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From the Puerto Rican Community in St. Croix

Brenda Domínguez-Rosado

Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras

 

      The Puerto Rican Community in St. Croix is a very dynamic one that includes people of all professions and levels of society. There are people whose ancestors arrived either in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries or a bit after, and there are people who continue to arrive now. In spite of living on a separate island, this community has managed to keep in touch with their Puerto Rican culture in all aspects: language, food, music, customs, and traditions. Sometimes called “Puerto Crucians” or “BoriCrucians,” they live their lives far away from Puerto Rico physically, but they are very close by, emotionally. Their identity as Crucians also comes into play depending on how long they have lived on the island of St. Croix. For a person who was born and raised or raised, but not born, on the island, there is a constant exchange between the culture of the native islanders and the culture that was transported from Puerto Rico through emigration. This has led many Crucians of Puerto Rican ancestry to have dual cultures. They appreciate the richness of both cultures and actually integrate both into their lives, although this is not necessarily the case of the more recent arrivals from Puerto Rico who identify more with the Puerto Rican culture and have not yet prominently included the Crucian culture in their daily lives.

      In the following narratives, which are either in English or Puerto Rican Spanish, you will learn a little bit about three persons of Puerto Rican ancestry who currently make their home on the island of St. Croix. They all come from different walks of life, reached the island of St. Croix in different ways, and have their own perspective about life on the island. Senator Nereida (Nellie) Rivera O’Reilly was born and raised on the island and embraces both of her cultures. She feels that she is both Puerto Rican and Crucian and that these two identities co-exist peacefully. Mrs. Maria Friday, who was born on the island of Vieques, an island municipality of Puerto Rico, but was raised on the island of St. Croix, also passionately embodies both cultures. She is proud of both and feels that she has the best of both worlds. Mr. José Martínez Velilla (“Papi Love”) identifies himself as Puerto Rican, but acknowledges that when asked, he will say he is from St. Croix. He has only lived on the island for seven years and so has not yet greatly integrated the Crucian culture into his life. These three persons all have their own identities which include aspects of the Puerto Rican culture in varying degrees. They are very different from each other, but they do have something in common: they are all trying to contribute in some way to making life better for Crucians of all backgrounds on the island of St. Croix. Please enjoy this small glimpse into their lives.