Esta página no está disponible en español.



March 29, 2002

CORAL GABLES, FL – Changing dynamics in Puerto Rican identity and migration in the context of major events like Vieques, lead the list of topics to be explored at The Puerto Rican Vacilón, a conference on current debates in Puerto Rican culture and politics sponsored by the University of Miami’s Center for Latin American Studies in conjunction with the Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida and Miami-based Puerto Rican filmmaker and writer Frances Negrón-Muntaner.

CORAL GABLES, FL — Los cambios en la dinámica en la identidad y la emigración puertorriqueña dentro del contexto de acontecimientos importantes como Vieques, encabezan la lista de temas a investigar en The Puerto Rican Vacilón, una conferencia sobre debates de actualidad en la cultura y la política de Puerto Rico patrocinados por el Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad de Miami conjuntamente con la Asociación Profesional Puertorriqueña del cineasta y escritor puertorriqueño Frances Negrón-Muntaner, con sede en el Sur de Florida y Miami.

The first-of-its-kind conference will be held April 18-20 at the UM School of Business Administration’s Storer Auditorium, located at 5250 University Drive, on the Coral Gables campus, with a meet-and-greet reception at 8 p.m. April 18 at the Holiday Inn, 1350 South Dixie Highway, across from UM’s Coral Gables campus.

"Puerto Ricans are now the second largest Hispanic group in Miami-Dade County and the largest in Broward," said PROFESA Board Chairman Raúl Duany. "This unprecedented initiative is a top-notch conference that will undoubtedly raise awareness and foster a positive dialogue on important matters related to both Florida and Puerto Ricans."

The three-day conference will gather prominent Puerto Rican civic and political leaders, as well as leading Puerto Rican studies scholars from all over the world to examine the challenges posed by migration, globalization, nationalism and political status issues.

"The latest U.S. Census numbers confirm the growing importance of the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. and especially in Florida," said Dr. Robert M. Levine, UM professor of history and head of the Center for Latin American Studies. " The presence of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, and many others of Hispanic origin in our community demonstrates the importance of addressing issues of Hispanic culture and reality. The conference will be a forum to address many of the more pressing issues affecting Puerto Ricans."

Conference highlights include:

  • Keynote speech by former city of Miami Mayor Maurice Ferré during a luncheon Friday, April 19 at 12:30 p.m.;
  • Panel discussion on status issues featuring several experts, including Jeffrey Farrow, former co-chair of President Clinton’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico, at 4:00 p.m. Friday;
  • Screening of Puerto Ricans from Here and There, a film about Puerto Rican migration by filmmaker Sonia Fritz on Friday 19, at 11:10 a.m.; and
  • Teo Castellanos performs in NE 2nd Ave. at Coconut Grove Playhouse, on Friday 19 at 8:00 p.m.

"This conference invites all participants to ‘think out of the box’ about Puerto Rican experiences in the U.S. as well as the complexity of today’s Puerto Rico and Florida," adds Frances Negrón-Muntaner. "I guarantee that no one will leave this conference with their previous assumptions intact. That is why the conference’s is a ‘vacilón,’ a word that alludes to the Puerto Rican way of enjoying life, the political ambiguity that has been part of our history, and the possibility of shifting positions."

Among the participating scholars are Héctor Cordero-Guzman, The New School; Jaime Benson, University of Puerto Rico; Christina Burnett, Princeton University; Félix Jiménez, El Nuevo Dia; Carlos Pabón, University of Puerto Rico; Agustín Lao-Montes, University of Massachusetts; Efrén Rivera Ramos, University of Puerto Rico; and José Quiroga, George Washington University.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner, who originated the idea for Vacilón, is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, journalist, and cultural critic. Her films include AIDS in the Barrio, and Brincando el Charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican. She is the co-editor of the anthology Puerto Rican Jam and her latest book, Passing Memories: Puerto Ricans and American Culture, will be published this year by New York University Press. An irreverent columnist, her work appears in The San Juan Star and The Puerto Rico Herald (on-line,

To register for the conference contact Diane Just, 305-284-1854.


The Puerto Rican "Vacilón"

A Conference on

Current Debates in Puerto Rican Culture and Politics

University of Miami

Storer Auditorium

April 18-20, 2002

8:00 PM - Reception
Holiday Inn
Co-sponsored by PROFESA, Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida
10:00 AM-10:45AM
Welcome by Donna Shalala, president, University of Miami, Robert Levine, Director of Center for Latin American Studies, and Frances Negrón- Muntaner, Conference organizer
10:45AM-12:00 PM
New Migration Patterns
How will demographic changes in New York, namely, the massive immigration of non-Puerto Rican Latinos affect Puerto Ricans there? Has Latin American immigration to Puerto Rico re-Latinized the Island? Does the Puerto Rican migration to Florida challenge traditional assumptions about Puerto Ricans in the U.S. in political, economic, and cultural terms.


  • Jorge Duany (UPR)
    "Beyond ‘Little Havana’: The Demographic and Political Impact of Puerto Ricans in Florida"
  • Yolanda Martinez (Rutgers)
    "Caribe Two Ways: Imagining Caribbean Diasporas From Within-2"
  • Agustín Lao-Montes (UMass)
    "Trans-Caribbean Circuits in New York: Political and Cultural Scenarios of Puerto Rican/Latino ‘Empowerment’"

Respondent: Thomas Boswell (University of Miami)

12:15 PM - 1:10 PM Screening of "Puerto Ricans From Here and There" by Sonia Fritz (University of the Sacred Heart). Question and Answer session to follow. Co-sponsored by PROFESA, Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida
1:15 PM - 2:15 PM
Luncheon Address
Maurice Ferre, former mayor of Miami
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
How are Puerto Ricans and Puerto Rico "globalized"? How does economic precariousness, combined with other factors influence political behavior and community formations? Is the Puerto Rican education system producing "global" subjects?


  • Hector Cordero-Guzmán (The New School)
    Education, Globalization, and Puerto Rican Identity"
  • Jaime Benson (UPR)
    "Sailing the USS Titanic: Puerto Rico’s Unique Insertion into Contemporary Globalization Trends"
  • José Quiroga (GWU)
    "Insularisms and Globalization"

Respondent: Max Castro(UM)

4:15 PM-5:45 PM
Is Resolving the Status Irrelevant?
With the onset of widespread weariness with the status struggle, can a de-colonizing politics exist outside of pursuing independence and/or seeking statehood?


  • Jeffrey Farrow (former Co-Chair of President Clinton’s Interagency Group on Puerto Rico),
    "The Status of the Puerto Rico Status Issue"
  • Christina Burnett (Princeton)
    "Status Matters"
  • Carlos Pabón (UPR)
    "The ‘(Ir)relevant’ Simulacrum of the Status"

Respondent: Efrén Rivera Ramos (Dean, UPR Law School)

6:00-7:30 PM
8:00 PM
Performance, Coconut Grove Playhouse
Performer Teo Castellanos, moderated by Lillian Manzor

Co-sponsored by PROFESA, Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida

SATURDAY, April 20
9:45 AM-12:00 PM
Cultural Nationalism
Has cultural nationalism transformed Puerto Ricans on the Island and the mainland over the last fifty years? How is it manifested and how is it reproduced? What forms of community has it made possible? Difficult? Is there a growing gap between US and Island cultural formations?


  • Félix Jiménez (Journalist, El Nuevo Día)
    "Boxing With the Nation: States of Cultural Paraphernalia"
  • Juan Duchesne (UPR)
    "A Fighting Club?: Neo-Nationalism in Puerto Rico"
  • Raquel Rivera (Independent scholar)
    "Cultural Nationalism: Roots That Kill or Roots That Give Life?"

Respondent: Celeste Fraser Delgado (UM)

12:15 PM-12:45PM
Closing Remix/Final Discussion
Frances Negrón-Muntaner

For More Information: Lourdes Cué (305) 284-1607

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback