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Nellisa from Santurce, Puerto Rico / Diosas al Natural
Photo by: Joaquin M
Lieutenant Carmelo Delgado Delgado (April 20, 1913 – April 29, 1937) was a leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party(presided by Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos). Delgado joined the Abraham Lincoln International Brigade and fought against General Francisco Franco and the Spanish Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. The Republic’s hero, Delgado Delgado, a Puerto Rican by birth and national origin, is thought to be the first U.S. citizen to die in Spain's civil war.
Delgado was one of three siblings born to Eladio Delgado Berrios and Flora Delgado Gonzalez in the town of Guayama, Puerto Rico. He spent his early childhood on his parents’ farm located in the Guamani sector of the town and later moved with his family to the Calle (Street) Concordia esquina (Corner) Hostos in the town of Guayama. There he received his primary and secondary education.
Delgado enrolled and was accepted in the University of Puerto Rico, where he befriended Puerto Rican poet and Nationalist Juan Antonio Corretjer. Delgado became a pro-independence political activist and follower of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos. He was a member of the “Cadets of the Republic" (Cadets of the Republic), the youth organization of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he moved to Spain in pursuit of a law degree.
On September 22, 1935, Delgado left for Spain and upon his arrival enrolled in the Central University of Madrid. He arrived in a Spain which was about to be confronted with a civil war between the government of the Second Spanish Republic and the pro-fascist Nationalists led by the Nationalist General Francisco Franco. Delgado became politically active as a supporter of the Spanish Republic and upon the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, joined the Abraham Lincoln International Brigade. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was made up mostly of volunteers from the United States, which included Puerto Ricans and Cubans who served in the Spanish Civil War in the International Brigades. Delgado wrote to his friend, Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Carlos Carrera Benítez, the following letter:
"Everyday I have more faith in our country (Puerto Rico) and I see the day coming when our people, like the people of Spain will take arms to squash the tyrants (the United States) with the same valor and resolution that the people of Spain have taken against their military and political traitors." "How I wish that you were in Spain!. I know that you would not stand with your arms crossed and that together we would write a page that would be considered an honor in our land and a motive of pride for the land of our grandfathers" "No one in Puerto Rico should know that I have joined the revolution"
Delgado was involved in the Battle of Madrid, when he became unaware that his troops were ordered to retreat. He was captured and sent to Valladolid, where he faced a military war tribune. The United States Embassy offered to help, however Delgado refused their offer. According to Corretjer: “Carmelo Delgado preferred to die before a firing squad than to beg for his live to the “Yankee" (in reference to the United States) who had invaded his country".
Carmelo Delgado Delgado was executed on April 29, 1937 by firing squad, becoming one of the first United States citizens that died in that conflict. The news of his execution reached Puerto Rico and was posted on the front page of El Mundo newspaper on July 25, 1937 as “Se confirma la ejecución del joven Carmelo Delgado” (The execution of Carmelo Delgado, a young man, has been confirmed). Delgado’s story has been narrated in the book Galería de héroes de Puerto Rico (Gallery of Heroes from Puerto Rico) by: José Morales Dorta.
Happy Birthday, Tito Puente!
Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente, (April 20, 1923 – June 1, 2000), was an American salsa musician and Latin jazz composer. The son of native Puerto Ricans, Ernest and Ercilia Puente, living in New York City’s Spanish Harlem community, Puente is often credited as “The Musical Pope,” “El Rey de los Timbales” (The King of the timbales) and “The King of Latin Music.” He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that helped keep his career going for 50 years. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba's Calle 54. He guest-starred on several television shows including Sesame Street, The Cosby Showand, most notably, The Simpsons two-part episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”.
Tito Puente was born on April 20, 1923, at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. His family moved frequently, but he spent the majority of his childhood in the Spanish Harlem area of the city. Puente’s father was the foreman at a razorblade factory.
As a child, he was described as hyperactive, and after neighbors complained of hearing seven-year-old Puente beating on pots and window frames, his mother sent him to 25 cent piano lessons. By the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s and intended to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career. When the drummer in Machito’s band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.
Tito Puente Sr. served in the Navy for three years during World War II after being drafted in 1942. He was discharged with a Presidential Unit Citation for serving in nine battles on the escort carrier USS Santee (CVE-29). The GI Bill allowed him to study music at Juilliard School of Music, where he completed a formal education in conducting, orchestration and theory. In 1969, he received the key to the City of New York from former Mayor John Lindsay. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Congressional Record, and in 1993 he received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian.
During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente’s most well known album was released in 1958. Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as “salsa” (a term that he disliked). In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny Moré, On Broadway, Mambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1990, Puente was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. In 1995, he appeared as himself on the Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” In early 2000, he shot the music documentaryCalle 54, wearing an all-white outfit with his band. After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair aheart valve, but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
Tito Puente’s name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca, a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, Mambo and Salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Tito Puente’s as well as Arsenio Rodríguez's contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with such as Alfonso “El Panameno” Joseph, Luis Mangual, Julian Lianos and others.
Puente’s youngest son, Tito Puente, Jr., has continued his father’s legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puenteis a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City. Puente’s granddaughter, Janeen Puente, is a singer and bandleader. Her band is known as the Janeen Puente Orchestra.