The big news of last week’s US election wasn’t Obama winning, or the victories for gay marriage and women. It actually concerned Puerto Rico, that small island in the Caribbean responsible for bringing the world Ricky Martin.
The country’s an “unincorporated territory” of the US (its people are US citizens) and it held a vote on that status.
The ballot asked people if they wanted to become fully part of America - the 51st state, whether they’d prefer independence, or whether they wanted to become a “sovereign free associated state”, whatever that is.
A majority voted to become part of the US. It can apparently be argued that wasn’t actually the case, but it seems Pueto Rico’s set its course.
I’m sure every politician spent the campaign making great arguments for and against US statehood. But one thing I’m sure they unfortunately ignored is the fact Puerto Rico has one hell of a national anthem, a song it shouldn’t trade in for the Star-Spangled Banner even if it does get them better social security benefits.
The anthem’s called La Borinqueña, and it was written by a Spaniard, Fèlix Astol i Artés, in the 1860s.
Fèlix didn’t mean it as an anthem. He wrote it as a dance tune for rum-soaked music halls. He even gave it the name Gorgeous Brunette. It sounds exactly like you’d expect a song with that title to sound.
It’s music full of romance and desire, a sultry little rumba. It’s the type of song a composer writes after spending an evening staring a woman in a bar; the song he’d dream of impressing her with the next day, of spinning her round to.
Just have a listen to this version by the Puerto Rican opera singer, Graciela Rivera.
The anthem’s words, all about the beauty of Puerto Rico, were obviously added a lot later.
When the anthem was formally adopted in 1952, the government ordered a military version to be written – probably embarrassed by the original’s sexiness. But even that doesn’t lose all the drama.
So, yes, it’s up to you, people of Puerto Rico. Just realise what you may be about to lose!
Apologies for the photo at the top, by the way, but it fitted with the headline! It was taken by Phyllis B Dooney and it was stolen from here.Tweet