This weekend, July 21 and 22, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA, the Puerto Rican Tenants Association), whose papers reside in Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections, will host their annual Festival Betances. This festival was named for Puerto Rican patriot Ramón Emeterio Betances, who was both a leader in political and medical developments in Puerto Rico, and is considered one of the leaders of the Puerto Rican independence movement. The festival takes place in the Betances plaza which is also dedicated to him. The festival celebrates the great diversity Latino/a culture and includes events and activities such as a parade, a greased pole competition, traditional food, music and art.
Girls performing a dance at the Festival Betances.
Ceramic tile mural on the Plaza Betances.
An important component of this year’s Festival Betances is lifting up the 50 years of activism and development accomplished by the residents and organizers within IBA. IBA was formed in 1968 by South End residents and activists in response to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) South End Urban Renewal plan. This plan which intended to tear down existing housing with newer, more expensive housing, and would have displaced over 2,000 Puerto Rican residents of the South End. IBA developed their own collaborative plan for renewal which would create affordable housing plan for affordable housing and services for their neighborhood. Villa Victoria, or Victory Village is the resulting development of this plan. Since the development, planning, and building of Villa Victoria IBA and residents have established Areyto, an arts and culture program, Escuelita Agüeybana, the first bilingual daycare of Massachusetts, and their community center, now named the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center.
For more information on the history of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción and Villa Victoria visit the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collection’s portal for Latino/a history: https://latinohistory.library.northeastern.edu/home/about
For more information on attending Festival Betances visit: http://www.ibaboston.org/festivalbetances/