The 15th of September marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, 30 days celebrating the Latino culture and heritage shared by over 50 million Americans. Even before President Lyndon Johnson chose the 15th as the start of Hispanic Heritage Week in the 1960s, it was already an important holiday on the Latino calendar as the independence day of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and my mother’s homeland, Honduras. The following day, September 16th, is Mexican Independence Day.
With so much talk of independence and history within America’s Latino community, Hispanic Heritage Month is a proud time of year for most Latinos in the United States. People will be barbecuing, waving flags, and honking their car horns in excited jubilation. But for the nation’s Puerto Rican community, the independence celebrations taking place this week will remind them of a grim and nagging reality: they remain a colonized people.