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A NH-based podcast about the Caribbean makes the region's history more accessible

Ramon A. González-Arango López, originally from Puerto Rico, says mmuch intellectual work in the Hispanic world stays among a few. "That is waste of time," he says.
Ramon A. González-Arango López
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Ramon A. González-Arango López, originally from Puerto Rico, says much intellectual work in the Hispanic world stays among a few. "That is waste of time," he says.

This is part of a series of stories for Hispanic Heritage Month from NHPR's Spanish language initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? Learn more about that initiative here.

Baquiné, Batey, and Bembé are three words in Spanish that may take a few hours of history class to understand their origins and meanings. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans have slightly different uses for each, but in essence, they all relate to death, life, and joy.

Ramon A. González-Arango López is a Puerto Rican obsessed with those small differences. He lives on the Seacoast and is currently enrolled in the University of Massachusetts history and philosophy program, but he also works in a restaurant full-time.

In 2022, he ventured into producing Archipiélago Histórico, a podcast about Caribbean history, something he says he has been passionate about since childhood.

He says while the Caribbean is technically a group of islands and Central American coastal zones, he thinks of it as a big pot where cultures and history comes together. González-Arango López aims to tell the history of the Spanish-speaking countries of the area.

Through a series of conversations with researchers, his podcast explores a wide range of topices: spiritism, geology, architecture, religion, propaganda, military history, and more. His goal is to ignite curiosity about often overlooked parts of Hispanic history, including how Caribbean countries' histories have influenced the migration of people to the U.S.

“You are here, but your ancestors are there,” he said. “I will explain to you why your ancestors were displaced from their land and why you ended up here.”

Genuine curiosity leads González-Arango López to look for topics usually discussed only in academia, where elitism and conservatism, he said, don't allow people to access it — or worse, create an incomplete idea of this region.

“The Caribbean is more than pristine beaches and smiling people,” he said. “There is also a history of colonialism, interracial and intercultural mixing, and war.”

González-Arango López says history can be taught in a way that may create “mental gaps” for children who get tired of memorizing dates and names. He says history classes should be more about explaining the present, for example why Spanish-speakers from the region talk the way they do.

In one of the episodes, his guest Dr. Gabriel Paizy says the Spanish language spoken by Caribbeans has more than 400 words connected to the Arab world and many more to African and Indigenous people. The episode aims to stoke people’s curiosity about linguistics, history, and themselves.

“The more you know the more you become a monstro,” he says. “That means you become proud of your education.”

Despite his passion for preserving history, he believes Hispanic Heritage Month shouldn’t be a big celebration in the U.S. He says there is more value in including Hispanic history in the classrooms as a way of making it an important part of American culture.

“Instead of having a month that reinforces the idea that [Hispanics] are different,” he said, "[we] should start to invisibilize those differences.”

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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