Singer iLe Discusses Music, Activism & Puerto Rico’s Struggle for Independence

Web ExclusiveNovember 08, 2019
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Three months ago, massive celebrations took over the streets of Puerto Rico as Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would resign, following 12 days of enormous protests on the island. The protests began after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published close to 900 pages of text messages between Rosselló, staffers and advisers. The group chat messages were riddled with misogyny, homophobia, profanity and violence. Some of the messages mocked victims of Hurricane Maria.

Some of Puerto Rico’s biggest artists were at the forefront of the demonstrations that ousted Rosselló, and the song “Afilando los Cuchillos,” “Sharpening the Knives,” became an anthem of the protests. We recently sat down to discuss music, activism and Puerto Rico with Ileana Cabra Joglar, better known as iLe. She co-wrote and performed “Afilando los Cuchillos” along with fellow Puerto Rican artists Residente and Bad Bunny. The Grammy-winning Puerto Rican singer, composer and vocalist was a member of the group Calle 13 for over a decade. Her first solo album, “iLevitable,” was released in 2016 and won a Grammy in the category Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. iLe was also nominated that year for the Latin Grammy Awards as Best New Artist. Her sophomore album, “Almadura,” is an ode to Puerto Rican resistance, struggles and fight for freedom from U.S. colonialism, and the single “Contra Todo” was nominated for a 2019 Latin Grammy.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Three months ago, massive celebrations took over the streets of Puerto Rico as the former Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced he would resign, following 12 days of massive protests across the island. The protests began after Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism published close to 900 pages of text messages between Rosselló, staffers, advisers and some of his buddies. The group chat messages were riddled with misogyny, homophobia, profanity and violence. Some of the messages mocked victims of Hurricane Maria.

Some of Puerto Rico’s biggest artists were at the forefront of the protests that followed these revelations, well, including Ricky Martin, Residente, iLe and Bad Bunny. The song “Sharpening the Knives,” co-authored and performed by Puerto Rican artists Residente, Bad Bunny and iLe, became an anthem of the protests.

RESIDENTE, ILE, BAD BUNNY: Y así son los pocos que te siguen, brutos
Pero tranqui’, afilar navajas toma un minuto
Somos el rugido de la bandera de Puertorro con todos sus tejidos
Exigiendo tu renuncia, pa’ que nadie salga herido
To’ el mundo unido, no importa el color de tu partido
Esto salió temprano pa’ que te lo desayunes
La furia es el único partido que nos une

Vamo’ cortante’ como lo’ cuchillo’
Sacando chispa hasta llegar al filo
Hay que arrancar la maleza del plantío
Pa’ que ninguno se aproveche de lo mío

AMY GOODMAN: That’s, well, in English, “Sharpening the Knives.” Music was central to the Puerto Rican resistance. In the demonstrations, protesters got creative, often singing and dancing, forming drum circles, banging on pots in unison, to put pressure on Rosselló to step down. He was the first governor in U.S. history to resign because of protest, toppled by protests in the streets.

Well, we’re joined now at the Democracy Now! studios by Ileana Cabra Joglar, or iLe, Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican singer, composer, vocalist. She was a member of the Grammy-winning Puerto Rican group Calle 13 for over a decade. iLe’s first solo album was released in June 2016, won a Grammy in the category of Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album in 2017. She was also nominated that year for the Latin Grammy Awards as Best New Artist. Her next album, Almadura, is a ode to Puerto Rican resistance struggles and fight for freedom from U.S. colonialism. iLe’s song “Contra Todo” was nominated for a 2019 Latin Grammy. She heads to Las Vegas for the award ceremony.

iLe, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us again.

ILEANA CABRA: Thank you so much. Great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we were talking to you right in the midst of the protests. You had like flown in to Washington for one day and then were flying back. I mean, Puerto Rico has made history in so many ways. Whether or not you like Puerto Rico being a part of the United States, it is the first time in U.S. history a governor was toppled by protest. And many say it was very much the beginning of this latest wave of protests throughout Latin America and even in the world, where other, for example, prime ministers were toppled, from Lebanon, now Iraq. Puerto Rico was the place where this wave of protests began. Your thoughts?

ILEANA CABRA: Well, it’s very exciting for me. I think I was like anxiously — anxiously like waiting for something like this to happen. And for me, it’s crazy how inspirational it became to other countries, because it is almost ironic for me how we managed things in Puerto Rico, because they say that supposedly the majority of the country wants statehood, but at the same time we are so proud of being Puerto Ricans, of being who we are, that it’s almost contradictory how that pride — how we manage that pride. I think, in our hearts, we actually want independence, but we are afraid because we think we have like — we associate independence with less or something that’s not enough or not good enough. And we have learned in schools and everything that — as if the United States is like better and more powerful, and we aim for that instead of trying to work things on our own and try to manage ourselves, as we are doing now. But when we don’t notice things that much, I think it’s how we work at our best.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, yet another bill for statehood has been introduced by the non-voting Puerto Rican congressmember, the congressmember representing the island.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, they have been trying, I mean, for many years to impose that, because they know that there is a big group of people that do want statehood. But do they know why do they want it? That’s what I ask myself, that, because we don’t learn enough at school about our own history, and we don’t have enough information. It’s not fair for Puerto Ricans to choose exactly what they want, because it’s confusing. They are voting, seeing things as commodities. And obviously, they think statehood makes us more comfortable, which is wrong. Well, obviously, the majority will want to vote for that. But they’re not clear enough, because we haven’t received the complete information.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we just played, in the introduction, “Sharpening the Knives.” Talk about — I mean, this became the anthem of the movement, in this latest wave of Puerto Rican protests. Talk about its origins.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, it was, like, very quick. I received a phone call from my brother that he — he asked me to join them with the song, with the chorus, and he wanted me to write my part. So, I just had the beat, but I didn’t know what he was writing or what Bad Bunny was writing. So, I was basically like on my own. And I think everyone was like in their own bubble, you know, writing. But I think we were connected with that same anger, that it showed in the song. But, for me, it was very exciting to go to the protests and to listen to the cars and to the people having the song on full volume and like a big push, like a boost for them to go protest. For me, it made me feel proud, not only of my brother and that he had his initiative, but also of my own country, that I’ve always known that we have that strength, but we needed to show it fully. And I think that happened.

AMY GOODMAN: And in English, the words, although of course it’s in Spanish, but what it means, “Sharpening the Knives,” and what you sing?

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, “Sharpening the Knives,” I’m saying like, “We are going to go — we’re going to go sharp, like the knives, and we’re going to have like fire and to get out the bad weed of the planting.” I don’t — I’m just saying it with maybe not the exact words in English, but, yeah, it’s like to take off, obviously, the people that don’t work in the government and head for a clean start.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you toppled the governor, and he’s somewhere, not clear, maybe living in Virginia or something. And another person became governor for five minutes or something like that — it might have been six.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And then Wanda Vázquez, who’s still part of Rosselló’s team, became governor. Why did the protests stop?

ILEANA CABRA: I think we couldn’t find — I mean, Puerto Rico is not a country that is used to protesting massively like that. That was something very particular. But we do protest in smaller groups. So we’ve kept protesting, but like in small groups, so — but they’re doing assemblies in different parts of the country. So, that’s important for us to share information. And the media, I think, obviously, there’s pros and cons, but I think they’re more aware of trying to dig in for more information. And I think people and younger generations are more aware of the news than maybe what they were before. So, I think that’s a huge step, because normally we tend to be like separated from politics. We just wait for something to happen instead of taking action.

But I think since the summer of 2019, I think that that showed what we actually can do, and I think we’re prepared. So, we’re actually like watching Wanda Vázquez, because in the beginning she started having meetings that Rosselló wasn’t doing. So, it’s very strategic, what she’s trying to do. But now, this week, we just noticed that her daughters had working with contracts. One of them is — she’s having $5,000 a month. That’s what she’s charging [inaudible]. And the other one, we don’t know how much is her salary. So it’s very shady at the same time.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the things that really ignited the population was these texts that the Center for Investigative Journalism released. You had Rosselló referring to the former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Puerto Rican-born, as a “whore.” He wrote, in Spanish, “Our people should come out and defend Tom and beat up that whore.” Puerto Rico’s chief fiscal officer, Christian Sobrino Vega, wrote about wanting to shoot San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. He wrote, “I’m salivating to shoot her.” And Rosselló responded by writing, “You’d be doing me a grand favor.” Sobrino Vega also mocked the victims of Hurricane Maria, texting, “Don’t we have some cadavers to feed our crows?” he asked, apparently referring to the administration’s critics. The chats filled with homophobic language, Sobrino Vega also texting, “Ricky Martin is such a male chauvinist that he f—s men because women don’t measure up. Pure patriarchy,” he wrote. I mean, it didn’t stop, the vitriol, hundreds of pages. So, where does that all go now? And talk about how the people responded across the political spectrum. It wasn’t just one party.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah. I think it was like too much for us to process. I mean, myself, as well as my family and group of friends that I have, we’ve always known what’s behind what they tend to show, but the majority of the people trust more in the government. And, well, because they obviously like play their game, and it’s very, very cold and very horrendous, I don’t like it at all, but it’s harder for most of the people to see that clearly. So, it was very important, that. And that is what is happening now also with Wanda Vázquez and the government of today. Little by little, more information is showing. But Puerto Rican people like to have a more — a bigger information for them to react massively. I don’t like that about us. I always — for me, it’s important to keep the protests going massively always. But that’s how we handle things, because we — I don’t know. Obviously, like, having a colonial state of mind has a lot to do with it, and not having all the information also has a lot to do with it. But it’s important that we are aware. And I think we are more nowadays, and that gives me a lot of hope. And I think we are just waiting for everything to go down. And it’s going down, maybe a little slower than I would like. But it’s still like you can see like an empire falling. And I like that.

AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us to your latest album, released in May, before the governor resigned, which might have contributed to it, Almadura. Explain what that means.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, it’s a play on words. It comes from the word “armor.” But in Puerto Rico, sometimes we substitute the “ar” for the “il” as part of our accent. So, it’s just — at the same time, it’s that same strong soul, but in one whole word. So, it came all like very — maybe spontaneously. But as the album kept growing with the songs, my creative team, that is basically my sister Milena and my brother Gabriel, we all talk it through, and while more songs were forming, like the whole armor concept came up, and then that’s how it all — we started proposing ideas, and then my brother Gabriel came up with the play on words. So, I think it was perfect for the album.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to “Contra Todo,” “Against Everything.” Now, this is the song that you’ve been nominated for Best Alternative Song at the Latin Grammys. Explain its origins.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, I think that was the second song I wrote from this album. The first one was “Odio.” And —

AMY GOODMAN: Which means “Hate.”

ILEANA CABRA: “Hate,” yeah, it means “Hate.” And I like this one, “Contra Todo,” because I feel like it’s the song that best resumes the whole — what the whole album is about. It’s literally a way of expressing how I was feeling while I was doing the album. I was very angry at so many things at the same time. And obviously, coming from Puerto Rico, I think this album, even though has a lot of Puerto Rican roots — I mean, it’s rooted in Puerto Rico. At the same time, it talks about things that you can identify with other situations in other countries, because at the same time we’re all part of a huge, bad administrative system. So, I think, at the end, we all suffer from similar perspectives. So, that song is basically like a way of letting our strength show, you know, like a reaction. And so, it’s important always to recognize that, that strength that we all have inside of us, and react and do something about it, not let that just there, you know, just react when we need to. And I think that is happening worldwide now.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to iLe singing “Contra Todo,” “Against Everything.”

ILE: [singing] Soy el terreno invadido
Naturaleza robada
Soy pensamiento indebido
Grito de voz silenciada

Soy el dolor que no siente
Soy la memoria olvidada
Soy material resistente
Con rabia despellejada

Con el coraje de frente
Voy a ganar la batalla
Hecha de viento y de playa
Soy la ola que va a romper

Quieren verme caer
Pero daré bien la talla
Atravesar la muralla
Voy contra todo pa defender

Soy mi coraza guerrera
Todo lo que he soportado
Soy fuerza de cordillera
Raíz de sueño sembrado

Llevo el poder verdadero
Que por mi sangre palpita
Hoy me deshago del miedo
La paciencia se desquita

Con el coraje de frente
Voy a ganar la batalla
Hecha de viento y de playa
Soy la ola que va a romper

Quieren verme caer
Pero daré bien la talla
Atravesar la muralla
Voy contra todo pa defender

Con el coraje de frente
Voy a ganar la batalla
Hecha de viento y de playa
Soy la ola que va a romper

Quieren verme caer
Pero daré bien la talla
Atravesar la muralla
Voy contra todo pa defender

Con el coraje de frente
Voy a ganar la batalla
Hecha de viento y de playa
Soy la ola que va a romper

Quieren verme caer
Pero daré bien la talla
Atravesar la muralla
Voy contra todo pa defender

AMY GOODMAN: That’s iLe singing “Contra Todo,” “Against Everything,” here in our Democracy Now! studios, where she is right now. Again, that song nominated for the Best Alternative Song at the Latin Grammys, and we’ll see what happens with that. But it has certainly rocked Puerto Rico, for sure, and way beyond the shores of Puerto Rico. You mentioned your brother and your sister. Talk about growing up in Puerto Rico, being born there. Talk about your life and how you became the musician, artist, activist you are.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, I come from a big family. My mother is an actress. My dad is a musician and a publicist. But we grew up in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. And, well, there was always music in my house. There was a piano that my sister used to play when she was little, and then I started playing it. And I was eight years playing the piano, but then suddenly I started singing. You know, I’ve always sang, but it was more like a hobby. But it wasn’t until my brothers invited me to collaborate in their group, Calle 13. I wasn’t even thinking of singing as professionally. So, it was from their initiative, from their vision about me, that I didn’t know at that time. But thanks to them, I think, is how I realized that singing is maybe my best way to express myself through music.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain how your brother got the name Residente and the name Calle 13, where it comes from.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, Calle 13 is the street where we grew up, there in Trujillo Alto. And, well, we’re all brothers and sisters. We don’t believe much in step or half-brother. But, yeah, René and Eduardo are stepbrothers. So, Eduardo came to “visit” that house, but it was his house, as well. So, René is more like — he was the residente, like the resident of that house. And Eduardo came as visitante. But they kept that message more open, on playing with the immigrants and everything. So, it came from that, but then it grew up so quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: And you were PG-13.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, I was.

AMY GOODMAN: PG-13.

ILEANA CABRA: PG-13.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that.

ILEANA CABRA: It was my cousin. We were listening to the first songs that we were recording, like the demos. And that’s when my cousin said, “Oh, that’s PG-13,” like playing because I was the little one. So it was like messing around. But then, suddenly, René and Eduardo liked it, and that became my name.

AMY GOODMAN: Until iLe.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, exactly.

AMY GOODMAN: And iLe is short for your name, Ileana.

ILEANA CABRA: Exactly, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: But it is now the name that you go by.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, yeah. iLe is what my — some of my brothers and sisters call me iLe, and my friends, so it’s natural for me. It’s a little more natural than PG-13, so…

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about being a musician, being a rebel, as a woman.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, I think I’ve had many transitions. Obviously, I had that time when I was questioning myself if I truly was — if I was truly believing in independence, or if it was something that I was just learning from my family. So I took that time to analyze and to see for myself if I really thought that was my own belief. So, it was interesting, because I — obviously, in school, you talk with friends and talk about different perspectives. So, for me, it was important to have my own mindset, you know? Obviously, I come from a family that believes in independence for Puerto Rico, but I wanted to ask myself if I believe in that, too. So, I do. And then transitioning from that and noticing — obviously, I feel lucky that I come from a family that gives place to women. But I didn’t know how messed up everything was until, you know, I I grew up and confront reality more closely. So, you start seeing subtleties. And that’s what shocks me the most, you know, that those subtleties that we take for granted and we sometimes like don’t realize as much is more invisible, but those are the important things that we need to take care of. And we need to stop it from the beginning.

AMY GOODMAN: Which takes us to “Temes,” another song on your latest album. And you ask, “Why do you fear me? I am the fruit of something that has no name.” Talk about the origins of “Temes.”

ILEANA CABRA: Well, I was angry, as well. I think it’s — I always wonder what’s behind everything that we see upfront. I always try to find a way to look behind everything. And obviously, behind every necessity of power, there’s always fear, I think, like, and it’s important to question that and to talk about that, because sometimes we get confused, and our emotions can work in maybe not the best way. So, it’s important to have that psychological part, as well, because at the end we’re all humans, and we all feel, even though we feel different things in different ways, but we all have our own feelings and our own backgrounds. So, I obviously feel it’s absurd that we still live in a patriarchy way. So, it shocks me a lot. But it’s important to talk about it, and not from a superior place, but from a from a horizontal perspective, and try to understand that we live in a very ignorant society, and we need to find ways to talk to each other more and to understand our different point of views and to understand that we all have our different strengths, and we can use them In our own favor, you know, as a team, not as someone more than the other. And that is something that we should know and learn about since we are kids. That’s why it’s so important to to educate our children in the best way possible with all the love you can give. And I think we take love for granted.

AMY GOODMAN: And the term “Temes” means?

ILEANA CABRA: It means “You fear.” So the song is all about questioning, “Why do you fear me?” But at the end, it’s just placing it like “You fear.”

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to “Temes.” This is iLe.

ILE: [singing] ¿Por qué me temes?
Si soy fruto de algo que no tiene nombre
El error que no comete nunca el hombre
¿Por qué me temes?

¿Por qué me temes?
Si estoy hecha para estar arrepentida
Y mi historia se ha quedado ya sin vida
¿Por qué me temes?

Si tus celo’ me acuchillan por la espalda
Y e’ mi culpa por haber estado sola
Si tu ira me dispara en la cabeza
¿Por qué me temes? ¿Por qué me temes?
Si mi liberta’ la tiene tu despojo
Y mi cuerpo e’ recipiente de tu antojo
Si mi sombra está detrá’ de tu figura
¿Por qué me temes?

Si el mundo juzga con ojos cerrado’
Y todo lo que hago es un pecado
Pero si tú lo tiene’ todo controlado
¿Por qué me temes?
¿Por qué me temes?

Si me arrancas todo el aire que respiro
Y mi voz la vas dejando sin sonido
Si te crees que yo sin ti no sobrevivo
¿Por qué me temes?

Si el mundo juzga con ojos cerrado’
Y todo lo que hago es un pecado
Pero si tú lo tiene’ todo controlado
¿Por qué me temes?
¿A qué le temes?

AMY GOODMAN: That’s iLe, “Temes.” It is one of the songs on her new album, that was released last May, in the midst of the protests, but just before the governor fell in Puerto Rico. We’re going to talk about a song that you didn’t perform here, but, “Odio,” “Hate,” and what inspired that.

ILEANA CABRA: Well, it was the first song I wrote from Almadura. And I was just looking at social media and, you know, the everyday routine, watching the news and social media and how we manage in there. You know, it’s like a whole weird world. And I was thinking about how we always are like feeding hate without us even noticing, like the headlines of media always like are provoking something with hatred, so people — like, so they can get more ratings, because what culls people is something negative, like it’s something very strange. But we are always like seeking for darkness. I don’t know. And it’s very — and it’s very weird for me that we don’t notice it, but it’s important to know that it’s there feeding with ourselves. And it’s a very fine line between love and hate. You know, it’s confusing. But it’s just trying to find ways to not let hate take over, you know, and maybe turn that fear into courage instead of hate, and try to do something better for our world and our country, ideally. So, from that anger that I had in that moment, that’s how the song came from. And it is like a way of personoficating, for personifying — I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: Personifying.

ILEANA CABRA: Personifying hate.

AMY GOODMAN: So, we are going to turn to the final song that you performed in our studios here at Democracy Now!, “Without Chewing,” “Sin Masticar.”

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah. Well, the song, “Sin Masticar,” I was thinking about when we conform, when we are conforming with our surroundings, and we don’t take action, but we are just in our couches, like watching TV and maybe criticizing from there, but we don’t do anything about it. It’s like maybe a satirical way to play with that, through that song. It’s also something that for me is important to recognize. And we all are part of that, you know? Sometimes myself, I sometimes say, “Oh, I feel like I’m not doing anything, but I should.” So, that’s why you always have to have that push, you know, that boost, to do something.

AMY GOODMAN: So, roughly translated — and forgive me that I’m not probably capturing the whole spirit — but the lyrics of “Without Chewing,” “Sin Masticar,” are: “We want to eat without chewing. We want to see without watching. We seek to live, but we let ourselves be killed. We are the thirst that doesn’t want to drink water.” The significance of these lyrics?

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah, it’s like we — obviously, like, we want everything to be the way we want to, but we don’t do anything for it to change. And it’s up to us, you know. And that’s the thing, that we always are waiting for someone else to do it, but we don’t include ourselves as part of that change. And it’s very important to know that, because our place as individuals is very important to become as a whole.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s turn to “Sin Masticar,” “Without Chewing.” This is iLe.

ILE: [singing] Congelado, paralizado
Sin moverse, hipnotizado
Con los ojos vendados, los oídos tapados
Sin saber hacia donde vamos
Nadie detiene, nadie soporta
Retrocedemos y nada importa
Falsificados, adormecidos
Manipulados, embrutecidos

Queremos comer sin tener que masticar
Queremos ver sin tener que mirar
Buscamos vivir y nos dejamos matar
Somos la sed que no quiere de tomar

Perseguidos por donde quiera
Olvidando lo que nos queda
Se nos burlan de frente y callamos de espalda
Nadie intenta, nadie se salva

¿Dónde están quienes se cantan con bravura?
Que se esconden cuando tienen que ensuciarse
Se les sale por fuerita la costura
Y comienzan poco a poco a arrodillarse

Queremos comer sin tener que masticar
Queremos ver sin tener que mirar
Buscamos vivir y nos dejamos matar
Somos la sed que no quiere de tomar

Queremos comer sin tener que masticar
Queremos ver sin tener que mirar
Buscamos vivir y nos dejamos matar
Somos la sed que no quiere de tomar

Queremos comer sin tener que masticar
Queremos ver sin tener que mirar
Buscamos vivir y nos dejamos matar
Somos la sed que no quiere de tomar

Queremos comer
Queremos ver
Buscamos vivir
Somos la sed

AMY GOODMAN: That’s iLe, performing “Sin Masticar,” “Without Chewing,” here in our Democracy Now! studios. And as we begin to wrap up, talk about how you both were involved in performing, in creating, in composing and also resisting at the same time — it seems like that’s what you grew up with — and what it means for you to grow up in San Juan, but you come back and forth to the mainland United States.

ILEANA CABRA: Yeah. I like that. For me, being in Puerto Rico gives me like an important grounding. Like traveling so much sometimes is — it might be strange, you know. I feel like when I started to travel is when I started to appreciate more of Puerto Rico and my own roots and my own country, because sometimes you have to see a little more from afar to appreciate what you have where you’re from. So, I went through that, and I know that many people in Puerto Rico don’t give themselves that opportunity. So, it’s important to share your story, you know, and send that message of appreciating who we are. And because we are colony for so long, we’ve lost that. We have this — that’s part of the irony that I was telling about, because we have so much pride, but at the same time we underestimate ourselves and our capabilities so much. And we don’t trust enough in what we can do on our own. So, for me, it’s very — it’s important to give the message everywhere you can, also in the states, because there’s a lot of Puerto Ricans and a lot of Latin Americans in the United States. And we all have similarities in our different stories. And that’s why it’s important to share it and to speak about it, because if not, I think everything will be staying the same. And that’s why, now that we have the internet, it’s so interesting to at least know so immediately what is going on in different countries.

AMY GOODMAN: And as you read about and hear about and meet people from Chile, where the mass protests continue as we do this interview, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, thousands took to the streets, Puerto Rico being the beginning of this, your final thoughts?

ILEANA CABRA: I don’t know. I feel like I’m still processing this because I live in Puerto Rico. It’s a weird feeling, because I’m in an island, at first, a small, very small island, that is not used to protesting massively, never. I’ve always looked at Chile, for example, like a country that protests massively, and Argentina and these big countries, and you see a whole lot of people. And then you go protesting in Puerto Rico, and it’s so small. And, actually, Rosselló and his partners believed that the protest was going to be small. That’s why they were so chilling. But then, suddenly, the whole country almost was in the streets, and that was very inspiring, and it gives me the chills. And for Puerto Ricans to be an inspiration for other countries in protesting is mind-blowing for me.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much, iLe, for stopping by Democracy Now!’s studios.

ILEANA CABRA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Ileana Cabra Joglar, known as iLe, Grammy-winning Puerto Rican singer, composer, vocalist, member of the Grammy-winning Puerto Rican trio Calle 13, now going to the Latin Grammys and may win for Best Alternative Song. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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