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Life With Puerto Rican Activist


Granddaughter of Lotita Lebron, Irene Vilar is a Puerto Rican activist, author, founder of the Americas Latino Eco Festival, and the mother of two eñye’s. Irene’s life in her words is the “struggle for self-redemption and eradication of shame.” Through the process of rising up from a painful family history and opening her heart, one of Irene’s biggest passions is cultivating a connection with the people she loves.

Related links: Americas Latino Eco Festival


[News Report from yester-year] “Five Shot in U. S Congress”—Pathe News.

Police hurried to America’s House of Representatives in Washington following an attack by three Puerto-Ricans including Rafael Miranda, Andres Condero and a woman the woman member of the trio Lolita Labron are hustled away from the menacing crowd,  firing more than 20 rounds from their Lugo automatics the three fanatics seriously wounded five senators.

Irene:  My grandmother, Lolita, had told me that she would – one of her dreams was that I would write her biography. The more I wrote about her the more I wrote about myself and my mother kept showing up till one day I realized this has to be a testimony and it has to be the three of us, and she said ‘if you publish that book the movement wont forgive you’ I said but Lolita who cares about the movement,  you are my grandmother and she said ‘ well, yo soy el movimiento’ (music)  I am Irene Vilar, author, activist,  founder of the Americas / Latino Eco Festival and mother of two (ñ)s.  When people ask me; sum up your life. It is interesting because I have written a thousand pages about it in two memoirs. I would say it is the struggle for self-redemption and the eradication of shame. >> So these, version of ‘café con leche’?>> It’s my mother’s version, the only difference is that my mother didn’t have Espresso machine. I grew up in Palmas Altas which is a little part of a town called Barceloneta, my mother and Lolita, her mother, all of them come from Lares from this kind of revolutionary town filled with coffee. For me, ‘café con leche’ was to— it was a time when the generations, the differences were breached.  When my mother or grandmother would make ‘café con leche’ it would be this whole ceremony and then sitting down and then eating it and together we would share this and it was like some, at that moment I was like them. I was dreamy, lonely, happy, sad child. I grew up with a wonderful loving mother up to the age of five and then I was the child of a manic depressed woman and the she was also a suicide who had tried many times to die until she finally succeeded when I was eight by throwing herself out of a moving “car”. I came to this country as a nine year old and so my first experience of this country was through my mother’s stories of how horrifying this country was and what this country had done to the island to the independence movement and then I get the second part of it of this country and it was amazing that day when I met my current husband.  It was through that connection it was really the way he touched my most internal wound that allow my heart to open up and go beyond those prejudices. I think one of my biggest passions is to cultivate connected-ness and being connected to your cultural origins, it expands your world it just makes it bigger. When you go through the experiences that I have gone through and when you add up the actual immigrant experience as well into that, to come to a new country, to learn a new language, to feel alone, you are often outside your body not fully connected.  When all those physical chain box are disappearing, language for me is the home I willfully fashion out for myself and I needed that to be passed on to my kids because I see myself in them. The births of my children are the only two times I know I was totally here. It’s really looking at parenting and parenthood as a form of Art as an artistic text where the rules of the game need to be learned, because is a form of art.

Do you know an eñye with an amazing story? Tweet at us using #soyeñye so we can connect with you! Or join our private Facebook group to connect with other eñyes and share your story!

1 Comment
  1. Jose Lebron says:

    Your grandmother with my grandfather sister I just wanted to know more about her thank you for the knowledge she will always be a hero to me regardless to what happen my name is Jose Lebron

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