Archive for January, 2011

Once in a while, it all clicks. And this week was a great one for JRV.com. We wanted to take this moment to thank everyone for all their support and loyalty. We know that the Internet is full of so many choices, and we are blessed that you take the time to read the content on this blog.

This post will try to summarize some of the good news (and views) we received this week. Yes, sometimes you just need to share it and celebrate.

Whole Foods Controversy

©Boston Herald (Nancy Lane)

We saw the story about a new Whole Foods opening in the same place where a Latino supermarket (and cultural institution) used to stand. We reacted. We reached out to Whole Foods via social media. They responded and got us a name to interview. We reached out to a Boston City Councillor and he commented. We now have access to comments and will be adding more stories about this. Here is the original story: Whole Foods vs Hi-Lo.

Guest Post on @MarketingProfs

It is one of the world’s top social media marketing sites. We love MarketingProfs and love what @marketingprofs does on Twitter and beyond. This week, we appeared on their blog as a guest blogger and wrote the following post: How Niche Communities Build Brand Awareness. We were thrilled to be featured, especially since we got a chance to talk about #LatinoLit.

Short Story Makes Long List

This week, one of the stories from FRANKY BENÍTEZ, made the long list as part of the anthology, 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND. The story, “Power’s Sunday Slam,” is being considered for the publication, which will benefit the victims of the Australia floods. Out of 300 submissions, “Power’s Sunday Slam” made the first cut.

The New #Latism Web Page

We celebrated the new #Latism (Latinos in Social Media) web page as well. This is such a great organization, the best community in social media. #LATISM has done great things, and it will continue to do even greater things.

And finally, we think this blog is heading in the right direction and posting content that our readers want to see. We just checked our recent blog and fan page rankings (in the end, being online is all about reach) and we are happy to report the following:

  • The Facebook Fan Page of Fernando Varela is now over 18,500 fans as of January 30, 2011. We think we will get to 20,000 by the end of March, if not sooner.
  • The Sónico Fan Page of Fernando Varela is over 55,000 fans. We project that this will reach 100,000 by the end of 2011.
  • The current Alexa rating for juliorvarela.com puts us in some select company. We are amazed at how a personal, part-time blog is gaining new views each day. We are growing by 100% every month we are online.
  • The little novel that could, @fbnovel, which just started tweeting this January 3, is expected to hit 500 followers by January 31. At that rate, when the novel is published in September, the account will have 4,000 followers with the right level of growth and engagement.
  • We are currently at close to 37,000 views on this blog site and expect to be at 40,000 by the middle to February.

Yes, sometimes you need to celebrate. And we are doing just that this week. Hit it, Mr. Astaire.

Read Full Post »

I wrote this piece in 2011. It still resonates today.

The history of Puerto Rico is complex. As the island enters its 113th year as a territory colony of the United States, the interdependencies between the U.S. and Puerto Rico weren’t, and never will be, a simple matter. It is a history of paradoxes and complications regarding political identity and basic human rights of self-government.

Puerto Rico's first administrative cabinet under the Jones Act of 1917

Take, for example, the 1917 Jones Act, an act of Congress that granted U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans born on the island. (Important sidenote: Unknown to many, this is not a Constitutional act, but it would take a Supreme Court act to revoke the right.) The Jones Act, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917, not only established U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans on the island, it also created a new form of government. As the following states (source: Library of Congress):

The Jones Act separated the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches of Puerto Rican government, provided civil rights to the individual, and created a locally elected bicameral legislature. The two houses were a Senate consisting of 19 members and a 39-member House of Representatives. However, the Governor and the President of the United States had the power to veto any law passed by the legislature. Also, the United States Congress had the power to stop any action taken by the legislature in Puerto Rico. The U.S. maintained control over fiscal and economic matters and exercised authority over mail services, immigration, defense and other basic governmental matters.

There are so many contradictions in the act that many people are unaware about and we would like to make some clarifications:

  • Even though Puerto Ricans have the right to govern themselves, in the end the Governor of Puerto Rico and the U.S. government still have to power to veto and control any legislation on the island. That is a huge concession of power and rights.
  • History has stated that Puerto Ricans did not request for citizenship at the time. In fact, the member of Congress representing the island in 1917, Luis Muñoz Rivera, questioned such imposition in late 1916, basically telling Congress that Puerto Ricans would prefer Puerto Rican citizenship.
  • The U.S. still has control over several basic government services that in any other form of government, would be under the jurisdiction of a local government. In the end, Puerto Ricans gained U.S. citizenship, but never gained much more, except for the right to freely travel with a U.S. passport and also freely live in any other part of the United States.
  • History also suggests that the United States needed more men for WWI. After Wilson signed the Jones Act and after the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, military conscription was passed in June, 1917. This meant that as U.S. citizens, eligible Puerto Rican males were drafted into the armed forces. Over 2,000 Puerto Ricans were drafted to serve at the very beginning. In the end, it was estimated that 18,000 Puerto Ricans served in World War I. Most of them went to the Panama Canal, but some Puerto Ricans, like musician Rafael Hernández, proudly served on the Western Front. Puerto Ricans who were not eligible were sent to labor camps in the South.

The issue of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans has always been a study in paradoxes. For example, a Puerto Rican-born individual who lives in the United States could vote in U.S. elections, like the ones for President, but that same person could not vote in those elections if living in Puerto Rico. The same goes for federal taxes. If you are Puerto Rican-born and live in the U.S., you have to file a federal tax return. On the island, though, a Puerto Rican does not have to file a return.

In general, it is safe to say that most Puerto Ricans value the benefits that a U.S. citizenship has bestowed on them. However, Puerto Ricans still fall into a second tier of U.S. citizens, when compared to their fellow American citizens. Issues of civil and human rights (noted by the U.S. crackdown on Puerto Rican Nationalists who never truly had the right to free assembly after tensions arose in the 1940s and 1950s) are still valid concerns.

As the island begins to yet again explore the political direction it wants to take, the question of whether Puerto Ricans would trade in their U.S. citizenship for Puerto Rican citizenship will always be open for debate and dissection. Four generations have passed since the Jones Act became law, and for a certain group of U.S. citizens, full constitutional rights have yet to be achieved.

Read Full Post »

New beta Website For The Largest Organization of Latino Professionals Engaged in Social Media

Offers Latinos a Nexus for Knowledge, Community and Resources

Washington, DC — January 27, 2011 — At nearly 23 million users in the US alone, Latinos have become the fastest growing community online. Latinos in Social Media [LATISM], the leading and largest organization of Latinos and Latinas engaged in social media, has recognized the need for a centralized platform for expression, professional support, education, mobilization and promotion of causes. Today, they have announced the beta launch of their new online community website LATISM.org/beta.

Ana Roca-Castro

“We recognize the innovation, ideas and vision coming from Latinos everywhere, and we want our members to be part of our evolution into a full-scale online community that is truly built for and by Latinos,” said Ana Roca-Castro, Founder and Chair of Latinos in Social Media.”We are harnessing the power of new technology to build community, share ideas, and offer knowledge that is indispensable in today’s online landscape. The new latism.org provides increased flexibility for the future growth of our community as we move ahead into new realms of digital service. I am immensely proud of it.”

The site will provide free access to the most comprehensive set of information and resources for Latinos to network and connect with peers, brands, businesses and investors worldwide. It also features the organization’s annual calendar, a listing of all upcoming LATISM conferences, networking and training opportunities around the country and online.

Resources featured are organized under the most common areas of involvement for members – including blogging, marketing, health, education, the arts, fundraising, and community collaboration. Through a free membership, anyone can join particular LATISM communities, leave comments, share relevant content and activities via social media platforms and add themselves to the LATISM Professional Directory, a searchable database of nearly 100,000 Latinos in Social Media worldwide.

Once out of the beta stage, the website will function as the heart of the LATISM mission: equipping Latinos with the tools they need to transform their communities by enabling members to make choices, take part in actions and decisions that affect their lives, and become agents for change.

On the new LATISM website, members will be able to:

  • List themselves and their business by using the site’s new interactive directory
  • Report on what’s happening in their world right now by connecting their blogs to their LATISM accounts and sharing them via social media platforms
  • Find and be found by organizations and corporations interested in reaching out to Latinos
  • Discover, connect with, and support other Latinos who share their interests by joining LATISM groups
  • Organize, participate in, and be up-to-date on LATISM national and local chapter initiatives throughout the year
  • Receive information about exclusive opportunities available only to LATISM members

The current LATISM blog will now move to http://blog.latism.org and will continue to be the center for weekly announcements and engagement.


Latinos in Social Media (LATISM), the largest organization for Latino and Latina professionals engaged in social media, is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community. LATISM also serves corporate brands, NGOs and government entities, with a broad range of services including research, event sponsorships, and leadership training. A pioneering social media organization, LATISM has been hailed as the most influential online movement in the new multicultural Web. For more information, go to http://latism.org/beta .


Media Contact:

Elianne Ramos, Vice-Chair of Communications & PR

(646) 932-7752


SOURCE: Latinos in Social Media (LATISM)

Read Full Post »

me: We are here with Bear Files from @evolutionfiles. Welcome to #140Chat.
Bear: Hiya Julio, it’s really great to be chatting with you.
me: First question. Why do you use Twitter?
Bear: I started hearing about it a year or so back and just couldn’t resist trying it out. Then I got hooked.

me: It is addicting
Bear: Addicting, that’s the word I would use too. But also powerful, in creating relationships.
me: How so? How has it helped you create relationships?
Bear: Maybe enabling relationships is a better description.
As a solopreneur having a platform like Twitter is great.
Reaching out via Twitter has allowed me to connect to
some super people. With some bigger brains than mine.

me: What about clients? Are your clients on Twitter?
Bear: A few are. But more will be soon, I am sure.
I feel it’s important for me to be up to speed on Twitter in order to advise them.
me: Good point. It definitely makes anyone more social media savvy
if used well. Ok, a few more questions
Answer this one: Twitter would be the greatest thing in the
history of mankind if it could only _____
Bear: add a video feature like skype.
Tweeting with people is great, adding video would be even better.

me: I think the same thing! Ok what SUCKS about Twitter?
Let it go and rant away
Bear: Gosh that’s hard. People using it to auto-blast out
their message and not engaging at all.
Of course the overly-cute Twitter bots don’t help anything.

me: Here is our take: unless you are the NY Times don’t stream links all the time.
Bear: And the fail whale. That’s about it. It’s evolving so quickly I see 99% positive things with it.
me: Cool.
Ok just a few more questions. If I could only follow three people of Twitter,
they would be _____

Bear: @julito77 of course, @ShellyKramer and @LissaDuty …some amazingly helpful friends.
me: We LOVE @ShellyKramer
She is amazing
Ok, what are your Twitter goals for 2011?

Bear: Listen more. Learn more.
And help clients to use it as part of their marketing efforts.
me: Well, we wish you the best of luck.
See you in the stream! It was a pleasure
Bear: Thanks, Julio, for being a mentor
to me here on Twitter. Hope your year is great as well.
me: Thanks!


To connect with Bear Files, go to @evolutionfiles

Read Full Post »

Leave it to sensational tabloid journalism. Last Saturday, my son and I were having lunch when the following Boston Herald cover caught my attention:

©Boston Herald (Nancy Lane)

On the cover, Massachusetts State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Jamaica Plain) was in front of the JP’s famed and venerable Hi-Lo Supermarket, a Boston Latino institution—a local neighborhood fixture that sold it all: from milk to maltas, plaintains to perniles, and sofrito to sancocho. As I read the story, my heart skipped a beat. The Hi-Lo was shutting down. Memories of driving from Cambridge, Brookline, and Milton with friends to get authentic Puerto Rican food products (¡Café Pilón!) raced through my mind.

Taking the Hi-Lo’s former locale? A new Whole Foods.

Great, just great.

The gentrification of yet another great Boston neighborhood would be official. Affordable local food staples would be replaced by expensive marinated olives and other products you would find in richer Boston communities, like Wellesley and Hingham. Working-class people in JP would be priced out of the supermarket and eventually out of the neighborhood.

As for the current employees of Hi-Lo? They would all lose their jobs.

This couldn’t be true, could it? So, what did I do? I started tweeting to @wholefoods on Twitter to get more clarification. And guess what? Whole Foods responded to my tweets. In fact, I even had the opportunity to speak to a real person, Heather W. McCready, Public Relations Manager, Whole Foods Market for the North Atlantic Region.

Whole Foods: “We Are Committed to the Community”

McCready commented on several of the concerns that had been reported in the Boston media, including the company’s commitment to interview any current Hi-Lo employee for positions in any of Boston’s four Whole Foods locations. Besides the new JP location, Whole Foods has stores in the West End, Brighton, and Symphony. According to McCready, the interviews are guaranteed for the estimated 45 current employees of Hi-Lo, although they would still have to go through the interview process to determine if they would get a job at another location. So, in short, there are no guaranteed jobs, just guaranteed interviews.

In addition, McCready confirmed that there is no current timeline for the grand opening of the JP store, since it will take “several months” the renovate the current area.

I asked McCready about whether the food products in the new JP store would reflect the neighborhood’s Latino clientele, which had been accustomed for years to purchasing brands from their homelands, like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“Every store we have is made to reflect the community it is in. We do our very best to reflect that,” McCready said. “We want to carry products that each community is interested in. We are very interested in sourcing local products as long as they meet our quality standards.”

McCready mentioned that the Brighton location is in a neighborhood with a large Russian population so the store’s shelves stock products from Russia. The store’s Fresh Pond location in Cambridge has a large Asian clientele and that location carries a wide array of Asian foods.

“We can’t promise you that we will carry a specific product at a specific price, but we do take very seriously sourcing products at the best value for our customers,” McCready said.

As for the concern that Whole Foods’ prices will be too expensive for many JP residents, McCready mentioned that the store will also offer its 365 Value Brands, which according to the Whole Foods website, are “products [that] can fill your pantry without emptying your pocketbook.” An examination of the 365 Value Brands on the company’s web page listed 199 products such as Fish Oil, French Roast Coffee, Tandoori Nan bread, Organic Quino, Refried Black Beans, and Taco Shells. None of the 199 products could be classified as foods that would be categorized as Latino Caribbean.

McCready would not comment on the concern that the new Whole Foods would help raise property values in JP and raise rents for some residents. However, she did close the interview celebrating the positive impact Whole Foods would make on the overall JP community.

“We’re so excited to become partners with the JP community,” McCready said. “The part of our process is to get involved in the community and our goal is to be proactive partners with the community.”

Councillor O’Malley: Whole Foods Needs

To Show a “Real Good-Faith Effort”

I also had the chance to speak with Boston City Councillor Matt O’Malley, who represents District 6, the precinct that includes the JP neighborhood where the new Whole Foods is being developed. As Councillor O’Malley has stated in previous comments to the press, he thinks that the Whole Foods move “can be good for the neighborhood,” but still feels that there are “areas of concern.” In particular, Councillor O’Malley wants to make sure that the current Hi-Lo employees get new jobs.

“I hope to work with Whole Foods [about employment opportunities], but I understand that right now they are guarded about what they can guarantee,” Councillor O’Malley said.

“Whole Foods needs to make a real good-faith effort on their behalf with the current Hi-Lo employees,” Councillor O’Malley continued. “Maybe they can possibly add training to what they are offering right now? I hope to see more assurances from Whole Foods in keeping opportunities open for the employees.”

I also contacted Rep. Sánchez office three times and spoke with his aides, who were helpful and forwarded my messages to him, but as of tonight, Rep. Sánchez still has not returned by emails or messages to comment.

Last week, Rep. Sánchez did share his thoughts with the Herald.

“This neighborhood carried the Hispanic consciousness and still does. The question is, where does Whole Foods fit into the character of this community?” Rep. Sánchez told the newspaper. “Is it going to affect rents in the neighborhood? Is it going to affect property values?”

Who knows where this will go?

I will try to add more updates throughout the year and attend any community events in JP regarding this matter.

Read Full Post »

me: ok, ready?
atdayton: yeah, lets do this…
me: hi, I am talking today with my dear friend and Twitter rockstar Adrian Dayton
Welcome to #140Chat
atdayton: Hey Julio, thanks for having me on man. #140chat

me: Ok, first question I ask everyone: Why do you use Twitter?
atdayton: Kind of like asking me why I breath?  Seriously, it is a real connection to ideas and people I care about.
I learn a ton everyday from it, and it gives me a way to share my ideas with the world.

me: Nice. So what successes can you share about your use of Twitter?
atdayton: That is like asking me to describe the universe and give three examples.
me: Go for iy
atdayton: Twitter has opened so many doors for me, from getting me major publicity, to helping me find a publisher
me: Sweet

atdayton: I have amazing experiences using Twitter on a weekly basis connecting to people.
me: Now you have a large following (over 40K) but only follow about 5K people. Why?

atdayton: Great ?. When I started on Twitter I was all about numbers, I thought it would get me credibility.
Later I realized it wasn’t about the numbers but really connecting.
I unfollowed 35,000 people because my message wasn’t relevant to them, and they were sharing with me in a valuable way either.
me: hey just 140 characters! LOL
atdayton: I trimmed it down in an attempt to better focus on the people that matter the most to me.
me: Got it

atdayton: Each message is under 140 , ok I’ll try harder to be concise
me: No worries
Ok, my Actor’s Studio Question for you: If I ran Twitter I would ____
atdayton: Provide more “opt-out” options allowing me to turn off promotional tweets.  It would be great if I could filter out all of that

me: Anything else
atdayton: I really wish it was easier to the average Joe to understand.  Unfortunately, it is still too complicated for many.

me: Going back to this statement “I unfollowed 35,000 people,” What tool did you use to do this?
atdayton: I had to use a couple of tools.  One in particular called HUITTER – but isn’t around anymore.
me: Bummer
atdayton: The tough part was that I un-followed some very engaged people.  They sent me messages, and I followed them back.
me: oops
atdayton: (side note, I just posted that on Twitter by accident)

me: Ok give people 3-4 great Twitter profiles to follow (and don’t be like Gini who gave us 10!)
atdayton: No problem, @econwriter5 lives on Twitter and shares some great stuff.

me: one
atdayton: dang, this is tough.
So many great people to follow

me: 3 more
come on, you sound like a typical lawyer ha!
atdayton: Would it be a cop out for me to simply say @julito77, @ginidietrich and @justinthesouth? Three of my all time favourites

me: no, we’ll take it LOL
thanks, Adrian for your time
see you in the stream
and we like the English way you spell “favourites”
atdayton: sounds good, thanks man.


To follow Adrian on Twitter, go to @adriandayton

Read Full Post »

One of my family’s dearest friends is José A. Ortiz-Daliot, a former Senator of Puerto Rico. This column, written in Spanish, appeared this month in El Vocero, one of Puerto Rico’s top newspapers.


por José A. Ortiz-Daliot

Mi estadía en el Senado de PR me convenció que la mejor relación política que podría lograr la isla con los EEUU es un Pacto de Libre Asociación en el ejercicio de nuestra soberanía política. Esta nueva relación redundaría en beneficios para PR y para los EEUU.  Recientes intervenciones en los medios me han convencido que debo de continuar explicando los atributos de la libre asociación en “Arroz y Habichuelas”.  Reconozco que no podré cubrirlos todos, pero confío que con varios ejemplos muchos de ustedes puedan comprender mejor esta relación política reconocida como una descolonizadora por la comunidad internacional, incluyendo a los EEUU.  Mi convicción de que esta es la relación política que más nos conviene es, hoy, mayor que nunca.

La relación de libre asociación estará basada en un Pacto de Libre Asociación, cuyo contenido será el producto de una negociación entre representantes del Pueblo de PR y de EEUU, una vez los puertorriqueños se expresen a favor de esa opción política.  Esto quiere decir que los pormenores de nuestra relación con los EEUU estará plasmada en un documento escrito donde habrá poco margen para interpretación. Y en aquellas ocasiones donde se requerirá interpretación, esta interpretación la hara un tribunal consignado en el Pacto y constituido por representantes designados por PR y EEUU y no por el actual Tribunal de Distrito federal.

José Ortiz Daliot

El Pacto terminará la relación de subordinación que impera hoy, bajo el ELA actual.  Terminar la relación de dependencia, de subordinación, de inferioridad política que existe al presente es fundamental para lograr la dignidad, la libertad colectiva y los poderes que necesitamos como pueblo, para obtener un desarollo económico sostenido, cimentar nuestra identidad puertorriqueña, y proyectar nuestra cultura a nivel mundial.  Solo así podremos tener un renacer económico, el cual la revista “The Economist” informa es la peor en el mundo.

Bajo el Pacto nuestros alimentos, medicinas, y otros bienes de consumo serán más abundantes y baratos, pues con el Pacto, nos liberamos de tener que usar los barcos de EEUU que son los más caros del mundo y así ahorrar unos dos billones de dolares.  Además, tendremos la libertad de consumir productos elaborados en otros sitios que podrían ser mas baratos como podrían ser las medicinas de Canada, Egipto ó las que continuaremos produciendo aqui.  La decisión sería nuestra y no de agencias federales como es ahora.

También podríamos negociar Tratados Comerciales y Contributivos con quienes queramos, con el fin de obtener beneficios para todos los puertorriqueños e, inclusive, para nuestros productos, como la leche o el ron.  Ahora EEUU, bajo tratados comerciales, protege su Bourbon, pero no así nuestro Ron y permite que entren productos extranjeros a PR bajo condiciones de privilegio y no así los nuestros en el extranjero.

Y más importante ,podremos ejercer un control pleno de nuestra educación, la cual ahora se rige por legislación federal. Por otro lado,controlaremos las comunicaciones y serán nuestros los ingresos que, por ejemplo, producen las licencias; podremos negociar los derechos de aviación y así ampliar el servicio aéreo y nuestro turismo que redundará en mayores ingresos para ese sector económico. PR controlará quien entra y sale de la isla y, por tanto, no pasará en el futuro la verguenza de los Juegos Centroamericanos.

Tendremos la ciudadanía americana y la puertorriqueña pues la retienen quienes ya la tienen y la ciudadanía prospectiva será negociada y lograda en el Pacto de Libre Asociación.  Los fondos federales se negociarán de igual forma que EEUU lo hizo cocieron con los países del pacífico, Israel, Egipto, y otros.

A grosso modo les he presentado la Libre Asociación y confío goce de su aceptación.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: