A new and unique history of Puerto Rico recently off the press, La Otra Cara de la Historia (The Other Face of Puerto Rico's History) presents the story of working people not covered in the usual text book. The book was written by sociologist Angel G. Quintero Rivera and Lydia Milagros González, Dissemination Project Director of CEREP (Center of Studies of Puerto Rican Reality). Profusely illustrated, the book points out that agriculture and industrial workers are just as much a part of Puerto Rican history as people of outstanding achievements.
Born in New York City, Lydia was raised in Puerto Rico and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Her studies at the University of Puerto Rico were mainly in literature, philosophy and theater. It was there that she began her investigation into Puerto Rican history. She continued her studies at the Center of Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This school, under the direction of Ricardo Alegría, gives courses in subjects little touched on in the usual university curriculum.
In 1979 Lydia joined the staff of CEREP as a researcher and worked with other members of the Center on different aspects of Puerto Rico's history. In time, CEREP began to develop an ambitious popular educational project.
I first met Lydia on a tour of Nicaragua. She shares a concern not only for the colonial status of Puerto Rico, but for United States aggression against other countries.
Lydia, along with some twenty members, delves into the fields of history, sociology, economics, political sciences, and Puerto Rican literature. CEREP is a non-profit institution, independent of political affiliations, but its depth of research reminds Puerto Ricans that they have a rich and significant heritage of their own quite comparable to that of their colonizer. They do not have to submit to United States values, but can view with pride and dignity their own achievements. CEREP fills a gap in Puerto Rican education, which ignores, for the most part, Puerto Rican history, culture, and social changes.
CEREP develops creative approaches to Puerto Rico's failing economy apart from its dependency on United States economy. It sees the future of Puerto Rico in political partnership with other Caribbean countries, and reaches out to an interchange of ideas. Its research reveals the impact of the military apparatus of the United States on Puerto Rico, and the effects of federal subsidies on Puerto Rican economy. Meanwhile, Lydia continues work on a second volume of The Other Face, a valuable contribution to an understanding of the realities of Puerto Rico.