Category: politics

Dec. 10, 2008- Thousands of copies of Campanita Book’s A Caribbean Journey from A to Y(read and discover what happened to the Z) were distributed to the children of the United States Virgin Islands this week by the First Lady of the Territory, Cecile de Jongh, by Santa Claus himself, and by many helping elves.


The gift is extra special because A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z) was turned into a Special Edition just for this event!!!


The preface by de Jongh reads:
It is my great honor as First Lady of the United States Virgin Islands to join Mario Picayo and his many readers worldwide in celebrating the proud cultures of the Caribbean. A Caribbean Journey from A to Y is a wonderful expression of the diversity of the Caribbean peoples and their lifestyles. It takes us on a journey through the islands of the region and shares important and interesting facts about each location.

As you turn the pages, you will discover the many special places, foods, and experiences of the Caribbean. Truly a treasure all on its own, this delightful book is a journey to places near and far that we can all enjoy. It is a reminder of our shared ancestry and celebrates the similarities and differences of each of the islands and their people. Perhaps what we learn the most from this wonderful book is that we are all God’s children, each of us brothers and sisters in paradise.

As a Virgin Islander and as a passionate advocate for children and literacy, I am proud to join you on this educational journey through the Caribbean. Enjoy!


Go to to read the press release. You can also go to The St.Thomas Source to read the article in it’s original format, written by Molly Morris.

There is still time to give one of Campanita’s books (or all of them) as a Holiday present!!!


A recent article in the New York Times is raising the question as to whether or not online stores such as Amazon must make sure that their vendors collect taxes on behalf of the state to which they are affiliated with. Whether we know it or not, we do pay taxes when we buy products from online sources, they are just hidden or nicely worded (such as use taxes). Aren’t taxes good for the state though? For example this new law that was signed by Gov. David Patterson, is expected to raise about $50 million. Yet on the flip side ( and there is more than one), online stores may start to increase their prices if they have to start dealing with more taxes. Vendors as well may hurt from this new law if they need to shell out extra money. 

So the reason we’re so concerned about this? Editorial Campana sells its books in different ways, both physically and digitally. Many of the books though can be bought through the website or through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This new law put into affect, as suggested by Amazon:

“violate[s] the equal-protection clause of the Constitution because they specifically took aim at Amazon. “It was carefully crafted to increase state tax revenues by forcing Amazon to collect sales and use taxes,” the complaint says, noting that “state officials have described the statute as the ‘Amazon Tax.’”

From this it would seem as though the law targets Amazon. As online stores become more and more popular and as more small businesses start to move away from traditional physical shops and venture into the “digital store” realm, what will they have to face? It would seem more like this law is taxation due to representation. What impact will this new law have and what will be done with the money that law collects?


Margarita Drago’s book, Memory Tracks: Fragments from Prison (1975-1980), which is available in English and Spanish is an inspirational book. Why? despite being held behind bars, imprisoned, and having to deal with many horrible events, the book is as alive as the author. The horrific and dramatic events that Margarita witnessed and encountered did not deter Margarita from bringing her to the public and especially from being held captive behind bars. . The only unfortunate thing is that Margarita had to secretly hide her stories and her writing in order to make sure that her story became available to anybody who would want to read them. Unlike Margarita, many prisoners today have the ability to write while they are locked away, without having to write in secret. The PEN Prison Writing program is one that 

“believes in the restorative and rehabilitative power of writing, by providing hundreds of inmates across the country with skilled writing teachers and audiences for their work.”

Since this and similar programs have been developed and put into practice, many individuals have had the opportunity to write. Writing and the ability to do so should be available to anybody who shows interest in doing so.

Although there were many contributing factors as to why Margarita had to hide her writing (being a political female prisoner being a major one), there is no reason anybody should be deprived the ability to write. We owe much thanks to the publication of Memory Tracks: Fragments from Prison (1975-1980). This book is one of the many examples of what Editorial Campana is all about.

Read an EXCERPT OF MEMORY TRACKS: FRAGMENTS FROM PRISON (1975-1980) and an interview.


 presents Sonia Rivera Valdés’ latest book

available in English and Spanish

 Editorial Campana presenta el más reciente libro de Sonia Rivera Valdés

disponible en versiones en español e inglés

The books can be bought through Editorial Campana , Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Following the success of her bestselling first book (Casa de las Américas award, 1997), Sonia Rivera Valdés continues the saga in Stories of Little Women and Grown-Up Girls, where characters and narrations intertwine and whirl. The tragic death of Ana, a writer’s sexual adventures in Cuba, and the erotic incidents involving a music professor and her student’s fiancee. Love, death, betrayal and sex…these stories rise and fall on waves of humor and surprise, and drop us deep into lives that maintain their centers and strength, regardless of crumbling worlds around them.

 Historias de mujeres grandes y chiquitas de Sonia Rivera Valdés (Premio Casa de las Américas, 1997) es un libro donde los personajes y las narraciones se suceden incesantemente: la trágica muerte de Ana, los enlaces eróticos de una profesora de música con el novio de una estudiante y las aventuras sexuales de una escritora en Cuba. Con un excelente sentido del humor, con el elemento sorpresa atravesando cada relato y con la oralidad marcando cada texto, las escenas contadas harán que el lector se involucre mientras las escucha.


 Praise For Sonia Rivera Valdés’ Work


 Sonia Rivera Valdés is a transgressor in different spheres and has found a strange internal peace in her writing exercise which incessantly, and sheltered by the parasol of tolerance, is at the service of an infinite number of noble causes. Her minimalist style speaks about extremely crude realities in a clear and inimitable language. This is a captivating, unforgettable book.

–Nancy Morejón, winner of Cuba’s National Prize for Literature, 2001

 Sonia Rivera Valdés has an uncannily intense way of inhabiting the souls of her characters. Their predicaments are usually irresolvable, but then so is life, and it is her allegiance to the texture of life that makes her work so remarkably vivid. These bitterly exuberant, sweetly regretful, very sad and fierce and beautiful stories will haunt you for a long time.

–Paul Russell, author of War Against the Animals

 The mad, the curious, the inexplicable in human behavior-that which is not sanctioned by society-are the pivotal points in Sonia Rivera-Valdés’s narratives. Her characters live fully, without missteps, precisely because the author has turned the tables on propriety.

–Zaida Capote Cruz, Institute of Literature and Linguistics, Havana, Cuba

 Sonia Rivera Valdés presents a prose that is unconstrained, daring, reminiscent of Anaïs Nin.

    –Oh! Magazine

 Vastly entertaining, slyly heretical, and probably the most important book of stories since Joyce’s Dubliners.

–William Monahan, author of Light House

 This work promises to be revelatory.

–Library Journal

The book alternates between tears and an ironic smile…We cry with the prisoner in “Like in Jail” and we laugh satisfied (especially women) with the lesson the cello professor gives her accommodating lover in “The Eighth Fold”.             

–Hoy, newspaper (New York)

 The stories of women that Sonia Rivera Valdés presents keep this writer among the Hispanic talents who place the literary work of Latino writers of this city in the top echelon of originality, talent, and sincerity.

–Siempre (New York)

 With the particular charm of characters that could be any neighbor in El Barrio, and the attractive turbulence of some stories that capture the attention and teach in endearing ways, Sonia Rivera Valdés performs a service to literature, to the elastic gay-lesbian-queer community of the Hispanic world, to groups discriminated against or marginalized by local supremacies, and to all of us who believe in the dignity of the human being and in the value of differences.

–Susana Reisz, Lehman College, Contemporary Latin American Literature

 Rivera Valdés has set out to search for a language, for a kind of writing, that would subvert the model, and along the way has created believable and functional characters, narrators, and narrations. She resorts to irony and parody when needed to enhance meaning, but above she all has avoided the deceptive reflection of the stereotypical and untruthfully Caribbean. She has neither trivialized the narrative voice, that of her characters, nor that of the author herself, and has succeeded in not letting the model die behind the mask of a fictitious construct labelled “caribbeanism”.

 –Alicia Perdomo, literary critic

 Sonia is at war with the traditional and still dominant forms with which feminine subjectivity is represented in a patriarchal culture. Her alliance with emerging forms of the feminine (the nomad, the mestiza…) converts her into the traveling companion of many other creators and thinkers that, through history, literature, the visual arts, philosophy or political activism, are tracing a radically new map of the world of women.

–Marta Sofía López, Universidad de León, Spain

 The stories are constructed by an image that destabilizes all attempts at clear and precise definition; their aesthetic conspires against all processes of institutionalization or naturalization of accepted limits…What characterizes these stories are not their stereotypical nature, but rather their constant crossing of the lines of accepted codes, their insistent questioning of the limits imposed by stereotypes.

–Emilio Bejel, Professor & Chair, Department of Spanish & Classics

University of California

 I sat on the bed to listen to myself with a book as interlocutor. At around page fifty, tears surprised me, and I gave myself over to the accumulated pain…Thank you for Stories of Little Women and Grown-Up Girls.

–Anna Chover, Professor, Valencia University, Spain

 When I finished reading Stories of Little Women and Grown-Up Girls I remembered what Luce Irigaray said about eastern philosophy because these stories are exactly the opposite. Instead of formulating the real, removing it from concrete experience, her writing makes us stronger and wiser, more able to face life itself.

–Margarita Drago, author of Memory Tracks: Fragments From Prison (1975-1980)

 The book is a kind of emotional x-ray of a series of women who, in trying to accommodate as much as possible both their lives and their desires, reflect on the stories that have touched them, the ones they have chosen, lived, and faced without fear and that until now have  been their destiny.

 –Paquita Suárez Coalla, author of So I Won’t Forget





What do Roald Dahl and Annette Perez have in common? They are both authors of children’s book. Yet their connection lies with hydrocephalus. Many of us may not be aware of the fact that famous children’s author, Roald Dahl (of Willie Wonka fame) dealt with hydrocephalus on a very personal level.  His son Theo developed hydrocephalus when he was four months old, after a taxi in New York City hit his baby carriage.  Click on the articles below to learn more about Roald Dahl’s contributions to the awareness and therapy of hydrocephalus.  As a side note, keep in mind that September 13th, is Roald Dahl day across the world.  Take a minute to look over Annette Perez book (and interview) and you will learn a lot about this condition from the perspective of a person who grew up with the challenges of having hydrocephalus.  Both authors, in different ways, have made significant contributions with their books. My Brain Won’t Float Away/ Mi cerebro no va a salir flotando info:

Margarita Drago provides her testimony of being imprisoned during the military dictatorship of Argentina in the 1970’s through a series of talks in Puerto Rico

New York, N.Y., April 21, 2008–Margarita Drago was arrested at her house in Rosario during the military dictatorship that ravaged Argentina from the middle of the seventies until 1983. She was accused of political crimes and was imprisoned for 5 years, with no right to a legal defense. In Drago’s first memoir since she got out almost thirty years ago, she recounts being terrorized, witness and victim of multiple interrogations, tortures and rapes. The book, titled Memory Tracks: Fragments From Prison (1975-1980) (Editorial Campana, September 2007) was published simultaneously with it’s original Spanish version Fragmentos de la memoria: Recuerdos de una experiencia carcelaria (1975-1980). “When I got out of jail in September, 1980, one idea drove me: to denounce the crimes and violations of the military dictatorship, and to provide testimony to the resistance of the Argentine political prisoners in the cells of the regime,” Drago said in an interview in May, 2007.

Despite their horrific situation, Drago and her fellow prisoners focused on compassion, hope, encouragement, and further resistance. They told stories and recited poetry. They collected bread crusts and sugar from their rations to make special desserts. They even began a subversive newspaper, printed on cigarette wrappers and smuggled to the outside. “Amidst the precariousness, we led an organized life of clandestine work and study. We did it all because we were convinced that jail wasn’t a parenthesis in our lives, but rather a space of resistance to the dictatorship,” she stated. Drago’s opposition landed her in solitary confinement then, and it still persists in her now. She remains a marginal writer because she refuses censorship.

Just last month, Margarita Drago participated in a series of talks about her book from March 3-8, 2008 in Puerto Rico, organized by El Comité Pro Derechos Humanos de Puerto Rico (The Puerto Rican Committee for Human Rights) and La Comisión de la Mujer del Colegio de Abogados (The Women’s Commission of the School of Lawyers). The series of events that took place were, in part, to commemorate El Día Internacional de la Mujer Trabajadora (International Working Woman’s Day). Drago not only sets one of the strongest examples of a woman’s courage and strength, she also wishes to “emphasize the role of women as political leaders, and exalt the determined way in which they offered themselves to the revolutionary cause.” And she believes “in terms of gender, these stories greatly contribute to the affirmation of women’s outstanding role during one of the darkest periods of Argentine history.”

Read the full interview here:

What is the most popular language in public libraries currently? The answer may surprise you. According to a recent article (posted by School Library Journal, Críticas, on April 4th, 2008), “About 21 million people in the United States speak limited or no English.” This number is up 50% more than it was a decade ago, according to Críticas.

What is the reason for this, and if this is the case, why aren’t there more #1 bestsellers in Spanish? At the least, we should be seeing higher rankings. It would make sense that with this new trend, Editorial Campana and similar organizations should start seeing their books in more and more libraries. This does not seem to be the case for sales though. When you go to stores such as Amazon and Barnes&Nobles, the ratings of Spanish books have not pushed them to top spots in “general book” selling statistics. Maybe this just means that more people want to read books in Spanish, but don’t want to buy them. As well, Spanish language books may be starting to overflow from library shelves due to the following findings from the same article:

“Libraries reported that the most successful programs and services for non-English speakers were English as a Second Language (ESL), language-specific materials and collections, computer use and computer classes, story time, and special programs.”

This new trend may help libraries better serve the people they hope to help. By realizing that more non-English related literature is needed, librarians will start to emphasize the need for literature that the public wants.  This idea was emphasized by that of the A.L.A. ( The American Library Association)-

“These study findings can provide a venue for developing better and more precise materials, services and programs for those linguistically isolated. Librarians can better predict what specific language materials and services may be required to optimally serve non-English speaking group” (Click here to read the full article)

If this new trend holds true, the next step would be finding out how to get individuals to by books in Spanish as well, thus increasing their overall popularity.

Hydrocephalus awareness seems to be making some headway. In an article that was posted on Gabrielslife website

Click on the article to read it at full size.

Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton talked briefly about hydrocephalus. This was due to the fact that back in 2004, Shannon Mallozzi, mother of Isabella, approached Hillary Clinton. What followed was a conversation where Clinton stated she would pledge her personal support. As well, Clinton suggested that her office would help lobby to fund federal research into the disease. Although nothing has been done yet, the fact that Hillary Clinton took the time to talk to a person- a mother helps illustrate that just like Annie, we need to take control of our lives. Currently, the government does not keep records of individuals diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Yet this disability is real and it affects a lot more people than we might think. Here are some interesting facts about hydrocephalus,

Click on the article to see the whole thing.

Annette Perez’s book gives the reader the ability to connect to a loveable and realistic character. At the same time, Shannon Mallozzi and her daughter, Isabella, emphasize the fact that there are families out there that are dealing with this disability. What’s surprising is the fact that since this disease affects so many people, there should be more resources available and there should definitely be more awareness. Annette Perez’s book is helping; stories such as the Mallozzi’s are also helping (along with this inspirational video clip). There is so much more that can be done… only time will tell. If Hillary Clinton were to become our next President, would she remember her visit with Mallozzi? Even more importantly, would she act on her pledge to promote hydrocephalus support?

I can has cheezburger?!?