puerto Ricans Play a Big Role in New York, But Elsewhere Mexicans Hold Sway

March 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All Rights Reserved.

To the Editor:

Thank you for an insightful article on the Latino reality in New York ("The Latino Culture Wars," Feb. 24). However, you should also look at the New York Latino situation in the national picture.

The situation that non-Puerto Ricans face in New York, with Puerto Ricans defining many elements of the city's larger Latino culture, happens to Puerto Ricans nationally.

Around the country, Latino equals Mexican-American, and that affects the way Puerto Rican leaders and organizations manage the "Latino Culture Wars." This tendency effects budgets, ads, career opportunities, books produced and marketed, to name just a few examples.

A skirmish of the Latino cultural war was waged in the city in the mid- 20th century. It was a Hispanic war, among Cubans, Spanish, South Americans and Puerto Ricans. A quick look at the archives at our center would show that. That historical perspective would have also enriched a well-constructed article.

Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Hunter College

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