Humans are creatures of contradictions; I’m no exception.
For instance, I’ve been pro-military and anti-war. I’ve advocated (both non-violently and “by all means necessary”) for the independence of Puerto Rico, while I’ve also written in favor of Puerto Rico becoming a state of the Union. Some might say this is the reflection of a colonized mind, who sometimes loves the master and sometimes sees him for what he represents: bondage. Yet, I see it differently. I see contradictions as a reflection of our ability to see positive aspects in every person and circumstance. In this world of dualities, perspective is king.
I was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy in 1992, and I treasure my time there. After an issue with the Confederate flag, I decided to leave the Academy in 1993. I then became a student activist at the University of Puerto Rico, advocating for the independence of Puerto Rico. My activism heightened during the struggle to oust the U.S. Navy from Vieques in 1999. At the time, I was transitioning from Columbia University to Dartmouth College to pursue a doctoral degree in mathematics. My political activism, among other things, would drag me back to New York City in 2001.
On May 5, 2000, I was arrested at Yankee Stadium for participating in a non-violent manifestation with six fellow protesters (see picture below). We were charged with several misdemeanors. However, this was the only case in the history of the Vieques struggle (which spanned decades and involved hundreds of arrests in Puerto Rico, New York, and other places) where the charges were dismissed “in the interest of justice.”
I also performed a seven-day fast in front of the White House in June of 2000. Here’s a letter I wrote to President Clinton during that episode. One of his representatives addressed my letter with a phone call. (And here’s a clip of my interview with Amy Goodman in 2000, announcing the fast. I stutter so much I couldn’t finish hearing it when I found it!)
I abandoned political activism in 2005, after an intense anti-war struggle at the University of Puerto Rico in 2003-2004 that led to a 12-day hunger strike in front of El Capitolio in San Juan. The contradictions I witnessed, both within me and in others, compelled me to focus instead on my family and my spiritual life.
I continue to be passionate about what I devote myself to, perhaps more than I’d like to admit. Those issues, however, now revolve around education and mathematics, not politics. I do feel much better as a result of leaving politics behind!